Surprising Advice From Alibaba Founder Jack Ma
By Kate Silver | Jul 17, 2015
(This article originally appeared on OPEN Forum, a website from American Express OPEN that helps small-business owners find new ideas that can make a difference for their businesses.)
When it comes to small business, Alibaba Group—the hugely popular Chinese e-commerce company—may not be the first business that springs to mind. That is, until you hear its founder and executive chairman Jack Ma speak, as he did during a candid conversation with American Express chairman and chief executive officer Kenneth Chenault about supporting small businesses in America.
“We believe the Internet is a 'treasure island' for small business," said Ma at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago, addressing more than 300 men and women from Chicago's business community who attended the June 2015 event. “Alibaba is open sesame for small business online."
Ma was in the U.S. on a mission: to encourage small businesses to use Alibaba's platforms for selling their goods and services to a global audience. Alibaba's Chinese retail websites, after all, have 350 million users, with over 100 million shoppers daily, according to Ma.
“This is not a small company," Ma explained. “But we are of the small business, by the small business and for the small business."
During the conversation, both Ma and Chenault shared advice and words of wisdom for small-business owners. Here are the seven things every small-business owner—and prospective small-business owners—should know.
1. Rejection comes with benefits.
When Ma graduated university, he applied to 30 different large companies—and no one would hire him. “After [being] rejected so many times I thought, 'Wow, maybe God wants me to do something for myself and not work for others.'" He started a translation agency, earning $50 his first month. Years later, in 1999, he gathered 17 investors in his apartment, explaining to them his vision to use the Internet to help small-business owners sell goods and services. With $50,000, they started Alibaba. Last year, sales reached $390 billion.
2. Get your business global.
Ma emphasized, time and again, the power of the Internet and the demand of the global community—particularly China—for products. “Innovative products and services bring those small and medium-size companies to China," he said. “I would say China, in the next 20 years, will become the largest importer country in the world. Because China's resources, the water, the soil, the air, can never support such a huge demand. I think if China still keeps on exporting, we will never see the blue sky in China. We have to leverage the global resources to serve 1.3 billion people."
3. Don't wait to innovate.
When people on his team say the company has had a wonderful year, Ma knows it's time to change: “Repair the roof while there is still sunshine," he said. “When the company is good, change the company. When the company is in trouble, be careful. Don't move. Just like if the storm comes, don't go up and repair the roof."
“You have to constantly focus on innovation; reinvention is in our DNA," added Chenault, referencing American Express' 165-year history. He said complacency is a threat to businesses of all sizes. When a company is at a high point—not a low point—it's time for change. “When you're falling off the cliff, you know you're falling off the cliff. But when you've won that victory and everyone is telling you you're terrific, often you don't examine and say, 'What do I need to focus on going forward?'" Chenault said he challenges the workforce at his company to “Become the company that will put us out of business before our competitors will."
4. Learn from the failures of others.
It's all too common to hear about business successes, but for Ma, it's the mistakes that business owners should really learn from. “A lot of people fail for the same reason. If you know why people fail and you learn [from] that, you can make a correction."
5. Be passionate.
If you're just in the business for money, you're going about it wrong. Ma and Chenault both emphasized the need for passion in what you do, and agreed that that fervor is a hallmark of successful small-business owners. “Small-business owners have passion and they have courage and they have the willingness to strike out on their own," said Chenault.
“If you talk about money, money, money, nobody wants to make friends with you," said Ma. “If you don't have any friends, you are not making a fortune."
6. Customers come first.
Business is filled with uncertainty, said Ma, but your focus on the customer should never waiver. "The ones supporting you are not the shareholders. Not government. It's the customers, the people, the employees," he said. “Focus on the customer. Focus on making employees happy. And focus on integrity to everything you're committed. That is the only thing."
7. Help build strong leaders.
If a business is to continue after the owner has moved on, the younger generations must understand and embrace its vision and values. “Give them the chance to make mistakes. Listen to them. Respect them," said Ma. “Make sure the young people are not following you, they're following the vision and value [of the business]."
