Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) has come out victorious throughout several struggles in the past according to Joe Tsai, the company’s entrepreneur fund executive vice chairman.
The Chinese technology giant was on the brink of expanding, to its online marketplace called Taobao, in 2003 when catastrophe hit. As the SARS outbreak spread through China, almost all businesses were forced to shut down and people asked to stay home, a reality much like the one being lived today.
However, faced with obstacles, Tsai and 17 other co-founders decided to restructure the company and create a doable work from home plan. Needless to say, the anticipated expansion plans proceeded as scheduled.
“We wanted to make sure that when customers emailed or called us, we could serve them,” said Tsai. “Obviously, the first thing you want to do is make sure your employees are safe and working in conditions where things continue to function. As long as that’s in place, they can continue to serve their customers.”
Taobao successfully launched on May 10, 2003 just as there was an increase in online orders from domestic buyers.
Tsai made it clear that it was the unwavering commitment to the overall goal that catapulted it to success. He continued: “Fast forward to today and our focus on the customer is still an absolute priority.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many entrepreneurs face serious challenges, which could ultimately make or break their business.
“As an entrepreneur, I don’t think you should chase ideas. I think you have to go back to why you founded the business in the first place,” said Tsai. “Look at what the mission was and the problem you were trying to solve. And if the same problems still exist and the same customers are still there, then it makes sense to continue your business.”