Thursday, August 5, 2010

Entrepreneurship Traits

Comparisons between China and India are sure to provoke a yawn . Its an overwritten about topic . However, when I saw a report in the Wall Street Journal comparing the Indian and Chinese entrepreneur, I could not, but help, write a post. The report says both sets of entrepreneurs are extremely bullish about the future. Both don't think the recession has not really affected their future prospects. Both believe their lives will be dramatically improved in the years to come. All very good. Everybody knows that optimism is in short supply in the West and in excess in the East.

The differences are also predictable. Indian entrepreneurs start out to "be their own boss". Chinese entrepreneurs start out to make money. Indians seem to be motivated to go down this route by the family and by role models. Chinese seem to be motivated by the government. Indians rely more on family financing or known investors. Chinese rely more on banks. Indians seem to rely on creativity to launch a business idea. Chinese seem to rely more on a market opportunity. A key word for success for Indians is "jugaad" - finding a way through the maze of restrictions and controls. The key word for Chinese is "guanxi" - connections with the powerful, mainly in the government.

That's what the study says. Let me add a little more, entirely unscientific and based only on personal observations. 

Some commonalities. Both will work extremely hard. Incredibly hard, beyond your imagination. Both will cut corners to succeed. Both will "exploit" labour, if they can. Both will take higher risks  than others would. Both believe in themselves; there's no such thing as "can't do". Both of them have an innate sense of superiority over all others, although they may not express it openly (the gora and the laowai are both meant to be taken for a ride, if possible).

And some differences. Indians have a bias towards trading and services. Chinese have a bias towards manufacturing. Indians are more likely to try something overseas; Chinese are more likely to try domestic. Except at the top end, Indians are wary of scale. Chinese are more likely to think bigger.  Indians tend to stick on and persevere even when faced with a dud. The Chinese is more likely to drop something that doesn't work and try something else. Indians are more likely than the Chinese to go to the capital market for listing. 

Both are fascinating people. May their tribes increase and may they wildly succeed. For both are responsible, more than they are given credit for, for the advancement their nations have made. For improving the standard of living of so many people. They deserve a wild round of applause.

PS : In this post I had unwittingly plagiarised somebody else's work. I have taken down those references and I deeply apologise.