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中国大地上的创业潮

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上海,又一个清晨,Kevin Cang可无暇欣赏这明媚的秋日。这个27岁的生意人同芸芸众生一样,裹挟在早高峰潮水一般的人流中。
It is a bright autumn morning in Shanghai, but Kevin Cang hasn’t yet noticed. The 27-year-old entrepreneur is merely following the overwhelming rush-hour flow of commuters. Cang quickens his step as he enters the subway station for Line 1, the city’s first and the busiest route, and, ignoring the newspaper giveaway that’s attracted a small crowd on the platform, he pulls out his mobile phone. As he boards the train, he updates his agenda using My Life Organized, a handy application that helps him remember tasks in lieu of a real assistant. Unlike other passengers, who mindlessly watch the in-train commercials or read newspapers or play PSP, Cang gazes at his to-do list and frowns a little, realizing that he has seven clients to contact and a deal to close in the next eight hours. He tunes out all of the chattering and page flipping — in fact, the overpopulated train car appears completely still — until he arrives at his destination, puts away his mobile phone, steps off the train, and returns to the constrained chaos of Shanghai’s streets.
他大步流星迈入这座城市最为繁忙的一号线地铁站,穿过站台上争抢免费地铁报的人群,抽出手机开始了一天的工作。
Cang graduated from a top university in China four years ago. After working three months for PricewaterhouseCoopers, he left to start Looker, a career training and consulting services company, with several partners his own age. Over the past three years, Cang has received funding from an angel investor, argued with partners who subsequently quit, shifted his product portfolio, and merged with another, similar small business. He and the founder of that business are now partners and the only full-time employees of their company, which pulls in 1 million RMB (about US$150,000) in annual revenue — and a profit.
列车缓缓开动, 他用My Life Organized这个程序梳理自己一天的行程,这款小巧的应用程序可以帮助他完成所有私人助理的任务。车厢里,人们或看报纸,或玩PSP,或呆若木鸡地盯着广告屏幕,与之不同,Cang凝视着自己的任务清单,眉头微皱,他意识到在接下来的八个小时里要联系七位顾客并完成一项交易。
Cang isn’t unique. After seeing big-name multinational companies downsize significantly, one after another, young professionals are realizing that the “Iron Rice Bowl” has disappeared since China opened its doors to the West in the 1980s. Then the economic tsunami of 2008 made the nation’s economy even shakier. Recent college grads are asking, “Why should we work so hard, day in and day out, to pursue non-existent job security? If we have to gamble on success, why not spend our precious youth doing something that we can control and that has a chance to grow into a lifetime business?” Good questions. Their answer, increasingly, is to start their own businesses.
人满为患的车厢里鸦默雀静。到站,他揣回手机,踏出列车,又融回大上海嘈杂喧闹的市井阡陌。
The government is providing more and more entrepreneurial opportunities to the six million students who graduate from college in China every year, partly to ease employment tension across the nation. In 2005, Shanghai city officials set up a special fund for technology projects initiated by local university students. Four years later, in early 2009, China’s central government announced a preferential policy that allows graduates to register a company with ”zero” capital up front; whatever money they pledged to fund their start-up may be paid within two years after the company is established. Passionate youngsters applaud the new policy and have shown great zeal of taking advantage of the opportunity. In the past year, Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, reported 1,075 university graduate-launched companies, including 81 zero-capital start-ups, as the first generation of grassroots entrepreneurs began their quests for prosperity.
Cang四年前毕业于一所中国顶尖大学,曾在全球四大会计事务所之一的普华永道供职三个月,一纸辞呈后,他和几个同龄人搭档创办了Looker,一个职业培训和提供咨询服务的公司。
A Game of Resources
在过去的三年里,他经历颇丰:曾接到过天使投资者(用自己的资金投资一家初创公司的富人)的投资,曾与随后退出的搭档争得面红耳赤,也曾改善自己产品的规格,更曾大鱼吃小鱼兼并重组。他与被兼并公司的创办者今日已是合作伙伴,二人是这家年收入100万人民币的公司中仅有的全职员工。
Some Chinese entrepreneurs prefer to use their own investment capital to get their operations off the ground. “It’s a game of resources,” Cang explains. “Investors own the money, but we entrepreneurs make real-life decisions. It works well if both parties are on the same track; otherwise, the conflict can go wild.” Cang, who had an unpleasant experience dealing with several initial investors in the early phase of his start-up, eventually bought all of his company’s shares back. “We’ve already passed the break-even point. The business model I’ve built up in the past two years can provide us a healthy cash flow. I neither need nor want an investor at this time.”
