Chinese Australian entrepreneurs face many of the same operational challenges and concerns as other migrant entrepreneurs, but some challenges are unique to their situation. While finding the right talent is an almost universal obstacle for start-up businesses so too is governance compliance, implementing expansion strategies and access to new capital. 

Key findings:
  1. Finding and retaining talent.
  2. Balancing expansion with corporate governance.
  3. The right expansion strategy and raising public capital.
  4. Working across the cultural divide.

Sourcing the right talent

For these entrepreneurs 71 percent believe that acquiring and retaining talent is the number one challenge. They believe that many small- to medium-sized businesses lack a recognised brand name in the job market, making it harder to attract talent in the first place. Once the talent is employed, motivating them to stay is the next challenge. Most of the interviewed businesses do not have short- or long-term incentive schemes. Additionally, there are a limited number of high performing staff that can operate efficiently in Chinese and Australian business environments simultaneously. Several entrepreneurs stated that obstacles such as immigration policies can result in the loss of talent. 

The right expansion strategy

Many have ambitious plans to grow and expand into new markets however many also admit to having limited experience and focus on business and operating models. How to maintain the high growth of their business and take it to the next level of success is the second most shared challenge.

Corporate governance

Corporate governance compliance is considered a key challenge by 39 percent of the entrepreneurs interviewed. While their businesses experienced high growth in the past five years, founders who were concentrating on expanding the business only later recognised the need for better governance in internal controls and better business processes and data systems for efficiency. High operating costs are seen by 44 percent of entrepreneurs as a central issue. Many want to pivot from the traditional ‘one-man-general’ operating model to a more team-based corporate structure.  

Government regulations

Complex government regulations are a concern for 39 percent of the interviewed entrepreneurs, especially in the real estate industry. Businesses in the education sector working with overseas students and immigration issues thought that government policies had become restrictive and unsupportive. Tax burden concerns were raised by 21 percent of the interviewed entrepreneurs.

Access to new capital

Of our interviewed Chinese Australian entrepreneurs, 28 percent regard access to new capital as another key challenge to growing their business. This was also reflected in 40 percent of responses revealing that new capital funding, or new investors coming in, is needed to take the company to the next level. 

Working with Australians and Chinese

Our surveyed entrepreneurs felt frustrated in finding ways to work with two cultures that approach business dealings differently. One interviewee stated, "Australians are straightforward and most will follow rules and procedures. On the other hand, Chinese usually emphasise relationships and like to keep things flexible. We have to spend more time on communications and go back and forth to explain details and check what people understand."  

It can be equally challenging for some of the entrepreneurs to work with their Chinese counterparts who apply their expectations and practices from China to the Australian market. 

They recognise that many Australian companies have limited understanding of the Chinese market and business culture and often have impractical expectations and less patience. This creates an advantage for these entrepreneurs who have been educated in Australia, and have work experience in both China and Australia. These companies are positioned to understand both sides, and are able to utilise their understanding of the different cultures to bring the two business communities together. 

This is chapter four of our five chapter report in the new generation of Chinese Australian owned businesses in Australia. 
Download the full report (PDF, 2.6MB)

The new Chinese Australian entrepreneurs

An exclusive report by KPMG Australia and the University of Sydney Business School

> Download English report
(PDF, 2.6 MB)

> Download Chinese report
(PDF, 3.2 MB)

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Presented in conjunction with The University of Sydney.

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