Chenault added that leadership isn't based on a system of hierarchy. “It's based on character and competence and the followership you're able to build," he said. “If you have people in the organization that recognize that their job is to lead, you're going to do incredibly well as an organization."
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Alibaba.com Provides Full Set of Protection for SMEs in Cross-Border Trade with Trade Assurance Program
• Trade Assurance provides a full set of protections for buyers in global trading- Alibaba.com will refund the buyer for the supplier if the supplier does not meet the shipping time or the quality of products fails to meet contract requirements.
• Upgraded Trade Assurance program allows buyers to view participating suppliers’ trading info including number of relevant transactions and turnover.
Sydney – July 22, 2015
Leading global wholesale trading platform Alibaba.com, a sub-sidiary of Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA), today announced an upgrade of its Trade Assurance program, a free service designed to give businesses peace of mind when buying from over-
seas suppliers. With the upgrade, buyers who make purchases from qualified Alibaba.com suppliers will be entitled to up to a full refund of their deposits or order amounts should suppliers fail to meet the shipping times or product quality specified in contracts. Coverage has been extended to post delivery, meaning buyers are now entitled to full refunds in rele-
vant transactions if they spot quality problems after receiving orders.
Through the upgraded service, Alibaba.com is bidding to boost trust in international trading over the Internet. “By providing maximum trade protection, Alibaba.com aims to make cross-border trading easier, therefore empowering small-and medium-sized businesses to engage in global trading,” said Wu Min Zhi, Senior Vice President, Alibaba Group. “By lessening concerns and building trust in international trade, we are committed to introducing more trade opportunities to Alibaba.com members. As a result, small and medium-sized businesses will not miss out the benefits of international trading due to trust concerns over product quality or payment security.”
To help make it easier for small businesses to identify reliable trading partners, Alibaba.com suppliers who qualify for the Trade Assurance program can display a Trade Assurance icon on their Alibaba.com virtual storefronts. To further improve transparency, storefronts will also display the total number of relevant transactions and total value of relevant deals com-
pleted over the previous 12 months. In addition, Alibaba.com will show how often and how quickly qualified suppliers responded to their own customers.
Trade Assurance is immediately available to all of Alibaba.com’s millions of global buyers trading with Chinese suppliers, and it will be available for non-Chinese suppliers to partici-pate in the coming months. Participation in the Trade Assurance program is voluntary for suppliers. Alibaba.com uses data analytics to assess suppliers’ past performance and trading histories over six-month periods to determine who can join. Every qualified supplier is as-signed a Trade Assurance Amount, which will be used to cover the buyer’s loss in the event of the supplier’s breach of the purchase contract.
Key Aspects of Alibaba.com’s Trade Assurance program:
(1) 100% payment protection
- Buyers can choose to be covered for their deposit or the total value of the order, subject to the overall Trade Assurance Amount approved for the supplier. Buyers and suppliers must agree on the type and extent of protection.
(2) 100% product quality protection
- Buyers can select either pre-shipment or post-delivery protection. Alibaba.com will provide refunds for the suppliers to buyers should the product quality fail to meet the specifications agreed in the purchase contract.
(3) 100% on-time shipment protection
Alibaba.com will provide refunds for the suppliers to buyers should shipments fail to be delivered by the supplier-agreed times.
The new Trade Assurance program covers payments made by telegraphic transfer (T/T) and will be extended to other payment methods in the future.
For more information on Trade Assurance, visit http://tradeassurance.alibaba.com/.
The first business of Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA), Alibaba.com (www.alibaba.com) is the leading platform for global wholesale trade serving millions of buyers and suppliers around the world. Through Alibaba.com, small businesses can sell their products to companies in other countries. Sellers on Alibaba.com are typically manufacturers and distributors based in China and other manufacturing countries such as India, Pakistan, the United States and Thailand.
Źródło: Alibaba Group
Alibaba.com Partners With Capify to Introduce Australian Businesses to an Alternative Finance Solution.
