10 Lessons from Jack Ma
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Jack Ma is a Chinese business magnate, philosopher, philanthropist and internet entrepreneur. He launched his first endeavour “China Yellow Pages” that was dedicated to creating websites for companies, in the face of adversity and criticism; his company had made ¥5,000,000 Chinese Yuan which was equivalent to USD $800,000. In 1998 Ma headed an information technology company under the management of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
However, in 1999, he quit and returned to Hangzhou with his team and founded Alibaba, a China-based business-to-business marketplace site in his apartment with a group of eighteen (18) friends. In September 2014 it was reported that Alibaba was raising over $25 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. Thus, Alibaba became one of the most valuable tech companies in the world after raising $25 billion, the largest initial public offering in US financial history.
Ma now serves as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA), which is a holding company with several subsidiaries: Alibaba.com, Lazada, South China Morning Post, AutoNavi, Taobao, Marketplace, Tmall, eTao, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Juhuasuan, Alibaba Pictures Groups, Aliwangwang and Laiwang, 1688.com, AliExpress.com, Alipay among others.
From growing up in poor communist China, failing his university entrance exam twice and being rejected from dozens of jobs including that of KFC and the Police Force to now owning a billion-dollar conglomerate, and who is now worth an estimated $40.1 Billion. Jack Ma’s story truly entails that of Rags to Riches and from this, we can learn many lessons from him.
1. Search for Opportunities
Ma never considered himself the smartest entrepreneur growing up. He actually found Alibaba because he wanted a job, and found none. So he searched for the opportunity and it presented itself.
2. When an opportunity presents itself, answer quickly.
In the time of the Dotcom Bubble, Ma saw an opportunity to link China with the rest of the world, after running a search on the internet and nothing was presented about China. He then acted quickly with his wife in developing his first business.
3. Takes chances in your youth.
“If you’re not rich by the time you are 35”, says Ma, “then you would have wasted the opportunities in your youth.” Capitalize on the opportunities presented to you in your youthful years with energy and vigor.
4. Hire those with better technical skills than what you possess.
It was revealed by Jack Ma that in building China Yellow Pages and the Alibaba Group he has never written a single line of code. Hire the technical team that you will need and empower them by leading from the front.
5. Being a good leader is important
In the words of Jack Ma, “If you want your life to be simple, you shouldn’t be a Leader”. The second anything goes wrong, you have to be ready to fix it. As a leader you must inspire your team through hard times, to stick with it and see past hard times. Your influence as a leader will decide how far your business will go.
6. Customers are first; employees, second and shareholders third.
As a leader, time and energy are limited. So prioritizing with those who keep your business running should be important. Give yourself to those you enable your business, first – your customers. Those involved in running your business – your employees and those who put money into your business – your shareholders. Catering solely to the comfort of the shareholders will leave your employees in a state of unhappiness.
7. Do not spend tomorrow’s money today.
To build wealth investing and saving is crucial. Ma sees where Americans focus more on consumption than saving while the Chinese always put’s aside money for a rainy day.
8. Don’t allow negativity to stop you.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014, which was very successful. But before the IPO a lot of negative words were hurled at Jack Ma such as “Alibaba is a terrible model and there will be problems here and there and that the founder is terrible”. But to date, Alibaba Group stands as one of the most valuable tech companies in the world.
9. Your educational background serves no importance.
Growing up in poor communist China, Ma was not educated on the highest level. Failing university entrance exams twice, He later graduated with a degree in English. He also applied for Harvard ten (10) times but was rejected. .
10. Always be Optimistic about the Future
No one knows what the futures holds, but being optimistic will give you a positive mindset and will keep you motivated in building for the future.