Ma was born in Hangzhou, China, in 1964. He grew up poor and started off by giving English tours to foreigners for free.
Today, his net worth amounts to approximately $28.5 billion with Alibaba — the company he founded — worth more than Facebook.
Unlocking the Potential of a Local Market
A quick internet search triggered an idea that changed Ma’s life forever.
When he couldn’t find any information on beer from China, he realized he had stumbled upon a business opportunity. Soon he launched a website about China and Chinese products online. On that website, Ma listed Chinese businesses and their products.
It wasn’t long before he started receiving emails from people across the world keen to partner with him.
Before Ma, China was an uncharted territory for businesses from other parts of the world. Ma connected with influential government people and investors to take his business venture to the next level.
Following the dot com crash of 2000, Ma refocused his attention on the Chinese market. This strategy paid off and he emerged as the biggest ecommerce player in the Chinese market.
Leverage Opportunities in a Local Market to Take on the Big Players
The burgeoning Chinese market caught the attention of big ecommerce players. Determined to stay ahead of competition, Ma attracted online traders with his commission-free platform.
He offered them value-added services for a small fee. He also acquired some companies to further boost his business against competition.
For a small business, there’s a lot to learn from Ma. His local knowledge, for example, helped him grow his business. That’s a lesson for businesses that are focused on their local markets.
He has also set an example on how to take on competition, especially from the big players, to gain momentum.
Image: Small Business Trends More in: Alibaba