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
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