Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Global Deal Hub - New Online Gathering Place for Businesses, Entrepreneurs, and Professionals

When we first built Trade Market Global, our online multi-vendor wholesale marketplace, we wanted to make it unique.  We wanted to add something new, something that would help us stand apart from all the rest.  We wanted to develop it more as a community for global commerce, rather than just a common internet shopping site, or product listing site.  We didn't want it to be just about "sales".  We wanted it to be about bringing business people with a common goal together.  We saw that entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, and opportunities existed all over the world, but yet there were no great places to gather them, and bring them all together.  We knew that we needed to first add a simple gathering place.  Then over time, as the business grew, we could continuously improve the marketplace, and the gathering place.  

Global Deal Hub was born.  We created a social networking site for businesses, professionals, inventors, investors, sales reps, sales rep firms, and more.   This is a place where you can find projects and deals and partners to work with.  The Global Deal Hub is tightly connected with Trade Market Global so that business discussions can easily be linked with products and services displayed on the Marketplace.  The Global Deal Hub also includes an easy to find link, right in the user's back office menu, so that with one click, you can start a video chat with another user, or a conference with multiple users.  The free conferencing feature also includes the ability to share your screen with multiple users, and share and exchange documents.  This will make it much easier for you to get to know the people you are working with, even if they are located very far from you.  Welcome to the Global Deal Hub! 


Monday, October 31, 2022

Trade Market Global - A New Multi-Vendor Wholesale Marketplace

The rise of multi-vendor marketplaces caught our attention at Global Q International LLC.  We were originally planning to start with in-person sales representation, and at the appropriate time, develop an online platform to compliment our sales representation services.  Apparently, fate had another idea, one that would turn our vision and plans upside down.  The pandemic hit, and it hit economically very hard, all over the world.  It affected global trade and supply chains beyond what most of us expected!  It changed buying behaviors all over the world.  

Before the pandemic, the number of online shopping sites were already growing steadily.  But the onset of the pandemic and the lock-downs, created a huge boost in the need for shopping and sourcing products and services online.  It also caused our company to reconsider the plausibility of relying so heavily on in-person sales representation, now, and in the future.  It was obvious to us that more lock-downs could stop us from doing what we did so well, and thus taking away our advantages.  So we decided to change our plan, and start building our online platform first, while slowly building our in-person representation network as a compliment to our online marketplace platform. 

Trade Market Global was born.  We began the development of our own Multi-Vendor Platform for Wholesale Buyers and Sellers, for Suppliers, Manufacturers, and Service Providers.   As of writing this blog entry, we are currently in our launch phase, which will be temporary.  By the time you are reading this, our launch period may have ended, or maybe not, but it is worth checking on our website if you are interested.  During our launch period, all accounts will be free, with no setup or subscription fees for the life of the account!  This will be our way of saying thank you for helping us to fill up and launch our Marketplace.  For more details about our launch, you can visit our Membership Options page.  We look forward to seeing you there, and working with you. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Starting A Foreign Business in China

How do we start a foreign business in China?  That was the question we were asked by two foreign investors.  They wanted us to find out the answer to that question.  They also wanted us to help them get their dream business started in China.  When they first talked to us about their goal, it was still just an idea. 

They were a husband and wife team from South Africa that had been living in China and teaching English for three years.  Their dream was to eventually build their own English school, and provide good quality English lessons.  They decided that they wanted to open their first school here in Shenyang, the city where we are currently located.  They had been planning carefully and saving money during their time teaching in Shenyang, China.  During their three years of teaching, planning, and learning, they realized that it was absolutely necessary to have the right relationships with local Chinese business people in order to make their dream come true, and to be successful as foreigners in China.

Grand Opening Day, January 22, 2018
Through local contacts, they found me.  After getting to know me for a short period of time, they realized that my relationships in China were exactly what they had been looking for to get their dream started.  They saw that my relationships in China were a very nice mix of family, friends, business contacts, and local government contacts that had all been developing for over 12 years.  They decided it was time to pull the trigger and commit to beginning their dream project.

