As I embark upon starting another business, this time with my friend Rola, it seems time for another entry on entrepreneurship. When I think of entrepreneurship in China or am asked why are you here or asked how long will you be here, I recall a brief quote from The Wall Street Journal. (The WSJ is an excellent publication with many interesting and in-depth articles about China.) The article in the WSJ was read to me a couple of years ago by mom, already knowing my interest in China. The quote, as I remember it, is: “If I were young and fluent in Chinese, I’d go to China and get rich.” This quote inspires and pushes me to look for new opportunities because I AM young, trying to become fluent in Chinese, and just as capable as anyone else. Furthermore, since being in China only 4 months, I’ve likely met more entrepreneurs here than I had previously in my entire life.
Granted, this guy’s quote was referring to China’s boom days of the 1990s, but with annual GDP growth still exceeding 6%, I think it’s still a great time to be in China. Now, perhaps may be even better that the 1990s because there’s slightly more transparency in the government and government regulations regarding businesses, as well as the opening up to foreign competition as a result of China’s WTO accession. Not to mention, Chinese consumers are getting wealthier, with more disposable income, and presumably, there’s also been an increase in B2B spending.
So, when foreigners ask me, how long will you be here, I’m tempted to offer them that quote and respond with ‘as long as I can make money.’ When Chinese people ask me, ‘why are you here?,’ I’m hesitant to offer that quote, lest it sound exploitative and too counter to the ideals of communism. But on the other hand, my native Chinese teacher helped me improve my response to this question from èµšé’± (‘make money’) to èµšå¾ˆå¤šé’± (‘make lots of money’), so… 🙂
When discussing this quote and my intention to make money in China, my friend said to me, but can’t you make money back home or anywhere? And I get that response a lot. Well, it’s kind of like the stock market–some are winners, some are losers, and some offer slightly better returns that others. You just need to know how to allocate your time and money wisely, and for me, right now, that’s in China.