Whether you are sourcing products or trying to launch an international branch of your business, there’s a lot to consider when doing business in China. On top of enduring the long trek and conquering the language barrier, it’s essential to understand Chinese business etiquette in order to avoid awkward misunderstandings that could foil a potential deal.
Here are five Twitter feeds that offer invaluable insight for entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the opportunities available in this growing Asian economy.
AmCham China (The American Chamber of Commerce in the People's Republic of China) represents more than 1,200 companies and 2,600 individuals doing business in China. The group generally tweets about their own events, which cover issues like China's rising labor costs and cyber security and internet risks.
Sample Tweet: Event: How To Create an Effective Transportation and Logistics Plan http://t.co/Q22qtIQf
Nashua, N.H.-based Transparent Language Chinese offers language-learning software and other free online resources to help you master Mandarin Chinese. The company uses its Twitter feed to educate followers on Chinese culture and how to say common Chinese words and phrases. It also promptly replies to anyone needing something specific translated.
Sample Tweet: Introduce Yourself in Chinese (Video) http://t.co/aNglT7hp
Mario Schulzke believes in the power of ideas.
But the German-born ad agency director and part-time Ironman triathlete isn't just keen on his own musings, Schulzke wants to help you enliven your own innovative ideas too. Enter, IdeaMensch, the Los Angeles-based website that features daily interviews with visionaries, CEOs and entrepreneurs.
How does he crystalize these concepts? Twitter, for one @ideamensch. Here are Schulzke’s top five Twitter streams to follow for finding the best new entrepreneurial ideas.
If you've spent countless hours planting virtual crops on Facebook, you have Chicago native Sizhao "Zao" Yang to thank. Though the creator of Farmville (Zynga's legendary time-suck) is proud to help you fritter away your time, he'd prefer you think of him as the guy who gave your company culture a boost.
That's why he co-founded BetterWorks, a Los Angeles-based startup that provides customizable incentives programs to small- and medium-sized companies. By creating a caring and respectful workplace, Yang contends that employees will respond with higher levels of productivity -- barring the occasional Farmville session, of course.
But even Yang needs an inspirational pick-me-up sometimes. Here are his top five Twitter feeds for company culture:
Scott Hamlin doesn’t believe in waste.
To prove it, in 2009, Hamlin co-founded the Portland, Ore.-based Looptworks, an online-apparel company that makes limited-edition jackets, hoodies, skirts, shirts and graphic tees. But here's the twist: All of Looptworks' products are made from (gasp!) "upcycled," or excess manufacturing fabric and materials.
Hamlin (@Looptworks) uses social media to boost the awareness and tout the benefits of upcycle, or "closed loop" manufacturing. He hopes more people will think about what they buy, where it comes from and what natural resources are required to produce it.
Here are his top five Twitter streams to follow for the latest upcycling news, tips and information:
Mobility isn't just a buzzword for Cyriac Roeding, it's his business. The Palo-Alto, Calif.,-based co-founder and CEO of Shopkick, a popular location-based shopping application, regularly rewards mobile shoppers.
For Roeding, Twitter is an important tool for broadcasting the latest Shopkick (@shopkick) news and for helping him keep an eye on what fellow mobile entrepreneurs are saying on Twitter.
Here is his list of the top five people to follow on Twitter for mobile entrepreneurs.
Joe Fernandez knows social media -- and, by extension -- venture capital.
After spending nearly three months with his jaw wired shut -- a result of corrective jaw surgery in 2007 -- Fernandez's primary form of communication was social media. From this pastime, he realized an individual’s social influence should be measurable. So, during the following summer, the former real-estate exec launched Klout, a San Francisco-based service that allows users to track the impact of their opinions, links and recommendations across the social web. More than 2,000 developers now use Klout’s free API.
With that kind of, well, clout, the company handily won over investors. To date, the online influence tracker -- which earns revenue from brands like Starbucks and Nike who pay to advertise to key influencers on the site -- has raised a total of $10 million in funding from investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer and Greycroft Partners. For entrepreneurs aiming to similarly raise venture capital, here are five early-stage tech VCs who Fernandez recommends following on Twitter.
Not many people are as dialed into the worlds of social media and tech as 25-year-old Pete Cashmore. Five years ago, Cashmore launched Mashable, a blog that has grown into a full-fledged web operation with offices in New York and San Francisco. Covering topics such as technology, social media and mobile, the site averages about 13 million monthly unique visitors and 40 million monthly page views.
When Cashmore isn't pushing out news and analysis via Mashable's official Twitter accounts (@mashable, @mashabletech and @mashstartups), he's filtering through tech news and commentary from the smartest sources on @petecashmore, where he has more than 18,000 followers.
"There's a big trend in mobile and check-ins, and being more connected with people when they're outside of the house," Cashmore says. "There's an opportunity [to use these tech tools] for customer acquisition."
Here is Cashmore's list of the top Twitter feeds to follow for tech news and trends that are affecting people and businesses around the globe:
Jason Nazar has made serving small businesses his business. He's the founder and CEO of Docstoc, an online community for small-business owners to find and share professional documents. It serves as a vast repository of free and for purchase legal, business, financial, technical and educational docs -- making it a key tool for startups.
Prior to launching Santa Monica-Calif.,-based Docstoc in 2007, Nazar was a partner in a venture consulting firm in Los Angeles where he worked with dozens of startups. He continues to foster innovation through his personal blog, where he regularly posts articles like “10 Lessons Startups Can Learn From Superheroes,” and his monthly “Startups Uncensored” series.
