Peak Productivity, The Ivy Lee Method.

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Managing Priorities Well


In my book Set Your Own Salary*, I detail the point at which I was overwhelmed with demands in my first startup insurance business.  Closing the office to go to the Jacksonville FL Southside library, I took ten books about time management off the shelf.  The single, most powerful change I made was this Ivy Lee Method, which single handedly made me successful.

By 1918, Charles M. Schwab was one of the richest men in the world. Schwab was the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in America at the time. The famous inventor Thomas Edison once referred to Schwab as the “master hustler.” He was constantly seeking an edge over the competition.

One day in 1918, in his quest to increase the efficiency of his team and discover better ways to get things done, Schwab arranged a meeting with a highly-respected productivity consultant named Ivy Lee. Lee was a successful businessman in his own right and is widely remembered as a pioneer in the field of public relations. As the story goes, Schwab brought Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done.”

“Give me 15 minutes with each of your executives,” Lee replied. “How much will it cost me,” Schwab asked. “Nothing,” Lee said. “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.”

The Ivy Lee Method During his 15 minutes with each executive, Lee explained his simple method for achieving peak productivity:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

The strategy sounded simple, but Schwab and his executive team at Bethlehem Steel gave it a try. After three months, Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000.A $25,000 check written in 1918 is the equivalent of a $400,000 check in 2015.

The Ivy Lee Method of prioritizing your to-do list seems stupidly simple. How could something this simple be worth so much? What makes it so effective?

On Managing Priorities Well  Ivy Lee’s productivity method utilizes many of the concepts I have written about previously.  Here’s what makes it so effective:

It’s simple enough to actually work. The primary critique of methods like this one is that they are too basic. They don’t account for all of the complexities and nuances of life. What happens if an emergency pops up? What about using the latest technology to our fullest advantage? In my experience, complexity is often a weakness because it makes it harder to get back on track. Yes, emergencies and unexpected distractions will arise. Ignore them as much as possible, deal with them when you must, and get back to your prioritized to-do list as soon as possible. Use simple rules to guide complex behavior.

It forces you to make tough decisions. I don’t believe there is anything magical about Lee’s number of six important tasks per day. It could just as easily be five tasks per day. However, I do think there is something magical about imposing limits upon yourself. I find that the single best thing to do when you have too many ideas (or when you’re overwhelmed by everything you need to get done) is to prune your ideas and trim away everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Constraints can make you better. Lee’s method is similar to Warren Buffett’s 25-5 Rule, which requires you to focus on just 5 critical tasks and ignore everything else. Basically, if you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything.

It removes the friction of starting. The biggest hurdle to finishing most tasks is starting them. (Getting off the couch can be tough, but once you actually start running it is much easier to finish your workout.) Lee’s method forces you to decide on your first task the night before you go to work. This strategy has been incredibly useful for me: as a writer, I can waste three or four hours debating what I should write about on a given day. If I decide the night before, however, I can wake up and start writing immediately. It’s simple, but it works. In the beginning, getting startedis just as important as succeeding at all.

It requires you to single-task. Modern society loves multi-tasking. The myth of multi-tasking is that being busy is synonymous with being better. The exact opposite is true. Having fewer priorities leads to better work. Study world-class experts in nearly any field—athletes, artists, scientists, teachers, CEOs—and you’ll discover one characteristic runs through all of them: focus. The reason is simple. You can’t be great at one task if you’re constantly dividing your time ten different ways. Mastery requires focus and consistency.


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Future of Work Are New Collar Jobs.

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And, Community Colleges will play the key role in training the workforce.  

Case in point is Delta Airlines use of Lansing Community College in Michigan to train aviation maintenance – LANSING, Mich., July 13, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Lansing Community College (LCC) has been selected as one of 43 Aircraft Maintenance schools to partner with Delta Air Lines. LCC was selected from 177 Aviation Maintenance Programs across the United States and is the only community college in Michigan to offer this program.

Over 100 criteria were used in Delta’s selection process including equipment and facilities, level of hands-on-training, and quality of teaching. This new partnership establishes Delta as a resource for continuous improvement and will broaden access for LCC graduates to become the next generation of aviation maintenance professionals.

“By providing students from these top-notch schools real-world training and direct support from Delta, we have a unique opportunity to generate awareness and interest in a very promising and enriching aviation career,” said Joe McDermott, Delta’s managing director of Cabin Maintenance, Training and Support Services.

