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Learnings from Alibaba's World

Updated: May 13, 2021

Anyone can start a business and succeed, provided they have enough determination and the right attitude. As the story of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba reveals, even a small start-up from a developing country can compete with Western giants if they set their minds to it.


When starting a business, reach for the sky

When Jack Ma started Alibaba in 1999, only 1% of the Chinese population used the internet. And yet, in the course of 20 short years, Alibaba overcame international competitors and social mistrust, and it now dominates 80% of China’s e-commerce market. You don’t have to be as smart as Einstein to start a business that will one day become successful. Before starting Alibaba, Jack Ma was an English teacher earning $20 per month. He sometimes jokes that Alibaba is so successful precisely because he doesn’t really know anything about computers. It wasn’t his computer genius that made him so successful, but his entrepreneurial spirit.


Successful Entrepreneurs turn hardships into advantages

Every business will face difficulties along the way, but such inevitabilities shouldn’t discourage you from trying. In fact, you can actually turn the barriers that stand in your way into advantages! In early 2003, China was hit by the deadly SARS epidemic. After an Alibaba employee contracted the virus, all of the company’s employees had to stay quarantined in their homes. But instead of letting their fear incapacitate them, the Alibaba team kept the site running from home. They were rewarded for their efforts with a huge influx of traffic.

People all over the country, quarantined at home were practically forced to give e-commerce a try.


Build a sustainable business

If you want a successful company, it needs to be designed to last, not just to get through the season. One of the goals Ma set at the very beginning of Alibaba was for the company to last at least 80 years. He stayed true to the idea of building a sustainable company that lasts. Such a decision infuses a positive spirit and a long-term approach to decision making.


~excerpts from Alibaba’s World

by Porter Erisman

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