Nazar who tweets under the handle @jasonnazar recognizes Twitter to be a powerful tool for startups. Here’s his list of the top five people to follow for priceless startup insight.
Stacy DeBroff knows what moms want. As a best-selling author of four parenting books and founder and CEO of Boston-based Moms Central Consulting, she specializes in viral marketing to moms. Since 2006, Mom Central has partnered with hundreds of leading brands including Mattel, Johnson & Johnson and Kraft, to build relationships with moms using social media and off-line events like brand-hosted Mom Blogger and Influencer parties. Often dubbed a "parenting guru," DeBroff works on behalf of her clients to create passionate brand advocates.
Twitter is an important piece of DeBroff’s overall branding strategy. That's where she connects with more than 23,000 followers and offers a steady stream of useful parenting-related news and product info @MomCentral.
Here’s her list of the top five Twitter feeds to follow for entrepreneurs looking for insights on how reach the mommy market.
Sean Malarkey is a bit of a celebritweet. With a respectable 129,000-plus followers, he provides a steady stream of social media marketing tips for entrepreneurs. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Malarkey is a serial new-media entrepreneur, blogger and Twitter consultant -- helping his clients better understand the power of the micro-blogging site and how to harness it to maximize return. He even wrote a book on the subject called Twixplode that has been sold and downloaded more than 10,000 times.
With more than 20,000 tweets under his belt, Malarkey was an early-adopter and has a firm grasp on the Twitter landscape, but whom does he follow? Here’s his list of the top Twitter feeds for entrepreneurs who are just getting into the social media game. “All of these people make Twitter a much better place,” he says. “They offer great content and are amazing individuals to follow.”
From writing content with commonly searched-for phrases to cross linking to other pages, a lot can go into optimizing a business's website for maximum visibility. One person who's familiar with the ins and outs of search engine optimization is Danny Sullivan. A former newspaper journalist, Sullivan in 1997 launched a SEO-focused news site called Search Engine Watch, which he sold the following year.
Sullivan left the site in 2006 and co-founded Search Engine Land with executive editor Chris Sherman. As editor-in-chief, he oversees the sites content, which ranges from topics such as SEO, search engine marketing, pay-per-click and social media.
"Business owners all should be thinking about SEO," says Sullivan, who is 46. "It's one of the easiest and most effective ways to attract new customers to your business. If I said to you, 'I'm ready to send you five or six customers that are ready to make purchases,' would you say no to that? Well, that's exactly what SEO can do -- sometimes without much work. Simple changes to a listing in Google Places can impact whether or not a business will get more people finding them."
Successful serial tech entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur is well planted within the new media startup scene. Though best known for founding the social networking apps maker Seesmic, he's been in the game since launching his first company, interactive agency B2L, in 1999.
Originally from France, in 2007 Le Meur moved to San Francisco where he launched Seesmic. In addition to offering a collection of social management applications, Seesmic -- through its acquisition of Ping.fm in January of 2010 -- allows users to simultaneously publish content to more than 50 social networks. To date, Seesmic has raised $16 million in venture funding.
It's not surprising that Le Meur is a huge fan of Twitter where his nearly 60,000 followers are regularly treated to the latest tech and VC news as well as cute pictures of his kids playing soccer, or "football" as he calls it.
To stay in the know, Le Meur counts on some heavy-hitters. Here's his list of the top Twitter feeds to follow for digital and new-media news as well as advice for tech startups.
Finding top-notch talent is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. No one knows this better than Rick Myers. He’s the founder and CEO of TalentZoo.com, a popular niche job board for employers and job seekers in the world of new-age communications, including advertising, marketing, digital and social media -- there’s even a "Geek Jobs" section.
Myers launched the career-matching site in 1996 out of the spare bedroom of his Atlanta condo. Today, TalentZoo has more than 250,000 registered industry professionals and more than 12,000 employer clients. Recognizing the potential of Twitter during the employee recruitment process, @RickM has become quite the tweeter. His loyal following -- which now tops 82,000 -- regularly receives advice and links about the best hiring practices and general business news.
But, whom does Myers follow? Here’s his list of the top Twitter feeds to follow for advice on how to attract and retain superior talent.
When he was 20 years old, Chris Guillebeau walked out on his job packing boxes at a Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx. He was fed up and vowed never to return to "traditional work" again.
Now 32, Guillebeau (on Twitter: @chrisguillebeau) has taken up a handful of solo ventures over the last decade, including selling a series of business/lifestyle-themed guides at UnconventionalGuides.com -- an operation he says has grown into the mid six-figure dollars a year range.
The self-described non-conformist also penned the aptly-named book, The Art of Non-Conformity (2010, Perigee Trade). "The central message of AONC is you don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to," says Guillebeau. "I write for a small army of remarkable people, and I want the message to go to people all over the world who want to choose the road less traveled."
Here's Guillebeau's list of the top Twitter feeds to follow for new ideas, perspectives and outside-of-the-box thinking:
As the economy fights to rebound, many employers are forgoing paying full-time employees, and are instead tapping into the online community of hungry freelancers. Many business tasks -- marketing, public relations, research, design, legal services -- can be handled quickly and affordably through crowdsourcing sites.
One of the first to latch onto the opportunity was programmer Ian Ippolito, who launched vWorker.com (formerly RentACoder.com) in 2002. His Tampa, Fla.-based site connects businesses with a global market of more than 312,900 virtual workers in hundreds of fields. Ippolito estimates last year's revenue at about $3 million.
Here's Ippolito's list of the top Twitter feeds to follow to stay on top of popular and emerging trends in crowdsourcing: