Jack Ma: Before I founded Alibaba, I invited 24 friends to my house to discuss the business opportunity. After discussing for a full two hours, they were still confused — I have to say that I may not have put myself across in a clear manner then. The verdict: 23 out of the 24 people in the room told me to drop the idea, for a multitude of reasons, such as: ‘you do not know anything about the internet, and more prominently, you do not have the start-up capital for this’ etc etc.
There was only one friend (who was working in a bank then) who told me, “If you want to do it, just try it. If things don’t work out the way you expected it to, you can always revert back to what you were doing before.” I pondered upon this for one night, and by the next morning, I decided I would do it anyway, even if all of the 24 people opposed the idea.
When I first started Alibaba, I was immediately met with strong opposition from family and friends. Looking back, I realized that the biggest driving force for me then was not my confidence in the Internet and the potential it held, but more of this: “No matter what one does, regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success in itself.” You have got to keep trying, and if it doesn’t work, you always can revert back to what you were doing before.
Now one of China’s most valuable companies, Alibaba listed at the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and is now more valuable than Facebook, Amazon and IBM.
The article is originally published in Chinese, and is translated into English.