Technomic Asia’s China Business Podcast posted a great interview with Steve Crandall this week. The focus is on SMEs working in China, and Steve shares some good insights. Listen to the interview here.
Steve comes to us with a long history in China, starting in the 1980s when he was a student here. Steve went on to set up the first foreign owned car dealership in China when he set up Crandall Ford up in Tianjin (Steve comes from several generations of Ford dealers back in Ohio). He then went on to start up several manufacturing and sales operations for SMEs in China, incubating them until the client was ready to take over.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
About the “China market”
- China’s population numbers alone don’t tell you what market you could sell to
- There is no “China market” – different regions act differently
- This means opportunity – one market might be unaccessible, while another is open
Being successful elsewhere may not transfer to China
- Just because you did it “this way” in your home country, doesn’t mean it works that way in China!
- It’s important to think things through rather than relying on your “gut feeling”
- Be aware of the different culture, including when you put together a team – what you need may be different
- Understanding the language is not enough – must understand the cultural understanding behind it
SME vs Big Business
- Both are facing the same problems (cash flow, IP, complicated situations) but SMEs have less resources to deal with them
- SMEs should take a phased approach: start small and once you succeed, add another level
- Building excellence is not enough – “build it and they will come” does not work
- Anecdotes and individual stories don’t give you the full picture
- Be humble – build a good staff and lean on their understanding of China to inform your decisions