Nancy Georges ‘ask me anything...'

There are so many challenges facing retailers today and we want to support you so you can not only navigate the new landscape, but also grow, be profitable and create the business you imagined when you first started. To help, Nancy Georges ‘the Retail Miss Fix-It’ will be answering your questions every fortnight. Today’s question: How do I get started in manufacturing in China?

This is a good question and very timely as I am writing this on the flight to Hong Kong to exhibit my Innovation Pitchfest team at InnoDesign Tech Expo for the first time.

We are heading to Hong Kong to exhibit to get sales and investigate distributor and manufacturing options.

The short answer―for manufacturing and sales―is that China is not the first stop on your manufacturing path. In life, we need to crawl, walk and then run, and it's the same in business. Being a small fish in a huge ocean is not ideal.

The definitive answer depends on your product but generally, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries are the first smaller steps to investigate. China is the huge end of manufacturing and with it come large minimum quantities that are normally not economical or viable for the business.

Associations like the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC ) are a great place to start. They offer a lot of free services to help businesses expand into Asia, including business matching, trade shows, industry and market info and expert advice.

Hong Kong has a lot of benefits over China when moving into Asia: the legal system is English and is more aligned to our legal system, English is spoken in Hong Kong and there is a large expat community.

By using small starter steps to refine the product, the manufacturing process, economies of scale, sales channels and marketing, etc., when the business moves to the next growth stage it will be more organic and based on experience, not theory—and therefore more successful.

Economic Growth China offers similar services for businesses wanting to move into Asia and helps businesses explore opportunities and learn about local markets. The objective here shouldn't be 'China' as a geographical zone but rather provinces or cities whose population is the same, if not larger than Australia. They can also match your product to the local market, intel that would take many years on your own.

Lastly, don't forget to tap into the local community and ask about their experiences and recommendations. Australian business are globally expanding with a lot of success and learning. You can find groups online or in person―Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, MEETUP.com, Chambers of Commerce, Export Australia and my very own Business Crew.

Do your homework, it will save time and money and help you become an informed businessperson.

Nancy Georges is The Retail Miss Fix-it, retail strategist & consultant with over 25 years experience.

To send us your questions (anonymously if you prefer) click here or visit www.nancygeorges.com.au to find out more about Nancy.