We negotiated the business arrangement that we would have with the foreign investors in such a way that we would become their partners.  They would hold the large majority of ownership and run the business themselves, and we would retain a smaller percentage of ownership, and in return, we would get their business and location up and ready for the grand opening, and utilize our family and business networks in China to provide ongoing management assistance and management of relationships with the local communities and regulatory agencies.  We would be their conduit to the Chinese communities and business opportunities, and help them bridge the cultural gaps necessary to make their business operations successful.

Our initial task was to perform market research.  Since our new partners were dead set on starting their new English school in China, our research also included finding the best location for their new business and talking with various commercial property owners in different areas of the city.  Shenyang is a large city, so there was a lot of ground to cover.  Many foreigners might think finding a commercial location is as easy as doing a quick search on Google and then calling the numbers in the online property rental and sales ads.  Unfortunately, it's not that easy in China.  It's possible to use the internet to search for properties, but you won't accomplish much without doing it in person.  We knew the only way to do it right, was to put our feet on the ground and walk the city streets searching for commercial rental space.  We did try using the internet at first, but only a small percentage of available properties are listed online, and the ads we did find either contained inaccurate contact info, or the pricing and details about the rental space were wrong.  Many of the ads for commercial properties contain misleading information, just to get you to call.  The only way to get reliable information is to do it in person, which takes a lot of time and effort, but either way, it's necessary.  Even though we worked the streets in person, and mostly on foot, we still encountered setbacks when negotiating with property owners and managers.  During the negotiations, we would bring the price and details to an acceptable level, but as soon as they realized that foreign business people were involved, then some excuse would pop up, and the price or some other detail would change, and not in our favor.  We had to work hard and creatively to keep the knowledge of foreign owners hidden until all negotiations were final, and most importantly, until the top decision maker associated with the property, approved the pricing and details of the lease agreement.  After dealing with several property owners, and having our deal fall apart a few times with a few property owners as soon as they realized they might be able to get more money out of foreign business people, we finally found the right location with the right property owner.  That process took over two months of daily work, traveling all over the city and dealing with many property owners.  After we finalized the negotiations with the best property owner, it was time for our South African partners to put down a deposit on their new business location.

After our partners signed the lease agreement and paid the lease fees, it was time to begin "decorating".  In China, when they talk about decorating a new home or business office, it often does not mean the same thing as it would in an English speaking country.  When they say decorating, what that translates to is more accurately described as interior construction.  In this case, the main outer walls and ceilings were already built and had an initial coat of paint on them.  The inner electrical wiring and plumbing for water were also already complete, but that was about it.  The interior construction that was still needed was quite a lot.  It still required building interior walls, installing flooring, installing the sink and toilet in the bathroom and tiling the bathroom walls, and much more.  So the next task was to find and negotiate with construction contractors.

Dealing with and negotiating with property owners and construction contractors is not easy for foreigners in China.  We have done it many times, so we are comfortable with the process, especially since my wife and her family are Chinese, and well connected throughout Shenyang and surrounding cities.  Since my family has government and commercial contacts, that allows us to tap into essential networks all over China.  We know that we can effectively help clients set up businesses, offices, warehouses, factories, etc, all over China.

Working with the construction contractors was a full time job.  We had to make sure that someone was always there, every day, checking on the progress and making sure that things were done correctly.  For example, one day that my wife and I stopped in to check on the progress, the contractors had the wrong type of toilet ready to be installed.  We previously specified that it must be a western style toilet, but what I saw sitting on the ground, still packaged in a box, was a Chinese style squat toilet.  If we had not stopped in for one day, then they would have installed that squat toilet, and we would have had to argue with them to uninstall it, return it, buy the toilet that we previously specified, and then install that one.

