When companies fail, their founders usually abandon the business. Under most circumstances, businesses fail due to poor leadership, poor work ethic, or changes to the community. There are rare instances when health hazards cause a company to fail. In those instances, companies tend to remain close.
In 2003, China experienced a nationwide SARS outbreak. SARS immediately made it dangerous for people to have face-to-face contact. This meant that brick-and-mortar establishments faced a gloomy outlook, regardless of what business they were in. Many closed their doors and never reopened, but a few found new ways to reach customers.
Richard Liu Qiangdong is one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs, and his solution to the SARS crisis gave birth to China’s second most successful online company. Liu Qiangdong first real job was as a freelance coder, something he started doing after learning computer programming.
His freelance work was just a way to make extra money while attending the China Europe International Business School. At that time, his grandmother fell ill, and he needed money for her treatment. He also used that money to open a small restaurant, officially breaking into the entrepreneurial game. See Related Link for more information.
The restaurant venture ended badly, as the business went belly up due to his lack of commitment. Restaurants require constant attention from owners and managers, but Liu Qiangdong only dedicated two hours a week to the business. After that failure, Liu Qiangdong decided to wait before trying to open another company.
In 1998, he got another opportunity to branch out on his own after acquiring a four-square-meter store. He opened a little shop that sold magneto-optical products. For a name, he combined the last characters of his and his then-girlfriend’s names. Jingdong became a massive success in Beijing. Five years later, there were 12 Jingdong stores nationwide.
Unfortunately, 2003 was the same year of the SARS outbreak. With brick-and-mortar stores no longer safe, Liu Qiangdong moved his company online. Jingdong became JD.com, and Liu Qiangdong found greater success.