Chine is the only country in the world to have more self-made female billionaires than any other country. That is saying a lot about a country that controls everything their citizens do and say. In any case China pushed hard on gender equality in the uprising of capitalism so many women took their chance on the opportunities given.
The process of being a self-made anything is one of hard-work, strict discipline, and focus-driven mindset on what one hopes to accomplish. There are many cases where people inherit money and waste their time shopping and just playing around. Women in China had to prove their talent and worth to anyone they worked for in the beginning. In this case, Zhou Qunfei, made the decision to drop out of school at the age of 16 to move in with her uncle in hopes of finding a better job. Her school work and study habits were top-notch and many of her past teachers remembered the work she turned in as very talented.
Her travels would lead her to find a job in a watch factory making lenses, which entailed working all day shifts that would many times end well past midnight. It was those conditions that made her quit her job but before doing so pushed her to write a letter to her boss. It was this action that brought the attention of the horrible work conditions to his attention that made him offer her a job promotion if she stayed. This would be the start of many promotions she got in the coming years.
Make evident what you know to people of power and influence
People in power have control over things and people. They are not always able to be everywhere so when they meet people who inform them on things that are happening around them they gain even more power and control. Influences are always looking to meet people who can help them learn more about what is happening around them. They want to meet people who are very observant because it means they can learn more from them. Ms. Zhou explained in her letter the terrible conditions and long work hours but she did it in a way that was respectful of who she was talking to. It was enough to get his attention and start her on a path that would lead to high achieving success.
Starting on her Own
During her years gaining promotions and learning the whole process of lens making she was saving up money from all her new jobs that paid more. It only took her three years to save up enough money to give her the opportunity to quit her job and start her own company with some of her family members. The important part about is that she had help from her family to manage different parts of her company. She was not doing everything on her own but she did make it a point to learn how everything worked, something she picked up on during her years before in her old jobs.
Learn everything you can about your industry and how it works, including the machines
Ms. Zhou made sure she knew how to use and operate every machine she ordered in case something went wrong but also so she knew the limitations of the machines. This action enabled her to become the go-to person of everyone she worked with because if something broke down she would be the first to know so it can get fixed right away. She made herself the focal point of her business operation. This behavior would label her as obsessive about her work but also how she gets things done. Anytime a machine is down the less lens get made. In order to have more control she chose to have her apartment connected to her office so that she had access to the factory floor all the time.
Change in Market Demand
Ms. Zhou learned everything there was to know about how to make glass lenses for watches so she knew all the physical properties of glass and what could be done with it. That is why when she got a call from a phone company asking if she could help make glass screens for phones she jumped at the opportunity, something they offered to help her with. It was this action that connected her to a whole other market that would require her to hire more staff, build more factories and take on more clients.
The world of mobile phones still centered around plastic screens but when many phone makers started switching over to scratch-resistant screens with tough glass that is when manufacturing of glass lenses changed. That is when Apple contacted Ms. Zhou and her whole business of operation changed. She went from a regular glass lens maker to the supplier of the top computer company in the world. The demand for high-quality thin glass skyrocketed globally making it hard to find suppliers who were experts in this field. Luckily for Ms. Zhou she was in the right place at the right time.
Learn to attract the best (aka be in the right place at the right time)
Ms. Zhou used her time to learn everything she could about her glass making business and this got the attention of many phone makers. No knows when something big will happen in the market but for those that are great at what they do and something big happens they will be the first ones called on to do something. She was able to grab the attention of the top tech companies because everyone was switching to tough glass and there were not many glass makers who had the knowledge of how to do that. It was the help of the tech companies that taught her the whole process of what it was they were looking for that propelled her even further.
Expanding the Customer Base
Ms. Zhou, after going public with her company, has spoken at many investor meetings. Investors worried that more and more competitors are entering the market making it harder for her company to stay ahead. She answered a few questions but it was how she interacted with them at her production facilities that showed how enthusiastic she was about what it is she does. She showed a passion for the kind of work she creates but knows that attention to detail is why her two top clients, Apple and Samsung, picked her to work with. She knows every step of the process because she designed the whole operation. Now she checks on the same factory workers at every level, including the bottom where she started, to make sure nothing goes wrong. Many investors are content with how she runs things because they know she is always there checking on everything and looking for betters ways to innovate.
Have a game plan and figure out how to execute it
The reason Ms. Zhou knew what she was doing was because she had three years after writing her letter of resignation to learn how the whole factory process worked. She gained enough experience to understand what she needed to buy first in order to get started. Once she saved enough money then she could quit her job and start her own business. Many people say they want to start their own business but do not know the first step to make. This is where many people get scared and don’t try. You need to put yourself deep into the industry you want to work in in order to understand what it takes to get going. Ms. Zhou was not afraid of anything because she had family support and working knowledge to know what to do every step of the way.
The company she started, Lens Technology, has an estimated worth of $8 billion.
The process that many self-made individuals have is one of constant iterating – starting something and going back if it doesn’t work and starting over again until they get it right. They had a relentless pursuit to do things on their own terms in order to get started. They are constantly learning and trying to innovate better. If you plan on success then these are a few lessons to help you out before you get started.