Leadership

10 Life and Business Lessons from Alibaba’s Jack Ma

Jack Ma is considered one of the richest men in Asia, and the founder of Alibaba.com, one of the world’s largest online trading platforms. Apart from just being a well known entrepreneur, Jack Ma travels the world as a motivational speaker, sharing his experiences with other entrepreneurs. Some of these talks attract thousands of people, most of whom are also struggling entrepreneurs who are just starting out.

Jack Ma’s journey towards material success has not been an easy one. He was born into a modest home to parents who were traditional Chinese musicians. From an early age, he worked hard to improve his English, even cycling more than 110 km just to work part time as a tour guide to foreign tourists. In this way, he mastered the English language and eventually earned himself an English degree.

Ma, whose Chinese name is Ma Yun, has many bits of wisdom to offer entrepreneurs all over the world, and here are 10 of them:

1. Giving Up Means Ending Your Career

Believe it or not, Jack Ma once applied for 30 jobs at once, and was rejected from all of them.  He even went to a KFC and was told that he was not good enough. Out of the more than 20 people who applied, he was the only one that failed to get the job. Apart from that, he was also rejected from Harvard Business School despite attempting to get in for about 10 times.

However, Ma has always persevered and has never given up. Not giving up has been the key to him finally achieving the status of richest man in Asia. If he had lost hope through all his rejections, we would definitely not hear of him today.

2)Be The First to Seize an Opportunity

Jack Ma started out in the internet in the early 1990s when many people were still not connected and didn’t see the internet as an important aspect of life. Ma was one of the first people in China to offer website making services at a time when nobody thought of putting their businesses online and no one even knew what social media marketing was.

Eventually, he realized that online shopping was going to be something huge, and that’s how Alibaba.com started. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to see the future, by keeping up with the latest technology and innovations. This way, you will be able to create and fill niche demands that have never been heard of or seen before.

3)Build Up the Next Generation

Ma has been known to be very supportive of young entrepreneurs. He has said “Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will grow to be big. Young people will have the seeds you put in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.”

This means that if you run a fairly successful business, you should pay attention to the young people in your company who have potential and show leadership qualities. This will ensure the continuation of your business. Even in the early days of Alibaba.com, Ma was already giving equity to the high school students working for him, as well other young employees in the company.

4)Ethical Business Practices Will Get You Far

Since their inception, Alibaba.com and their sister companies like Taobao and TMall have always been championing anti-piracy laws. They do this by disallowing any pirated goods to be sold on their online platforms.

They have so far deleted u to 370 million product listings and have helped the authorities track down and arrest up to 400 illegal traders on their sites. They are very strict when it comes to honest business practices, and have a trustworthiness rating system for all their online vendors so that any problematic sellers are immediately caught and arrested.

This practice has made consumers much more trusting of their online trading platforms, thereby earning them more and more customers.

5)The Road to Success is an Uphill Climb

Jack Ma has stated that “When you’ve climbed up thousands of kilometers, what you see from your vantage point is very different from what you could see at the base. The problem with that is the people at the base may not believe what you say you can see from above.”

Success gives you a different perspective, but that perspective can sometimes be very unusual or unique. If you’re a new entrepreneur, you may receive some strange advice from people who have already made it. You’ll have to do your best to accept it and put it to practice, no matter how strange it sounds.

6)A Good Team is Essential for Success

Jack Ma acknowledges that he couldn’t have achieved his current status alone. “You need the right people with you, not the best people” he has been quoted as saying. This means that you have to look for good character, and people who can appreciate your vision and mission. You don’t have to hire people from Oxford or Harvard in order to have a good team.

Instead, keep people who are team players, who can work well with others. You should watch out for people who are in the company to only climb the ranks and bully others for their own self importance. Keep employees who appreciate and respect one another and can spur each other on.

7)Having Global Intelligence

Jack Ma has been described by his contemporaries as having ‘Global Intelligence’. This means that he’s able to perceive and adapt his business practices and ideas to different cultures. This is one skill that’s needed in any business leader today. It is the ability to see beyond your own geographical and cultural boundaries so that you can adapt your business to an international clientele.

8)Take Criticism Gracefully

Jack Ma has commonly been called ‘Crazy Jack’ by critics and fans alike, because he often takes risks and makes decisions that others consider very dangerous from a business point of view.

Despite these decisions often working out positively, Jack Ma himself acknowledges that many of his critics have a point. When criticism happens, he does not take it personally. He still thinks out of the box, but he also keeps one feet on the ground and listens to what people are saying about his decisions.

9)See Your Business from The Customer’s Eyes

Ma is not an internet or tech genius. In fact, he has no background in IT or programming. However, he views all his online trading platforms through the eyes of the common person, and this is what makes them so attractive. He does not come from very technical aspect and therefore the user interface is extremely friendly.

10)Have A Balanced View of Your Business

Sometimes, entrepreneurs focus too much on the running of their business, such as sales and marketing. This may lead them to neglect other aspects. Jack Ma always believes that entrepreneurs should also focus on customer experience, and employee happiness in his company. Ultimately, you should also focus on your happiness so that when you yourself are happy, you can build your own business in the best way possible.

Every entrepreneur will encounter their own unique journeys to success. However, the advice and perspective of those who have come before them will play a crucial role. As an entrepreneur, Jack Ma’s perspectives will no doubt prove priceless.

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