Modern business & ancient wisdom: We think WE’RE smart…


…just look around to find out where reckless pursuit of personal wealth and power, aided and abetted by an abandonment of governance, has got us! Surely it is time for us to focus our individual and collective efforts to work with “old” values and new tools to bring about cultural change!?

Tao Zhu-gong, also known as Fan Li, reputedly was the right hand man to the Yuh Emperor in circa 500 B.C. After a career as political/military advisor, he went into business

Tao Zhu gong/Fan Li was unusual among tycoons for his view of money. He believed that one who understood money would be willing to abandon it if it became a burden. It is only a means to an end and should not be taken too seriously. Nonetheless, it must be handled and acquired according to principles. Fan Li also urged a somewhat loose construction of these principles, encouraging broad and flexible utilisation in various situations.

The Twelve Golden Rules are as follows:

  • Ability to know people’s character. You must perceive evidence of characteristics from experience.
  • Ability to handle people. Never prejudge a prospect.
  • Ability to stay focused on the business. Have a definite focus in life and business and avoid jumping around.
  • Ability to be organised. A disorganised presentation is unappealing.
  • Ability to be adaptable. Make sure you are organised enough to respond quickly.
  • Ability to control credit. Do not allow non-payment. Make sure you collect what is owed.
  • Ability to use and deploy people. Use employees in ways which bring out their potential(s).
  • Ability to articulate and market. You must be able to educate customers on the value of goods.
  • Ability to excel in purchasing. Use your best judgement in acquiring stock.
  • Ability to analyze market opportunities and threats. Know what is selling according to areas and trends.
  • Ability to lead by example. Have definite rules and standards. Make sure they are followed to ensure good relations.
  • Ability to have business foresight. Know market trends and cycles.

The Twelve Golden Safeguards are:

  • Don’t be stingy. Never confuse efficiency with inhumanity.
  • Don’t be wishy-washy. Be confident in pursuing opportunities. Time is of the essence.
  • Don’t be ostentatious. Do not overspend in order to make an impression.
  • Don’t be dishonest. Truth is the only basis for business. Without it someone will get hurt.
  • Don’t be slow in debt collection. Without collections, liquidity is affected.
  • Don’t slash prices arbitrarily. This will only trigger a price war in which everyone will lose.
  • Don’t give in to herd instinct. Make sure the opportunities are real and not part of a craze.
  • Don’t work against the business cycle. When things fall in price, they will then rise and vice versa.
  • Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud. Keep up with things and make progress. Examine new things objectively.
  • Don’t overbuy on credit. Credit is not license to spend wildly.
  • Don’t under-save (keep reserve funds strong). When business is slow, one with money can expand while others close.
  • Don’t blindly endorse a product. Make sure your vendors are stiil following standard operating procedure.

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