“This partnership is a great opportunity for our students and their careers,” said LCC President, Dr. Brent Knight. “As our program continues to evolve, Delta will play a role in shaping our training to anticipate and meet the needs of the industry. To have a partner as well-renowned globally as Delta Air Lines is very powerful for our students and our community.”

LCC’s program is one of the most affordable in the nation. Graduates who attain FAA licensure as Aircraft and Powerplant Mechanics can earn a starting salary of up to $50,000.

“This is a significant achievement for our students, faculty and program,” said Mark Bathurst, director of LCC’s Aviation Program. “We are pleased Delta recognized the opportunities offered to our students and anticipate a highly productive relationship with them for years to come.”

New collar students –

So long white collar and blue collar. Now it’s all about the “new collar” job. In the current technological economy, where factories and production plants are closed or workers are replaced by computers, those computers need to be maintained and programmed. Enter “new collar” jobs — positions that require some specialized education (typically in a technical field), but not a four-year college degree.

And some companies have become so desperate for the right worker, they have started or invested in job training programs of their own, partnering with schools to equip students with the exact skills they will need to get a job, and then to do the job right.

So long white collar and blue collar. Now it’s all about the “new collar” job. In the current technological economy, where factories and production plants are closed or workers are replaced by computers, those computers need to be maintained and programmed. Enter “new collar” jobs — positions that require some specialized education (typically in a technical field), but not a four-year college degree.

And some companies have become so desperate for the right worker, they have started or invested in job training programs of their own, partnering with schools to equip students with the exact skills they will need to get a job, and then to do the job right.

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Role of Entrepreneurship in Ending Poverty and Homelessness.

What is current in entrepreneurship?
Social Entrepreneurs

Javits says social entrepreneurs are flexible. “By developing new models that cut across and blend the assets of various sectors without being stuck in orthodoxies about what each sector can or should do, social entrepreneurship opens up new possibilities to solve stubborn, seemingly insurmountable challenges.”

She also points out that social entrepreneurs think outside the box of either operating as a nonprofit surviving on donations and grants or being fully supported by revenues. Operating in that middle space creates opportunities for social entrepreneurs to leverage donor dollars with revenue generating services.

Effective social entrepreneurs relieve burdens by selling products that customers need to improve their lives. The profits from the sales create sustainable impact and provide returns to investors.


Most shared album of entrepreneur stories on Facebook.

What is Current in Entrepreneurship?
Social Impact of Entrepreneurship

Today we hear a great deal about the economic impact of entrepreneurship. More companies are being started than ever before in American history; new and emerging companies are the source of all net new jobs in our economy; women are starting firms at far faster rates than men; 70% of high school juniors and seniors want to start their own companies when they are out of school; thirteen million Americans–25 million if you count part time entrepreneurs–are now running their own businesses from home; and so on.

But I don’t want to talk about the economic impact of entrepreneurship, as significant as it is. I want to focus instead on the social impact of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not just an economic phenomenon. It is a force that creates social value and a resource for community development.

In “Building Community,” medal of freedom winner John Gardner presents an insightful examination of the importance of community and a provocative analysis of the need that individuals have for identification with and empowerment within the communities in which they live. He emphasizes that “Where community exists it confers upon its members identity, a sense of belonging, a measure of security.” I am convinced that entrepreneurship can help confer identity, belonging and security not only on those who elect to start and grow enterprises, but also on those who join them in that effort and on the wider environment in which they operate.


Top Franchises You Can Launch for Less Than $50,000.

What is Current in Entrepreneurship?
Home-based and mobile franchises

Business ownership doesn’t have to be super-expensive. Sure, some franchises cost thousands–even millions–of dollars to start. But a growing number of franchisors are coming up with homebased and mobile options, as well as new technologies, to help keep costs down for franchisees. Below, you’ll find Entrepreneur ‘s Top Low-Cost Franchises, 97 businesses that can each be started for less than $50,000.

These companies are listed based on their ranking in Entrepreneur‘s 2013 Franchise 500®, which is determined using objective, quantifiable criteria, including system size, growth and financial strength and stability. This listing is not intended as a recommendation of any particular company, but merely as a starting point for your own research. Always make sure you know what you’re investing in by reading a company’s legal documents, consulting with an attorney and an accountant and talking to franchisees.

Here are the current top 5 and their cost:

Startup Professor Ed Roberts from MIT Sloan School.


