18 January 2014

The Secrets of Truly Successful Chinese Businessmen

There are many successful overseas Chinese businessmen that contributed much to development and growth of many young nations. They don't just make profits, they engaged in building of schools, infrastructures, charities and war efforts a long time before the western world started the calling for business organizations to go for CSR. The secrets of their success are more than just hardworkingness or thriftiness but in the two simple rules of knowing to do and make no illegal and excessive profits. They are the Confucian Businessmen.
In the Western dominated world of recent times that is soon passing, many young people have forgotten that the success of the 1911 Chinese Revolution, the development of many young nations especially in the South East Asia and even of PRC and Taiwan, were financed by the many successful overseas Chinese businessmen. They not only enriched the countries where they reside, building schools, hospitals, infrastructures, charitable organizations, they also sent back money to finance the Chinese revolution, the 2nd World War efforts etc. They were not just profit-making businessmen, but also men with social and moral responsibilities that precede the recent Western movement of calling business corporations to pursue CSR (Social Responsibilities) and the three bottom lines of economic profit, social contribution and environmental protection.

What are the secrets for their success and longevity? 
Many had characterised the success of the Overseas Chinese Businessmen as "勤俭" hardworking and thrifty. As for hardworking, some even use a more powerful phrase ”刻苦耐劳" overcoming hardship and persevere laboriously. But such are basic attitudes and attributes that are applicable for all who want to succeed in life. There is no wisdom as to what to do or what not to do.  The true Chinese mindset is Yin-Yang Duality in Dynamic Balance. One needs to do both, work hard and smart. Either will not do.

The Two Simple Rules for Success
The key wisdom of Chinese Businessmen, also known as Ru Shang 儒商, or Confucian Businessmen, is best summarized in the following famous saying of:

  1. 儒商不熟不做,Confucian Businessmen do not enter into business that they do not know well.
  2. 君子暴利不取。Gentlemen take not violent & excessive profits.
    Violent profit usually refers using illegal means to make excessive profits.
For any would be entrepreneur or investor, adhering to the above two rules ensure good success and protection from being cheated. Examine your failed business and investments, was there any violation of the rules? Most business looks easy from the surface. Many bold and reckless businessmen will go into them thinking that they are easy without a full understanding of the risks and difficulty involved. Many people are misguided that entrepreneurs are risks taker. Successful entrepreneurs minimize risks. Li Ka Shing said that he only goes into businesses that can still make profits even if the worse happen. If you think any new business is easy to do, then you should think again and find out more. 

How many people are con by the abnormally good profits of certain investments? Some quotation says that If it's too good to be true, then it probably is. Many Ponzi schemes work on the greed of people for excessively great returns on investments. 

For sustainable business success, Confucian businessmen go for legal and fair business practices that bring in fair but sustainable profits over the long run. Illegal, cheating, substandard products or services are not sustainable in the long run. Confucian businessmen follow the philosophies and values taught in I-Ching (易经), the Book of Change.  The very first hexagram, 乾 Qian - Heaven, teaches the four attributes of 元亨利贞 which stands for Creation, Smooth Flow, Benefits/Profits and Fidelity/Integrity. 

Confucius further explained it as
  • 《易·文言》:“利者,义之和也;贞者,事之干也。” 
  • Benefits/Profits comes from following righteousness;
  • Fidelity/Integrity is the core  or way of doing things.
Hence, Confucian businessmen do not cheat to make extra-ordinary profits. They believe in character first before doing business. A person must be able to rule himself before he can rule others, from family to nation to the world.

So, please apply these two simple rules first before you start your new business or make any investments.

Related Posts:

For more on I-Ching and the Philosophies and Values of Confucian Businessmen, see The Essence of Sinology or Chinese Mindset - The Values & Methods for 21st Century. and Ancient Chinese Wisdom.

Lim Liat (c) 17 Jan 2014

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