Lessons for business in the Year of the Tiger​

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, February 20, 2022
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An aerial view of the lantern fair in Zigong, southwest China's Sichuan province, on Jan. 20, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Happy New Year and best wishes to all of my dear Chinese friends!

Continuing a tradition established over the last few years since I have been a columnist for China.org.cn, I'd like to share three implications for business in this Year of the Tiger.

The first is courage. A major attribute of the largest and most ferocious of cats is their courage. Even in good times, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to start a business. In this period of COVID-19 lockdowns, business owners around the world have had to be, and have been, at their courageous best. They have made continuous adaptations to new rules and regulations. They have been highly innovative in devising new forms of service delivery. More often than not, they have done their best to keep employees on and support them. Even small family-owned businesses have found a way and made a way to keep going as long as possible.  

A second important attribute relevant in the Year of the Tiger is a growth mindset. Tigers and successful business people must learn if they are to survive. Business people must have, as Carol S. Dweck terms it, a "growth mindset" in The New Psychology of Success:  

"In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail – or if you're not the best – it's all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome. They're tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven't found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful." 

There is a popular misconception that everything comes easy if you are a tiger or a successful business person. The truth is that there are no shortcuts. Success requires dedication, tremendous effort, and constant adaptation. Successful business people know that when their learning is through, they are through. 

A third lesson for business is that a vital component of success comes through positioning. Tigers are solitary hunters. While they are fast, they are not noted for endurance. To be successful they have to be in a surreptitious position. They have to be sufficiently close in order to have the element of surprise in order to make use of their strengths. Successful businesses have to find their position, their "niche" in the market. As Bernard Kelvin Clive wrote: "In a competitive, crowded world market, it's the well-positioned brands that stand out!" In a physical business, location or position is often the most critical success factor.

When market conditions change, businesses have to be nimble and adapt to new circumstances in order to take advantage of opportunities and minimize risks. Businesses have to manage inventory and supply chains so that they can meet market demands and operate efficiently. 

Individually, successful business people spend their entire lives focused on achieving the best position. They have to develop their skills and continue to learn. Business people must work hard to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities. If they are to last for a long time, they have to plan for the future and accumulate sufficient capital and savings. For small family-owned businesses, the next generation must be sufficiently trained in the business so that the family's business legacy can develop and continue.  

Finally, a word about context. As a species, tigers today have disappeared from many areas as their habitats have shrunk, and they have been hunted to the point of extinction. This raises the important point that all businesses today must also be concerned about sustainability in the broadest sense of the world. Tigers and businesses do not operate in isolation. They are part of a wider society and a whole ecosystem that must be protected and nurtured if both are to survive and hopefully thrive.

Eugene Clark is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


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