My Trip to the Forbidden Lake (And the Important Lesson That I Learned About Culture)
By Brendan Elias
A visit to a Chinese manufacturer taught me more than I bargained for. The Forbidden Lake holds many secrets, but I managed to bring back one that you can use for your business
Once you’ve started your Amazon importing business, I fully recommend taking a trip over to China. Visit your manufacturers and put some faces to the names. You’ll build trust, which means an even better relationship.
That’s what I did when I decided to visit the oil factory that makes one of my products.
It all started off so well. I arrived at Xiangxiang airport and got picked up and taken to the factory. Once I was there, I shared a great lunch with the team.
Barbeque duck and pancakes is definitely a combination that I’m taking back home with me.
It wasn’t until after those formalities that things took a turn for the strange.
The Forbidden Lake in the Manufactured Park
After lunch, we took a trip to a local park. Something struck me as odd straight away. This was a park in the middle of this big industrial city, and there was clearly a manufactured element to it. The strange little beach with fake sand stood out, but my attention got drawn to something else.
In the middle of this park there was a lake that had skyscrapers surrounding it. It was a strange sight, but I figured the lake served a purpose. When people finish up work for the week, they come to this park and have a nice swim during the weekend, right?
Not according to the people that I went with. I asked about going for a swim and got told that nobody can go in the lake.
Sure enough, a closer inspection revealed a solid concrete barrier about a meter or so into the lake.
I figured there was a practical reason for this. China has a few pollution issues, so I guessed that the lake had polluted water.
But that wasn’t the case either. When I asked for more details, the lady with me simply said “I don’t know. It’s forbidden.”
The Forbidden Lake in the middle of the city. I wondered about its secrets, and came to an important realisation.
Recognise the Importance of Cultural Differences
What struck me most about this lake wasn’t the fact that you couldn’t go for a swim in it.
It was that the Chinese people didn’t seem too interested in asking “why?”
It’s just one of those little cultural differences between the East and the West.
So, how does this relate to your importing business? It’s simple. Little examples like these show that your Chinese manufacturers may do things differently to you. They have a completely different culture that you need to understand when working as an importer.
For example, your manufacturers have different holidays and other cultural events. You’ll need to account for these differences in your work. A working day in Australia may be an important event for your manufacturers in China.
Other cultural differences affect how you communicate. What may seem like an innocent statement on your side could cause offense to your business partners. Be careful about what you say and leave nothing open for interpretation.
Align your schedule accordingly and respect cultural differences. You’ll keep your importing business running smoothly.
My Final Word
I may not have learned the true secrets of the Forbidden Lake, but I took an important lesson back home with me.
I now understand that the people I work with in my importing business have their own culture. Respect for that culture is very important if you’re to maintain good business relationships. If you know what makes you different, you can account for it in your work.
For now, I’ll continue my travels and learn as many lessons as I can. If you want to find out more about what I’m up to and what you can learn from it, sign up to my