By Liam Casey
The question I am asked most frequently is "How do you run a business in China?"
My answer is always the same--it's just as challenging as it is anywhere else in the world. No more, no less. The key to staying relevant is being flexible and adapting to change.
We have operated in China since 1996. In the West, when people think of doing business in China, the first thing that comes to mind is low-cost manufacturing. Back in 2003, we made a decision to invest in our own facilities in China. In doing so, we knew for sure that Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region had a lot more to offer than just cheap labour. We saw it as an innovative, creative and entrepreneurial place to operate, and the best location to run a global supply chain company.
When it comes to building a business, a successful way to manage this is to apply a "triple bottom line" concept, which can help companies achieve a successful and sustainable business model. The three bottom lines are social, environmental and economic--or to put it simply, People, Planet and Profit. Transparency and accountability for these three areas are critical for long-term success.
People are the most important aspect of any business. Without great people, a company has nothing. The most successful companies enforce fair and beneficial labour practices, do not tolerate exploitation of workers, and enrich the community in which they operate. Respecting people, building personal relationships and treating people well is crucial in attracting and retaining top talent and inspiring the best performance. In our organization, we have a diverse range of people from 16 nationalities. Yet, we have only one culture; we are all connected by a shared set of values--passion, integrity and teamwork. These values and a clear purpose of developing partnerships delivering peace of mind helps drive the other two bottom lines.