Teaching English Can Lead to Great Things

From Teacher to Entrepreneur, Jimmy Li Knows His Way

 

Many people have good ideas, but only a small percentage of them dare to turn their idea into a business, and even much smaller part of these people can survive and grow. Jimmy Li is one of the very few lucky ones. He has the guts to realize his idea and make adjustments when it failed.

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Jimmy Li, Founder and General Manager of HiTouch Consulting


Walking into HiTouch Consulting’s office in Guangzhou, Founder and General Manager Jimmy Li greeted us with a broad smile. He led us to his office, passing by glittery company awards and a wall of photos showing gleeful staff in various company events and joyful clients from around the world.

From 4 to 80 employees, the company has grown steadily over the past 8 years. “Every year, HiTouch introduced over one-tenth of foreign investment of Guangzhou,” said Jimmy proudly.

A humble start from teaching English

Good business ideas don’t often come at your fingertips, they need inspiration and observation from your daily life and working experience. Before the establishment of HiTouch, Jimmy had dedicated himself in the education industry, teaching English to kids and adults in Sanmen of Zhejiang in 2006.

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The HiTouch office now in Guangzhou


Although the school was running quite successful with over 200 students, Jimmy felt confined in the small community, dealing with the same parents and students every day. Joined by his buddy Eric from university, they strived to think a more exciting business idea.

Although the school was running quite successful with over 200 students, Jimmy felt confined in the small community, dealing with the same parents and students every day.

At the end of 2006, after observing surrounding cities like Shanghai and Ningbo, they shifted their targets to foreigners–teaching Mandarin to the growing expats who flooded in to do business in Yiwu, the internationally-known sourcing city for small commodities.

“Back then, this service was still relatively new and I liked it. For almost one year, we were pretty happy,” Jimmy recalled.

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Teacher Jimmy Li in 2006


Make adjustments

However, reality stroked hard to the two young entrepreneurs again. It didn’t make enough money. In September 2007, it was clear that they had no choice but shutting down the school. They could go to Shanghai and find a job, but the entrepreneurial intuition told Jimmy to continue on the road no matter what. Plus, the contract of the office didn’t end until a few more months.

Inspired by all the frequently-asked questions from their foreign students about visa and business license, they decided to give business consulting a go and founded Sky Law Firm. Plus, they already had their first batch of clients–the students. Sky’s business went unexpected well and at the beginning of 2009, they became a leading corporate services provider in Yiwu.

A new start in Guangzhou

When Jimmy feels right about doing something, nothing can stop him. It’s now or never. Soon they discovered that Guangzhou has a bigger market. So Jimmy, with 130,000 RMB starting fund in his pocket, headed down to the south to start the same business from zero on his own, leaving Eric to be in charge of Sky, which undoubtedly has become the No. 1 consulting company in Yiwu.

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HiTouch Japan trip in 2017


“I still remember I came on the 9th of March, I used the number 309 on my car’s license plate,” he recalled with dancing eyebrows and radiant face. “I stayed in that 7 Days Inn for 7 days, looking for our office, my apartment and the first staff,” he pointed out from his office window.

Confident with market needs based on his experience in Yiwu, Jimmy fearlessly established HiTouch with three employees in a 10-square-meter office on Tiyu East Road.

To gain their first clients in 2009, they used the most primitive and direct ways  -went on streets to send out flyers and knocked on companies’ doors. Luckily their hard work paid off and from these initial customers, they were able to build an extensive network of 5,000 customers from 120 countries.

 

“I still remember I came on the 9th of March, I used the number 309 on my car’s license plate,” he recalled with dancing eyebrows and radiant face. “I stayed in that 7 Days Inn for 7 days, looking for our office, my apartment and the first staff,” he pointed out from his office window.

“I think I’m in good condition now, I can do more,” Jimmy said firmly. “Love is what you live and work for.” In his opinion, love is the reason for what he’s been doing. The love for his job and his family has been the sole reason he can go so far, throughout all these years.

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2017 Eid Gala Dinner organized by HiTouch


Industrial insights

Throughout the years, the scopes of foreign investment industries have broadened from trading and sourcing businesses relying on cheap labor, to education, medical service and catering business serving the giant Chinese market. As the middle-class Chinese continues to grow, people pay more attention to quality instead of price, which leads to the prosperity of import trade.

“New players come in and the old ones are out, the ones who take price over quality is losing advantages in China. Meanwhile, some businessmen who may not fancy Chinese products before have changed their mind, which is a good thing,” analyzed Jimmy.

“Imagine a foreigner coming all the way to China to start a business, they don’t even know how to speak the local language, let alone knowing the complicated and ever-changing regulations. What they need the most is a person they can trust to help them go through all the necessary procedures.”

Honesty and profession are two key elements to success in this industry, in Jimmy’s opinion. Be honest with customers, tell them what the government says, good or bad, and try their best to keep their promises.

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Jimmy Li with government officials including former Vice Provincial Governor Zhao Yufang during their visit to HiTouch in 2014


“Imagine a foreigner coming all the way to China to start a business, they don’t even know how to speak the local language, let alone knowing the complicated and ever-changing regulations. What they need the most is a person they can trust to help them go through all the necessary procedures.”

Been helping so many expats to do business in China, here Jimmy gave some suggestions to all the entrepreneur-to-be:

“China is a suitable place for starting a business; Chinese government and people welcome you very much; And the most important, the Chinese laws are friendly to foreigners. You can invest in a company solely and you are open to most industries. At this point, you are the same as Chinese citizens.”

Source: ExpatGuides, Guide in China

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