vendredi 4 novembre 2011

Chinese entrepreneur found freedom in French furniture

Chinese entrepreneur found freedom in French furniture

Entrepreneur Ning Li found having both a French and Chinese perspective meant he saw clearly how the markets could benefit each other
Ning Li, co-founder and CEO of the online furniture store Made.com, already has two start-up companies under his belt. He launched his first business selling furniture over the internet to customers in France after he left a career in investment banking.
He says he went into banking to prove he could do it but soon realised he had a different itch to scratch.
"As an entrepreneur we like… freedom," he says. He found investment banking to be at the "opposite [end] of the scale".
"It's extremely useful in terms of experience but it didn't fit me," he admits. Ning realised he needed to get out quickly. "The longer you go into investment banking, the more you are paid and the more difficult [it is] to leave your job and start something on your own," he explains.
Ning set up his first company in France selling furniture online when he was 25 years old. To him, launching a start-up seemed like a natural progression.
"When you look at what Chinese people do abroad, a lot of them open restaurants and that's a very entrepreneurial approach," he says.
Two perspectives
Start-up Stories
MADE.COM
  • Employees: 40
  • HQ Location: London
  • Year founded: 2010
  • Ownership: Private
  • Annual turnover: N/A
Ning left China to continue his studies in France when he was 15 years old and he says the result was an exposure to a "double culture of Chinese and French".
The experience made it easy to spot how one market could benefit from the other.
"I come from… a medium-sized town which happens to be one of the biggest furniture manufacturing bases in China," he says. Yet he found the price difference between goods manufactured in Asia and sold in the West astounding. "How could a $300 sofa sell at 3,000 euros?" he asks. "Just crazy."
It was something he asked himself again when he realised that the costs of manufacturing designer furniture were the same or less than regular brands.
Pitching designer brands at more affordable prices whilst still making a healthy profit was a clear business model for Ning Li.
"It's always an opportunity when you see a big market that hasn't changed so much," he says.
Many furniture manufacturers find it uneconomic to supply products in small quantities. Using the internet to aggregate orders helps matters - once enough orders have come in to fill a shipping container, it's possible for the goods to be manufactured and despatched. Ning Li says this approach helps to keep costs down.
Indeed, he says the success of it was apparent from the start. "We had about 300 orders for day one," he recalls. "Three hundred orders for a furniture business - just amazing."
Know your weaknesses
Ning Li Ning Li: "Some people are very good at creating a business, some people are better at managing"
Ning Li admits that rapid growth posed challenges for him.
Managing a surge of staff numbers and expanding product lines required skills he didn't yet have.
"Some people are very good at creating a business, some people are better at managing," he says. "I didn't feel I was a manager good enough for the size of that business anymore."
In 2009 Ning Li sold his share of his business in France and took a year off to backpack around the world. He says it gave him the breathing space to start afresh.
It was in London that he met entrepreneur Brent Hoberman who encouraged him to start again with the same idea and the same business model, but this time selling to a British market.
Now Ning Li's online company also works directly with designers to custom-make exclusive products. He says it is harder than buying "off the shelf" products from factories to sell but that "you can still feel in the UK market today a huge gap for designer furniture at a good price".
Modernising business
Ning Li in his office Online furniture retail means the ability to take more risks with new talent and designers
For Ning Li, putting the furniture retail market online has helped revolutionise what he calls a "dusty industry."
"Buying furniture is a conventional thing," he says, adding that in the past retailers were reluctant to take risks with new designs or new designers, and talent could become stifled. Now the internet has changed all that.
"If a new designer comes to see us with a new amazing table that looks risky, we say 'Why not?' because the only risk that we have is taking the photo.
"We put it online, if it doesn't sell, we pull it off. And if it sells, then everybody wins," he explains.
But it's not just about risks and exposure. Ning Li believes that speed is also important when it comes to marketing in the modern age.
"The internet allows us to launch products much faster than traditional business," he says. "Speed is king."
"The speed of designing new products and also renewing your catalogue is key… to keep people's interest… keep them coming back to the website."
Buying from China
Many British and European manufacturing industries have outsourced various processes abroad in recent decades.
The result, says Ning Li, is that it can be difficult to find good manufacturers based in the West.
Although some 20% of their suppliers are British, they buy from China - not just because of the cost, but because China has developed an "ecosystem of manufacturing" over the last 30 years.
He believes China's reputation for making goods for worldwide consumption allows the country to understand the global market.
"They have all the insight of what people are looking for," he elaborates.
Alone at the top
Ning Li and co-workers Although Ning Li believes being an entrepreneur can leave you isolated, sharing is important in a start-up
Entrepreneurship can be a solitary occupation, according to Ning Li.
"As an entrepreneur, you always feel kind of lonely," he confesses. "There are lots of things you cannot share necessarily with all your investors and your employees."
He believes there's one thing that can lessen this: co-founders who you get along with.
"It's really about sharing," he laughs. "And sharing is a nice thing to have in a start-up."
Although the entrepreneur has never failed, he says one shouldn't underestimate the trials of setting up a business from scratch, nor the lessons that can be learned.
"There are so many failures of start-ups," he says. "But you will see the people that actually survive and succeed… are actually the strongest believers."
Indeed, Ning Li believes that the initial struggles and despair of launching a start-up mean many successful entrepreneurs never do it for the money alone.
"What I really enjoy in my daily life is having the liberty of deciding what I want to do when I wake up," he says. "That's a huge thing that I didn't get from my investment banking background anyway."

