Types of Chinese entrepreneurs
While it’s true that the new Chinese middle-class is gaining momentum, it’s is also important to take notice of the rise of Chinese entrepreneurs. Historically, entrepreneurship blossomed in societies and cultures that touted free speech, individualism and creative thought. Small wonder China didn’t make “The 10 Best Countries for Entrepreneurs” list featured in a recent 24/7 Wall St.1 article. The world has gotten smaller and it definitely shows in the changing views of entrepreneurship in China. Although the Chinese government favors foreign investments that often disadvantages new companies, there is a new breed of non-traditional entrepreneurs that are breaking all odds. This new type of entrepreneur is distinctively different from our traditional view of an American entrepreneurs in two main ways.
The “Student” Entrepreneur
The most common type of risk-taking, self-starters are referred to as “student” entrepreneurs. They are young, driven, talented and still in school. Whether it be undergraduate and graduate level students, many of China’s young adults are paving new roads in internet businesses and small partnerships.
The “Learned” Entrepreneur
Another common type is what I’ve dubbed the “learned” entrepreneur. This is one who, having no previous example of what entrepreneurship is, took classes and essentially learned how to be an entrepreneur. Many college campuses across China are beginning to offer innovation and entrepreneurship classes as the country (and global marketplace) is becoming aware of the lack of understanding and support around being an entrepreneur.
It is crucial to remember the importance of “learning” how to be an entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs in the West had some example of entrepreneurship to emulate. As China breaks out of its Confucian background and begins to embrace risk, unconformity and instability, a clear shift in modern Chinese culture is evident. In the business landscape, it’s important to understand the dichotomy that exists between old & young, East & West, and traditional & modern. As a tip, if you are looking to start a joint venture in China or test out what it would be like to work with a Chinese entrepreneur, your best bet may actually be found in the mid-20s age group.