Several Columbia firms have found a foothold in China, one of the world’s most massive markets.
How is this possible? Columbia isn’t on the coast, where you might think of industries turning to foreign markets.
Instead, Columbia and mid-Missouri is home to exceptional entrepreneurs who look beyond today and local, state and even national boundaries. This article outlines tips and some cautionary tales to help others access the Chinese market.
For example, Environmental Dynamics Inc. has been doing business in this Asian country for more than 10 years. During that time Jerry Conner of that company says they’ve learned the most crucial factor in doing business in China is guanxi or networking. The Chinese, he said, want to know they are going to see you and your firm again. They want to know about your firm, you and who you know that they might know.
That means if you want to work in China, you’ll need patience and diligence to establish guanxi.
It also means you may need help to get started. Jason Van Eaton of Spectrum Consulting Group saw this need as a business opportunity. Today, the firm started three years ago is working with 20 companies to help them break into the China market.
Alex LaBrunerie of LaBrunerie Financial launched Rising Tide to access investment information after deciding that the China market was the next big thing. The first thing he did was network and he found right here in Columbia someone who knew a major Chinese expert in that country’s equity investment information industry.
Russ Potterfield is so certain China is where he needs to be to help his company, Battenfeld Technologies, thrive he moved his whole family to Shenzhen, China, including his wife, who had to interrupt her own career teaching at Westminster College, and his three young sons. The move might seem extreme, but only to those who can’t see the future.
Of course, all these business people have their eyes open. They know that there are things to watch out for. But that didn’t stop them and the advice they offer should help other Columbia entrepreneurs access the Asian markets.
As Van Eaton said, a business already has a strategy to get into China or it will in five years. And then, he noted, it could be too late.