What should Western CEO’s, Entrepreneurs and Managers Give up to Win in China ?  Good Question Isn’t it?

Successful Businessman in China all have a Mindset that allow them to Win in China, even against bigger players.

Today, I will try to sum up these qualities and explain this to you.

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What Western CEO’s, Entrepreneurs and Managers should Give Up to Win in China ?

Western Companies (you may notice) have a lot of problems in China, and most of them meet fierce competition, and have lot of problems when it comes to adapting.

The most successful US startups have almost all failed in China, Top International Companies do not really make money in China, and the majority start to Make money after 5-10 Years of Business operations in China.

China is an eldorado (Still an eldorado ) But … Western Cow Boys should adapt to the local Chinese Rules.

Business in China what should you Give up in China?

1. Give up the Reflection Period and Move Fast

In China, you need to think fast, make Fast Decisions and Move fast.

It is not the Biggest Fish that Wins it is the fastest one, everything is moving fast and the most successful Companies are able to adapt fast and develop Business, Technology and operations in-line with the breakneck speed of developments.

You might not know how these Chinese Companies can do it but..

  • Within one night they can put 100 000 bikes in Shanghai.
  • In 1 night they can copy the latest IPhone model.
  • In one Month, they can have 10 000 new retail shops in the country.

Business in China

Business in China

European Companies in China are especially lost… It takes them 6 months to take a decision, and 6 months to think of their strategy.

And after, they discover that everything has changed in China. The Communication strategies are not the same, price and cost is different, Chinese Consumers habits change …

You live in China, you know that… Everybody knows that.

In Europe, they do not realize…

Give up the Procrastination , if you do not do it today in China, just forget it… You pass on opportunities.



2. Give Up Your Perfectionism

  • You can never have perfection in China
  • Perfection costs too much in China
  • Chinese Consumers are used to Non Perfect Services, and Goods

In China, you need to Move fast, adapt fast and striving to be perfect will rarely equal Success.

Nothing will ever be perfect in China, no matter how much you try. Accept that imperfection can allow you to Move & Develop.

Chinese top Businessmen are not afraid of failure, this fear often prevents you from taking action…But a lot of opportunities will be lost if you wait too long .

PS : I am lucky to not be a Perfectionist in China, I know most of them suffer.


3. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Formula.”

Business in China

Business in China

“In China you should do that , in China you must do that” it does not work all the time and every situation is different.

There are no ultimate experts in the Chinese Market. You do not have the Perfect Solution for Your Company. Accept to try and make mistakes…

In China , everything is moving so fast, it is always a case of timing.

  • The Magic Formula of Taobao (2014) is not valid in 2017. (10 000 Chinese E-Commerce Websites fail to Copy the Taobao Business Model )
  • Top growth Hacking strategies of Wechat (2015) is not valid for the Next App
  • The Success story of Starbucks is difficult to reproduce in 2018.

I do not beleive in overnight success in China, I believe in trying & learning to adapt fast…

Successful Chinese know that making small continuous improvements every day will give results.



4. Give Up The Fixed Mindset and Adapt to Chinese Market

You adapt to China, China will not adapt to you.

I repeat this everyday to my (foreign Team) and my Clients. Completely launching a full approach in the Chinese Market costs too much money for 99% of companies.


  • You should keep your Western DNA but Adapt, Change.
  • You should adapt to your Customer Needs
  • You should adapt to the Competition
  • You should accept the Rules (Government Rules)
  • You should Understand your Chinese Team’s Way of Thinking
  • Understand their strength and their weakness

Business in China : People with a fixed mindset will usually fail in China if they are arrogant if they think they can succeed in China without changing their Business model or Management Style.

Successful Expats know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to understand Chinese Culture, their mindset, acquire Mandarin knowledge and t learn communication skills to perform in China.

In China, who you are today is not who you have to be tomorrow. Adapt or Die…

This is Business in China


5. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

I Know in Europe you can control everything… and I know it works well like this.

You want to Control Everything in China, Wrong idea. Chinese Business & Management is Time consuming (trust me).

Which Top Successful Chinese Leader can say they control everything in China ? No One…

Business in China Rules

It is Difficult to Control everything in China, and you have to accept that you cannot understand everything and let professionals that you trust take that control & work in your interests.

Detach from the things you cannot control, focus on the aspects you are good at & will help you perform better.

I know, may people control everything and perform well, every case is different and there is no ultimate expert, rather a learning process based on your specific brand experience (Rule number 3).


6. Give Up Excuses


“Stop finding Excuses for the Non success of your project” . Your competitors can do it, so why can you not ?

Stop the Excuses , and be honest with yourself... Why do I fail and how can we solve these problems.

Successful people know that they are responsible for their Projects , no matter their Success or failure.

I always say to my Staff… and the Chinese understand this very well.

“Loser find Excuses and Winners Find Solutions. ”

(Expats in China are champions for making Excuses… )


7. Give Up Your Need To Be Nice

  • if you want to Win in China you will have enemies
  • If you want to make people constantly happy, do not be a leader… sell Icecream.

You need to understand that Chinese Respect Leaders, and understand that Leaders Sometimes take decision that are not always beneficial for all parties.

It can be strange but Chinese like Strong Individuals, they like leaders. And leaders in China are not always pleasant characters.

