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This entry was going to be more background information about me in attempt to establish my credibility by revealing my experience and qualifications so that I could feel good about writing information that would be published out there with the experts. But after reading what the experts have to say, I am convinced that there is no need to have any qualification and experience and there is certainly little call to use common sense. Sorry, I needed to rant a bit first.

What comes to your mind when you conjure up the image of an expert? If you are like most, I am guilty as well, you think of the handsome grey haired polished well spoken businessman who seems to have all the answers as if by divination. Hogwash!!! That may have been true thirty years ago and don’t get me wrong, I have a reverence for that kind of life experience, but things are different know. The rate of change in technology and information is staggering. The days of building your knowledge over the decades and being a sage old man with a kingdom of serfs trying to become the sage old man are over. Today’s expert is the guy that is in the arena with his face bloodied battling it out gladiator style. He hard as a board from getting his ass handed to him on a daily basis and getting back up off the ground to fight some more but he is still there and living to keep on fighting because he find a way to do so. I submit to you that this is an expert and one that is ready to go to work.

Expert or not, I have advice for you that I have given to many a company and friend. If you want to do business in China, then you need to be in China. It’s complex and simple at the same time. Sure you can hire a trading company or you could send one of you high paid executives to China. Both have pluses and minuses. Hiring a trading company or broker is likely put you in a spot you don’t want to be in. Either you will not get what you want or you will not get it at the price you want it. Sending your executive is costly and it means she will not be in the US doing what she usually does to make the company money.

How do you know what is right for your company? The smart move is to do both. Here is why:

  • Always have a representative from the mother ship in China. I mean living in China with his full time responsibly focused on your operation in China. What ever that is at the time he is there.
  • Save money and time by hiring an expert (broker or consultant) to help get things started. The best way to do this is word of mouth referrals.

Always having someone from the mother company ensures that the directives and culture of the company are transferred to China and more importantly it means that someone with a vested interest in the success of the company is watching the company interests. I have personally witness several failed strategies that involve a long term relationship with a broker or the direct hiring of a Chinese national without any supervision in country from the mother company. Yes, they are friendly and helpful at the onset and perhaps even well intentioned but think about this. Would you start a new division in the US by hiring a new employee in another state and leaving them? Probably not. It is more likely you would transplant someone from your HQ to head up the new venture, even if only for a time.

Which brings me to the next issue that companies face. Getting the talent to go to a foreign country. Look I am not advocating a life sentence for anyone. Rotation is the key. There are plenty of examples here of successful strategies that involve rotating of personal on six month or one year tours of China. It’s good for your operation in China and it will help out with raising the level of understanding in the home office. I highly recommend that you follow your mother’s advice and take turns.

Now you are thinking, this is great and all but if I am going to invest in sending someone to China, why would I still what to hire a consultant or broker. Because, unless you have an in-house expert in all things Chinese sending a poor, unarmed innocent into the wild is a bad idea. Think Plymouth Rock. The settlers were ill equipped and without the help of the indians, would have perished the first winter. You are in a very real sense creating a settlement in a foreign country and the one that may die is your business. That would be unfortunate. So save yourself the trouble and hire a local guide to show you have things are done.

In the early stage of you foray into the new world, you will want to send out expeditions to gather information and set the stage for your settlement. You will need to understand how you select the right place in an environment that is alien to you not to mention every trip will cost your company at least 10K. Think that’s a high number. Factor in hotel, airfare, ground transportation, a translator, and the time the executive is not working on things in the US and I bet 10K is a low number to a 1 to 2 week expedition. So, if a consultant runs 10-20K per month and has knowledge of the local lay of the land, it’s a steal of deal. You will save time, trips, and money not only on execution but on avoiding pitfalls that the consultant has seen before.

Son of Suzhou