Thursday, 5 August 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.


zeno said...

Nice to see you firing on all cylinders :) Two posts in two days :)

Lovely summary of the WSJ article!

I prefer and value first hand personal observations than data, cause i feel the data/study/research could be conducted keeping an end result in the mind ;)

At the sametime i also felt the study does reflects the mindset of one or two indian entrepreneurs that i have come across

Anonymous said...

vaazhga valamudannu title vachirukalam :D :D etho self motivating book padicha epect :)

Ramesh said...

@zeno - Yes sometimes personal observations add colour to a perception, but has the danger of bias and a jump to a conclusion. The beauty of a blog is you can get away with all sorts of opinions - factual or otherwise !!

@gils - You are in a "movie mode" - Devikala beckons !!

Vishal said...

Yes, indeed 2 posts in 2 days is a treat to read.

Lovely summary of the piece in the link.

Such studies do generalize the notions based on geography, age group, ethnicity etc. And they hold true also quite a lot like in this case. Irrespective of their surroundings, entrepreneurs are at the end risk takers and business makers and they deserve all the credit for what they do to an economy. Clap! Clap! Clap!

Anonymous said...

Count me as one who does not tire of the India/China comparisons. Well let me rephrase, the India/China dynamic. In reading a lot of your personal insights here at the blog and in your commentaries at other sites, I've really come to understand that comparisons are rather silly.

However, the dynamic of what is taking place and the juxtaposition of the two countries I find fascinating. I particularly loved your listing of this difference: "Indians have a bias towards trading and services. Chinese have a bias towards manufacturing.". Seems ripe for symbiosis, sadly though, I think each country tends to view the other cautiously as a potential competitor or threat rather than as a potential dancing partner.

I'll applaud with you and I think we both would agree that there is still so much more to come from these two fascinating countries.

kiwibloke said...

Possibly one difference- Corruption in India impacts every one big and small. Corruption in China as every thing else is large in scale, and hence does not affect the little people (little people definition - refer interesting quote by the BP Top Honcho for which he got into hot water!)

Deepa said...

Great read. And some lovely comments too. I particularly agree to the fact that these two nations can turn the tables if they were to come together.

One thing that indeed grabs one's eyes in China is that everything is huge, majestic and large! Its as if their ancestors set a standard with that Great Wall. After that, they make everything with an intention of it being visible from the moon!

In India, the one who made the Taj Mahal lost his limbs, maybe that explains a lot of things! :)

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - You are right - all generalisations are by definition false, but its human to do so.

@Hopfrog - Yes there is a long history of mutual distrust between the two countries. For the foreseeable future, I see them as competing uneasily. They have chosen fairly different paths and it will be interesting to see how they pan out.

@kiwi - Absolutely right, your take on corruption.

@Deepa - Little chance of coming together. The level of mutual distrust is very deep. China is also not a country that would come together with anybody.
The Great Wall is a completely different story altogether. In my very humble view it was a monumental folly. It cannot be seen from space (that's a total myth) and if there's any example of a downright useless creation, it has to be it. There's nothing great about it at all !! Perhaps fodder for a Sunday post.

Rajan said...

Great post. Nice food for thought. Actually i do agree with the fact that both Indians and Chinese are hardworking. But with my very limited interaction with Chinese, my opinion is that Chinese are lot more sincere than Indians. I was able to observe this during a training session wherein i had 15 people to train (2 Chinese and 13 Indians). I gave them an assignment to be completed and guess what only 2 of them turned up with the answers. Both were Chinese.. They literally slogged till 3 am and got back with the solution. But anyway this may not be a representative sample.

Another good example could be the way Chinese construct buildings. Its amazing. You see on a day, they would have started but see after 4 months, you will see a totally different structure. I have wondered how these guys are able to construct it so fast when we in India construct a simple over flyover for 5 years...

Another good e.g. could be the way Chinese are becoming proficient with their English. The progress they have made is phenomenal.. Sometimes i feel it is better to have a single government than being democratic as most of the times we end up fighting in the parliament with no concrete actions.

But i have one concern on China and Ramesh you can clarify me on this. I agree with the fact that China is growing but are the people really growing and are they really content and happy..

zeno said...

From a very popular non-fiction editor[writer] with impeccable credentials of a leading publishing house had a gyan that the non fiction writing should definitely be opinionated. If not you are doing injustice to the reader.

Ramesh said...

@"Rajan" - Wonderful comment; so have to give a longish response.

Yes the Chinese are very hard working. But the Indian professional is hardworking too. I didn't find a real big difference. That Chinese follow orders a lot lot more is of course true.

Not at all sure about English proficiency. Actually the standard of English is quite average. The problem is that you can't master a language by only learning it at school. If you don't have a single English channel, a single English newspaper, rarely any English books, then there's not much chance of mastering the language.

Are they content or happy ?? No better or no worse than all of us. What has struck me most is how much money is at the top of their hierarchy of needs. Not that the Indian is less money minded, but the Chinese seem to be even more so.

@zeno - I am totally flattered. You are incredibly motivating.

Connecter said...

Indeed a great comparison on two fastest growing economies. I would like you to BLOG upon the Indian geography when it comes to risk taking on expanding businesses - as I see a great difference between North & South within India.

@Rajan - While I completely agree on your thoughts on projects not getting completed on time (classic being the current common wealth games), we do have a very few classic examples of how we have executed certain projects viz. Konkan railways, Delhi Metro and offcourse a little known project in Chennai (Nehru Stadium - renovation completed in a record 260 days by L&T).

Sandhya Sriram said...

a very interesting perspective on the topic and some beautiful comments as well.

what kiwi wrote was very interesting. the corruption in china though large scale is not eating the roots of the tree but gobbling the fruits. whereas in India it is the other way round and therefore, while in the former, what is good for the entrepreuner, good for the politician, is good for the country. but it isn't so out here.

b.t.w why no sunday post??

Anonymous said...

BRI + C Mr. Ramesh, I read this in someone's book - she is still publishing it. Good pick up.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful read Ramesh.
We are hardworking but still not very sincere and when it comes to honesty we are tad behind.


Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - Yes, kiwi's observation was a very perceptive one. Wasn't online this Sunday - par of shifting home syndrome. Sorry.

@Anon - I've sent an email.

@Ambulisamma - Probably so, but this decline in values is a recent phenomenon, I think.

Ramesh said...

@Connecter - Welcome to commenting. Now that I have placed you, a very special welcome ! Yes, India (and China) is not one homogeneous country. There are wide regional disparities as you have rightly pointed out.

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