After the Influential Dialogue With Global Women Youth Mentors of the Global Youth Leadership Forum held in Beijing on November 8, Beijing Review reporter Deng Yaqing talked to Gao Yangzi, founder of Easy Soup, about how young women entrepreneurs can overcome challenges, be successful and choose a life path that best suits them. Excerpts of the interview follow:
(COURTESY OF GYLF)
Beijing Review : Why did you decide to quit your job and start your own business?
Gao Yangzi: After graduating from the Beijing Institute of Technology, I worked as a civil servant at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau for seven years. Then, looking back on my life, I realized I had been following a life track favored by the people around me rather than myself. So I decided to pursue my dream of studying at Peking University, a process I thought I should enjoy with all my heart.
When I was getting my Master's in Business Administration from Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, my entrepreneurial enthusiasm was inspired and ideas about how to run my own business came pouring out, especially when I found an untapped market: soup. In China, there was no well-known soup brand at that time. So I decided to create one. Of course, before I gave up my job, I did a lot of market surveys and took stock of my abilities and current situation, and I believed the time was ripe for me to jump into the business world.
What does Easy Soup mean?
My hope is to help modern people remember a long lost living style: the slow-paced life. Since I set out starting my own business, I feel like I've been rushing and lost the right rhythm of life. In fact, no matter how busy you are, you should leave a little time for self-reflection. When restarting your entrepreneurship journey after taking a breath, you'll find yourself recharged and your vitality recovered. Drinking soup allows people to enjoy a slower pace amidst all the hustle and bustle of life.
Is there a particular instance when things were really hard for you or your business?
It's normal for an entrepreneur to constantly encounter and solve problems, such as money and staff shortages. Now that I've gotten used to it, I enjoy the process.
My motto is: "There are more solutions than problems." The first time my business faced a critical problem, I decided to run a marathon. I told myself that if I could finish the whole course, I would go on with my dream, and if not, I would quit. However, because I have a deep love for my career, I managed to persuade myself to hold on to the end. Establishing a business is just like running a marathon, and you have to grow up and be mature and stick to it.
Perseverance is an indispensable piece of making it as an entrepreneur. I once fell down the stairs and had a fracture, but I didn't go to hospital. I couldn't afford to be a patient, because for a start-up, the entire business would grind to a halt if the founder stopped struggling.
What kinds of character advantages and disadvantages do you think women face as entrepreneurs?
Women are usually more resilient, persistent, sensitive, down-to-earth, detail-centered and skilled at developing a relationship with others. We are more sympathetic than our male counterparts and willing to tolerate others. But these advantages can sometimes be used against us. Then they are disadvantages also.
How can women have a work-life balance?
It's very important, but I'm still learning. I think women should develop a hobby and an interest outside of work, such as travel and sports. They make you slow down, regain some sanity and help you find your own pace, which in turn will help you better tackle problems arising from work, studies and life.
Most female entrepreneurs maintain a sense of mission. They hope to move and influence others. So they are motivated by more than wealth when pursuing a career. I value a good and healthy marriage more than having a wealthy husband. When she has the support of a life partner, a female entrepreneur will go further and be more successful in her career.
But I also fully respect the women who concentrate all of their energy on their family, because being an understanding wife and a loving mother is just as difficult as commanding a group of staff. It's not easy for women to keep a tranquil and peaceful mind while dealing with household chores, maintaining friendly relations with neighbors and elderly family members, teaching the children through their own lives, reasonably planning a family budget and so on.
These days, "leftover women" has become a buzzword in society, and many of the women characterized by this idea are very successful. Do you think there is an internal contradiction between having a family and a successful career?
The internal causes of the phenomenon can be concluded in three ways.
First, women who are courageous enough to start their own businesses must be decisive and resolute, have strict logical thinking and a strong mind. Because of these personal traits, they are more independent in their thinking and behavior and rely less on others, while most men hope to be needed and depended upon.
Second, when a woman begins to establish her own business or takes a leadership role in a company, she is responsible not just for herself but also for the future of the company and its employees, which can leave her with little energy or time left.
Third, over the course of entrepreneurship, women would have to deal with different issues and do business with different people. As their horizon broadens, many of them face a challenge of balancing their inner desires and finding a spouse. But many people believe female entrepreneurs are just like men and they don't need to depend on a man. I think women can have a good relationship and career.
Copyedited by Jordyn Dahl
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org