Start-up Stories

Chinese entrepreneur found freedom in French furniture

Ning Li, co-founder and CEO of the online furniture store Made.com, already has two start-up companies under his belt. He launched his first business selling furniture over the internet to customers in France after he left a career in investment banking.
He says he went into banking to prove he could do it but soon realised he had a different itch to scratch.
"As an entrepreneur we like… freedom," he says. He found investment banking to be at the "opposite [end] of the scale".
"It's extremely useful in terms of experience but it didn't fit me," he admits. Ning realised he needed to get out quickly. "The longer you go into investment banking, the more you are paid and the more difficult [it is] to leave your job and start something on your own," he explains.
Ning set up his first company in France selling furniture online when he was 25 years old. To him, launching a start-up seemed like a natural progression.
"When you look at what Chinese people do abroad, a lot of them open restaurants and that's a very entrepreneurial approach," he says.
Two perspectives
Start-up Stories
MADE.COM
  • Employees: 40
  • HQ Location: London
  • Year founded: 2010
  • Ownership: Private
  • Annual turnover: N/A
Ning left China to continue his studies in France when he was 15 years old and he says the result was an exposure to a "double culture of Chinese and French".
The experience made it easy to spot how one market could benefit from the other.
"I come from… a medium-sized town which happens to be one of the biggest furniture manufacturing bases in China," he says. Yet he found the price difference between goods manufactured in Asia and sold in the West astounding. "How could a $300 sofa sell at 3,000 euros?" he asks. "Just crazy."
It was something he asked himself again when he realised that the costs of manufacturing designer furniture were the same or less than regular brands.
Pitching designer brands at more affordable prices whilst still making a healthy profit was a clear business model for Ning Li.
"It's always an opportunity when you see a big market that hasn't changed so much," he says.
Many furniture manufacturers find it uneconomic to supply products in small quantities. Using the internet to aggregate orders helps matters - once enough orders have come in to fill a shipping container, it's possible for the goods to be manufactured and despatched. Ning Li says this approach helps to keep costs down.
Indeed, he says the success of it was apparent from the start. "We had about 300 orders for day one," he recalls. "Three hundred orders for a furniture business - just amazing."
Know your weaknesses
Ning Li Ning Li: "Some people are very good at creating a business, some people are better at managing"
Ning Li admits that rapid growth posed challenges for him.
Managing a surge of staff numbers and expanding product lines required skills he didn't yet have.
"Some people are very good at creating a business, some people are better at managing," he says. "I didn't feel I was a manager good enough for the size of that business anymore."
In 2009 Ning Li sold his share of his business in France and took a year off to backpack around the world. He says it gave him the breathing space to start afresh.
It was in London that he met entrepreneur Brent Hoberman who encouraged him to start again with the same idea and the same business model, but this time selling to a British market.
Now Ning Li's online company also works directly with designers to custom-make exclusive products. He says it is harder than buying "off the shelf" products from factories to sell but that "you can still feel in the UK market today a huge gap for designer furniture at a good price".
Modernising business
Ning Li in his office Online furniture retail means the ability to take more risks with new talent and designers
For Ning Li, putting the furniture retail market online has helped revolutionise what he calls a "dusty industry."
"Buying furniture is a conventional thing," he says, adding that in the past retailers were reluctant to take risks with new designs or new designers, and talent could become stifled. Now the internet has changed all that.
"If a new designer comes to see us with a new amazing table that looks risky, we say 'Why not?' because the only risk that we have is taking the photo.
"We put it online, if it doesn't sell, we pull it off. And if it sells, then everybody wins," he explains.
But it's not just about risks and exposure. Ning Li believes that speed is also important when it comes to marketing in the modern age.
"The internet allows us to launch products much faster than traditional business," he says. "Speed is king."
"The speed of designing new products and also renewing your catalogue is key… to keep people's interest… keep them coming back to the website."
Buying from China
Many British and European manufacturing industries have outsourced various processes abroad in recent decades.
The result, says Ning Li, is that it can be difficult to find good manufacturers based in the West.
Although some 20% of their suppliers are British, they buy from China - not just because of the cost, but because China has developed an "ecosystem of manufacturing" over the last 30 years.
He believes China's reputation for making goods for worldwide consumption allows the country to understand the global market.
"They have all the insight of what people are looking for," he elaborates.
Alone at the top
Ning Li and co-workers Although Ning Li believes being an entrepreneur can leave you isolated, sharing is important in a start-up
Entrepreneurship can be a solitary occupation, according to Ning Li.
"As an entrepreneur, you always feel kind of lonely," he confesses. "There are lots of things you cannot share necessarily with all your investors and your employees."
He believes there's one thing that can lessen this: co-founders who you get along with.
"It's really about sharing," he laughs. "And sharing is a nice thing to have in a start-up."
Although the entrepreneur has never failed, he says one shouldn't underestimate the trials of setting up a business from scratch, nor the lessons that can be learned.
"There are so many failures of start-ups," he says. "But you will see the people that actually survive and succeed… are actually the strongest believers."
Indeed, Ning Li believes that the initial struggles and despair of launching a start-up mean many successful entrepreneurs never do it for the money alone.
"What I really enjoy in my daily life is having the liberty of deciding what I want to do when I wake up," he says. "That's a huge thing that I didn't get from my investment banking background anyway."

