Jack Ma, Chairman of the board of Alibaba, made a speech at the 2015 annual meeting of the Zhejiang Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. He says entrepreneurs should learn how to deal with crises, including adapting quickly to the “new normal”, the sluggish economic development of China.
The following are excerpts from Jack Ma’s speech.
On economic slowdown
I think it’s necessary to work solidly for business owners. In the coming three to five years, China’s economic development will not be so optimistic. But it is very likely to improve in five to 15 years.
Recently I’ve heard many economists say that China’s economy faces a downturn in the short term. But I think the economy is facing long term pressure. We should get used to having an economic growth rate of 5% or 6%. It could be even worse in the future. Maybe in 20 years, it would be quite good for China to manage its growth rate at 2% to 4%.
Still, I would say that the performance of an enterprise’ business doesn’t have much to do with the economy. Some enterprises achieve a 200% or 300% growth rate while the economy grows at merely 2% to 4%, while some failed even when the economy was good. So, an entrepreneur should never blame his failure on the economy.
On China’s development
China’s economy is the second largest in the world. However, Chinese enterprises lag far behind those of America (the largest economic entity), Japan, and the EU in quality, quantity and scale. Though some Chinese companies are able to compete in world-class games right now, they still can’t catch up in terms of real competence. But in the future, many big Chinese enterprises will spring up, expanding their business globally.
The entrepreneur’s duty is to innovate, and the protagonist of innovation is the entrepreneur. We can train a professional manager, but entrepreneurs can’t be trained. They are wildlife. Entrepreneurs think differently, and have different insights into innovation.
To innovate is not being able to tell a story. If you think you can succeed by relying on a story or a concept, then in the end, all you’ll end up with is just a story, or a concept.
Jack Ma is not replicable
I don’t think anybody can replicate me. Neither can I replicate what I did. Because I don’t know how I’ve gone this far. I never thought that I would run a business. My path to setting up my business was a series of coincidences. So you cannot replicate the successful cases. You can only overtake them. Also, success is not defined by scale or speed – instead, how good you are and how comfortable you feel define what success is.