I always get a bit of a rush, a bit of blood flow to the brain when I meet newbies to China. Today I attended the Enter China biyearly meetup in Guangzhou (disclosure, I’m an equity holder) to share stories and connect with old and new members.
Seeing the images and chat history on Wechat being shared. One woman made her first purchase from a Chinese factory at the Canton Fair. Another isn’t sure if there is a ferry from Shekou ferry to Hong Kong International Airport. Another is asking if they should make a purchase from a factory at the trade show, or wait until they are back online and surfing in Alibaba or Global Sources.
Funny part to me is, a ton of this information is now readily available on an abundance of blogs for free. Yet people enjoy the personal touch, to be able to ask real time questions to their peers and see how others are handing the situation. It helps one get more confidence when they are making decisions for the first time, especially in a foreign country such as China!
Thinking back to 10 years ago (can you believe it!?) when I first came here – I am envious at all the tools and resources newbies have at their fingertips now. Jeez, Wechat alone is a life saver. And all these free blog posts, Youtube videos, meetups, communities.
Now for the annoying “when I was first coming to China” (when I was your age) – I seriously just had to make mistakes and best guesses. The best information I could get was at expat bars, spending hours talking about useless information and “getting to know you” chit chat until one would dive deep into how they would buy from a factory or engage with a Chinese business counterpart.
The part that we really need to remember is – we need to take action. Don’t sit back and think because you join a private member’s community like Enter China, or read a ton of blogs and listen to podcasts (like Global From Asia) that things will just happen. It only happens if you TAKE ACTION. Sure, all these new resources are amazing and a massive advantage for you to get ahead. But it still requires you to – “stick your neck out” as they call it.
Driving up to Guangzhou with Nick Ramil, the founder and a partner with me in Enter China – we mentioned that members – as well as any entrepreneur – needs to put the time in doing product and market research. This is a speciality he has been honing with his investments a Brinc iOT accelerator, and even before he founded Enter China. Do your homework. If you invest in the Enter China community, go through the step by step blueprints. They are tried and true steps to success. Don’t think just because you spent the money to get the program that the information will automatically plug into your brain and help you buy from a factory. Nope, you still need to invest your time to go through the blueprints and to do the actions listed in each section.
And be grateful you have these resources at your disposal. Try to put yourself in my shoes, when I was fumbling around in 2007 trying to figure my way around China and how to do business with factories and getting my life setup.
So I love seeing newbies come to China – but now more than ever you have no excuse to complain that you didn’t know. The knowledge is out there, at your fingertips, and tons of case studies and step by step guides to help you avoid the mistakes so many have made in the past.
Make it happen, and rock China! It is a huge challenge here, but you need to think of it like a game and get ahead.