There are many challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. Taking certain risks and making big decisions is a normal part of the day. How do those daily tasks revolutionize when expanding business to another country — say, China? We spoke with the brains behind Easybike, Yu Guo, CEO and Founder, and Sen Lin, Project Manager and Business Developer, to hear their perspectives on expanding business from Finland to China.
Guo and Lin have been living in Finland for at least 6 years after coming to complete a Master’s degree. In Finland, the language barrier can make it difficult for foreigners to find a suitable position in a Finnish company. When asked about the transition from student to professional, Guo says that fortunately in Finland, there is an abundance in support as far as entrepreneurial advice and available organizations that exist to help foreigners open businesses in Finland. Therefore, it was not a difficult transition; however, he does understand the challenges that may arise for non-Finnish speakers trying to break into the job market.
There is currently a buzz, some may call it the “China Effect”, that is affecting the Finnish market. The Chinese market is a trending prospect for many companies hailing from Finland, in part that there are billions of consumers ready and willing to purchase the next big thing. In order for companies to break into the Chinese market, the comprehension of the business culture is crucial in the communication between the two countries. Lin explains that the fundamental business tradition in China is interpersonal connection and networking. He compares the intensity of it between Finland and China and he claims that the close relationship with a prospective customer is what makes or breaks the deal. The Chinese enjoy meeting face to face, as well as conversations over dinner and drinks.
What about overcoming obstacles, a big one, referring to, as Guo calls it, The Great Firewall of China? Both Guo and Lin agree that although there may be some small challenges in connecting to the online world in China due to some restrictions, overall, there are ways to surpass these by using Chinese platforms. In China, there are the same versions of social media and search engines as in other parts of the world, but designed for use in China by the Chinese. It is possible to access these around the globe; however, you may need to brush up on your Chinese language skills. For example, the equivalent of Google is Baidu and for YouTube, in China, there is Youku, although Lin says that even that platform is becoming old news. The best way to contact your business prospects is through WeChat, which is a communication app very similar to WhatsApp.
So, how exactly does a Finnish company walk into the Chinese market? Guo recommends to attend exhibitions and conferences that pertain to your field of interest. This is the best way to meet with many prospective clients in one setting. Another idea is to gather ideas and information from fellow companies who already have set up shop in China. The key here is to genuinely network and nourish that connection in order to thrive in a new market. Keep the mindset of an entrepreneur: don’t be afraid to take that first step.
Learn more about Easybike: http://easybike.fi/en/home/