“To do business in China, you have to really want to be here. Otherwise, you will just get tired or frustrated. Even if you want to be here, you’ll get tired! On top of the traits you have as an entrepreneur, you have to have a genuine affection for China.”
Steven Ganster (USA), Founder and Managing Director, Technomic Asia
In warning students of the hardships of entrepreneurship, business school professors around the world like to quote sobering statistics on the challenges of launching a business, such as the “theory of thirds,” which holds that among all new business startups in their first year of operation, one-third turn a profit, one-third break even, and one-third fail.
For expatriate business pioneers dreaming of starting a venture in China, the odds are stacked even further against success. Many promising ideas never even make it to the stage of applying for a business license, because so many daunting obstacles—cultural, social, financial, legal, logistical, and bureaucratic—must first be overcome.
Yet, despite all the odds, thousands of international entrepreneurs have started business ventures in China. Each of the 40 such adventurers we interviewed has successfully launched a business in China, and many of these are flourishing. What elements, ...