Cang不是孤军奋战,自上世纪八十年代改革开放后,中国大地上,太多年轻有为的人在看到那些大型跨国公司大幅度瘦身后,纷纷意识到过去的铁饭碗早已不复存在。2008年的金融海啸让这一现实变得更加残酷。
In addition to college grads, a group known as the “Rich Second Generation,” has emerged. These 20-something professionals are either children of high-level government officials with strong local connections, or kids born to wealthy first-generation entrepreneurs. Their deep pockets generally make them less concerned about finding initial investments and evaluating risks than others — and more focused on experimenting with ideas that interest them. Money, of course, isn’t the only resource that entrepreneurs need. Customers, partners, and social networks can help take a business to the next level and give it a competitive edge. In China, people tend to rely mostly on their personal networks to reach out for help. This explains why a few entrepreneurs say they’d rather wait to start businesses until they’re in their 30s and 40s, after they’ve accumulated contacts and experience. Younger people seem willing to take greater risks.
越来越多的大学毕业生问道:“为什么我们夜以继日的拼命工作,为的却是一个根本不存在的工作?既然我们只能背水一战,那为什么不用宝贵而有限的青春去做一些掌控之内的事情,去打拼出一片属于自己的终身受益的天空?”好想法!最终,越来越多的人意识到,创业的时机到了。
Beyond connections, entrepreneurs need exposure. The mass media have become a popular vehicle for grabbing the attention of powerful decision-makers and exposing work to a broader audience. Inspired by the popular U.S. reality show The Apprentice, many Chinese TV stations have set up various stages on which entrepreneurs can shine. The first was the popular and controversial Winner (2007), from Dragon TV in Shanghai. A dozen contestants had to pass rounds of business challenges in random team format before one person seized the final 1 million RMB (US$150,000). Although the show was criticized for not being very realistic, soon after it aired more business-focused programs appeared.
为了缓解蔓延全国的就业压力,中国政府已经开始为每年毕业的约600万高校毕业生提供越来越多的创业机会。2005年,上海市政府建立了一个由当地大学生发起的特殊基金会,四年后也就是2009年初,中央政府发布了一项优惠政策:允许高校毕业生可以零首付注册成立一个公司;而所需注册款项可以在公司成立之日起两年内缴清。激动地年轻人欢呼雀跃,跃跃欲试,试图抓住这个千载难逢的机会。
Young entrepreneurs now actively turn to these programs to evangelize their ideas in the public eye. For example, Win in China, hosted by the influential, state-run television channel CCTV, has achieved popularity among entrepreneurs and audiences alike, because every participant has an equal chance to hear business leaders’ advice and present his or her project to heavy-weight judges, such as Ma Yun, CEO of China’s biggest consumer-to-consumer Web site, Taobao.com, and the B2B trade portal, Alibaba.com.
去年,杭州共有1075位大学毕业生成立了自己的公司,包括81家零首付注册公司,第一代草根企业家开始了他们追求成功的征程。
Meanwhile, Dr. Kaifu Lee, a technology veteran who transformed Google from a wacky foreign word into a familiar name among Chinese Internet users, in September 2009 made an unexpected announcement that he had left Google China to launch an idea incubator called Innovation Works. The new company, according to its official Web site, is “a business creation platform focused on establishing the next wave of Chinese high-technology companies,” rather than a venture capital firm. However, Innovation Works is supported by more than US$100 million from an elite team of investors, including Legend Holdings and Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube. Dr. Lee’s decision — and his timing — provided instant fuel for China’s entrepreneurial fire.
