The New Silk Road: Secrets of Business Success in China Today Review

The New Silk Road: Secrets of Business Success in China Today
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The New Silk Road: Secrets of Business Success in China Today ReviewAlmost everyone who knows little about China is enthralled by the opportunity to sell products to all those people who live there. Those with a little more knowledge also get excited about having products made for export from Mainland China. Those with still more knowledge look forward to outsourcing services to China. Beyond that, some speculate that Mandarin Chinese will even become the dominant language of the Internet, and see amazing opportunities to buuild new economy businesses from a Chinese base.
But those speculations all beg the question: What should your company be doing today?
The New Silk Road is the first book I have read that reflects the views of my friends who have 20 plus years of experience doing business there. As such, it counters much of the overoptimism that makes American companies too anxious to expand there, and leads to mistakes that hurt short and long term results.
Any company that is considering its first stake in China, or re-evaluating the stakes it has today, should be sure that those involved read this book.
The key lessons are that company goals must be more carefully considered, partners chosen more thoughtfully, expectations of near-term profits lowered, a focus shifted to developing Chinese management and workers, and a longer-term perspective taken on developing and maintaining relationships. Perhaps the most fundamental point of the book is that things are very uncertain in China. With lots of effort you can reduce the uncertainty, but it will still be higher than in almost any other country. So there will be a premium placed on making decisions that will be good ones regardless of what happens in the Chinese business environment.
When you do your homework, you will find that China has more competition than almost any other country and lots of excess capacity. A small percentage of the people can afford to buy what you want to sell. Regulation and bureaucracy will keep you out of the best markets for what you want to do. The rules will change tomorrow. Everything will take a long time. Political tensions among your home nation and China will be used against you in business. Sounds challenging, doesn't it?
While China is underdeveloped economically and in entrepreneurial and business skills, the people are well educated and know a lot of things you do not. For one thing, they know the many different markets in China and how to do business there. They have local connections that you need. They also have skills in negotiation and strategy that you may not have. So seek out how to make the best of both worlds, rather than just plan to do business like you do in your home country. In fact, your product will probably have to be customized for the Chinese market.
Mr. Stuttard does an excellent job in his essay, "Reflections on China at the End of the Second Millennium," of summarizing the lessons from the case histories. Be sure to reread this essay after you finish the book. It will help put the case histories in perspective for you.
He has done well in choosing a variety of case histories, that reflect varying levels of success. The book is especially lucky to have the perspectives of comapnies with a great deal of Chinese experience like American International Group, John Swire, United Technologies, and Shell. In each case, either the company's CEO or the operating head in China is the person interviewed.
The people who run the business in China for you will be very vulnerable. When unpredictable shifts cause results to fall, their heads will be on the chopping block in some companies. That's not a good idea, because the set-backs will often not be due to any fault of their own.
You will also get helpful hints on the best ways to recruit talent, conduct training, and integrate expatriates.
After you have finished reading and enjoying this valuable book, I suggest that also consider where else the lessons of this book apply. I suspect that your success in many other parts of the world would be enhanced if you employed these lessons there, as well. Also, how else can you overcome communications stalls among your various operations and with your various stakeholders?
Focus on what needs to be done now to develop your short and long term potential!The New Silk Road: Secrets of Business Success in China Today Overview

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