Sydney – July 22, 2015
Alibaba.com, the leading platform for global wholesale trade, owned by Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA), today announced an innovative collaboration with Capify (formerly Ausvance), Australia’s leading alternative finance provider, to introduce Australia’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to innovative finance solutions provided by Capify in global trading.
Under the newly formed collaboration and a new product called “Alibaba.com e-Credit Line,” Australia-based business buyers can now apply for critical working capital up to AUD$400,000 from Capify through the introduction by e-Credit Line when they purchase goods from foreign-based suppliers on Alibaba.com.
Michael Mang, Head of Business Development and Marketing, APAC, Middle East and North Africa, Alibaba.com & 1688.com said, “We want to help make financing as accessible and efficient as possible for the 1.9 million Australian SMEs that do business through Alibaba.com. By linking the buyers on our platform to a leader in the alternative business lending space such as Capify, to offer innovative financial packages for our members, we hope to help Australian SMEs address their financing challenges and therefore encourage them to engage in and capture opportunities from the global trading scene to further grow their businesses.”
John De Bree, Managing Director of Capify, said: “This is tremendous news for Alibaba.com’s Australian customers. We are excited to collaborate with one of the world’s fastest growing and innovative companies. “Alibaba.com has recognised Capify’s extensive local experience and expertise in assisting SMEs to grow their business with a real time online unsecured, quick and
“The collaboration will satisfy Alibaba.com’s customers financing needs with a tailored product to help grow their business.”
With this new product, an Australia-based SME business can apply in under five minutes through a streamlined process with Capify under this collaboration. A decision based on an automated credit scoring model will be made by Capify within 60 seconds allowing them to obtain a line of credit anywhere from AUD$5,000 to AUD$400,000.
Businesses can expect to use the approved line of credit to make multiple draw downs to finance purchases, and repay with small daily micro repayments or weekly repayments over a twelve month period, minimising the impact on the businesses’ cash flow. Payment is then made directly to a supplier for purchases on Alibaba.com.
Alibaba.com is also collaborating with Lending Club in the U.S. and with ezbob and iwoca in UK to provide innovative financing solutions for SMEs in those markets.
For more information on Alibaba.com’s e-Credit Line and its partners, go to http://credit.alibaba.com
The first business of Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA), Alibaba.com (www.alibaba.com), is the leading platform for global wholesale trade serving millions of buyers and suppliers around the world. Through Alibaba.com, small businesses can sell their products to companies in other countries. Sellers on Alibaba.com are typically manufacturers and distributors based in China and other manufacturing countries such as India, Pakistan, the United States and Thailand.
Capify (formerly AmeriMerchant, United Kapital, AUSvance and True North Capital) is a leading alternative finance provider powered by proprietary technology and analytics. Capify leverages a proprietary underwriting platform to provide working capital
solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses in Australia, USA, UK, and Canada, including business loans and merchant cash advances. Business owners can apply online and receive decisions in 60 seconds or less by visiting the company’s website. For additional information about Capify in Australia, visit www.capify.com.au or www.capify.global to find out more about the global brand.
Źródło: Alibaba Group
Jack Ma prezentuje na targach CeBIT 2015 nowatorską technologię płatności online.
Jack Ma Demonstrates Face-recognition Payment Tech.
By Alizila Staff | Mar 16, 2015
As the smartphone increasingly becomes the digital tool of choice for the average Chinese, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has been pushing the development of several technologies that make it easier and more secure to shop using mobile devices. During the March 15 opening ceremony for CeBIT, the annual I.T. and business expo in Hannover, Germany, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma demoed what might be a mobile-tech match made in heaven: selfies and online-payment security.
"Online payment to buy things is always a big headache," Ma said in a Steve Jobs-like "one more thing" moment following his keynote speech. "You forget your password, you worry about the securities ... today we show you a new technology in the future how people can buy things online." It's face recognition software via smartphone, and you can see how it works by watching the video of Alibaba at CeBIT below. No word from Alibaba on when the beta version shown by Ma will be ready for prime time.
