Business / Opinion

Time to do something different in China

By Saurabh Sharma (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-16 07:07

Opportunities abound for both small, hungry entrepreneurs and large, growing big businesses

If I gave you all the money and approvals you needed to start on your own, what business would you want to do in China today?

Time to do something different in China
Zhang Chengliang / China Daily

Take my advice - think about small-scale organic farming near Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen or Guangzhou. Think small, think pure and think premium. It will sell.

Don't like farming? Try luxury. Think about buying rights to market obscure luxury brands from anywhere in the world. Remember, you do not need a big store; you do not need a big advertising budget. What you really need is great service and outstanding storytellers. Scalable? Maybe not. Will it be profitable? Most certainly, yes.

Tech-inclined and do not like farms or luxury? Ok, think about application of technology in everyday life. Think convenience, think efficiency. Stuff that helps people save time and money or helps people add more value to themselves in the form of skills and abilities.

The market does not always tell you about these opportunities. This is because you are researching existing products and services in existing categories. But the speed of change brought about by technology and entrepreneurship is opening new opportunities beyond existing products and categories.

Today, real opportunities are arising either between existing categories or in the shape of entirely new categories. Let me explain with a few examples the kind of opportunities that exist.

Take the example of an obscure and yet successful business like VCLEANSE ( It is a brand of natural healthy juice and food products made in small batches. Yet, the brand does not sell juice - instead it sells a healthy lifestyle. All juices that Vcleanse makes are a part of a health regimen. And unlike others, it does not try to target everyone. Vcleanse is focused on upper middle-class women who care for their health and fitness. The brand sources its raw material from local farms around Shanghai to ensure that what they sell is consistent in quality. So, what makes Vcleanse stand out? Well, the sourcing is "no compromise" - as small-scale farming ensures they can control the quality of produce. The target consumer is sharply defined, and the offer is not a product, it is a lifestyle, a system of health.

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