A quick couple of cliches for the Kids out there......

This may come as a shock to some of my readers, but the Internet at one time did not actually exist.  A few of us are actually older than the internet as we know it today.   Case in point, I still claim the most useful class I took in High School was typing class.  My teacher was neither sociable nor overfriendly, but she got the job done, and I’m still using my typing skills today.

The internet has changed life itself.  It has broken down barriers.   It has annihilated the monopoly of the elites of “Information” itself.   As I like to frequently point out, for example, it has reduced the status of the Harvard Chinese Studies PhD(to his chagrin, I’m sure) to nothing more than that of yet another common blogger on China. 

It has greatly diminished “Status”, and levelled the playing field on access to information.
One thing in particular it has done is to make doing business easier.   It has greatly simplified the supply chain, and wiped out the middleman.   This has led to….. what?

It has led to individuals believing they can buy “directly” from the factory, while simultaneously patting themselves on the back as to how “smart” they are, and how much cheaper they can obtain product, while only slightly lowering their own margins in the process.

One thing it has not done though is diminish the need for “work”.   Hard Work.   Increasingly looked upon more as a “cliché”,  I am here to tell you that there are without question certain things one needs to succeed.  

He needs Luck.

He needs an “in”, that is he needs to know somebody.(I’ll hire you because you went to Stanford…just like I did….and I’ll pay you double the guy that actually knows how to do the job….and even better I’ll give you a year to figure out what you’re doing!  And I’ll give you options! )

HE NEEDS TO WORK HARD.   Because if you don’t know your stuff….it will show. 

These are all applicable to either the company cog, or the entrepreneur.  There is no shortcut.

To my amusement, I see that many young people, entrepreneurs all, still have no clue what “hard work” means. 

Now….what again am I talking about?

Let me first say that the more, younger entrepreneurs a country has, the better off it probably will be.   I very much like the fact that younger people are wanting to avoid the often “soul crushing” environment of a company in order to work for themselves.    I hope both of my kids will grow up to be entrepreneurs.  I really do. 

But problem is…thanks to sites such as “elance.com” and “odesk.com”, these young bucks(yeah, yeah, I know there are also middle aged entrepreneurs out there as well), think they can gain all the benefits of supplying a product minus all the hard work involved.
And it kind of insults my Profession.

And that’s because many, many entrepreneurs believe all they need is the good ole’ Internet to make them a mint.

Many folks are now believing they can, via the internet”, not only source a product from China, but do both quality control as well as price negotiation, without ONE, not going to China themselves, and TWO, not having one iota of business knowledge about the place they are buying from.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Here is one job I came across on elance recently.  Elance and Odesk  are jobsites that allow you to state what you need help with.  People with solutions will than bid on your business.  Whoever usually offers the cheapest rate to help the fellow with the need will than win the “bid”.    Great idea.  Very helpful.  Extremely efficient.   So simple in fact that many people have forgotten there’s a bit more to it than that.

Lets take a look at a few jobs:

“finding manufacturers in China and negotiating the best price for the manufacture…. and shipping the products to the USA”.

Wow!  Let me get this right.  This entrepreneur has a product.  But he doesn’t have a factory to build the product yet?   (as my daughter says….”easy peezy”) 

“No fucking problem”, thinks dumbass naïve entrepreneur ….” I’ll find a guy in China(don’t know who he is, but I’m sure he’s a swell guy!), who will do all the hard work!”

“He will find my suppliers for me.”

“I’ll just find a guy I don’t know, based on his bid to me, who will solve all my problems! 

Let’s continue….What abt the Quality Pilgrim?

The ad continues….

The person he chooses will “provide quality control - inspecting sample and final products before delivery”.

Fantastic!  Glad you realized that having a stranger find your factory for you, sight unseen, is not good enough….you realize you also need your parts inspected!

Can I ask a few questions?  (it’s my blog…..I guess that means yes I can!)

How do you know the fellow you do not plan on meeting doesn’t work at the factory he “chose”?

How do you know the basis for choosing the supplier is based not on pure quality, but because the factory is owned by his older brother?  Or good old Dad?

While you are rubbing your head on that one, maybe we should talk about shipping, eh?

This guy goes on to want  “shipping at the lowest cost possible”.

Quite often the Achilles heel of an operation, after all the production and quality has been taken care of, is the need of the bottom feeder(like this guy), to save on shipping costs.

Can I ask another question?

Isn’t it enough your cheap ass has saved on fare and hotel costs?  Isn’t it enough you are too cheap to hire someone full time to work for you in China?  

But now you want the cheapest shipping price possible?  

The benefit of being young is that you feel invincible, like I did when I was 19.  I was truly invincible.  (whatever)…..and I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

There’s another old fashioned axiom that never goes away, but apparently everyone that uses elance and Odesk to source products in China hasn’t heard yet….


If you are in this business to buy the cheapest product possible, and to sell it at the highest price possible….you will FAIL.  Deservedly so.   Unfortunately, many of you are so arrogant, and so addicted to the first success of a sale, you stop listening to anyone who isn’t like you.

(A serious question:  who buys from these people?)

When your product arrives in Kenya, instead of Chicago, what are you going to do then?  Go back to eLance to bid for someone to ship it back to you?

I scanned several of these ads.  They are all the same. 

Who will create a logo for me?(good idea actually)

Who will inspect my product?

Who will find the factories?

Who will wipe my ass?

There are many more of these out there.  Here are more:

“We are seeking a person with strong English and Chinese communication skills to inspect goods before shipment at a factory”

(I’ve rarely met a competent QC fellow that speaks English.  Actually, upon reflection, I’ve never met such a fellow. )

“Check the quality of the goods to ensure they are properly manufactured and meet certain standards…”

Remind me on what criteria you chose your QC personnel again?  (Oh yes, she had the cutest picture!  Or was it her bid came in lowest????)

And finally……

“We would like to hire someone with expertise that can assist us every time we source a new product…… to find a good local person who can undertake quality control”

Oh my….so now you are going to not only hire someone you’ve never met before to help you find a factory for a product….but rely upon that person as well to hire a QC fellow for you……brilliant!!???

Now….I know a few of you may believe I’ve come off a bit harsh….but really I haven’t.

Unless you are sourcing rubberbands….or clothing hangars(not to insult any of the folks in that field),  there is absolutely no way that you will survive for long in a business  you have created by trying to source via eLance or Odesk in China.  Or probably anywhere else, for that matter. 

You may think you are clever.

Until the product fails…

Than what do you do?

The best way to stay small is by never realizing that the important decisions need to be made by yourself face to face…and not via the Internet.  Step one is get a plane ticket.  Have an idea of who you will work with BEFORE you decide upon a product.   Visit potential suppliers.  And of course have a customer that’s not gonna sue you for having lead poisoning in his product.

Now…as most of these kids(excuse me, I mean budding entrepreneurs…the Future of the Country, blah blah blah) are cheapskates….how are you gonna respond when your supplier makes you pay CIA(cash in advance)??   You think your supplier(the cousin of the guy you hired…oh and he’s taking a cut both ways you know that don’t you?) doesn’t know you’re fresh meat?  How’s he not gonna want his money upfront?

If I ever found out one of my suppliers was sourcing from eLance or Odesk I would not behave in a very pleasant manner. 

In conclusion....all you guys and gals with your own biz....keep it up.  Keep plugging away.  Working for the MAN sucks.  It really does.  But you can't take shortcuts. 

eLance and Odesk are great websites…..I’ve checked them out.  But they are not for you.  They are not for sourcing in China.  


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