Amazon Opens Flagship Tmall.com Store
By Jim Erickson | Mar 06, 2015
The once-trendy buzzword “coopetition” may have fallen into disuse, but in the tech world, businesses continue to simultaneously compete and cooperate with each other. Amazon.com, the giant U.S. Web retailer, today announced the soft launch of a virtual storefront on Alibaba Group’s Tmall.com online marketplace in a bid to boost sales in the China market.
Amazon.com vies with Tmall for China’s online consumers through its own shopping website and has invested in warehouses and logistics to deliver orders to mainland customers. By opening a flagship store on Tmall, China’s largest B2C shopping site, Amazon seeks to “develop new sales channels, offering Tmall consumers a variety of premium imported brands and a quality life backed by Amazon,” said Niu Yinghua, vice president of Amazon China, in a statement.
Through Tmall and sister C2C shopping website Taobao Marketplace, Amazon is tapping into Alibaba’s e-commerce ecosystem, which has some 334 million active buyers.
Products sold on Amazon’s Tmall store include footwear, food, beverages, kitchen products and toys, reflecting Chinese consumers’ growing desire for quality, everyday goods from overseas brands. The store, which is set to officially launch in April, features more than 1,000 imports, including some that are sold exclusively by Amazon in mainland China such as casual apparel retailer Panama Jack.
Orders will be fulfilled from warehouses in China and delivered by Amazon China’s local logistics services. Amazon China currently offers same-day and next-day delivery services in more than 1,400 cities and counties in China, as well as more than 5,000 self-pickup locations.
“Amazon aims to serve Chinese consumers to purchase products around the world through its platform,” Niu said. The company launched a store for its Kindle e-reader on Tmall last year.
Unlike Amazon, which buys and sells merchandise and operates its own delivery network, Tmall.com is an online marketplace that serves mainly as a host for independent merchants.
Janet Wang, director of Tmall’s international business development, said Tmall “aims to provide consumers with quality products and service, and welcomes partners with the same idea to join our platform. Amazon’s launch on Tmall will broaden Tmall’s selection of imported brands and allow consumers to shop globally through e-commerce channels.”
Other e-commerce sites that have storefronts on Tmall include Chinese shopping websites Dangdang, Gome and Yihaodian.
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Jack Ma, twórca potęgi Grupy Alibaba podczas odbywającego się w Szanghaju w dniach 2-4 marca spotkania z brytyjskimi przedsiębiorcami powiedział, że Europa z jej wysokiej jakości produktami jest głównym dostawcą produktów dla bogacącej się klasy średniej w Chinach.
U.K. Companies Getting Traction with China's Online Shoppers
By Jim Erickson and Susan Wang | Mar 02, 2015
In late 2013, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron met with Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma in Shanghai during the signing of an agreement calling for the e-commerce giant to help promote British-made goods on Tmall.com, China’s largest B2C shopping website.
Today, some 14 months on, Ma met with Prince William during a U.K. marketing event in Shanghai with good news to report. Last year sales of U.K. goods on Tmall and its related Tmall Global websites grew 94 percent as an increasing number British brands opted to open up sales channels to Chinese consumers by selling online, according to Tmall. The total value of sales were not disclosed.
The sharp increase in U.K. online sales to China is all part of the plan for Ma, who says he'd like to some day see Alibaba websites reach 2 billion consumers worldwide--and trade between Europe and China is a priority. “My first market is Europe,” Ma explained during a Q&A session during the GREAT Festival of Creativity, a marketing event being held March 2-4 in Shanghai to showcase British companies and foster China-U.K. commercial relationships.
“China will have a nation of more than 200 million middle-class people in next 10 to 20 years," Ma said. As their spending grows, "they need high quality products, good service, because I don’t see today China’s environment can have enough good quality products and services. And Europe, you have the best quality. You have the very creative products, and good healthy products and services.
"China needs you," Ma said. "And you need China.”
And Tmall, which Alibaba positions as a relatively low-cost way for international companies to tap the China market, needs British retailers. Top U.K. companies that established virtual stores on the platform last year included fashion brands ASOS and Topshop, luxury brand Burberry, appliance maker Dyson, and shoe companies Cheaney and Church’s. Tmall today hosts more than 130 U.K. companies, most of them in the apparel, food and baby products categories.
