Soldier swaps mundane routine of army life for the money-making thrills of big business
Yang Hui joined the army fresh out of university, keen to experience the excitement of military life. Disappointed by the constant routine, he tells Gavin Wang why he quit three years ago for the day-to-day combat of commerce.
Why did you give up a respectable and well-paid job in the army to start your own business?
The reason is complicated. I had dreamed of being a soldier since I was a young boy. So after I graduated from college in 2000, I decided to enrol in the army, hoping to lead the exciting and colourful life that a real soldier would experience in the battlefield. But unfortunately, in the age of peace, everything about my job was routine.
In 2004, my grandmother got cancer and needed a lot of money for an operation, which helped me make the decision to leave because I could get some severance pay if I left. Sadly, my grandmother refused to use the money for the operation and died. Then I used the severance money to buy an apartment for my parents and left Yueyang, my home town, to start a new life in Changsha with nothing.
From my four years of working in the army, I already realised the bitterness of life and importance of money. Every kind of life is tough. Why not choose the toughest one? So I started my own business and hoped to succeed some day.
How did you start your own business?
I was obsessing about what to do when a friend showed me a completely new product, an electronic environmental-protection appliance for the kitchen. I thought it might have brilliant prospects in China and decided to do some market research.
I printed 1,000 copies of a simple questionnaire, stood in the street and invited passers-by to fill in the forms. Even though the research was not professional or scientific, it showed the market potential of the new product. So, I decided to team up with my friend to sell it.
I rented an area in a marketplace and employed several people to help run the company. Gradually, our sales became better and the company started to run much more smoothly.
What problems did you have starting up the business?
The most difficult problem was to choose the right product and create a profitable business model. I spent a lot of time choosing the best from several products, which was really hard.
In addition, money was a big issue. Because my company didn't meet the qualifications for a bank loan, I had to borrow money from my friends. I really appreciate the trust and help from my friends. Without their help, I couldn't have got where I am.
What makes a person a successful entrepreneur?
A successful entrepreneur needs bravery and a quick mind so he can take risks and seize a market opportunity instantly. He also needs to think strategically to predict market changes and the outcome of any decision he makes.
Another important quality is perseverance. Starting up a business not only requires passion and self-confidence, but also tenacity and an unyielding spirit. A real entrepreneur can make the most reasonable choice of market strategies and stick to them.
What is your career goal?
My career goal is always changing according to the different phases of my business. Now, as my company grows, I have started to consider how to create my own brand and set up more distribution channels. Maybe in five or eight years my goal will be to become the head of a nationally famous brand. Who knows?