I'll be in Seoul, Beijing and Mumbai from January 15 to 26 speaking to entrepreneurs like you. Come talk and listen to others eager to find, fund and do world-class new enterprises. I'll post the details later this week.
As I ponder the trip, I have come to realize I must address each country's entrepreneurs special needs. It sounds simple to copy how Silicon Valley does their amazing new enterprise process. But applying the methods triggers some sensitive problems in each country. I spent a very long night debating this with a Norwegian in Oslo during a celebration of entrepreneurs a few months ago. She made me think about the modifications needed. It is hard to generalize, but some things are obvious.
Managers in Asia are missing. The ones that know what they are doing in the intensely marketing driven competitive battles of global competition. I have read studies that say in China there are less than 4 to 5 thousand managers who are competent, able to do what world-class companies -- startups and public corporations -- need done to be global winners. The cure here is simple, but is still hard to do: learn to recruit the finest and do not compromise. Like taking medicine, or training for an Olympic event, that requires commitment, fortitude, training and a lot more. But you have to do it. (See my blog 2005 December 7).
Asia has very special issues to ponder and integrate into your bplan if you are starting there. I'll share with you some of my findings. Koreans start with an inferiority complex: we are a small country so we have to start small. Well guess what: I hear that in every country outside the United States! I amazes me. My recommended cure: convert to thinking world-wide, global, from day one. Okay, you might start selling in a small country, or in a small market (China's GDP is slightly smaller than Italy's), but hey, this is the age of WTO, globalization, world-wide competition. So plan to spread out -- fast -- from day one. Bake it into your bplan.
Serious investors tell me that theft is a hot topic for Asian startups to deal with. World-class venture capitalists have said they will not fund startups in some countries in Asia because investors are convinced the startups' precious intellectual property will be ripped off, quickly. That makes other markets more attractive to start selling in. Here is my tip: Plan to enter the sensitive markets later when your brand is more secure, you are on your third new product launch, and you are on your way to becoming the gorilla of the new market.
Me-too, quicker, faster, better, cheaper is a disease. innovation at the standard of Silicon Valley is missing. The me-too disease has spread around the world. It is the most common form of bplan I get in emails from countries around the globe. For instance, India caught me-too disease for service centers (outsourcing). China for light manufacturing (outsourcing). Taiwan for semiconductors (foundries). And so on. The trouble is that the me-too companies quickly find a 10 percent cheaper competitor popping up locally and sales begin to slow down. Indian service centers are seeing that impact them more and more. The cure here is clear: learn to innovate. Move up the value added ladder. Take big risks designing and launching new products. Things no one else has ever done before.
Wrap it together and what do you have? A clear need to learn how to build unfair advantages. The engine that make Silicon Valley awesome. The power that you need to empower you to greatness. Others have. Why not you?