资金游戏
The Digital Generation
中国一些创业者更乐意利用自己的投资资本去打理生意。“这是一个资金的游戏,”Cang解释道,“投资人手握资金,但现实生意由我们创业者来把关拍板,如果合作默契,生意自然蒸蒸日上,反之,矛盾就会一触即发不可收拾。”
Technology does seem, after all, to be the future. Although the success of early pioneers in the late 20th century undoubtedly influences current dream chasers in China, times have changed. Tools have changed. Opportunity has drifted away from raw materials and manufacturing — and toward the digital world.
公司创立之后,Cang曾和一些早期的投资人有过不愉快的经历,这些教训让他下决心最终买回了公司所有股份。“我们已经过了保本点,过去两年我所建立的经营模式足够确保我们健康平稳的资金流动,这个时候我不需要也不想要某个投资者了。”
The majority of today’s Chinese entrepreneurs grew up in the Internet boom as well-educated only children. Computers and the Web, not to mention mobile devices (from touch-screen handsets to lightweight netbooks), are second nature to them. A friend of mine who runs a family business of ceramic bathroom products recently switched to HTC Hero, a touch-based Android phone, for the ease of using embedded Google services on-the-go. Likewise, Cang uses his mobile phone daily to check email and keep up with his contacts.
除了大学毕业生,另一个群体也在社会上崭露头角——“富二代”,这些二十出头的年轻人非富则贵。他们雄厚的经济实力通常使其较少考虑去物色投资者或权衡利弊,更多是随性而为。
Besides being familiar with all kinds of new gadgets, this generation of entrepreneurs has a natural curiosity about software and online services. They were raised in an era of Internet heroes. They want the latest scoop from that magical Silicon Valley across the Pacific Ocean. To them, life is digital, from information search to bank transactions, whereas the older generation still holds doubt about the universality and security of the Matrix-ed world.
钱显然不是创业者必不可少的唯一因素。顾客、搭档和人脉都可以把一个企业带到一个新的高度并获得更大的竞争优势。在中国,大多数人们依靠人脉去找寻帮助,这也就是为什么有一些创业者表示要等到自己而立不惑之年时再去自立门户,因为这时他已经积攒了足够的人脉和经验。相较之下,年轻人更喜欢以身犯险。
Thanks to technology, these young entrepreneurs put convenience, time-efficiency, and productivity before routines and procedures. Taobao.com is the best example of this. The Web site provides a trade portal for individual sellers and buyers. More and more consumers, especially those between the ages of 20 and 40, are shunning brick-and-mortar stores and spending in cyberspace as the variety of products available increases. This big trend supports thousands of Taobao shops, most of which have no physical retail presence.
除了人脉,创业者也需要曝光率。大众传媒已经成为吸引决策者和广大受众的一大法宝。受美国真人秀节目《学徒》的启发,中国许多电视台也为企业家提供了各式各样展示自己的舞台。首当其冲的就是上海东方卫视创办的栏目《创智赢家》,十几位参赛者必须通过层层关卡,赢得轮轮商业挑战,才能最终有一位赢得百万大奖。尽管有人批评该节目不够真实,但之后不久类似节目如雨后春笋繁荣起来。
Interestingly, many Taobao shop owners run the business virtually from start to end: They purchase inventory from manufacturers or wholesalers via an online B2B trade platform and miscellaneous packaging materials from another Taobao seller; they open virtual stores on Taobao and talk to potential buyers via Taobao messenger; when a deal is made, they receive money instantaneously via online banking systems and send out the order via a third-party delivery company. These shop owners are most concerned about the virtual store display and how to make their products pop out quickly as buyers browse the site to compare goods and services. In the first half of 2009, the trade revenue on Taobao amounted to 80.9 billion RMB (US$11.5 billion), and the population of its registered users reached 145 million.