Best-selling U.K. brands last year included Britax, which sells children’s car seats and strollers. But the company that saw the biggest sales increase last year, says Tmall, was Tangle Teezer, a maker of hair brushes said to be favored by Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, and Victoria Beckham. The company sold some 70,000 brushes to Chinese consumers in 2014 through its Tmall virtual store, according to the website.
"My children, they know the U.K. by Harry Potter," Ma said during the Q&A. "We think U.K. is so good at manufacturing, but today it is about creativity."
He added that facilitating international e-commerce is essential for Alibaba's growth. “If we want to be a global company, 50 percent of our revenues should be outside China," he said. "Now less than 5 percent of the businesses from us are outside of China.”
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Alibaba Invests $590 Million in Chinese Smartphone Maker Meizu.
Alizila By Jim Erickson | Feb 09, 2015
Alibaba Group, the e-commerce giant that has fielded its own mobile-device operating system, is deepening its cooperation with rising Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu by taking a $590 million minority stake in the company.
With the investment, Alibaba and Meizu will collaborate “at both strategic and business levels to achieve a deeper integration of Meizu’s hardware and Alibaba Group’s mobile operating system,” YunOS, according to a press release. Meizu last year equipped a version of its flagship smartphone with YunOS, a cloud-based operating system that has yet to gain significant market share.
According to the release, Alibaba Group will provide Meizu with resources and support in e-commerce, the mobile Internet, mobile operating systems and data analysis “with the aim of developing Meizu’s smartphone ecosystem.” Alibaba Group’s online shopping marketplaces will also become distribution channels for Meizu’s smartphones and other devices.
“The investment in Meizu represents a significant expansion of the Alibaba Group ecosystem and an important step in our overall mobile strategy as we strive to bring users a wider array of mobile offerings and experiences,” said Alibaba Group Chief Technology Officer Wang Jian in a statement.
Meizu has been emerging as one of China’s better-known smartphone brands, although it is not in the same league as market leaders Xiaomi and Lenovo, which are among the top sellers of mobile phones worldwide. Meizu CEO Bai Yongxiang said in a statement his company’s strategic collaboration with Alibaba Group “will enable Meizu to further develop our smartphone business and our smart devices ecosystem.”
At the end of 2014, China had more than one billion mobile phone users. About 40 percent of them use smartphones, according to IDC.
Delivery Drones Take to China's Skies in Alibaba Test [Video]
Alizila By Jim Erickson | Feb 04, 2015
Talk about your pilot(less) projects. Alibaba Group's Taobao Marketplace shopping website and Shanghai YTO Express Logistics Co. today began a trial of drone-delivery technology in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Over a three-day period, parcel-packing quadcopters will be used to ferry boxed sets of ginger tea high above city traffic to 450 Taobao shoppers who purchase the tea for RMB 49. The remote-controlled drones won't be flown right to consumers' doors. They'll be landed outside residential buildings, where packages will be collected by human-type couriers for last-mile duty.
By conducting the trial, Taobao and YTO Express officials aren't hinting that drone-delivery service is ripe for commercialization in the PRC. As a Bloomberg News story points out, aviation authorities in China and the U.S. are pondering regulations to govern such activities. Alibaba characterized the three-day trial as a "one-off campaign."
Check out this video from Taobao showing a delivery drone in action in Beijing:
Jack Ma to Young Entrepreneurs: Stop Complaining.
By Susan Wang | Feb 03, 2015 | 04:32 PM
Alibaba Group on Sunday said it had set up a HK$1 billion foundation to back businesses started by young Hong Kong entrepreneurs. On Monday, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma offered the city's youth something that might be more valuable than cash: advice from China's most successful Internet entrepreneur.