jeudi 3 novembre 2011

Gagner plus, ne garantira JAMAIS que vous vous enrichirez !

Gagner plus, ne garantira JAMAIS que vous vous enrichirez !

Ce ne sont pas vos revenus qui vous empêchent de vous enrichir, mais combien vous arrivez à garder.
Le mythe le plus répandu, en ce qui concerne les finances personnelles, consiste à croire que le premier facteur qui limite l’enrichissement est le montant de ses revenus.

Presque VRAI

Pour que cette affirmation soit validée, il faudrait que vous destiniez au moins une partie de vos augmentations de revenus, à la construction de votre autonomie et de votre sécurité financières. Or, c’est rarement le cas : par nature, lorsque nous gagnons plus nous avons tendance à dépenser plus, en adaptant le niveau de nos dépenses à celui de nos revenus. Au final, nous n’avons pas plus d’argent sur notre compte et nos augmentations ne nous ont pas aidées à nous enrichir !
Remontez quelques années plus tôt lorsque votre salaire était moindre. Avez-vous utilisé une partie de vos augmentations pour sécuriser votre avenir, ou avez-vous simplement dépensé plus en profitant de l’aubaine ?

FAUX ou lorsque 1500€ = 2 487 154€

Je vais vous démontrer pourquoi vous faites fausse route si vous pensez qu’il faut plus d’argent pour s’enrichir. Cela ne doit pas vous empêcher d’essayer d’en gagner plus. Si vous prenez votre calculatrice, vous vous apercevrez qu’une personne qui gagne seulement 1 000 € par mois, verra passer entre ses mains pas moins de 480 000 € sur une vie de travail !
Imaginez maintenant que vous soyez deux à travailler  (monsieur et madame) et que vous gagniez chacun 1 500 €. Soit 20 % de moins que le salaire moyen des français. Sur une vie de travail, vous gagnerez pas moins de 1,44 millions d’euros ! Et si nous incluons des augmentations de 2,5 % par an, nous obtenons la somme incroyable de…

2 487 154 € !

