What Kenyan businessmen can learn from their Chinese counterparts.
“Made in China”, simple inscriptions on a majority of the world items rings bells of an unrivaled Chinese dominance in commerce and manufacturing in every corner of the world. The second world’s largest economy is presently a country in contrast to itself just a few decades ago when it was bedeviled with the third world problems with headlines of starvation, foreign aid, war among others making the world news. Just like most countries, it was colonized and it experienced the side-effects of colonialism from Japan .
Decades later, it is the same nation but a different script; China is shaking the world in major ways .From leading mighty infrastructure companies to offering competitive services worldwide, China is now competing with other western economies and now returning a helping hand to the countries that previously helped them.
This Chinese story of grass to grace has won the admiration of most Kenyans with China being in competition with the west in establishing their footprint in Africa. China is the host to the world’s biggest market and a host to world tycoons. So what happened along the way that transitioned China? Whatever measures were taken, one thing Kenyan businessmen should find important to note are these two cliché statements: One, Change is inevitable, but one must strive to reach for the positive change. China would inevitably experience change. But it chose to change in the positive way rather than the negative. Two, doing the same thing expecting different results is a waste of time and resources. What Chinese businessmen do to thrive and compete worldwide are the same tips other businessmen use but the difference is that they are more focused on doing it excellently.
Spirit of excellence
The spirit of excellence is one that anyone who steps in China or interacts with them will experience: from the young to old, students to teachers, private to government firms, hawkers to the employed, local to international; excellence is strictly adhered to and intentionally a part of everything Chinese people do. Excellence in my opinion comes by people first appreciating what they do. From there, they can now find ways to improve on their jobs and add value to themselves.
As a Kenyan, I can say we love excellence. We love receiving great and efficient service at affordable prices, we even love to go to countries that offer this but rarely do we give it out. Excellent service is almost only available to those who can pay extra. And if not, personally, try to consider the number of places you would not fathom going back and also those you would joyfully go back to. For example, if I go to a Kibanda to have lunch, I don’t expect the service and product quality as I would in a restaurant If I get it there I will have reason to go and also recommend others. Or if I board a matatu I won’t expect to be treated equally as when I boarded an uber. This is the point where Kenyans can learn from the Chinese business mentality, despite the location of the business, class of clients, etc., services and quality of products are not affected and all clients are special and treated exclusively of favoritism. At the end of the day, when customers are treated with civilization, what will prevent the business from thriving?
Spirit of pliability and poise
Being able to go with the times and trends in the market is vital to a thriving business. Today, a Chinese could be selling shoes but then depending on the output, they are able to either change or stick to the business. They don’t mind spending long hours in the winter cold and hot summers outside just to make some money. At the same time, they know when to stop putting in work to what does not bear any fruit.
To be truthful, Chinese people don’t necessarily love hard work. They love making their work easier. It is for this reason that they have embraced and advanced technology and made it accessible to all and sundry. There’s always an easier and better way to do things and that is what they embrace. Take for example a restaurant business, the business can specialize in a certain cuisine, e.g. they can only sell noodles or seafood. It is therefore easy to serve the clients that come. That means that it is easier to be accountable and expand the business because it is a specialized field that gives exceptional service to the consumer. It’s also easier to brand themselves and do better because consumers know them by their specialization. This can apply to the fast-food restaurants in Nairobi that sell chicken and chips, such restaurants have been able to survive long because of this factor. Every restaurant has an online presence and the package of service comes with the delivery benefit at a very reasonable price. And this applies to all other service and product providers.
Kenyans on the other hand prefer being a jack of all trades. They would sell everything and anything under one roof. That comes with benefits but has more cons to it. For example, it is difficult to brand an all-in-one business. And very hard to manage because it will need more money and a variety of expertise to manage it smoothly. This leads to more administration costs, more frustrations, and less income.
Spirit of hard work and dependability
Despite the flexibility and easiness that they make their businesses possess, Chinese people invest their time, attention and are intentional to see growth and expansion in their businesses. Whether the business is an SME or a major company, there is no time for relaxation. And if there is, then it is well communicated to their clients. Come rain or shine, a Chinese business will be open consistently. This no wonder is the reason why many world tycoons stem up from China. Most of them for example the iconic Jack Ma did not spring from a wealthy background but from humble backgrounds that needed them to give extra effort to their work. It is not a matter of sheer luck but hard work and consistency.
It is significant to accept the fact that China and Kenya are two different countries with different laws. However, rising above the inconveniences is what Kenyan businesses have to embrace.