CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (4/22/2019 Mon.)


Podcast: Story in the Story (4/22/2019 Mon.)

People's Daily app

00:48, April 22, 2019


From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

Wenzhou is a commercial city in East China's Zhejiang Province that boasted a total of almost 225,000 privately owned companies at the end of 2018. That is up 14 percent from the previous year, according to Wenzhou Daily.

Despite the achievements of previous generations of Wenzhou entrepreneurs, however, a key issue for them is the succession of their family-run businesses.

The question remains whether or not their descendants, who generally enjoyed better education opportunities and broader career options than the older generations did, would be willing to inherit the same line of work.

Second generation family entrepreneurs are faced with two choices; they can either follow their parents' profession, and if they do, they must then determine strategies and visions for running the family business. Or they can do otherwise and decide on another career to pursue.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at the cases of three young adults who found themselves in this situation


(Photo: Xinhua)

Lin Yufei (pseudonym), 28, worked for his father's mechanical equipment company for several years after graduating from college. "But I just resigned. I don't want to work for my father anymore right now, as I feel his company has his distinct personality, and there is a big difference and sometimes disagreements between us," Lin said.

Lin said he hasn't worked in any other fields apart from his family business, which is why he now wants to learn more about other professions. "I will consider taking over my father's company many years later," he said.

But for 27-year-old Chen Ruihao, who works in the architecture designing industry in Shanghai, he never had any interest in working with his parents. His father set up a domestic and overseas travel business with his uncle in 1997. But Chen, a Wenzhou native, said he does not want to get involved.

"As I grew up watching my father work in the travel sector, I just was not curious about that field," he said. "Both my parents know well of the competitiveness and difficulties of the service industry, so they want me to find a different job, like being an office worker."

Similarly, 29-year-old Zhang Yong chose a profession that had nothing to do with his family's business.

"After graduation, I entered the IT and internet sector because my major was Information Management and Systems. My family didn't interfere in my decision," he said, adding that in the short term he has no plans to take over the family business.

"One time I designed a company profile on Alibaba for my father's business because he was ready to expand into Southeast Asia," Zhang said, explaining that his father is the founder and general manager of an agricultural machine manufacturing company.

All three admit that they did in fact learn quite a lot from their parents about being good businessmen. For instance, they mentioned that their fathers worked tirelessly and pursued their goals regardless of difficulties.

second gen.jpeg

(Photo: VCG)

"My father works extremely hard and is able to make decisions quickly and sticks to his choices. In most cases, I agree with his judgment and decisions," said Lin.

Likewise, Zhang said his father is always 100 percent dedicated to what he is doing and can bear many hardships while pursuing his goals. Chen recalled the hardships his father experienced in the early stages of his family's business.

"He once traveled up to Beijing for market opportunities around 1998, but he was first perceived as a 'fraud' when approaching potential clients, because our company was newly established and the nationwide reputation of Wenzhou businessmen was awful at that time," Chen conceded.

Notably, each of them said they would dedicate themselves to their family business if and when their family really needed them.

On the other hand, the three all see their parents' ways of running their family businesses as being outdated and needing an injection of fresh ideas and new methods.

"My father has the experience to succeed, but now he relies on his past experiences too much and is too reserved to attempt to expand the business," Zhang said. "I think he should apply more modern techniques on developing new products and opening more sales channels."

Likewise, Lin said his father is more familiar with the traditional ways of the industry and lacks the global vision of the modern marketplace. "I'd be more interested in trying new business platforms, such as cross-border e-commerce."

Chen said he is more sensitive about national policies than his father and would discuss and debate newly launched laws and regulations with his family. "Also, I am more attuned to new market opportunities. In the internet age, there are more cooperation opportunities among various platforms," he said.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon, and Chelle Wenqian Zeng. Music by: Text from Global Times)

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