8 Things You Need To Know To Succeed as a Foreign Entrepreneur In China
Well, at least try to succeed. There are no shortcuts, magic, or secret knowledge to make it right in China. As people say, "Nothing is impossible, everything is difficult." I have been living in China since 2011. Let me share thoughts based on my own experience. I believe some of the points you will find useful.
1. Find your passion. If you hate your Mondays, keep looking. China is one of the most competitive markets in the world now. If you are not passion-driven, do not come to China.
2. Think Cockroach, not Unicorn. Do not confuse with thinking big! You have to think BIG. Thinking Unicorn distracts you from actually doing business, what lot's of startups are doing is pitching. It seems like the final goal for them not to build a successful business but raise money, which is not oftentimes the same. Think Cockroach! This means nothing kills you! You keep running. Green light, you go! Yellow light, you go faster! Red light, you DO NOT stop. U-turn and keep going!
3. Join the tribe. As a foreigner, you do not have strong support from your family and friends you grew up with. There are plenty of communities with like-minded people. Join them. You will find there support much needed when you are down, and you will be down. Do not think it is not about me! We are all HUMANS. I made a list with tech and entrepreneur communities in Shanghai and Beijing.
4. Stay in business and be consistent. As a foreigner, it takes time to build trust among your local partners/clients. Do not expect to have contracts once you go live with your venture. Foreigners come and go all the time! You are not the first and not the last! If I am a Chinese stakeholder, how I know you will not leave the country next month because you think the air is polluted, or chou tofu is too smelly, or you can't imagine your life without Google and Youtube, or your visa got rejected. Staying in China, being active and consistent about what you do, will help you get closer to your dream. Here is the list of activities to help you being visible. And do not forget to get listed here to be a part of the innovation ecosystem in China.
5. Train your resilience. Get rejected until you feel nothing. If someone says no, and it hurts, well… do not think maybe it not for me. The beauty of it, you can be trained.
6. Learn Chinese. To compete with local entrepreneurs is almost impossible, sometimes even stupid. Play in the area where you still have a bit of advantage as a foreigner, and speaking Chinese gives you more solid ground in overlapping areas. Check Edugo.ai as an example of a successful foreign startup in China, and also a way to improve your Chinese.
7. Find a local business partner. Be always open to having a local partner. Not easy to find the right one, but if you think in that direction. It will happen.
Keep it up!