Every aspect of construction is like that here in China.  The contractors make assumptions about what the customer might want, and move forward without first consulting with their clients.  The clients must always be present, or have someone they trust be present, or at least check up on the construction every single day.  It's a must if you want to keep your project on schedule and avoid huge delays.  Every single aspect of doing business in China requires in-person management.  It's the only way to get things done the right way.  Relationships are more valuable than money, when it comes to business in China.  It's just the way it is.  Foreign businesses and business people that submit to this truth, succeed much faster than those that try to resist the deeply rooted cultural norms in China.  I guess that could also be said about almost any country, and so it should be a rule to live by for international business professionals.  Play by the local rules and customs in every location you are conducting business.  It seems like an easy rule to live by, but I think the challenge can show up during those times when our own deeply en-grained cultural norms conflict with the deeply en-grained cultural norms of our international partners and clients.  It becomes very beneficial to develop the skill of being able to see past your own cultural upbringing, and to more effectively see things from the point of view of your international clients and partners.

One month later, after several small disappointments and many readjustments, the interior construction was completed.  Watching the exterior light-box sign with the business name and logo on it, being lifted up to the top of the front side of the building, was a very satisfying feeling.  Even more satisfying was being able to push the light switch on, and watch the sign light up for the first time, illuminating the front entrance to our new business.  Of course, there were still many more things to be done, and at this point, it all centered around preparations for the grand opening ceremony.

The grand opening did not go off without a hitch.  There were the usual, expected delays and setbacks that occur with the opening of any business, and in any country and location.  Not knowing how to deal with those setbacks and how to make the necessary adjustments in a foreign country can create serious problems for a new or existing business, but especially for a new business.  With the help of many people, including my family members, our partner's friends, and some key business and official contacts, we all pulled it off.  The grand opening was a success.

Within the first week after the grand opening, we already had several prospective new students, with some of them committing to one year of English Language Lessons.  The new business was off to a great start.  

Starting a foreign business in China is not easy, but with the immense amount of opportunities that exist in China's growing economy, it can be a very lucrative endeavor.  The Chinese government has just recently taken steps make it easier for foreign businesses to operate and invest in businesses within China.  The opportunities for opening a business in China are now bigger and more attractive than they've ever been before.  If you are interested in learning about the possibility of opening your existing business, or a brand new business in China, please feel free to contact me.  My contact information can be found on the contact page of our website.  www.GlobalQInternational.com or on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GlobalQueLLC 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Market Research and Industry Analysis

Market research is very important when beginning a new venture or entering into new markets.  Without performing at least some research on your desired market or industry, you will be setting yourself up for possible failure, but for sure, for encountering obstacles and setbacks that might have been otherwise avoided, or at least minimized if you were previously informed about their possible existence.

I have been doing a considerable amount of research on a couple of projects that we as a company are currently working on.  It is truly painstaking and very tedious, but as I go along, I find myself enlightened and empowered with the knowledge that I gain.   I have found a very common theme whenever I engage in market and industry research.  What I find is that as I begin and move along through countless articles and research reports, that I end up very frustrated by not being able to immediately find the specific answers to the questions I have.  I also find that once I finally find the answer to a question, that if I also seek that answer through other unrelated sources, I find a conflicting answer to the same question.  So I like to make a practice of searching multiple sources for each question and then try to find any possible consistencies between all of the varying bits of information I find. Through all of that frustration, something beautiful also happens.  I end up consuming large amounts of peripheral information.  All of that related information and the answers to my research questions combine to really help me feel like I have a better understanding of the markets and industries in question.  

All of that research can be very time consuming, but also extremely valuable for your own personal education, and your value within the team you are working with.  A highly recommended and important resource for market research and forecasting industry trends are professionally compiled market research reports that can easily be purchased online from reputable and experienced market research firms.  Although these expert reports are invaluable to your understanding of your target markets, industries, and competitors, I would still recommend doing your own research online or offline in order to gain that important peripheral knowledge.  www.GlobalQInternational.com 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Starting Your Business and Living the American Dream - Have We Forgotten?

