Given the impact of unexpected factors such as the resurgence in COVID-19 cases and shifting international affairs, many companies are now focusing on seeking sound and steady development. On July 23, 2022, the 86th class of the “Kmind 10-Billion Strategy Workshop” came to a close in Changsha, Hunan Province. More than 120 entrepreneurs from across the country completed two and a half days of strategy learning. This came shortly after the 85th class, which brought together over 170 entrepreneurs, concluded on July 2. In a matter of one month, Kmind held its 10-Billion Strategy Workshop twice, attended by nearly 300 executives and entrepreneurs eager to learn about this new strategic perspective, especially in regard to overcoming competition.
Behind the popularity of the workshop is a collective thirst among entrepreneurs for strategy-related knowledge. “I initially signed up for the 85th class scheduled for early July. But I was later told by the staff that it was full, so I switched to this class,” said one of the entrepreneurs who attended the workshop. As the reporter found out, this happened to quite a few students. Another entrepreneur said he hasn’t “been to a workshop like this in 10 years. It was really worth the trip. My only regret is that I didn’t bring some of my partners with me. They’ll have to wait until the next class.”
Since 2008, Xie Weishan, President of Kmind Strategy Consulting, has dedicated his efforts to imparting the latest strategic practices to entrepreneurs in China through lectures, forums, and presentations, pioneering a classroom model of Chinese strategy consulting that has so far influenced more than 50,000 entrepreneurs. Over the past few days, he has recognized a fair number of familiar faces in the audience, as many of the entrepreneurs are not new to the workshop. “Today, almost every industry is facing cut-throat competition. The first half of this year, in particular, has seen many private enterprises run into trouble due to a variety of unexpected factors, and some have given up trying altogether,” said Weishan, who feels the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. “There are thousands of families behind each enterprise. And I feel it’s our responsibility at Kmind to step forward and share possible solutions to the current conundrum with entrepreneurs, using knowledge to help them chart a clear path through the storm.”
1. Using case-based learning to help entrepreneurs find an effective way out
“Practical” is the word used most often by entrepreneur attendees when they are asked to comment on Kmind’s 10-Billion Strategy Workshop. Kmind has built extensive real-world experience and expertise in strategy by helping five companies, notably FIRMUS, Bosideng, and Yadea, surpass 10 billion yuan in revenue. By fusing Western theory with Eastern wisdom, Kmind reveals their strategic path to the 10-billion target based on eight years of actual case studies. “We only discuss cases in which we have been personally involved. This is the only way to ensure that we can review the causes and consequences of each decision, as well as the execution details,” explained Xie Hongda, 10-Billion Strategy Mentor and Partner of Kmind.
This is echoed by many entrepreneurs who have participated in the workshop.
Bosideng has built a long-standing strategic partnership with Kmind Strategy Consulting and is one of its classic cases. At the 86th class, Gao Dekang, Chairman of the Board and President of Bosideng, who has repeatedly attended the workshop with his team, shared the company’s strategic transformation and his insights with the audience via video. He said, “For companies to achieve transformation through adjustments in strategy and thus pursue development at a higher level, we need the help of professional organizations like Kmind. Their workshops offer 100 percent real-world case studies with detailed accounts of context, strategic decision-making process, implementation, etc. They have come up with strategies that are well suited to China’s local environment and are very pragmatic and feasible.”
Gongniu Group also sent its senior executives to the 85th and 86th classes. Ruan Liping, Chairman and President of Gongniu, believes many of the early decisions entrepreneurs make are intuitive, but when companies reach a certain scale, they will need professional, systematic theories to guide them at the strategic level. “Strategically, Kmind helps us think with precision and depth. Essentially, we want to run a good business, and that requires a variety of methods, especially those like Kmind’s. They have developed a whole set of state-of-the-art methods from positioning to implementation, which is what we’re here to learn,” said Ruan Liping.
2. Developing strategic solutions to help enterprises grow despite the general downturn
A major pain point for many companies today is the difficulty of finding a path to growth. “I see a pessimistic and negative attitude among some entrepreneurs in today’s climate. Little do they know that this is a perfect opportunity to thrive against the headwinds. As long as we maintain a keen sense of strategy and remain open to external opportunities, we can concentrate our forces on new opportunities as they arise to push forward and break out, navigating uncertainty along the way,” said Weishan.
