1. “Good is the enemy of great.” (7:30 7:38, 8:50-9:13)
In an industry that can get so demanding, it’s often easier to just stop at what’s expected of you. This is well and good for your convenience, but it will set you up for mediocrity in the long run.
Instead of stopping at your current industry, see where else your company can expand to. “The thing that I admire most with Alibaba is that they keep on innovating. They are not afraid to experiment,” said Chua-Magleo.
“[They didn’t] stop with e-commerce or retail. After that, they started venturing to different aspects of the digital economy, like payments, so they have Alipay. They even have Alibaba Cloud. They have movies. So they’re not really afraid of experimenting.”
2. Embrace change. (9:47-9:53, 10:12 10:29)
When you start exploring unfamiliar industries, the usual mindset would be to make solid plans checked ten times over. Planning will always be standard for any kind of business, it’s just as important to complement it with flexibility.
“Not all as planned will happen. You don’t know the market conditions or the external factors that might happen,” said Chua-Magleo.
“So it’s not like, ‘This is the business model that I want.’ If it’s not progressing… you should look for other ways on how to earn.”
3. Carpe diem — but do so thoughtfully. (6:28-6:45)
Another danger of riding along with change is the desire to be first; after all, your competitors are all probably racing you to release the same product. Feel free to move swiftly to beat your competition, but make sure it’s not at the cost of quality or integrity.
“Timing is really crucial for you to execute everything,” said Chua-Magleo. “You need to execute it fast, but of course, you don’t want a messy start. So you have to execute in a way that it’s well-planned as well.”
4. Hire the right people. (3:03-3:11, 3:37-3:54, 4:11-4:23)
Since you won’t be doing the majority of this work, it’s absolutely important to hire the right people. This doesn’t just mean acquiring employees who are highly skilled. It may actually be more vital to hire employees who actually believe in what your startup is trying to do.
“They hire people who are committed – committed to their jobs, to their responsibilities,” said Chua-Magleo.
“[The] people there, they feel that they are part of the stakeholders [even if] they are not… they feel that they are one with the company in achieving its mission and vision.”
Since these kinds of people are reliable, you’ll also find that you’ll run smoother on the operational side. “Hiring reliable people will help you grow faster because you don’t have to micromanage them, so they can work on their own, with less supervision.”
5. In any relationship, communication is important. (5:23-5:33)
To further strengthen your internal relationships, make it a point to constantly communicate with your employees. Talk about their strong suits but include their points for improvement as well.
“It gives the employee an idea that, ‘Oh, there’s room for improvement for me based on the assessment of my coworkers or managers, that there’s something in me that needs to be improved.’” said Magleo-Chua.
This desire for communication should extend to your customers. She noticed that Alibaba employees loved reaching out to them as much as they did among themselves. Genuinely listening to your customers can help you in different range of ways, including giving you a unique selling point.
Those interested in applying for the Alibaba eFounders Program can find more information at this link. The upcoming program class will take place from Dec 2 to 12. The deadline for applications is on Oct 7.