As I was hacking my way around the golf course last Sunday, it occurred to me that doing business in China is a bit like playing golf. You get rewarded for accuracy rather than distance. You score better if you hit consistently down the middle of the fairway rather than smashing it a long way into the trees, where you either lose your ball or take unnecessary risks while scrambling out of the undergrowth!
My welsh grandfather was a master of this. When I was young and fearless, and playing golf with a 70 plus year old on his own course, I was confident that I would win by hitting it further than him. Of course, I was wrong. I can still picture him now, leaning on his 7 iron in the middle of the fairway, smoking his pipe with an amused look on his face while his young grandson was forever searching for his ball in the trees!
Now that I’m a bit older I have learnt that it’s better to hit the ball straighter rather than further, even if it doesn’t look as good. It’s the same in business, particularly when you’re in unfamiliar territory like China, where it always pays off to stay on the fairway!