16 September 2019
Take part in activities organized for startup entrepreneurs on the mainland. Photo:
Take part in activities organized for startup entrepreneurs on the mainland. Photo:

Tips for starting a business in China

I suggested in an earlier article that mainland China is the best option for Taiwanese internet startups because of the sheer size of the market.

Soon enough, netizens were asking me how exactly this should be done. I assure you it’s not by simply moving the company to the mainland.

Here are my suggestions:

1. For those who already have the technology or finished products — preferably with proper certifications — you can consider moving to the mainland. It would be best for all core members of your company to go there so you can all develop a better understanding of mainland demand and market rules. Meanwhile, you should also try to find good local partners.

2. If you are young and lacking in experience, you may join a mainland startup. Since your goal is to learn, don’t be too concerned about immediate financial rewards. The point is to join your dream team. Another choice could be working as an engineer or product manager in one of the mainland’s technology giants such as Tencent. Then you should be able to start your own business in a couple of years.

3. There are many business incubators on the mainland. Sign up with one of them as they can help build up your social network. You should also take part in activities organized for startup entrepreneurs.

4. If you’re still a student, one way of preparing for the future is to visit quality social media websites such as 36kr, Ping West and Huxiu. Get to know more about the mainland users’ habits through your mainland classmates. You should consider doing internship on the mainland as well.

5. Be sure you have enough funding to keep your mainland operations going for a certain period. Though the final stage of financing should be done on the mainland, it won’t be an easy job. Mainland venture capitalists are usually skeptical about foreign startups; they may think you are not ambitious or localized enough.

6. When you move to the mainland, make sure you blend in with mainland Chinese circles. That’s how you learn about the local market.

7. Attract quality local staff for your business.

8. It is important to choose the business model that suits you. For instance, a Taiwanese startup failed to build a strong marketing team on the mainland. So instead of running the business, it decided to license its technology to local firms. It worked.

9. Be a humble learner. Compared to Taiwan, Mainland China is more advanced in internet development. Treat mainland venture capitalists and entrepreneurs as your teachers.

These ideas and tips are not for everyone. They work best for those who are excellent, confident, special, diligent and eager to make their companies great and competitive in a bigger market.

Perhaps less than 0.1 percent of startup entrepreneurs belong to this category. These are the people who can create the most value for society and contribute most to the economy.

This article appeared earlier in the writer’s Facebook page.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

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Chairman and Chief Executive of Innovation Works