Entrepreneuring China vs. USA

What’s your take on it? Where would you think it would be better to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve lived in both countries and have been in contact with the entrepreneurial ecosystem of both countries so I believe I’ve got an opinion that is worth sharing. Take it with a grain of salt though, I’ve spent 4 months in both countries which does not give me the whole and complete picture. At the same time, it is just enough time for someone to decide whether they would feel comfortable continuing their entrepreneurial journey there.

Because I’ve been to China first, I’ll go with that first.

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Shanghai’s bankside

I can talk about Hanghzhou and Shanghai. My positive feelings in China were that:

– entrepreneurship is supported, enouraged & funded by the government
– there is a huge increase in funding going for supporting innovation (and not just copying as I thought before)
– the copying that Chinese companies do (and there’s no doubt about that) is in some cases extremely innovative ; getting the basically same result with lower costs is impressive
– entrepreneurs and business owners that I’ve been in contact with are OPEN

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The startup grind event in Shanghai

The negative parts:
– government has a say in what people can and cannot say; that is a downside
– competition is fierce; if I’ve heard anything repeated over and over again, it is that competition in China is fierce – for schools, for universities, for jobs, for companies.
There are multinationals that eat you up in a matter of hours if they want to. And this is not an exaggeration. 
– the language of course; the knowledge of English is definitely limited. The tendancy is more going towards the fact that foreigners would employ translators than the Chinese learning English. There are people speaking English more and more in schools and in general in Shanghai but still, for business, you almost cannot do without Chinese.
– which brings me to the next point, the Chinese CULTURE. It is closely connected to the language and plays a huge part in the everyday life which only means it will be even more important in an business environmen

And last, the good and bad;

Things go fast.
It is good because if you have an idea and want to do something and have the necessary funding of course, things can go extremely fast. That does not mean they won’t look at your figures and what not closely, but it means that things can get done quickly. It is bad due to what I mentioned – big companies can eat you up. Fast. So that’s bad. 

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Onto the US. Again, be aware that my experience is mostly with New York which of course is one of ‘the’ places for entrepreneurship so it is not a complete picture but I did get the feel of the atmosphere for entrepreneurship here as well

The good:
– DIVERSITY; for those that know New York there is no necessity to explain further but I will because not everyone is in this privileged case. There is a lot of all. Sometimes it is hard to explain but let’s just take a simple example of restaurants; from chic, hippie, downright horrible, fast food, vegan, bars, pubs — different decorations, different types of food and the same goes for people. From everywhere, with  different backgrounds and different ideas. What an amazing place for creativity and innovation.
– the feeling of FREEDOM; I’m talking about the mental feeling of ‘I could actually do anything I wanted to’. New York has that and that is incredibly powerful.
– an incredible startup culture and the allowing to fail: the amount of meetups is incredible and failing is just a part of life

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The freedom effect in Central Park

The bad:

– homelessness on every corner – makes it an uncomfortable situation to be in; you feeel privileged and so many others aren’t as lucky as you. I am not saying it should be hidden, no, that is not the point but it is a very obvious problem here. Which makes one wonder, when I fail as an entrepreneur, would that be my future standing? That is scary.
– the DIRTY – streets anywhere, subways, rats, mice and roaches…funfunfun
– the SAFETY concern: not to say I feel unsafe in New York but I am definitely feeling more secure in China. Point blank. China is safe. You go to a Starbucks, leave your bags there while you go to the toilet and when you come back, your bags are there.

The good and the bad; NETWORKING.

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Networking event on microfinancing introducing Kiva company with the WAM NY (Women Advancing Microfinance New York)

It is a must, it can be a bore but it allows you to meet  interesting people. At the same time, everyone is doing the same thing so how can you stand out in an ocean of the same? 

So where would I choose to be?

My answer considering all the positives and negatives above is the USA. The diversity present here is unmatched and it really makes for an intersting life and entrepreneurial journey.

Until next time…

Ana!

Author: Ana

// Slovenian // EMLYON Business School - Msc in Global Entrepreneurship & Innovation exploring the world of social entrepreneurship & the need for personal development for entrepreneurs

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