年轻的企业家开始迫不及待地利用这些节目来向公众传达自己的理念。例如,中央电视台创办的节目《赢在中国》在企业和观众当中获得很大反响,因为每一位参赛者都能亲身聆听商业领袖的建议并可以在这些重量级的裁判面前展示自己的项目计划,这些裁判中包括全球最大的B2B门户网站阿里巴巴和淘宝的CEO马云。
Emerging Behaviors
与此同时,李开复,这个曾把“Google”这个晦涩的英文单词转化成“谷歌”这一国人熟知品牌的技术老手,于2009年9月意外宣布离开谷歌中国并创办自己的公司“创新工场”。据官网所示,这家公司是一个“全方位的创业平台,旨在培育创新人才和新一代高科技企业”,而非一家风险投资公司。然而,创新工场背后有一群精英投资者提供的1亿美元投资,其中包括联想控股以及Youtube的创始人之一陈士骏。李开复的决定和规划燎燃了中国大地上的创业之火。
The behaviors of Chinese entrepreneurs are changing not only around new devices and e-commerce, but also around the concept of collaboration. Cang relies heavily on the Web-based tools offered by Zoho.com. “I benefit a lot from online real-time collaboration,” he says. “We are a two-person company, but we have a broader network of student agents across various universities in Shanghai. With the multiuser online document application, we can work simultaneously with our agents on project plans and customer reports. It’s very efficient and flexible.”
数字时代
This new generation of entrepreneurs is savvy about leveraging the Internet to market their ideas as well. As users of popular social networks themselves, young entrepreneurs intuitively make best use of these online communities. While large, well-known consumer brands have just started to spend big money on research and planning in the social media arena, many small business owners have actively grown their exposure in the white-hot space. In the case of Cang, he has his company page on Xiaonei, a China-version of Facebook, and has been messaging the activity updates on Fanfou, a China-version of Twitter, for almost two years. Additionally, as cloud computing services offered by Alibaba and others step into a mature and reliable business model, more remote collaboration and Web-based businesses will emerge rapidly in a digitalized China.
科技将最终主宰未来。上世纪末那些先驱的成功无疑深刻地影响了中国当下的这批追梦人,但时过境迁,取得成功的手段也从原先的原材料加工与生产向数码产品转化
Work is Life, Life is Work
大部分中国创业者都是受过良好教育的独生子女,他们在互联网急速发展的大潮里长大成人,电脑和网络是他们的第二属性,更别提那些移动通讯工具(从触屏手机到便携笔记本)。我的一个经营陶瓷卫浴家族产业的朋友,后来转行去做HTC hero手机,这款触屏手机装有Google Android系统,内嵌Google的快捷服务。Cang就是其中一员,每天就用自己的手机收发邮件,与自己的客户联系。
Amid all of these 21st-century trends, Chinese entrepreneurs share one key trait with their predecessors: a penchant for hard work. No matter how many resources and tools a Chinese entrepreneur has, to become very successful, he or she usually has to go through an intense period of struggling to figure out the right business model and build a sustainable organization. To achieve that — and even after achieving that — an entrepreneur rarely stops to relax. Instead, he or she goes for the next goal.
除了对各式各样的新鲜工具了如指掌外,这一代的青年创业者对软件和在线服务有着与生俱来的好奇心。他们处于一个网络英雄的时代,渴望第一时间获得大洋彼岸的硅谷传出的任何消息。当老一辈人对网络化的世界还心存怀疑和不安时,年青一代的生活早已步入了数字化,小到信息搜索,大到银行交易。
Cang’s daily schedule awed me. He gets up before 8 a.m. and works until after 9 p.m. Once he’s home, he usually spends another hour on miscellaneous work, such as making PowerPoint presentations, because his office hours are too precious to spend creating slide shows. He says he needs to put the time when his customers are in “active mode” to better use. In Cang’s calendar, there are seven Mondays in a week. Since he works for himself, he doesn’t care to make Saturday more self-entertaining than any other day. He enjoys every workday; if he has any personal things to deal with, he usually doesn’t wait for nights or weekends. To Cang, life is flexible, and he’s in total control of it.
由于科技的发展,相比日常生活和规程,这些年轻的创业者更为看重便利、效率和生产率这些因素,淘宝网就是一个很好的例子,该网站为个体买家和卖家提供交易平台。随着越来越多种类的商品上网售卖,越来越多的消费者,特别是年龄在二十岁至四十岁之间的消费者放弃去实体商店,而选择上网购物。这股巨大的浪潮支撑着成千上万的淘宝商铺,而这些商铺中绝大多数没有实体店。
Entrepreneurs exhibit different attributes through the phases of their start-up businesses. At the onset, they tend to devote everything to their big ideas, ambitiously and energetically. As the business gets on track and enters the development phase, entrepreneurs usually need to turn to solving upcoming problems, based on their experiences. Once they’ve succeeded, veterans take on the high-level responsibility of growing the business strategically and mentoring new talent.