At the 85th class, FIRMUS Chairman Leng Youbin shared the strategic evolution of the brand, a typical case of Chinese baby formula rising against foreign competition: Years ago, as trust in domestic brands had been thoroughly ravaged by the milk powder scandal, FIRMUS managed to thrive on the widespread Chinese perception that eating local food nourishes the body. Thanks to years of commitment to develop products “more suitable for Chinese babies”, the brand has established leadership in the industry. For more than seven years, Kmind has been with FIRMUS every step of the way, witnessing its rapid rise. According to Leng Youbin, Kmind’s strategic theory proves helpful to companies guided by long-termism and provides enlightenment in giving soul to brands.
The case of FIRMUS exemplifies Kmind’s unique strategy system rooted in Chinese wisdom and incorporating Western theory. At the workshop, Xie Weishan stressed the power of “key words”, citing the ancient Chinese saying that ‘the one who wins the hearts of the people wins the world’. “All great brands capture the minds of consumers through key words. Cases in point are Kmind’s clients, such as FIRMUS positioned as ‘more suitable for Chinese babies’, Bosideng serving as ‘an expert of down apparel’, and Yadea aiming at ‘higher-end’ two-wheel electric vehicles.” He believes key words are the key to brands resonating with the hearts and minds of consumers and are an effective way for companies to stay out of price wars and achieve freedom of operation.
Dai Minjun, Chairman of Hodo, shared the company’s latest strategic results with the class. As a classic menswear brand with a history of 65 years, “Hodo is popular among consumers. But prices had not gone up for years and we were forced to follow our rivals in a price war. We feel that the ‘soul’ of the brand was lost in competition.” To alleviate the bottleneck, Hodo began its partnership with Kmind. With the help of the firm, they set out to look at the brand from an outsider’s perspective and plan strategic upgrades accordingly. Over the past half a year, the effect of Hodo’s “classic comfortable menswear” strategy has begun to show, with the sales volume of the “zero gravity comfort-tech shirt” exceeding 130,000 pieces in just 3 months, and 150,000 pieces have been sold so far. “Our ultimate goal for this product now is to sell more than a million pieces,” Dai Minjun said with full conviction.
3. Rekindling confidence and giving wings to entrepreneurs
When it comes to the strategic layout of a company, Xie Weishan stressed focusing the energy and resources on one key area: “For many companies, 80 percent of their products are unnecessary and ineffective, much like fat rather than muscle on the human body.” Xie Hongda also emphasized the wisdom and courage to make choices, saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If a company competes on too many fronts, it loses its advantage in forces. Only by giving up something can we efficiently mobilize resources within the organization, and choose our tactic based on the force of the opponent as Sun Tzu said.”
This has struck a chord with Xiaoxiandun founder and CEO Miao Shu, who comes to Kmind’s workshops every year and brings along his senior executives each time. Thanks to Kmind’s course, his team is now united in one purpose from top to bottom. “My colleagues have come back from classes saying that Kmind’s system of knowledge is particularly valuable and that they now finally understand a lot of the company’s strategy,” said Miao Shu.
After two and a half days, many of the students’ notebooks were filled with lecture notes. “It was all practical stuff. I was extremely excited throughout and rediscovered my entrepreneurial passion.” This is how one of the entrepreneurs described his experience at the workshop.
Knowledge is power. And it is the knowledge and methods acquired in the workshop that excites these private entrepreneurs, rekindling their confidence and passion. This contrasts sharply with signs of hesitation and anxiety among some entrepreneurs today. Jia Guolong, Chairman of Beijing Xibei Catering Management, revealed in an interview that on the first day of class, Zhang Liping, Board Director of Xibei, shared in the company WeChat group: “Kmind wants to give wings to entrepreneurs and build up their confidence in times of adversity, to help us dream and dream big.”
Private enterprises are a major force driving high-value economic development in China. Their steady growth will contribute greatly to promoting development, ensuring people’s livelihoods, and supporting employment. After things returned to normal in Shanghai, Kmind held its 10-Billion Strategy Workshop twice, directly affecting nearly 300 entrepreneurs, indirectly touching tens of thousands of people, and empowering countless industries along the industrial chain. The country now stands at a critical juncture as we strive to balance COVID-19 measures with economic development. As a leading domestic strategy consulting firm, Kmind has provided entrepreneurs with strategic solutions to turn crises into opportunities, effectively addressing their needs. Moreover, this has enlightened private enterprises in their quest for sustainability in the new normal.