Lorenz’s Panel Discussion on Entrepreneurship in China

On Sep 9th, I was invited to take part in a panel discussion on the topic “Perspectives and Possibilities for Entrepreneurs in China”.  The event, organized by the German Chamber and the chapter of the Wirtschaftsjunioren, Germany’s largest association of young entrepreneurs and executives took place at the German Center Shanghai, counted roughly 80 guests.

Questions like the following were discussed:

Is China the right place for entrepreneurs?
Am I the right person to start an enterprise?
How to start and operate a company in China?

The discussion was interesting and inspiring to me, and U think all the guests gained a couple of really insightful new points of view (or learnings), which I like to briefly summarize below:

Learning number 1:

One learning was for example that all the service-business entrepreneurs basically recommended all guests to rather stay away from the service industry, and all the entrepreneurs from the manufacturing industry recommended to stay away from the producing domain! Funny, but I’d also agree ;-)..

Learning number 2:

Another insight was that all panelists agreed that starting a business in China is rather easy, as the entrepreneurial fruits hang rather low. However, the real challenge is to manage and scale a business to an interesting size, where it makes enough annual profit. Main challenges while trying that are HR and un-educated markets (on client side). Bobby Ma, a serial entrepreneur in China, came up with the claim that the 5-5-5 system seems to be applying: You need 5 years to build the foundation, 5 years to scale it and 5 years to sell it. That’s whooping 15 years – so everyone starting a business in China should be prepared to stay and commit himself for this amount of years!

Learning number 3:
Try to start small, and grow step-by-step, instead of taking a huge bank loan. Try first to collect money from friends and family, and keep expenses to a minimum till you see that payments are coming in.