In a speech entitled "Transforming Dreams Into Successful Business” at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center, Ma shared insights and encouragement with a crowd of some 7,000 people, many of them college students. Here are some of the highlights:
Stop complaining. Ma said he had met many top business leaders and they are always optimistic, persistent and positive. If you must whine, turn it your advantage. Complaints can be opportunities in disguise. Ma said Alibaba was founded to tackle the complaint that Chinese exporters lacked global sales channels.
Don't be afraid to change. Adaptability is key to success in fast-changing markets. Companies that are successful one day can fail the next if the business environment shifts, unless they are willing to shift with it. “When the wind is blowing even a pig can fly," Ma said, "but when wind is gone, it falls to die. The pig hasn’t changed itself at all ... you change yourself, and then you change the world.”
Have fun. Tech titans Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jerry Yang started their empires while still in college. Ma, who twice failed college entrance exams, said he had no problem if students mixed business with study--but only if enterprises are “just for fun," a way to test one's business acumen and gain experience. There's no shame if you discover you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. After all, “there is only one Bill Gates and one Jerry Yang," Ma said. "For college students, study is your key responsibility."
Believe in yourself. Ma says he recently interviewed eight students who want to study at Lakeside College, a business school he opened last month in his hometown of Hangzhou, China. He came away impressed by the students' breadth of knowledge and sophistication. "Young people today are much more capable than we were," Ma said. “I feel lucky that I started my business 15 years ago. I would be defeated badly if I started today." Bottom line: don't be intimidated, not even by Jack Ma. “All you need is to be confident in yourself and your partners when others are against you,” he said.
Tags: Jack MaentrepreneurshipAdviceAlibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation Stay Connected
By Jim Erickson | Jan 23, 2015
Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma says his e-commerce company, which raised $25 billion last year in the world’s largest-ever IPO, is still “a baby.”
This baby has a big appetite. Alibaba dominates online shopping in China—more than 100 million people shop on Alibaba sites every day. But at the World Economic Forum in Davos today, Ma told American journalist and talk-show host Charlie Rose he wants Alibaba's online platforms to serve 2 billion consumers all over the world, while helping 10 million small businesses outside of China sell into global markets.
Watch Jack Ma's interview with Charlie Rose at Davos. (Scroll down for interview highlights.)
“We are an Internet company (that) happens to be in China,” Ma said in response to Rose’s question about what he wants to do next. “ I remember the day when I start Alibaba we want to have a mission helping small business (do business) easier” Ma said.
“So how can we make a platform for global small business? My vision is if we can help Norway small businesses sell things to Argentina, and Argentina consumers can buy things online from Switzerland, we can build up what I call … the ‘e-WTO.’ ”
“The WTO was great, past century, but WTO was helping big companies to sell things across the nations. Today the Internet can help small businesses sell things cross the oceans, cross the nations. And I hope that we can serve 2 billion consumers, we can help 10 million small business outside China.”
Ma noted this effort is already underway. Last year, Alibaba Group’s Tmall.com B2C site helped Alaskan fishermen sell salmon to China and farmers in Washington state sell more than a hundred tons of cherries direct to 80,000 Chinese families that ordered online, with deliveries taking place in days instead of weeks.
“If we can sell seafood, if we can sell the cherries, why we cannot help American and European small businesses sell to China consumers? China needs that. So this is what I want to do … (there are) two billion consumers, China, Asia, developing nations, how we can let them buy things globally?” Alibaba’s AliExpress website is already “doing well” hosting Chinese merchants and manufacturers that sell directly to Russian and Brazilian consumers, he added.
“Compared to 15 years ago, we’re big,” Ma said when Rose asked earlier in the interview about the size of the company he co-founded in 1999. “But compared to 15 years later, we’re still a baby.”
During the 45-minute interview with Rose, Ma spoke on a wide range of topics, from entrepreneurism to the role of women in the workplace. Check out some of the highlights:
24:50 – How failures in childhood prepared him for success in business.
28:45 – How Alibaba is helping international businesses sell to China.
38:44 – Ma on the high percentage of women who work at Alibaba.
40:17 – China's slowing growth rate and the future of the country's economy.
41:32 – Ma on life beyond Alibaba.
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