Learn from the Vikings

When the phone rings at my company Plus 7, it’s usually for one of two reasons: either the caller wants to establish a business venture with a Chinese partner and has no idea how or where to begin, or the caller is extremely frustrated about the nature of a current partnership and wants it fixed – right now.

By Heidi Larsen

Even though we spend our time helping both types of callers, let me start by saying there are no quick fixes. I’m often asked about the ‘easy’ steps, the ‘quick solutions’ or the ‘easy-to-avoid pitfalls’. Well, I have written two whole books on the subject, and I even put the word ‘easy’ in the title of both of them. My first book (easily?) Made In China! covers how to overcome the challenges when setting up a supply chain in China – avoiding the most common mistakes which are often caused by cultural differences. My second book is called (easily?) Made For China! and covers how to gear up your supply chain to sell your goods on the Chinese market, and how you should build your strategy for selling.

The Chinese loving storytelling, and in that context I like to see myself as a ‘supply chain princess from the cold north’. As such, I have come across several similarities between supply chain managers and the Vikings. Of course, I am keen to help frustrated small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to establish better and stronger business relationships with their Chinese business partners, or hopeful designers setting off to China for the first time. And no, not everyone has to succumb to the very same pitfalls as so many have done before them – there is plenty information available about that already. Here, I want to share with you what I believe we could actually learn from the Vikings about creating better – more fruitful – business partnerships. I still see far too many companies seduced by the ‘easiness’ of the internet. They order something that turns out – at best – to be too expensive and far from the quality requested. Have we really not learned anything from more than a thousand years of history?

Yes, I admit that the Vikings themselves may not have a reputation for being super-friendly. And yes, there was certainly a brutal and bloody element to their history that I hope will never be repeated. But, that being said, did you know that the Vikings were actually great businessmen and notorious traders? Or that they often served as judges in local disputes? No? Having spent 10,000 hours studying this topic, I’ve gained some insights that– to me, at least – were new. And I’d like to share them with you in this article.

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Read the full article in Supply Chain Movement 25 | Q2 – 2017

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