china entrepreneur Voices of Experience from 40 International Business Pioneers
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China Entrepreneur: Voices of Experience from 40 International Business Pioneers

Juan Antonio Fernandez and Laurie Underwood
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte.Ltd.

Review By
Nicholas V. Chen
Managing Partner Pamir Law Group, Shanghai
International Business/Legal Facilitator-Consultant in China for 35 Years

This book is an invaluable distillation of the practical real life lessons of 40 creative entrepreneurs from diverse industries who have overcome numerous obstacles to achieve success on China’s business frontlines. If you want to learn the lessons, earn the value of these trailblazers, reduce market-entry  tuition, this book is a must.

The authors have interviewed individuals who share an ethos of success. The book summarizes the bottom-line take-away lessons of these intrepid business people in easily digestible no-nonsense nuggets and quotes. The responses are organized around the key success/failure critical pathway challenges such as start-up issues, customer targeting and collections, human resource challenges, ethics and corruption, business negotiations, survival kit for living in China and the necessary traits and expertise to succeed in China. Any business person who fails to account for how these issues are handled differently “with Chinese characteristics” will soon be reminded by the market of Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz statement “Toto, this isn’t Kansas.”  The shared insights and wisdom are spot on.

The selected issues cover the beginning and middle stage of every foreign invested company’s life cycle in China. The wisdom being shared are the pivotal points on which success and failure of every foreign business in China turns, no matter how big or small. It is still about the basic lessons -- lessons that are invaluable for those who wish to save time and money to maximize their effectiveness in this fiercely competitive market. China is the frontlines battleground of the business world. The experiences and wisdom of these 40 “school of hard knocks” experts can contribute to the completion of every CXO’s “art of war” China market strategy. This book adds practical insights and problem solving operational tools to every CXO’s toolbox, regardless of whether one is a business executive/manager reaching for targeted niches, competitive advantage in price points and supply chain restructuring or in the world-wide competition for market share and profits.

While this book went to print just prior to the global economic deceleration, it is now more relevant and not mooted or overtaken by the events of the worldwide re-alignment. In fact, as China’s government is forced to accelerate bureaucratic and structural reforms to deliver more real growth rather than statistical growth, the lessons of these entrepreneurs takes on added significance since they have successfully generated real value in China. Why do I say that this book has taken on added significance with the recent crisis? In the final chapter, the authors were prescient when they focused on the must-have traits for successful entrepreneurs, the tools for surviving the tough times and the prediction on the endgame and China’s future. With so many sophomoric trendy and “don’t get ripped off by the Chinese market” doing business books, this collection of voices from the frontlines is not only a relief, but in fact genuinely helpful and a solid reference for those committed to winning in the China market. As a 35-year veteran of the China market (which teaches me to think like a newbie and question everything on a daily basis) learning about the thought processes of these entrepreneurs helps teach us how to successfully thread the needle and navigate the evolving minefield of business in China.

China Entrepreneur is a valuable practical resource for the China business community and is an invaluable compendium of real life lessons from the frontlines. The book is about smart people sharing their experiences so others can change the trajectory and velocity of the learning curve in China.

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