Ed Roberts started the scholarly study of startups. Learn from this brilliant academic pioneer and seasoned investor in and HubSpot about the keys to success in founding a tech company. Along the way you will be entertained and charmed by his most engaging narrative style.

He grew up in working-class Chelsea, Massachusetts. At Chelsea High, he received preparation that would allow him to explore the academic delights offered by MIT’s curriculum.

Four MIT degrees later he was on the faculty at MIT’s Sloan School of Management studying the impact of NASA’s research on the economy. From there it was a short hop to founding the study of tech startups. He also co-founded successful companies, including Meditech. His course on entrepreneurship incubated Beijing’s and Boston’s HubSpot. Ed Roberts was an early investor in both.

The oft-cited result that companies founded by MIT alums generate revenues equivalent to the 10th largest economy in the world is one of the products of his scholarship. He also delves into his work on the optimal composition of founding teams. Among the many topics covered in this bravura interview are:

  • Ed Roberts Bio
  • High School in Working-class Town of Chelsea Thoroughly Prepared Ed Roberts for Success at MIT
  • Sound Preparation from Chelsea High Allowed Ed Roberts to Explore the MIT Curriculum
  • Ed Roberts Meets Jay Forrester, Co-inventor of the Core Memory and Founder of System Dynamics
  • Research into Entrepreneurship Springs from NASA Project to Measure Impact of Its Technology
  • Ed Roberts Starts His First Company, Pugh-Roberts Associates
  • MIT Faculty Form Consulting Firms, MIT Grads Form Product Companies
  • Ed Roberts Founds Meditech
  • Engineers Debate the Need for a Marketing Person on the Meditech Team – Hired the Only Marketing Person They Knew
  • Sal Daher’s Pitch for Listeners to Give Back by Reviewing the Podcast on iTunes and Telling Others About It
  • The Most Significant Results from Ed Roberts’ Research
  • It’s Important Not to Keep Your Idea Secret but to Talk to Many People About It
  • Eric von Hippel & User Innovation
  • Ideas Are Overvalued – Person Who Has It Gets Too Much Credit – Pivots Are the Norm – Nobody Remembers All the Pivots – Example: Founders of HubSpot


60 Reasons Why Entrepreneurship Is Amazing

What is Current in Entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship Rocks!

Every entrepreneur has a different story about why he or she decided to start a business. Some have known from day one that they wanted to work for themselves and others come up with ideas while working for someone else and decide to take the entrepreneurial leap.  Most business owners will agree on one thing — being an entrepreneur is great. There are endless reasons for this, and every entrepreneur will have his or her own personal reasons as well. Here are 60 reasons, in no particular order, why I think entrepreneurship is amazing.

1. You have full control over your destiny. You call the shots and make the decisions that ultimately determine the success or failure of your business. Nobody will get in the way of your vision.

2. Entrepreneurs are innovators. Think of all the new technology and ideas that have come to life over the past few years. Those were all once just an idea — but amazing entrepreneurs brought those ideas to life.

3. You become part of a family. The entrepreneurial culture is almost like a big family — and you won’t find a better group of people willing to offer advice and help than fellow entrepreneurs.

4. You control who represents your brand. The team you surround yourself with plays a major role in your success — you can assemble a team of like-minded individuals that share your same drive and passion.

5. No dress code. CEO and Founder of Vivint, Todd Pedersen, was recently on the TV show Undercover Boss and stated that he wears a company-branded baseball hat daily. He is the boss — he can wear whatever he wants.

6. You have the opportunity to change lives. Have an idea for a product or service that has the potential to make a huge impact? Go for it — nothing is stopping you!

7. You have full control over your workspace. Do you excel in a creative environment? Want an office with dry-erase paint so you can draw on the walls and a full espresso bar to keep you full of caffeine? Make it happen!

8. It provides a rush that is hard to duplicate. There is no greater shot of adrenaline than the one you receive after reaching a goal and knowing you worked extremely hard to get to that point.

9. You serve as a role model. As an entrepreneur, people will look up to you. You have the ability to be a role model for family, friends, employees and community members. Your success serves as motivation and inspiration.

10. You will never be bored. There is always something to do and you will more than likely always have a mile long to-do list. Every day presents new challenges and new opportunities to keep you on your toes.

11. Freedom to travel. Modern technology, remote employees and the Internet allow you the freedom to travel while still running your business. Being able to see the world while creating an amazing company is a realistic possibility.

12. There is no age barrier. Entrepreneurs are starting at very young ages — some straight out of college, some while still in high school and even children as young as 9 years old that want to create healthy treats.

13. Your mind will always be utilized. Every single decision that involves your business is your responsibility, from the initial concept and branding to the growth and goal setting.

14. The satisfaction of saying you’re a business owner. It is a great feeling to be able step back and say, “this is my company,” while proudly holding your head up. Being an entrepreneur takes an incredible amount of work — those few words feel so good coming out of your mouth.

15. Go cubicle free. Entrepreneurs have total freedom to roam, create, delegate and work. There are no cubicles or desks to be tied to all day.

16. No blame game. As an entrepreneur, there is no finger-pointing when something goes wrong. Knowing every decision that I make daily directly impacts my business is the best kind of motivation.

17. You never feel undervalued. If you have ideas to make the business better you can implement them right away — you don’t have to hope that someone in a higher position will give you the time of day and listen to your suggestions.

18. Creating something from nothing. Every business starts as an idea. You get to create it from the ground up.

19. Opportunity to make a better mousetrap. Have an idea to make something better or more efficient? Make it happen!

20. Spend more time with family. Entrepreneurs with children have the ability to adjust their schedules to attend school functions and activities.

21. You get out what you put in. If you are willing to work harder than anyone else, you will be rewarded accordingly. Want to experience more growth and opportunities? Simply work harder.

22. Provide opportunities for family members. Many will say that mixing family and business partnerships is a bad idea (and I agree) — but this is less of an issue when talking about an employer/employee relationship.

23. Opportunity to give back. Owning a business gives you the opportunity to support local charity events, local schools and nonprofit organization. Being able to make a difference in your community is a great feeling.

24. Become healthier. A flexible schedule allows you to create a fitness routine and stick to it. Hit the gym early in the morning, at lunch or in the evening — whatever works for you.

25. Enjoy your hobbies. As long as you “do the work” and give 100 percent when in work mode, your free time can be spent doing the things you love. Attend more sporting events, play more rounds of golf or fish more. Being an entrepreneur provides you with the ability to enjoy your hobbies more.


The Changing Rules of Tech Entrepreneurship


What is Current in Entrepreneurship?
Tech Entrepreneurs

Since 1996, manufacturing jobs in the United States have decreased by a whopping 28%. Britain’s industrial story isn’t too rosy, either. Over the last couple of decades or so, high-growth tech companies have heralded financial growth abroad from the giants of Silicon Valley: Facebook and Google. Now, as we stand on the brink of an artificial intelligence revolution that’s making many jobs obsolete, we are grappling for an alternate socio-economic model that is sustainable.  Since technology will be at the forefront of this new era, let’s talk about good tech entrepreneurship.

What Makes A Good Tech Entrepreneur?

Tech companies make up almost one-quarter of the American stock-market index commonly known as the “S&P 500” in terms of market cap. Whether there is an impending tech bubble or not is still an ongoing debate. However, there is no doubting the fact that the tech sector is the driving force behind stock markets, not just in the United States but globally. Understandably, investors are pouring their dollars into the sector, which puts it at risk for becoming overvalued and eventually leading to a bust. On a related note, while it may be easy for you to attract investor money right now with a tech venture, it is important that you take sustainability into account. That’s the first task for a tech entrepreneur.

1. Impact is important for sustainability.

While competitive advantage may have been enough to sail a tech venture a few years back, the saturated market and the impending rise of AI mean you need a lot more to sustain. Today, that “lot more” is social impact. Now social impact does not necessarily equal a social venture. In fact, the term alludes to solving “real” problems that people will continue to value over a length of time.

2. Use “gamification” the right way.

Gamification first became a buzzword in 2010. Since then, many made failed attempts and successful attempts at it, the former making up a larger chunk. Tinder is arguably the best example of how to leverage gamification to make a valuable tech venture. Health Month is another example of gamification done right. Both give the promise of real, tangible results if people indulge in a fun “game” that doesn’t take much effort to play. Two things are paramount for gamification to be sustainable: The UX should be simple and engaging and there should be tangible rewards in place.

A lot of tech ventures, especially mobile apps, still rely on badges and trophies for gamification. If you are taking a similar approach, you are essentially creating scarcity where there is none, which is a problem. While you may see high engagement rates with such an approach, sustainability is always a question. That’s where the role of good tech entrepreneurship comes in. As a good tech entrepreneur, you must find out a better way to capitalize on gamification. For instance, if you have a music app, you could give away limited tickets to an upcoming concert in return for social shares. Similarly, if you have a food app, you could unlock a superstar chef’s recipe for a certain order value.


Veterans Wanted, Make Great Entrepreneurship Students






Veterans at three college campuses just finished a week-long academic bootcamp. The Warrior Scholar Project prepares veterans to go back to school. Programs in Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas were the last of more than a dozen that took place this summer.

The Warrior Scholar Program (WSP) empowers enlisted military veterans by providing them with a skill bridge that enables a successful transition from the battlefield to the classroom; maximizes their education opportunities by making them informed consumers of education, and increases the confidence they will need to successfully complete a rigorous four-year undergraduate program at a top-tier school.

Enlisted veterans have an immense degree of untapped potential to succeed in higher education institutions and to progress onto successful careers.  To tap that potential, WSP addresses veterans’ misperceptions about college and builds their confidence through an intense academic reorientation.  The Warrior-Scholars learn how to frame and develop their ideas in an academic context, think critically, and formulate an agrument.  Through WSP veterans are not only learning the subject matter material, but they are learning how to learn.

The Warrior-Scholar Project consists of immersive one to two weeklong academic boot camps hosted at America’s top universities during the summer breaks, which are designed to:

~ Facilitate the often difficult transition enlisted veterans face when moving from a military culture to an academic culture inherent on college campuses.

~  Demonstarate and explain the fundamental skills and methods, or “tickes of the trade” that highly successful college students use.

~  Increase veterans graduation rates.

~  Prepare student-veterans to be leaders in the classroom.

Because community colleges are close to veteran homes of record and a natural springboard to four year universities, they can play an important role in the Warrior Scholar mission.  WSP can be reached in Washington, D. C., 1012 14th St., N. W., Suite 1200, zip 20005 and phone (202) 796-8777.  2017 campuses included Amherst College, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Syracuse, Texas A & M, University of Michigan, University of Arizon, University of Chicago, Yale, University of Oklahoma,


The Next Silicon Valley

In a recent episode of his excellent podcast, “Masters of Scale,” LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman said something interesting:

“Beyond Silicon Valley itself, I believe that the next Silicon Valley is…undoubtedly China. Shenzhen is just one of several cities in China that blow other contenders for the next Silicon Valley out of the water. I would argue Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and possibly Chengdu, are all far ahead of any of the cities we’ve discussed so far…The fact is, China’s tech industry is evolving so rapidly, it catches veterans off guard.”

“There’s a common thread running through their successes. First they have an enormous number of users through which local companies can scale their services. And second, they work fast. Scale favors the swift and you can find few startup scenes as fast-moving as China’s.”

Hoffman continues: “But I would argue that the greatest asset of China’s tech scene, is not just the speed by which massive companies have taken over the market, it’s the talent that now resides in those companies: the executives, programmers, designers, and marketers, who know how to scale a team from a few founders to several thousand employees. They form a critical mass that can scale the next generation of promising startups at blistering speeds.”

For anyone that’s working on-the-ground in China today and bearing witness to the extraordinarily hectic pace of innovation and new business-building that’s happening here, Hoffman’s observation comes as no surprise.

For many startup founders outside of China, however, the market remains a black box. The distance, the language, the culture, the politics: all are formidable barriers that make most entrepreneurs pause. But according to Raymond Chang, a serial entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience starting and scaling companies in China, if you want to grow your business fast, you should seriously consider expanding into China.

“China has the scale that no other country has at the moment. It’s not an easy process to build a business in China. You need to be patient, and you need to know the right people to work with. But for companies that have the right strategy in place, building a presence in China can 10X your business—or even more”, says Chang, who leads NXT Ventures Management, a Boston-based venture capital firm.

In addition to managing an investment portfolio of more than 50 companies, Chang often shares his extensive experience starting and running successful businesses in China with MBA students at Yale and Babson College. Chang launched China’s first home shopping network, and he introduced broadband internet to Taiwan through a venture that attracted a stake from Microsoft and listed on Nasdaq.

I spoke to Chang recently about whether startups should factor China into their growth plans, and if so, what advice would he give them before deciding to make such a move.

