BY DAN SCALCO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF GROWTH, DIGITALUX@DANSCALCO
As an entrepreneur who is always seeking to grow and evolve professionally, I try to collect insightful quotes I can use to help manage my business.
Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of passages. Yet one type always seems to stand out to me–Chinese proverbs. I find myself fascinated with their ability to eloquently and clearly communicate complex ideas such as entrepreneurship.
In order to learn from these ancient words, it’s important to derive personal significance from them so that you can apply their meaning to your life accordingly. Below are my six favorite Chinese proverbs, along with explanations as to how their meanings can help you grow your business.
1) “A bad workman blames his tools.”
Everyone makes mistakes, but the way you handle those mistakes is what determines whether you will be a successful entrepreneur. Instead of making excuses or blaming someone else when you fail, take ownership of it and learn from the experience.
2) “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”
When building a business, many entrepreneurs focus too much on the money. While it is important to be cash-conscious, do not let it cloud your judgment. Sustainable businesses are built by investing time and energy into creating a community–both internally, with your employees, and externally, with your customers.
3) “A single conversation with a wise man is better than 10 years of study.”
One of the most important things an entrepreneur can do is reach out to and learn from those who are more experienced than he or she is. These people are often referred to as “mentors.” A mentor can help you overcome certain business-related challenges, home in on your marketing strategy, and better understand your target demographic.
4) “Cheap things are not good; good things are not cheap.”
New business owners tend to be very apprehensive about spending money on their business. Thus they skimp and go for what’s cheap rather than what’s good. This can lead to a lot of headaches when those cheap things break. Do yourself a favor and look at business expenses as investments. Try to make investments in high-quality things that will help grow your business.
5) “Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.”
You can have the highest level of degree from the most prestigious university, but if you aren’t practically applying that knowledge to help your business grow, does it even matter? For as much time you spend learning, it’s equally important to exercise that knowledge.
6) “The emperor is rich, but he cannot buy one extra year.”
The biggest excuse I hear when people tell me they can’t start their own business is that they “just don’t have the money.” Guess what? Neither did Bill Gates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or Mark Cuban. They all started from average, middle-class backgrounds. What they used to their advantage to build their billion-dollar companies was time, a resource that we all have.