Let me first say that America is an amazing country to live in. Further more, America has an enormous amount of opportunities available to it's citizens. So why do so many people living in the United States of America spend their lives dreaming about fulfilling their dreams and starting a business, only find themselves in a state of regret many years down the road?
Perhaps the answer has something to do with taking things for granted. Or maybe it is just a case of forgetting what this beautiful country is all about! Could it be that those particular people just don't want it bad enough? There could be a variety of reasons why a particular person has not lived their dreams. But I know one thing for sure. It is not because the U.S.A. does not offer the opportunities, freedoms, and the resources needed to "Live the American Dream." In my experiences I have seen that it is quite the opposite. The United States of America offers many more resources and doorways to opportunity than most areas on this wonderful planet that we call Earth.
I have a home in the U.S.A. and I also have a home in China. Thus I have traveled to the other side of the world several times and have been to at least 5 very different countries. I am the owner of an import/export business which connects me with a variety of global locations. Through my travels and through the many friends, family, and the many business contacts I have made (many of whom have traveled all over the world), I have come to learn that "Opportunity" is what the world craves! What the human spirit needs is a dream. We also need the opportunity along with the resources and the freedom necessary to build that dream.
There are so many beautiful countries in this world. They all have their own virtues, strengths, and weaknesses. One country may have the opportunities, but not the freedom. Another country may have the freedom, but they don't have the opportunity. Yet another country might have the freedoms and the opportunities, but they don't provide the general public with the resources needed to bring it all together. But the United States provides all three! So why are there so many U.S. citizens complaining about their lives? Why do they think they have it so bad? Why have they stopped chasing their dreams? But a really good question is, why are there so many people that immigrate to the United States with very little money and eventually end up owning their own businesses? I believe it is because when they first arrive in America, they notice that it is the first time they have ever had the real chance to fulfill their dreams and goals. They saw that with hard work, persistence, and dedication, their goals could be achieved. I think that many of us Americans have forgotten what we have. I think that many of us have forgotten that creativity and persistence is a large part of what built our fruitful economy.
If more of us could visit different countries and experience different cultures, especially areas that do not cater to tourists, then we would have a much greater appreciation for what is available to us. And we might even get that spark of life and adventure back! So the next time you think about living your dreams and starting a business from scratch and believe that it is impossible, ... think again! I used to be a single parent with no visible chance at success. But I took another look at what this country has to offer, and now I have traveled to the other side of the world, and created an offline and an online business. Who knows what the future will bring to you, but If you don't seek it, you definitely will not find it! If you live in the USA and you're ready to work hard and put some dedication into it, then all you have to do is open your eyes to the amazing amount of opportunity surrounding you. And when you think you can't do it, just remember one thing, ... you're an American! This is the Country of Big Business, and of Entrepreneurs! So get on the internet, get creative, and start searching for what it is that you need to get that business you've dreamed of started!