.
Maintenant supposons que vous ayez économisé chaque mois 10% de vos revenus. Arrivé à la retraite vous auriez votre compte 248 715€ !
Une autre façon de voir les choses, mais plus désagréable : si à la fin d’une vie de travail, vous n’avez rien gardé pour vous, c’est que vous aurez passé votre vie à travailler juste pour donner votre argent aux autres !
Puisqu’un centime qui sort de votre poche tombe obligatoirement dans celle d’un autre.
J’entends déjà les objections de certains d’entre vous : « Vous ne pouvez pas dire cela. C’est moi qui paye mes factures et je sais parfaitement ce qu’il me reste en fin de mois ».
C’est possible. Mais je n’ai jamais dit que vous n’aviez pas à faire face à un défi, et il est évident que moins vous gagnez plus vous aurez d’efforts à fournir, et plus vous devrez changer de choses dans votre manière de fonctionner. Car si vous ne changez rien, les choses ne changeront pas d’elles mêmes.
La question à laquelle vous devez répondre est la suivante : voulez vous travailler pour que votre argent vous profite, ou préférez vous le donner aux autres, qui ne le vous rendront pas si un jour vous en avez besoin !

Votre argent ne sait faire qu’une seule chose

Comme la plupart des gens, votre revenu est fixe. Donc tout dépendra des choix que vous ferez pour votre argent et surtout pour vous-même.
Il faut que vous soyez conscient que votre argent ne fera et ne saura jamais rien faire d’autre que ce que vous lui direz de faire. C’est une vérité absolue et incontournable qui régit vos relations avec votre argent et qui vous aidera à définir vos priorités.
Dites-lui « achète-moi une voiture », et vous aurez votre voiture, même si vous décidez de vous endetter. Dites-lui « assure mon avenir » et il vous aidera à mieux vivre en vous mettant en sécurité pour éviter la peur du lendemain (cela se traduit souvent pas une épargne régulière).
D’un autre coté vous devez être conscient que vous ne pourrez jamais tout acheter. Cette réalité vous oblige à définir précisément vos priorités : le nécessaire avant le superflu ou le contraire.
C’est vous qui décidez… de votre avenir.

Un plan d’action très simple pour vous

1) Payez vous en premier et changez votre vie. Si vous ne voulez pas que votre argent finisse dans la poche des autres, vous devez systématiquement prendre votre part chaque mois sur tous vos revenus, AVANT de payer qui que ce soit d’autres. Si vous ne le faites pas, il ne vous restera rien en fin de mois, et vous aurez perdu du temps.
2) Demandez à votre banquier de virer chaque 1er du mois, 10% (ou plus) de ce que vous gagnez. Evitez les livrets d’épargne. Il est trop facile de retirer l’argent sagement accumulé. Avec un contrat d’assurance vie, les démarches de retraits seront plus compliquées. Ce qui vous freinera si vous étiez tenté de puisez dans cette réserve.
3) Lisez des livres sur l’argent, participez à des formations, et surtout n’arrêtez jamais d’économiser, d’apprendre et de faire fructifier votre argent jusqu’à ce que vous deveniez indépendant financièrement. Persévérez. C’est la clé de la réussite.
4) Pratiquez la frugalité intelligente en oubliant les achats impulsifs et dépensez intelligemment pour profiter de votre argent. Aussi bien pour le nécessaire que pour vous faire plaisir. Si vous voulez absolument acheter le dernier smartphone, au lieu de vous précipiter, attendez 1 semaine. Peut-être qu’entre temps, vous aurez découvert que l’ancien peut durer encore 1 an. Non seulement vous économiserez la planète, mais aussi votre argent.
Appliquez ce plan. Il est simple et efficace. Au final vous vivrez mieux avec votre argent, vous aurez confiance en l’avenir et surtout vous serez fier de vous même parce que vous aurez démontrer que vous savez changer les choses pour vous et vos proches.

A vous maintenant

Avez-vous des astuces ou des techniques d’économies qui ont marché pour vous ? SI c’est le cas, laissez un commentaire ci-dessous avec les stratégies utilisées avec succès pour économiser et gonfler votre compte en banque. Et surtout mentionnez ce que cela a changé dans votre vie.

Merci à vous. Olivier Seban

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