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Family firms look to world future (4)

By Yu Ran in Shanghai (China Daily)

08:15, January 08, 2013


However, not every second-generation family business is as lucky as Huang and Jin, who have already tasted the fruits of harvest while a great many of their peers are still trying to take their family companies out of China.

"Given that the majority of second generation family businesspeople were born after 1980, they are not mature enough to apply what they learned abroad to the actual running of businesses quickly," said Yu, the professor from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Guan Yanqin, 27, is to take over the running of her father's pickle-making business in Meishan, Sichuan province, although she is young and not experienced enough to be a board member.

"I grew up in the plant and saw my parents working hard night and day.

"Their spirit certainly inspired me so I want to be in charge of the company and let them enjoy their retirement soon," said Guan.

Having graduated from London School of Economics in the UK with a master's degree, Guan started work at her parents' company after spending six months in Beijing working at an accounting firm.

During her five years of study in the UK, Guan successfully introduced the pickles made by her family business to local Chinese stores in her leisure time, persuading the stores to sell the products at discounted prices at the beginning.

"I started by visiting small grocery stores in Birmingham, where I studied for my bachelor's degree, and gradually expanded to Manchester and London," said Guan.

Guan is still trying to expand the pickle business out of Sichuan province and even China into other countries where Chinese people live.

"My pickle selling in the UK ended when I came back to China but I am planning to open some overseas offices and warehouses in Europe, the US and some Asian countries to promote our products properly," said Guan.

In the next decade, more second generations of family businesses will get ready to face the challenge. It will be a turning point for the real economy in China, which is mostly contributed to by massive privately owned family enterprises.

"Many small- and medium-sized enterprises will be operated by the younger generations soon after the fathers retire. It will be a new era for privately owned businesses in China," said Song Xiaohui, an officer with the Shanghai SME Development and Service Center.

Song added that the younger generations have the modern knowledge and great foresight to take their family businesses to the world with their open-minded strategies.

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