” …. Unlike other entrepreneurs who quit their jobs to start their own business, I grew up with the thought inculcated to me daily that my father would turn over his business to me, eventually. Our family was of Chinese lineage, and the Chinese were of the belief that the way to prosperity was to own your business, however small. In fact, there is a Chinese proverb that says “it is better to be the head of a chicken than to be the tail of a bull, ” and we absolutely believe and practiced it. While other friends dreamed of becoming lawyers and doctors, most of what I dreamed was what business I would own.
I remember as early as 9 years old, I was already helping the business during vacations and after school. We had a small gasoline station, and I would fill automobiles myself, and receive the money. I would receive deliveries, and occasionally, I would go with the driver to deliver goods. I would order supplies occasionally, and I was also asked to collect receivables. I would fill up the deposit slip to deposit the cheques, and at the end of the month, I would take the challenge of balancing the bank statement. Occasionally I would be the one to make statement of accounts.
I remember my father would talk business in the meal table with my mom, and tell her about his frustrations, and what products sold and what products did not, and who were the bad customers. They would talk about how to price certain products, and what margins would be ideal. When we had business visitors, we would bring them to lunch or dinner together, and hear him work out the deals.
By the time I was 21, I not only had a business management degree under my belt, but also over 10 years of hands on experience of all aspects of a business.
I had always thought that this early training give me an edge over competitors, and in fact, I believe sincerely that this training give the Chinese an edge in many countries, and the main reason why the Chinese own so many businesses worldwide. No, they are not smarter. They just helped the family mind the business, and learn the ropes early.
I believe competitive business advantage by Chinese in SouthEast Asia, at least in the 20th Century was garnered that many chinese people own not only their little businesses, but they live in the shop themselves. So while most others play in the house, they play in the store.
If your family does not own a business, don’t let that pull you down. I have interviewed many people who after graduating college at age 21 has not even hold a job. Know that having a job while going to college actually will give you invaluable experience that will not make you only enhanced your skills, but give you insights and experiences that will make you get promoted faster.