Billionaire Jack Ma Explains Why Starting Alibaba Was His Biggest Mistake

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has always been generous with sage advice that usually provides insights from his own success story.

Like Dalian Wanda Group founder Wang Jianlin, Ma is also a believer of setting an easily attainable target. Ma’s view however, is slightly more grounded, and even leaves room to correct himself.

One of the themes he regularly emphasizes is the understanding that in order to succeed, one needs to set a small target, and then commit a big mistake, according to Vulcan Post.

The outspoken CEO of the Alibaba group revealed that setting up Alibaba was his biggest mistake. He claims that he initially intended the now multi-billion company to be a small business.

He was quoted as saying: 

“From the first day I started, I never imagined that I would be rich, which is why I diluted the company’s shareholdings as such. However, I didn’t even think that even after lowering my share to 8 per cent, it would still be this much.”

According to Ma, it is a common mistake for young entrepreneurs to chase being the richest. In a response to a question if he envisions himself to become the world’s richest person, Ma gave a powerful response:

“Many years ago, I was talking to my wife and employee Zhang Ying. I asked, do you wish that your husband eventually becomes the richest man around? She said, ‘Are you kidding me? I don’t see how you can ever become the richest man.’ I then asked again, do you wish that I was a rich man, a very rich man, or someone who lives comfortably, but at the same time is an entrepreneur whom others respect? She said, ‘Of course, someone who is respected.’ This is why we set a small target for ourselves.”

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