I am always a sucker for top ten lists and the China and “10 Survival Tips for Expats Who Work in China,” is a good one for foreigners doing business in China. Roman Guerel is the brains behind the blog and he has a ton of China experience and is working on a Ph.d in Business and Management to go with it.
Here’s his list in bold, with my comments in normal font:
1. China is not a bubble, it will not fade so easily. True. What this means is that you should no more think short term in China than anywhere else.
2. Everything you have learned in developed countries is only theoretical in China, you need to make a new assessment. True and false. China is different. But business is still business. And law is still law.
3. Stop trying to invent a China management model. Not sure what he means by this. If he means one should not expect to reinvent the wheel in China, then I agree. In other words, business is still business in China and management is still management.
4. Frustration in China is unavoidable, keep going. I agree and would add this is true throughout the world.
5. China is full of opportunities, if you can catch 1/100th of them you already are the king of the ring. Definitely some truth to this.
6. Don’t overestimate your abilities, be humble. I agree and what this means is that one should not overestimate one’s abilities. For example, my firm handles China law matters. We do not purport to be able to nor do we handle those things better suited for accountants or consultants. We work with those people to the advantage of the client.
7. Logistics are at the center of your success in China. Definitely some truth to this and logistics are too often ignored or underestimated.
8. One-time deals do not exist, you shall have mid to long -term perspective in China. True, but probably no truer in China than anywhere else.
9. Business: One China: no; Many China; yes. I know this is standard wisdom and it is absolutely true in that Shanghai may have more in common with London than it does with some village of 200 in Anhui Province. But, this is not always true. For example, many of our clients have gone into China to service the very same 2-3 giant U.S. corporations they service over here. For them, there really is only one China and that China is the 2-3 giant companies.
10. You shall think China as no different to other markets, or you will not survive. True. But if you think China is completely different from your home country such that most normal rules of business do not apply, you will not survive either.
I will add an eleventh tip. Your instincts count in China just as much as they do elsewhere. If you are feeling uncomfortable about someone or about the deal, you probably have good reason for that.