10 reasons there's no easy money in China
On Friday I have officially been in Hong Kong for seven years so can apply for my permanent residency card.
Unlike some who buy it, I've actually earned mine by living here the entire time. I wouldn't say Hong Kong is an easy place to live as a New Zealand female it has definitely had its moments.
After this time I do however feel qualified to at least share a top ten of things I have learned doing business here and in the Mainland so you can see just how difficult it is for aspiring New Zealanders who think they can come here and rule the world.
1. Any Westerner or even Chinese person who claims to be an expert in doing business in China, is not. The experts are already rich and they don't like sharing. Every part of China is different, every industry and every person has different morals, ethics and way of doing things. Just like back home.
2. Cash is not only King it is Queen and the Prince. Limit allowing Chinese to run up credit. Cash upfront, especially on volume deals where they've offered to buy 100x of a product. Tomorrow usually never comes.
3. Lowest price when pitching almost always beats quality of service or even loyalty. Regardless of what is said about service being important. The market in China hasn't evolved that far. I have found they will put up with bad or negligible service before putting up with paying even slightly a higher price.
4. Chinese will claim poverty when it suits then arrive to the meeting in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce wearing head to toe Patek Phillipe, Chanel and fur coats. Take everything at face value. No one here is as rich or as poor as they seem. They lie, scheme and bullshit to make a buck. Just like every other group of people in the world.
5. It is hard for Chinese people to make money in China. It is very hard for a Westerner. Witness how few New Zealanders have made successful businesses here. Never underestimate how good a businessperson has to be as an outsider to make money in China. It is not easy. It is easier to live here as a Westerner and make money doing business with the rest of the world.
6. The first time a Chinese person rips you off do not go on a bender in Shanghai. It is far cheaper and safer to turn around and simply throw your chair through the hotel window. Glass and labour to repair the glass is cheap and you probably never wish to return to the hotel anyway.
7. When you eat "chicken penis" and all the other weird foods around, the Chinese are laughing at you not with you. Avoid all dining experiences where possible unless you have an iron stomach. No good can come from being in the eating situation. Send your staff to "eat for the company".
8. Never do anything free when promised future value. The future will never arrive and they'll find another sucker who will do something for free. Be very cynical with promises of riches ahead. Never spend any money before it is in your bank account.
9. The value of a contract is equal to your ability to enforce the contract. Which is often zero. You can't just wander off to the friendly High Court and get a fair hearing. There's law here and then there is enforcing the law. The rule of law here is a very fluid concept which is what makes it different to doing business back home or with say our friendly Australian neighbours.
10. This is still and I think always will be the wild west for Westerners. Don't cry when you are ripped off. No one here cares. Even the media. There's no Kevin Milne or Fair Go or Bernard Hickey to run to. And no political sympathy for foreigners or any sitting in Parliament to help.
Cathy Odgers is a Hong Kong-based lawyer. She blogs as Cactus Kate.