Porter Erisman joined Alibaba when it was still an unknown start-up in Hangzhou and experienced Alibaba's growth story first-hand as Vice President for PR and International Communications supporting Jack Ma.
Looking at Alibaba’s success and why it succeeded when other companies failed, Porter Erisman cites the following reasons.
1. Set Out a Long-Term Vision
''You had a great vision with Jack Ma and his team with a really long-term view. They wanted to build a company that would last 103 years, would be one of the top ten websites in the world, and serve all business people around the world.''
''It sounds like a crazy, megalomaniacal vision, but actually it is becoming real over time.''
2. Build Something People Want
''The second thing is you have to have a product or service that people would pay money for. In Alibaba’s case, it took several years of giving the website away for free but in the end yes, it was a commercially viable business idea which if you just have vision and spirit is not enough. You need a great business idea.''
3. Jump Into the Market and Learn, Don't Get Stuck Planning
''Then the third is something I see in China all the time, the ability to just run ahead and do something. Just get out there and start doing it, then once you are in the market you can pivot and move into new directions.''
''When I was an MBA student we learned how to think things through to the last detail and account for every risk, but it caught us in paralysis. So Chinese entrepreneurs like Jack Ma just run out, do things, and by being out there and active, they find opportunities as they go on.''
4. Align Employees Behind the Big Picture Goal, Not Just Pleasing Bosses
''I think it was choosing a goal that was greater than the company itself. People in the company were not chasing after Jack Ma, it was more that we laid out a vision that everyone could agree was inspiring, to create a platform that would change e-commerce and empower entrepreneurs. We were all chasing that dream, not chasing after our bosses or trying to make them happy.''
''Aligning everyone to chase the goal instead of the boss is an important thing for any business.''