China Entrepreneur – a must read for (future) entrepreneurs in China

Laurie Underwood doing the introduction of the book launch event

On Thursday I attended the book launch of “China Entrepreneur” by CEIBS professor Juan Antonio Fernandez and Laurie Underwood. This is their second book together after publishing China CEO in 2006. For this book they interviewed 40 international entrepreneurs in China (among others myself, hence the invitation), capturing their insights and experiences about how to successfully set up and run a business in China. I am quite impressed with the result and spent several hours today reading the book.

The 40 entrepreneurs that the authors talked to for the book come from 25 countries, so the book offers a truly international perspective on entrepreneurship in China. It is not a book with 40 separate interviews, which would have been boring, but the experiences of the entrepreneurs are neatly woven into the structure of the book, which makes for an interesting and highly entertaining read. As the book says, every single entrepreneur has met trouble somewhere during their China experiences and many of these problems, including how they solved them, are in the book. Some in the form of short case studies, others in the text itself.

Although the book is well-researched scientific book, it is quite easy to read. For me it was even a fun read, not because I am also featured in it but because of all the real-life examples that are in the book, many of which I recognize from my own experiences. Next to that many pages contain useful short quotes by the entrepreneurs in the left and right margins and the most valuable tips for potential future China entrepreneurs are highlighted there as well.

Professor Fernandez talking about his experiences while researching the book

The book is divided into several chapters, each describing a particular aspect of doing business here. Among the subjects covered in the book are:
– Getting started: understanding the business environment and dealing with the Chinese government
– Obtaining a business license and choosing the right legal form
– Choosing the right Chinese business partner
– Getting paid by customers
– Human Resource Challenges
– Ethics and Corruption
– Business negotiations

The book also has a chapter on living in China (hardships, hurdles and work-life balance) and a chapter to find out what traits are necessary in order to set up a business in China. It’s a book about blood, sweat and tears, but also how these can lead to big successes. Nothing is easy in China but everything is possible.

I found it a great read so far (I did not finish it yet), and I highly recommend it to anybody who plans to do business in China. If you plan to be, or already are, an entrepreneur or if you are working as an expat in this country, this is a book you will learn a lot from. Not everything may be applicable, but it prepares you for the worst and also shows you that there are almost always solutions for everything in China.

China Entrepreneur – Voices of Experience from 40 international business pioneers, Juan Antonio Fernandez and Laurie Underwood, published by John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-82321-7

The book is available from Amazon here, and I assume it will also be available at Chaterhouse and other foreign-language bookstores in China.

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  1. Sounds indeed interesting, Marc! I would like to read it too.btw, got the FD and saw the article you mentioned!-Lingxiao

  2. Marc,
    The ning networks seem to have been blocked in China. I tried anounymouse but it didn’t work. what do you normally do to get round it?


  3. congratulations to you to belong to the 40 important entrepreneurs in China that contributed to this interesting book !

  4. @Lei I use as my standard proxy, it costs about USD 40/year.

    @Suzie Thanks, it was interesting to be part of this book project, but I don’t feel I’m that important. Just working hard and having a bit of luck sometimes.

  5. Interessant! Ik ga het boek zeker kopen, aangezien ik volgende maand naar China vertrek om daar te gaan ondernemen 🙂 Volgens mij een must read. Heb je nog meer boekentips?

  6. Sounds interesting; just like Jordy I would be interested in other book-tips 🙂

  7. @Jordy @Thijs I did not read that many other China books, but if I would recommend one book it would be Mr. China by Tim Clissold.

  8. Mr. China was indeed a great book. Very entertaining to read, China is the new Wild-East 🙂