Jack Ma, a short, lean man in his early fifties who came across a computer when he was 31, went on to build the most formidable empire of e-commerce in China without writing a single line of code or selling a product directly. That’s why the nickname ‘Crazy Jack’. Today, his brain-child ‘Alibaba.com’ is identified as one of the biggest success stories of e-commerce in the world.
He started his business with $20,000 that his wife and friend helped him raise. Ma is the first mainland Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the cover of Forbes. He is the richest man in China and 18th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $29.7 billion. The life of this short Chinese man is a buffet of wisdom nuggets for every budding entrepreneur.
Here are the 10 success lessons from Jack Ma – “Wealthiest Man in Asia” for entrepreneurs,
1. Have a vision
At an early stage, Jack focused on imbibing trust in his consumers rather than trying to build the best revenue model. Many people chase after money, some of whom go on to become rich and successful but real successful people, in Jack’s opinion, are those who have the vision to change the society for the greater good. He believes in creating something that has an impact on people’s lives because the relationship between the company and its customers is more valuable than any material wealth. In his opinion, money should always be a by-product and never the end goal.
2. Giving up is the greatest failure
Failures and rejections have been synonymous with Jack since his early days. He failed thrice in his middle school exams and twice in his college entrance exam before making it into Hangzhou Normal University in his third attempt where he received his Bachelor’s degree in English. He applied for 30 jobs during and after his bachelor’s and faced rejection in each one of them. When KFC came to his city, out of 24 people who applied for the job, 23 got selected, and Jack was the only one who got rejected. When he tried in the police academy, out of 5 applicants, 4 got selected, and again he was the only one who didn’t get through. He also applied to Harvard and got rejected ten times.
According to Ma, “giving up is the greatest failure.” If you go out, try your best and fail to achieve your goal but see it through to the end you are a success. Like all great leaders, Ma recognizes that a person is able to learn the most from obstacles and hardships. They key to success is persevering and learning from your mistakes.
“Today is hard, Tomorrow will be worse, but the day after that will be Sunshine”
3. Love life
“I always tell myself that we are born here not to work, but to enjoy life. We are here to make things better for one another, and not to work. If you are spending your whole life working, you will certainly regret it.” This sentiment lies at the heart of Jack Ma’s lifestyle. Life is for experiencing the world and helping out other people. If money is your goal, you have to change your mindset.
4. Don’t make enemies
One the most unique aspects of Jack Ma’s business philosophy is the idea of friendly competition. Ma does not see his competitors as his enemies, rather they are friends whom he can learn from and who challenge him to achieve his full potential.
It is clear that Jack Ma’s philosophy is built for success in a rapidly developing world. We can all learn a thing or two from this self-made billionaire.
5. Be tenacious
In addition to foresight Ma says leaders should be tenacious and have a clear vision. Knowing what you want to achieve and having the drive to chase it down will not only put you on the path to success, it will inspire those around you to work hard for that common goal. Taking pride in your work and not taking no for an answer are keys to Ma’s business philosophy.
6. Value attitude
When Jack Ma talks about the biggest mistake he ever made he describes how when he founded Alibaba he told his team that the highest level they could achieve would be that of managers, and that executives should be hired from the outside. Ma has learned his lesson and now stresses the importance of attitude and passion over theoretical skills.
7. Hire people with superior skills
When asked what separates a leader from an employee Ma has gone on record saying “Your employee should have superior technical skills than you. If he doesn’t, it means you have hired the wrong person.” Focusing on the skills of employees and hiring people with the know how to carry out your vision is an important pillar of any great company.
8. Unite People under a Single Goal
Ma understands that no matter how hard you try you will never be able to convince every single employee, business partner, and potential investor to trust you or believe what you say. Accepting that and changing your approach is another key to his massive success. Rather than uniting his company under the vision of one person, he unites them under a common goal. The vision is more important than the leader.
9. Be an authentic leader
Ma hands out cans of Silly String, encourages employees to do handstands in the office, and welcomes his staff’s candid opinions. He’s relatable and credible, and he possesses a strong sense of character. This is crucial for leaders because it fosters loyalty and builds a strong foundation on which our companies can grow. We don’t have to sacrifice our sense of humor just because we’re in charge.
10. See through customers’ eyes
Ma runs an e-commerce business, but he attributes his success to not being “a tech guy.” Rather, he views products from his customers’ perspectives, and that allows him to offer relatable, intuitive products.