I do not advise you to be a monster but you have to say “No” “Kaolu yixia” or “xiang yixiang” . Be Polite but let them respect you

  • (most) Chinese Do not respect Nice People , they take advantage of them
  • Most Chinese People Respect Strong Personalities…

Many people will disagree I know… there is no Magic Formula in China (rule 3).

Business in China is quite simple no?


8. Give Up Your Long-term Strategy (for your Business in China)

In China , everything changes so fast, stop making your 5 year Business Plan , it does not work.

Future is changing …  changing too fast


Successful people set long-term goals of course.

=> But for a Companies focus on the Present and the Short term. 1-2 years is already good.

But I know that Successful Chinese business people have a clear Yearly Target and adapt it every 6months.

  • Who is able to predict the Future of China in 5 years.
  • Who is planning their investment in the next 2 years… Almost every Great Chinese Company.
  1. We Setup Long term target +200% per Year
  2. But How to do it, Yearly Plan

Many People will not have the same Opinion as me… All companies are different. Rule Number 3.


9. (in the Business in China) Give Up the Old Economy

I know you trust in Concrete goods, Shops, buildings , cash… but in China it is Different.

Chinese Consumers are more Digitalized that any other in the world.

They Buy Online, Shop Online, Watch TV online, Date Online, Read Online, Book Online & Pay Online.

They socialise largely online and you still beleive in your Old Offline Way of Doing Business ?

We repeat this every day in our articles, Online is ALWAYS your first priority before developing an offline strategy.

10 . Give Up Your Theory, and Be Pragmatic

You may have read a lot of Marketing Theories and researched expert theories.. but (in Business in China) you have to start from the ground upwards in China and stay pragmatic. You learn from the Consumers, your clients your suppliers, your Ayi, from your Chinese colleagues & friends and you adapt… Be as pragmatic as the Chinese, do not think too much, do not come in with too many Cliché, preconceived idea’s but focus focus on what works and avoid what does not work.





11. Give Up “Superficiality” and Be Results Driven

Most Companies in China, are focused of little Details , little mistakes instead of analysing what actually brings Results.

Most Founders are focused on their Image, instead of Real Results.

  1. If a Solution is not perfect on paper but works, you should keep at it and improve it, instead of Stopping.
  2. Instead of Thinking what’s going Wrong, you should focus on what works.
  3. Before Magnifying Brands, think why Chinese clients actually buy brands.

I know that in Europe, Politics is quite important within Companies. In China, it is Toxic and does not make sense.

“You perform or others beat you”. Pretty simple Rule no?



12. Give Up Wasting Time

You have the feeling that you work a lot, you have the feeling that you must work 12hours work per day … but in fact you are not efficient and you know it.

  1. China Management will waste your time
  2. Chinese Business Will waste your time
  3. Chinese Administration will waste your time
  4. Visa’s will waste your time
  5. Ordering a Taxi will waste your time
  6. Negotiation will waste your time

You have so many Toxic habits that waste your time in China, you need to identify them and Optimize your efficiency.

  • Outsource everything that does not bring value.
  • Find trustful people , train them and stop them from wasting time
  • Find Reliable partners and outsource this.

Example : Many Clients choose to have their own Marketing Team & even they do not understand Chinese Marketing.

Never forget this Business Rules

Everybody can write Wechat and Weibo Articles no? 

What happens…

  1. They Waste their time recruiting people,
  2. They place great faith in them…
  3. and most of the time they are not experts (Social Media is not only about writing)
  4. They waste their time understanding how it works
  5. They waste their time training them
  6. And waste their time trying to control their job & work load.
  7. … and they discover that it is Time Consuming and not efficient … No views, no engagement and No results. 6months Lost
  8. Then they use Professional Agencies that bring Results , exposure, engagement etc…

Why are Professional agencies better? it is because we only focus on Social Media. We are professionals, we train our team and outsource the aspects we do not understand like Finance, Design office or CRM.

“The trouble is, you think you have time in China but you don’t ! “

Control your Time, you have only 12hours of Work per day   😉


12. Give Up to Always Trust People

I know in Europe you first Trust People and sometimes they betray you.

In China, People do not trust People , they Build “trust” (Business in China is based on Trust)

That is how everything works here… Nobody trust each other, they need to evaluate the Trustability of each part of a relationship.

  • A Boss does not trust his New employees , they have to work hard to win the trust
  • A Consumer does not trust a new Company, they have to prove that their products are good.
  • You do not trust your fruit merchand when he says he will give you the best price, but later when he knows you, he will give you the best price.

I know I am not an optimist person… I am just realist. You do not trust, you have to be cautious.

Most Chinese Know that You have too many Cheaters in China, and you have to double Check everything.

“Chinese People are Honest With True Friends, and take advantage of Every Opportunities”

Many under developed Countries have the same reflex….

Many People will totally Disagree and think I am becoming a Toxic Expat , but I told you I am not an Expert (Rule number 3 ).


13. Last Tip.. Understand Before Judging

In China, I strongly recommend you to Understand first the situation and after, you can judge or not.

  1. If your Competitors are doing like this, Maybe they have a reason.
  2. If People React like this, it is for a Reason
  3. If Chinese People are like this , it is because of a specific Reason.

China is Different, they get a different education, have a different Background & live a Different Experience from Yours.

And if you want success, understand first , think and then adapt to the Situation.




I know this Article is not perfect, but I give you 10 years of Experience in China.

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