Doing Business in China - Ten Tips For a Good First Impression

If you're getting ready to travel to China for business, there are a few things to remember that might make your business talks go a little smoother. Knowing a few of the customary practices can go a long way in making a good first impression!
1. Understand that before you talk serious business, you must first introduce yourselves to each other. But I don't mean just a quick introduction. I'm talking about being invited or inviting them to lunch or dinner first. During the meal, casual conversation is the priority. Some minor business talk can be included, but keep it light and with no serious promises being made. Wait until the second meeting to talk serious business. I promise you, you will get a lot more accomplished that way.
2. They don't always give you time to prepare for a meeting. Trust me on this one. While you are visiting, you may be tempted to let it all hang out and blow off some steam thinking that you will be given plenty of notice before having to appear professional in front of potential business clients or partners. Don't bet on it! If you really need to take a break from it all, then the best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure to prepare for the unexpected meeting. Have everything you could possibly need in order to run out the door to an important meeting with only a ten minute warning. I'm really not kidding. You may think that you are on a set schedule, but just when you let your guard down, you will get a phone call from one of your Chinese clients stating that they have another partner who wants to talk to you, they are both currently standing in the lobby of your hotel, and that you are invited to eat with them right now. You had better not say no! It is a big insult to say no when you are invited to eat a meal from a Chinese citizen wanting to welcome you to talk business.
3. Plan to eat a lot of food. If they invite you to eat, it is customary to order a spread of food that is way too large for the group to finish eating. So if you are the one doing the inviting, you had better plan to order enough food to feed double the amount of people, and make sure it is a large and colorful variety of dishes! Keep in mind, it is always served family style! If you don't order much food, or you expect everyone to eat one individual meal for themselves, then you will insult them.
4. If you are invited to dinner or lunch, be prepared to drink clear hard liquor (at least one big shot), or beer (at least one bottle). If you are the one doing the inviting, then you had better be prepared to buy lots of liquor and beer, and at least ask what each person prefers! But either way, no matter what you are drinking, you will probably be drinking it out of a juice size glass. Oh, and one important thing to remember, when they say "Cheers", they don't want you to just take a sip. They expect you to down the whole glass! So make sure you fill your stomach with as much food as possible so you don't get drunk to early! Besides, if you eat more food, they will be happier with you, and I don't mean lots of food. I'm talking about tons of food. Eat until you are going to explode, if you know what I mean!
5. When it's time for handing out your business card, if you want to impress your Chinese business partners, then plan on using two hands. Place one hand on each side of the card. Make sure you very slightly bow your head, but not too much, just a hint of a bow.
6. Here's a really big one! If you're serious about impressing anyone in China, just learn to speak some Chinese. The more you can speak, the more impressed they will be. It is a serious compliment to take the time to learn their language. But if you are only going there for one business meeting, it would still make a big difference to just learn to say a few common sentences. If you learn to pronounce them well, you will be showered with compliments, and your first impression will go a long way towards softening up your conversations. You will also be viewed completely different from your colleagues who didn't bother to learn any Chinese at all!
7. Most people don't have their own vehicles in China. Even if they have a nice income, they probably rely on the amazing public transportation system. You can make a fantastic impression by arranging a car to pick up all of the prospective clients and drive them to the place of meeting, which will most likely be a restaurant.
8. Here's an interesting one. When you and your colleagues are getting ready to sit down at a table along with your Chinese business partners, you will notice a slight difference in the customary practices. It is not vitally important who sits down first, but you will notice a conflict of interest when a male Westerner is waiting for a Chinese woman to sit down before he does. The problem is that the woman will also be waiting for the man to sit down first! I have experienced this on many occasions and it still amuses me when neither one of us can decide when to sit down because we are both waiting on each other! Here's how it usually goes. The two Owners or Head Managers of both parties (male or female) sit down before everyone else, at the two most important positions, and at the same time. Then everyone else sits down in no particular order except with most of the women casually waiting for the men to sit down first.
9. Remember the the basic manners you were taught when you were growing up and you will make friends quickly. Saying "Please" and "Thank you" at the appropriate times is well respected within Chinese Culture. Genuine smiles are viewed as a sign of intelligence and a good honest heart. This is very important.
10. Now for one final, and extremely important concept to understand about making business contacts with Chinese citizens. In order to become good business partners, you must first become good friends. If you feel comfortable with your business partners, then make sure to call them your friend. Before anything else truly important can happen, the two parties must agree to be friends.
Of course all of these tips are not set in stone, but if you put them to use during your next trip to China, whether it be for business or for pleasure, you will make a great first impression.
Thomas Barto, CEO and Managing Member of GlobalQue LLC, an Import/Export, Global Sourcing Business that operates primarily offline, helping businesses find each other from across the world.

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