The following are edited excerpts from our conversation:

1. Focus on your domestic market first.

As a startup, it’s all about focus, focus, focus. China, Asia, and other international markets should not be your primary focus from day one. Unless, of course, China is your primary focus, in which case you should build a Chinese company.

But if you’re a US company and eventually you would like to go global, you shouldn’t try to tackle both markets from day one. You should prove your business model domestically first, and once you have that in the bag, then you should look at the Asian opportunities, say, 2-3 years down the road.

We find a lot of entrepreneurs lack focus. Even though their products or services may have global appeal, they try to do a little too much from the outset.

We usually tell them “Wait, slow down, you haven’t even proved your business model in your domestic market, and now you want to go after what?” A lot of companies try to do too much from day one. We tell our portfolio companies to focus on building the US domestic market first.

2. Find the right strategic partner.

Right now we’re helping a mobile gaming company with two successful games launched in the US and $40 million revenue in the bag. Now they believe they are in the position to tap into the Asian market.

We would agree that now is probably a good time for them to think about international expansion. But what we are also telling them is don’t try to do it alone. When it comes to going into the Chinese market, try to find a local strategic partner.

You have to be very smart about how you enter the market, and what kind of local distribution partners you want to work with. The partnership could be maybe a simple distribution model, or it could be joint venture, or it could be a simple licensing deal. You need to be very flexible and ready to structure whatever types of deal is necessary, because you never know who you may end up working with.

One option is to tie-up with an established player, but frankly, the problem with working with a big name is that you may become just another name in their portfolio and get lost. It might be better for this gaming company just to for example find a smaller online gaming company that perhaps is at the tail end of their own existing IP and looking for the next big hit. That may potentially be a better opportunity.

Another opportunity is skipping online gaming companies completely and working with a distribution platform, like 360 Mobile Assistant, Tencent’s Myapp, or Baidu Mobile Assistant, China’s top three Android app platforms. The company may end up attracting more eyeballs and users by getting their game featured as an “editor’s choice.”

And the economics are better. If you tie-up with a major player, they may end up taking 90% of the revenues and leave you with just 10%. If you go for a platform play, you could take 80% of the revenues, and just pay the platform 20%.

3. Localize your product.

You need to be ready to localize the product, or in this case, the content, to fit local tastes. The Chinese gaming market tends to be more action-packed and sometimes the graphics are more bloody than the games that are popular with US-based gamers, for example. You have to be ready to localize the content to fit local tastes.

Another example of localizing a product to fit Chinese consumer tastes is the air filter company we invested in. Because the pollution problem is so severe, Chinese households often have a few air filtration units.

In China, touch pad panels are really popular. But the air filter company, which is based in the US, is all about medical grade knobs and buttons. They want the medical device look. But that’s a very different design approach than what we see in China, where consumers prefer to use sleek, digital touch panels

So I told the air filter company in the US that if they really want to create an air filter that will sell in China, it has to fit local tastes. It doesn’t matter if their machine is 10 times better, if it looks ugly in the eyes of Chinese consumers, it won’t sell.

4. Get ready to fend off copycats.

Whatever product or service you decide to bring to China, you’ll need to be 100% ready to fight against local copycats. For example, in the case of the air filter company, they’ve registered their trademark in China and believe they have all the protections they need. But I told them that in China, IP protection only goes so far. They need to make sure their cost structure will be as low as the local players, so in the event they decide to knockoff their products, they can still compete.

Unlike in the US, where they may have a 2-3 year window to grow and build their brand, everything in China happens 10 times faster. So from day one, if they’re going to go into China, they should forget about manufacturing the filters in the US. They need to move it to China from day one, so their cost structure will be just as competitive as any of the local players.

And they shouldn’t think that they’ll have a 12-month window. They literally have a 2-3 month window because if their product sells, 10 copycats will be out in the market within 2 months.

5. Be prepared to play the long game.

If you think it’s hard to make money in the US, it’s probably harder to make money overseas. Don’t expect to make money from day one. You need to be patient, especially in an overseas market like China. It can be very bloody. It may be 5-7 years before you see any dividends.

The good thing is, if you can figure this thing out, the market in certain industries and product categories is several times the size of the US market. For example, in mobile games, if you have $15-20 million in revenue you’re probably one of the top performers in the US. But in China, if you’re not at $200 million, you’re nowhere near the top.

Is China part of your expansion plans? What risks do you see in expanding to this fast-growing market? Please share your thoughts in the comments.