This is a user generated content for MyStory, a YourStory initiative to enable its community to contribute and have their voices heard. The views and writings here reflect that of the author and not of YourStory.

"Successful Story of Jack Ma: How he built Small business into Big Empire"

"Successful Story of Jack Ma: How he built Small business into Big Empire"

Monday February 11, 2019,

6 min Read

So you are here because you want to start your own business or want to grow your small business fast. Ideally, there is no limit on who can become a successful entrepreneur. You don’t need a college degree, lots of money in your bank account or even business experience to run a business that can become a huge success in the future. However, you need a great plan, definite goals and the appetite to see through it.


Starting or growing a startup is hard. You need to put all your efforts but there is light at the end of the tunnel. You get all the rewards that are worth the obstacles that you will face on the road to success. You will have to face a lot of failures at the beginning. Don’t be afraid. Learn from your failures and try to figure out what went wrong.

If you think that you are the only one who is seeing failures in business, then, my friend, you are wrong. Most of the successful entrepreneurs have some gigantic failures before becoming successful.

Have a look:

  • When Jack Ma (Alibaba founder) went for the job application, 23 out of 24 people were selected. Only he was was one rejected.

  • Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded. How is this even possible!

  • Arianna Huffington faced multiple rejections before she found success.

  • Walt Disney – Failed production company and was told that he is lacking creativity.

  • Jeff Bezos made many costly mistakes before launching Amazon.

  • The Colonel Sanders of the famous food chain KFC worked on a railroad and spent a few years with the oil company.

You can learn a lot from the success story of Alibaba. Alibaba, the e-commerce giant had to face many failures. For the first three years, the company made zero revenue. When Jack Ma set up Alibaba in 1999, it was not an immediate success. The economy in China was not developed enough to support the E-commerce industry. E-commerce industry was seen as a threat to the traditional shop businesses. Jack Ma had to face the resistance at every step - from shopkeepers, government and other small businesses.

ideas-for- business growth

The company began from his apartment in the beginning. They didn’t have even a single penny in investment from the outside investors. Later they raised $20 million from Softbank and $5 million from Goldman Sachs.

Moreover, building trust among the people about the online system of payment and packaging was one of the biggest challenge that Jack Ma had to face. Now, Alibaba is second to only Walmart in terms of the sales per year.

Small businesses and startups can learn from the Alibaba business model to run and grow their business fast. The key learning from Alibaba are:

1. Harness the potential of Social Linking

There is a huge potential in social linking and connectivity. Jack Ma and his friends began with simple service and product website – Chinapage. The business took off and caught the eye of big business worldwide. You just have to build connections and use it as a launchpad to gain the momentum, visibility, and identity for your business.

2. Start with what you can

You have to start with all what you have and you should be constantly looking for the growth possibilities. Jack Ma, also tried his hands and entered into entrepreneurship with a translation business in 1995. A friend of his introduced him with the buzzword called the World Wide Web. He saw the potential and was ready to diversify his platform and serve to a much bigger audience. He eventually increased the verticals and Alibaba was born. So, you can start with small and grab any opportunity that helps you to expand. Now Alibaba is Moving to Business Intelligence, annotation tools, 2d bounding box labeling tools and becoming World’s Powerful Automated applications.

3. Do not fear failures

Do not fear failure. In fact, fail fast so you can reach your goal faster. Jack Ma has a huge list of failures. The only thing is that he learned from his mistakes and moved on. Jack Ma partnered with a government entity that ended up being a warning sign to not pass his idea to any bureaucratic body. The partnership dissolved. Ma eventually moved on to a government job, where he somehow came in contact with the Yahoo co-founder, Jerry Young. Yahoo invested $1 billion in Alibaba in 2005.

4. When things don’t go in favor, remember- and boost the Takeaways

Every cloud has a silver lining. Like Ma getting a fruitful investment after failed government partnership. Or a powerful insight of what can go wrong (like the failed government partnership that Ma experienced). All of these things give you a valuable experience and can even help you to get a boost in your business. For example, when the government approached Jack Ma to look into some technical issue with their vending system, he resolved the problem for them. In return, he was given free loan by the government to run his business seamlessly.

5. Always think ahead of your time

The great entrepreneurs are always ahead of their time. According to Ma, they got successful because they did a great job today. But because they had a great vision 15 years ago. So, try to have a marathon runner mentality and not a sprinter's vision. This also means that you have plenty of reserves of ideas and energy which you can draw at the right time. Just keep moving and good ideas will definitely show up.

Final Take

Entrepreneurs enter the cauldron of business to succeed. Deep in their heart, they know that it is not going to be a smooth ride. Entrepreneurship is a long game. Success does not come simply just by having ideas and implementing them. It is like planting a seed that will eventually grow in the years to come.

Entrepreneurship is the combination of business wisdom, vision and daring to fail. Jack Ma became a successful entrepreneur. From earning $20 a month as an English teacher to being one of the richest Asian, he indeed has an inspiring journey. The struggle will give you big rewards at the end.