Commonly Asked – Why Did I Come To China?

In china business by Michael Michelini31 Comments

People always ask me “why did you move to china” or “do you think you made the right decision quitting you dayjob and coming to china to start your own business”…well, lets reflect on each of these separately

Why did i move to china – sure, i ask myself that every now and then….why i didnt have the most clear plan, i did start it more in the usa before i moved out here. I left my dayjob at deutsche bank in april 2007, there were some milestones there:

1 – Wanted to get out of the day job – at Deutsche Bank, I felt it would take a few more years at the current position to move up organically, sure i had job offers and opportunities. I interviewed for internet marketing positions, and had offers from electronics retailer J&R in manhattan ny. I also was considering living down in florida near my family – i interviewed there for a marketing position (i wanted to get out of banking), and they offered me there too. But i realized both of these 2 positions were considerable decreases in salary…..sure, sure they say you shouldnt take a job based on salary…well….i couldnt accept that.
I was also considering investing in opening a franchise – i got in touch with a franchise broker…went through the interview to identify the best franchise opportunity….they were some strange ones…like computer repair services, design service, etc. I told the broker “why would i pay these franchise fees for some no name brands when i could spend less money and open my own independent location under my own name.” he didnt like that question so much, didnt have a good answer for me, and didnt really expect much from me after that, and I felt opening a franchise operation wasn’t for me.

2- MBA not for me – I was considering an MBA, and had actually saved up most of my money to get that MBA. I was taking prep classes at night while at Deutsche, and remember clearly the first day going around the room “please state your name, where you work, and what you want to do with your MBA”, everyone else also had a job at a corporate bank in NY, BUT EVERYONE JUST WANTED TO GET A HIGHER PAYING JOB IN CORPORATE AMERICA after graduating from MBA school. When it got to my turn to answer, I said I wanted to get an MBA to learn how to start a business and network with entrepreneurs. I got some strange eyeballs, and realized quickly that an MBA was not the best investment for me to start my own company. Taking 2 years of my time, as well as tons of my savings ….seemed better to invest in opening a company.

3- New York Bar Store owners blocked me buying more shares. My friends didn’t want me to take majority of the company, I was asking to invest more money into the company, as well as work full time (we all day jobs at the time). Seems the others were afraid of losing power, and I can’t remember clearly the long email threads back and forth, but my idea was shot down.

4 – wanted to do something bigger then getting on the top of Google for “bar products”. I remember thinking, I spent so much time getting to the top of search engines for bar products…..and if I had spent more time doing that for a bigger market….well, I felt I would be in a bigger position in business…

…..thinking…..what is something that has big opportunity, and if I could rank on the top of google for, I would make tons of cash. IMPORT / EXPORT! Bam! That was it.

So I searched online for sources in china, so I could be an agent for them, use my internet marketing skills, get inquiries, make some deals happen, and get a check in the mail for the rest of my life. Easy, right! Found a company “Mainland China Trading” and they offered an agents program. quickly I signed up, and started studying more.

Now, I didn’t move to China right away…..another factor WAS MY NEW YORK APARTMENT LEASE was running out in a month or two, the end of April. So Andrew, my roommate, and I had to let them know if we were staying or not. Whenever an apartment lease contract comes due, it makes me think! IS THIS WHERE I WANT TO CONTINUE SPENDING MY TIME.

On top of that, I had a phone conversation with Piotr (common commenter here on the blog), and he had been living out in San Diego for some time. He mentioned he had an extra room….and he was a couple blocks from the beach…..had a really cheap rent on it, and no contract, just pay him personally.

SO BAM – I had it:

a) End of Year Review with Deutsche – NOT CHALLENGED.
b) Considered Other Jobs, or a franchise – NO….thanks.
c) MBA – too expensive, 2 years of my life, and don’t want student loan debt to work in corporate america as a slave to pay it off
d) Whats a BIG MARKET & needs internet marketing – IMPORT/ EXPORT from China!
e) Apartment lease contract ending soon – have to decide to sign for another year
f) Piotr had a month to month room – IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. – no long term committment, try the west coast lifestyle, start new online business
g) couldn’t buy majority of my current online business – so start my own consulting company to buy from China.

So, was I another OPPORTUNIST. Its almost like a bad word here in the expat community in China. An opportunist is seen as someone without a clear objective, comes to China, tries different projects, burns cash, and ends of failing, getting a job, or going back to USA soon.

Sure, I am an opportunist – I felt like its the 1800’s in USA, the gold rush of california. Have to get on the ground to see whats happening.

If you read back on this exact blog, you’ll see my time in California. It was pretty cool, but I needed to be in the action. I was frustrated trying to remotely contact factories in China….and took a 1 month trip to see trade fairs, visit factories, and meet different business people. IT WAS INTENSE. I am an adrenaline junkie, I love adventure. I wanted to try to make things better, more streamlined, clearer, and easier for westerners to do business.

haha, you can read along in this blog to see some speedbumps I hit there. I learned you cannot CHANGE CHINA. You have to adapt to learn how to do business the way it has been done forever, there is a fixed mindset, a culture, a way to do things. It is this way, and they aren’t going to let some foreigner come in and tell them how to they should be doing it.

Do I regret quitting the day job and losing that income, as well as investing the money I have? – HELL NO. I got what I was asking for. And this is money damn well spent. Better then some MBA school, that I could put on my resume. This is blood, sweat, and tears. Sweat equity. And no one can take that from me.

I am on the right track, sure its been difficult….and I have to admit, harder then I thought. But I am on track. INTERNATIONAL ECOMMERCE – mixing import export with the internet. That is where I am positioned, and I am right in the center of it.