Inspired by Fred Wilson, who uses its AVC Blog as a diary, sand box, and therapy, I am going to keep this blog exclusive to myself and try to write as long as I can. Doing business with China and Chinese since 1991, I do not lack stories and anecdotes to share. I hope it will become a cleansing and therapy process for myself, while being helpful to those who are intrigued by this gigantic country and its people.
If you want to ask me what the biggest challenges are when it comes to working with Chinese. Lack of transparency is on top of my list. It is hard to see things through, from the government to small businesses.
We all remember that, late 2015, China was plunged into a chaotic situation. RMB's value was dropping like a rock vs. US dollar. Investors, both domestic and foreign, were panicking. Local Chinese rushed to banks trying to exchange all their savings into U.S. dollar. , so did some institutions, out of the fear that RMB would crash and Chinese economy would crash. Nobody from the government stood up to communicate with its people and the rest of the world. Instead, people were given silence treatment, causing them to suspect that the government was hiding something from them. It was not the case in reality. People were aware of most of the existing issues. Chinese government did not understood that leaving people in the dark might lead to distrust and insecurity, a catastrophic situation.
Not just the government. Business people also like to keep their cards close to chest. One of the teams we work with in China on consumer products' marketing and distribution has the same challenge. They are a group of young people, smart and diligent. However, getting them to share market data and progress is like pulling teeth. It took me a while to figure out why - they are concerned that U.S. team will learn from them and bypass them in the near future; additionally they do not want people to know they have troubles. I told them that one of the ways to avoid the situation they dislike is to open up and be transparent.
I compare working with China to diving into a deep ocean. The diver must have the coverage to face the darkness and keep swimming until he reaches the shore.