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Required Reading: The China Twist by Wen-Szu Lin

Required Reading: The China Twist by Wen-Szu LinTwo young Wharton MBA graduates competed for and won their bid for exclusive China Master Franchise rights for one of America’s beloved snack brands, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Leaving their lucrative careers in private equity and consulting, they landed in Beijing with big dreams, few connections and no experience in China.

From the outset, they encountered non-stop challenges. Common business tasks in the United States were nightmarish obstacles in China, from registering a company, to importing supplies, to navigating local labor laws. Ridiculous distractions waylaid their franchise, from dealing with a thug employee to accidentally incapacitating their entire staff.

Informative as well as entertaining, the authors detail the challenges in launching and localizing a Western concept for the Chinese market, such as coining the term for “pretzel” and “Auntie Anne’s” in Chinese, testing theoretical marketing strategies and even spending time in the kitchen to develop new products for the Chinese palette.

This exciting first-hand account of serves as a fun and illustrative guide (or warning) for anyone considering doing business in China. Be prepared for a China twist, a process that can resemble a modern version of Chinese Water Torture.

Inspiration: The 21 Golden Rules of Entrepreneurship

Jason Nazar, co-founder and CEO of Docstoc, revisits his undergrad alma-matta to tell about his journey as an entrepreneur and talk about his philosophy of the 21 Golden Rules of Entrepreneurship.

5 Secrets to Entrepreneurial Success

Okay, so maybe “secrets” is an exaggeration, but entrepreneurs due tend to share similar mindsets. Here are the top five traits of successful entrepreneurs:

1. Stay focused on opportunity
Too many entrepreneurs sink because they take on too much. Successful entrepreneurs find something to focus on to the point where they become really good at it. Look at Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter. His next big venture was Square, and while Square might seem far and away from Twitter, there are many similarities between the two companies. Dorsey saw a platform and looked for potential in it. Find the opportunity and stay focused.

2. Work hard and enjoy the journey
5 Secrets of successful entrepreneursYou aren’t going to be an overnight success. The road to success is paved with blood, sweat, and tears. Mostly sweat. Maybe some elbow grease? However you look at it, being an entrepreneur means long hours, long days, and long weeks. Don’t forget to set some milestones and celebrate them when you reach these goals. If all you look for is the end, you’re going to miss a lot of sites along the way.

3. Tune your gut
A lot of entrepreneurs say trust your gut. Go with what you feel. That’s great advice, but before you can trust your gut, you need to get in tune with it. Sometimes your gut can be wrong. You need to find the difference between labor pains and stomach cramps. Both can scream, “it’s time to go!” but only one is actually going to result in new life.

4. Build your team.
After that last, maybe too graphic, advice, I have this piece. Trust your teammates. This is a hard for most entrepreneurs because they have to trust in something outside of their control. But, let’s think about it from the opposite side: your team members/employees/advisors know when you don’t trust them and it doesn’t feel good. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself? Not necessarily. If you want something done, you have to be honest. Tell people what you want done. Give them a deadline. Trust them to meet your expectations. If they don’t, you need to tell them why.
Maybe the problem is your expectation.

5. Pay it forward
Some people don’t understand the concept of integrity. If they do you a favor, they expect something in return almost immediately. But, remember, someone has taken a chance on you at some point without expecting anything in return. You can do that, too. I’m not saying you should blindly hand out favors but remember when all you had was passion and vision? There are people out there just like you who will take whatever you give them and make it greater. Don’t be afraid to help someone along.

There you have it. What do you think is a trait of the successful entrepreneur? Share it in the comments below!

Inspiration: Creativity and Improvisation

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