When I used to race mountain bikes we used this term to describe you riding at full tilt, fast paced into a corner leaning the bike in as you teeter a foot out to keep balance, dust cloud kicking out from the back wheel. These past few weeks have been akin to those happy Sunday’s racing down a hillside, I have definitely been foot out flat out and feel just as alive now as I did then.
I have had a lot of great feedback from some of you guys reading the blog, I have even sourced products for some of you so thanks for throwing some challenges my way.
The first job on my list was finding a new apartment with a decent sized office, enough room for storage and a gym. I also wanted to be in a specific location which is placed near some trade markets I regularly use. This was not an easy task, and I can’t really explain in words why. It took 2 weeks in between visiting factories. Every night looking around well past midnight. I got here in the end but what a mission.
I guess in essence it could be described as a “cultural difference”? Maybe I’m trying to remain politically correct? I will try to put it on paper but I fear this may develop into a rant. Ha ha….
Things here take time, the pace people move at here is slow and there is absolutely no clarity in dealing with most people here. If a supplier or factory is unable to meet your demands or requirements they are likely to tell you “yes we can do that no problem……” then you will find out just when your expecting to receive your perfect finished products that perhaps there was more than an error in translation.
This really caught me by surprise at first, I was expecting a fast paced and dynamic business world where people wanted to get things moving as quickly as me. Instead it’s a very casual pace which is more than frustratingly slow. Everything takes forever and I can’t get my head around why.
I suppose I am used to doing business quickly and agreeing terms on the spot due to the nature of what I have been doing for the past few years, here this is simply not the way people want to work. A hand shake is a deal done where I come from, I’m not sure what the Chinese think it means here, everytime I go to shake someone’s hand they literally react like I am about to give them a kiss. A deal that I consider concrete once agreed is as turbulent as the flight I came in here on.
Again this is just my own perception of things here, how I have been treated and the situations I have seen first hand. As well as some mainstream products i am working with some odd little niche items which adds to problems i think. I have met some really great Chinese people here but my underlying feeling is that it’s difficult to find people who are straight with you. This perhaps niggles me more than others because I think it is very important to be straight so you know exactly where you are.
Was that a rant? Perhaps a little but I feel that this area is of great importance to those considering business here. I have spent weeks chasing my tail simply because I have been repeatedly miss informed. Be it negotiating a price, visiting the bank or getting into a taxi, be prepared for some very cloudy waters.
So I have learnt something here which seems to be the absolute necessity of doing business here – you must put up with absolute headache and wade through a lot of crap to get to the same place that would take 5 minutes back home, But then there is definitely nothing like the light here at the end of the tunnel back home in the UK. One thing I do know is that if something is a headache and a real chore to do it will likely result in making a chunk of money as most of your competition will have given up.
On the plus side I am now in a really nice apartment in a great location on pearl river, look at that view…
Next on my list was to look into sourcing some products for those of you looking to dip your toe into the water. This has been good fun and I have enjoyed helping some people get a better feel for importing from china. I did get one or two emails from people simply looking to “have a go” on a product but didn’t know what they wanted to import, like most of us if it makes money then that’s attractive enough. I really want to try offer something fresh here, there are loads of Chinese agents here out to make a fast buck buying low quality items that look just as good as the better quality stuff but last a few weeks. I really only want to be looking at gear that I would be happy to import myself.
There is a lot of choice here and I know margin is key so I put my thinking hat on a little and decided to go at the angle I have been working at in the UK, buying overstock. China remember is also feeling the pinch and global exports are down, this means that some suppliers are keen to move on some lines to free up capital. I did some digging and came up with a couple of items that I bought in bulk cheap with the idea to pass them on, if this doesn’t work then they were enough of a bargain for me to sell myself at a later date so I was happy to take the risk. I am thinking of splitting them into batches of 30/50 so there small enough for people to have a go on, I would appreciate some feedback on this and I’m open to ideas, this is a learning curve for all of us I think. The packages I have already sent back to the UK took a week and my Russian friend here works for dhl so I’m getting a pretty good rate. There is nothing mind blowing within these products as i just see these things are door openers for people but its all stuff that someone back in the UK is selling on eBay and making at least double money on so its all good as far as i am concerned. I will add details of these products later on.
I’ve also been busy going around in circles with my own factories and suppliers, few little dramas with production models being different to samples, a small issue which would have cost me a fortune had I not been here on the ground to nip it in the bud. Like I mentioned earlier there is no clarity here sometimes and a lot of people have a short term gain mentality meaning you have to be careful not to get burnt. Really reminds me of the first few deals I did with Africa in that sense. I have come a long way with my gps head units though especially the BMW modules which I managed to shave a little bit more off in terms of costings. I’ve gone a little sample crazy and my apartment is like a wholesale market in itself, I think it’s the only way to do this – the quality between production samples varies hugely even though the products actually look identical – my tool kit is working overtime taking things apart. Im constantly ferrying things back to the stockroom by any means possible, Samples samples samples…….
So I guess that’s a long enough blog before I head to the gym, really moving forwards now and with stock back in the UK I hope it won’t be long before I have some nice sales to smile about.
Take care back there, 10pm here and 26 degrees.