这些商铺先通过B2B交易平台从其他淘宝卖家买入货物和各种各样的包装材料,然后再淘宝网开张虚拟商店并用淘宝旺旺与潜在客户交流;一旦交易达成,他们即可通过在线银行系统收到钱款,最后再利用第三方快递公司将货物发出。
Cang categorizes Chinese entrepreneurs into two types. One is the adventurer who moves fast and likes taking risks. This kind of entrepreneur is good at taking action but not great at sticking to one idea. The other type is the workaholic who has great breadth yet little depth in his or her skill sets. He or she is likely to know several industries and be able to work on different functions, but is hardly an expert on anything. The common ground between the two is a strong belief in their ideas. Perseverance can make an average idea excel, but giving up halfway never makes a good idea happen.
商铺所有者十分看重其店铺形象,并深知如何让自家商品在顾客货比三家时脱颖而出。
Eyeing the fortune and glory ahead, an entrepreneur must shoulder the lifetime responsibilities and be aware of risks throughout the journey. In the context of China’s rising entrepreneurs, I want to adapt the words of Spiderman as, “With great economic power comes great responsibility.”
2009年前半年,淘宝网交易额达到809亿元人民币,注册用户达1450万
新的行为方式
中国创业者们不仅看重时新设备和电子商务,他们还强调合作的理念。Cang对Zoho.com提供的网络工具就十分倚重。“我从网络实时协作中受益颇多,”他说,“虽然公司只有两个人,但我们在上海各大高校拥有自己的学生代理网络,我们和这些学生可以用多用户在线文档程序就项目规划和顾客报告协同工作,很有效率也很灵活。”
新一代创业者还会利用网络推广自己的理念。由于自己是社交网站的用户,他们可以充分利用这一网上社区资源。当一些有名的大公司刚刚开始在大众传媒挥金宣传时,这些小公司已经在网络世界里为争夺曝光率而展开厮杀。以Cang为例,他在校内网有自己的公司页面,并在饭否网时时更新状态。
另外,随着阿里巴巴以及其他厂商提供的云计算服务逐渐成熟,数字化的中国大地上将会涌现出越来越多的基于网络的公司和协作方式。
工作着,生活着
在所有这些新世纪的大潮中,中国的青年企业家同他们的前辈一样,怀抱一颗勤劳勇敢地心。无论一个企业家有多少资金多少工具,要想有所成就,他(她)通常要经历一番磨砺,去摸索自己的商业模式,最终建立起自己的商业帝国。要完成这个目标,甚至即便是他完成后,他都可能要马不停蹄,永不停歇。
Cang的作息表着实让我大吃一惊:早晨八点起床,一直工作至晚上九点。到家后,他还要花一个小时处理各类繁杂事务,例如制作幻灯片,因为他的工作时间太过宝贵。他说他要充分利用起顾客的时间。作息表上,一周有七个星期一,由于是为自己打工,他从不在乎周六是否可以轻松一些。他享受每一个工作日,私人事情通常被抛在脑后。对他而言,生活很灵活而他操作自如。
企业家们在自己事业的每个阶段都展现出不同的特质。起步时,他们挖空心思,雄心勃勃且精力充沛;步入正轨开始发展时,他们通常需要依靠自己的经验来解决各种随之而来的麻烦;一旦成功,成为老手的他们就将担负其发展壮大和抚育新兵的重大责任。
Cang把中国的企业家分为两类,一种是疾步飞驰,寻求刺激的冒险主义者。这种人擅长采取行动但缺乏定力;另外一种是在自己的技术组合中富于广度乏于深度的工作狂,他对各行各业都有所了解并能在其中担任不同职务,但极少在某一方面出类拔萃。两者共同之处在于他们都有一个坚定地信念,因为坚韧不拔的精神可以使一个平庸的想法变得不同凡响,而半途而废者从来都是一事无成。
前路财富与荣耀并存,在行进途中,一个创业者必须能够担当起终身的责任和风险。在此,我想引用蜘蛛侠的一句话:“能力越大,责任就越大。”
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2010-05-11 22:43 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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