A Handbook for the Modern Entrepreneur

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The Formidable Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs in 2023

The unprecedented socio-economic changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the business landscape around the world and in China. At the same time, pandemic-related challenges spurred the emergence of new technologies. Entrepreneurs actively responded to the rapid economic changes by coming up with innovative solutions and adaptations. For instance, robots delivering food to students’ dorms have been commercialized, and the check-out process is run by Artificial intelligence (A.I.). Additionally, A.I. can also be used to write stories and even computer programmes. These innovations facilitated contactless transactions and logistics, making life easier during and after the lockdowns.

#CUHKWhitePaperSeries | A Handbook for the Modern Entrepreneur

It was also during 2022 when Generation Z (Gen Z), better known as “Post-’00s” in China, came of age and was ready to enter the workforce. Despite the record number of unemployment among the youth due to the economic turbulence, the Gen-Z also showed an unprecedented level of interest in starting their own business from scratch.

On Bilibili, a video platform popular among Gen-Z Chinese, entrepreneurship-related content racked up 830 million views in 2021, up 77% over the previous year. The majority of the viewers expressed enthusiasm for pursuing non-traditional careers or seeking alternatives to full-time employment.

In addition, continuous rural migrations to China’s urban centres over the years further fueled the rise of the startup culture, where risk-takers contributed to the rapid development of innovations in the marketplace.

With such drastic transformations in society, work and business landscape, the driving forces behind entrepreneurship have taken on a much different nature than those shaping entrepreneurship in the previous generations.

In this CUHK Business School Research White Paper, we will examine some of the questions surrounding the rise of a new brand of entrepreneurial culture in China. First of all, in light of the propensity of the Gen-Z to found startups without any prior experience working and while holding full-time jobs, what can they do to increase the chances of keeping their startups afloat and ensuring long-term success?

Drastic societal transformations have changed the driving forces behind today’s entrepreneurship.

Once a startup company is established, what should entrepreneurs focus on to get it off the ground and expand its market reach and profitability? In view of the shifting political landscape and institutional changes in China over the years, entrepreneurs may need to adjust their strategies according to the current stage of institutional changes.

One of the most drastic transformations in Chinese society as a result of institutional change is the migration of the rural population to the country’s sprawling cities. Along with the migration came the rise of entrepreneurism in urban centres. A fascinating phenomenon emerged: Those who came from rural areas turned out to be among the most successful entrepreneurs in China’s history. What are the factors contributing to this? How can we leverage those factors to continue nurturing successful entrepreneurs?

Lastly, for the younger generation who grew up in business families found by first-generation entrepreneurs, what impact does the changing socio-economic landscape have on their career choices? As they tend to forge their own paths, family businesses can no longer expect the heirs to continue their legacy with certainty and must nurture them differently.

These are some of the aspects of entrepreneurship that we will seek to explore.

To find out more about a specific topic, click on the links below to navigate to the relevant chapter:

INTRODUCTION – A Handbook for the Modern Entrepreneur

PART I – Leveraging Multi-faceted Experience for Entrepreneurial Success

PART II – Entrepreneurs Picking the Right Strategy for Different Stages of Marketisation

PART III – How Urban Migration Helped Drive Entrepreneurship in China

PART IV – Entrepreneurial Career Paths of New Generations in Family-Owned Enterprises

CONCLUSION – Entrepreneurship in 2023 and Beyond