We are delighted to feature an interview with Lynzi Wang, the Founder and Commercial Director of Zillion International, which provides bespoke Chinese business language training and culture acclimatisation programmes in the UK.
Why did you come to UK in the first place?
I first set my foot on the land in Summer 2007 as a tourist, then I found myself very attracted to its culture and the mosquito- free summer. So after I graduated from university in China in 2009, I came for my Masters degree in the subject of Economics of Education, at the Institute of Education, UCL. Sometimes I wonder whether I would change my mind had I come to UK in the winter time for my first visit.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome when you started doing business in the UK?
Getting out of my comfort zone. People who set up on their own normally have a certain client base to start with, whether it is through family members, people known from previous work, friends or other social acquaintances. However, establishing yourself out of your comfort zone is the key to the initial success of the business. Convincing strangers to buy your product, your service or your idea is much more difficult than to pitch to someone you know. It requires wide but targeted networking activities, delicate interpersonal skills, excellent selling techniques and perseverance. Besides, the service that you provide should be adjusted to the market need at all times. So sticking to a set way of doing things, or in other words, staying in one's comfort zone, may do your business more harm than good.
What do you most like about the UK?
Apart from the mosquito-free summer that I mentioned above, I guess it's the diversity of the culture and public's general tolerance of people from different backgrounds. People always make comparison between major Chinese metropolitan cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai with London. In terms of infrastructure, financial performance and cultural diversity, I believe Beijing, Shanghai has come to a similar level compared to London. But getting a green card (permanent residence) in China is far more difficult than here in UK. So I am personally very impressed by the welcoming gesture of UK government and its people, it shows strength and confidence.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities in the UK for Chinese businesses?
There are so many areas that Chinese businesses can benefit from partnering with / investing in UK. The contracts that have been signed around the Chinese President Xi's state visit to UK demonstrated the vast areas and industries that our two countries could collaborate in. As the biggest and with the most impactful area, I would choose the transformation of scientific and technological achievements. The foundation of research in UK is solid, rigorous and well structured and the legal framework for the transformation and the industrialisation is quite mature. Business in related industries, such as pharmaceutical companies, specialist material manufactures, and chemical engineering industry etc.
What do you most want Chinese people to know about the UK?
The so called "royal elegance"(优雅贵族范儿) is not defined by the luxury brand used or lavish banquet arranged. Don't be surprised if you are introduced to a Lord who dresses like a normal man in suit, and whose house is not shining with gold and silver. The true nobility comes within a person, it's the generosity to those who don't have, the mercy to those who are suffering and the grace in dealing with ups and downs in life.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?
Be your clients' partner, and grow with them; Not to be seen as the "service provider", for which can be easily sourced elsewhere.
What would be your dream job if you didn’t work in business?
Probably as a behavioural profiler at the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) dealing with serial homicide killers. To be a profiler, one needs to be knowledgeable, sharp in observation and good at making connections through details. Like doing business, it's all about reading people's minds and see what they want and their next move. Maybe I have watched too much US TV drama Criminal Minds. BTW, the new season 11 has come out. For those who enjoy it, don't miss out.
What is your biggest extravagance?
Travel, bags, clothes, property, spa treatments ... not sure which one can be classified as the biggest. But in terms of impact on life, I would say it's the decision that I made coming to UK for further study. Because through that decision, I have gained my degree, met my husband, found a job and then years later, founded my own company. So instead of been an "extravagance", it is more likely to be a wise investment.
What is your favourite destination?
The city of Osaka in Japan - a unique place that presents itself with the combination of new and old, east and west, historical culture and modern entertainment. The street food is the best, very diversified too. People there are more friendly than those in Tokyo (the current capital city), and less rigid than those in Kyoto (previous capital city of Japan). Perfect combination in every way.
What piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
For the first 40 years of your life, don't be afraid to do what's in your mind. For the second 40 years in your life, don't regret a thing that you've done. I don't think there will be a third 40 years, but it there is, I'd say, forget everything if you haven't already.