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Style Secrets: How Chinoys make their business click

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Doing business the Chinoy way in three easy steps

Either the Filipino Chinese, locally known as Chinoy, are born traders and entrepreneurs, or it is the luck that feng shui charms bring them – they only know.

To begin with, the Chinese were the first trading partners of Filipinos, even before Spain colonized the country. Binondo, otherwise known as Chinatown, is the first financial district of the country, even before the high-rise buildings of Makati came to existence. And if you’d look at the top entrepreneurs of the country, most of them are of Chinese descent.

So, one can’t help but ask, what are the Chinoy’s doing that makes their business click?

Having started and run his own business over the past decade, Cris Chiong shares his insights into what a Chinoy entrepreneur does to succeed in business:

Owning a business means never going beyond your means.
“I don’t think it’s a uniquely Chinoy perspective to realize that start-ups will not survive if you are not pragmatic about managing limited resources. “In our company this was reflected when we always reinvested earnings back into the company to fund the business and took pay cuts especially when cash flows are not sufficient. Everyone was expected to be able to multitask—we often did everything ourselves from fixing lights in the office to driving our delivery trucks. We bought second-hand furniture and equipment if it was in good condition to keep costs down.”

Much can be learned from the achievements of the older generation, but modern methods have made some traditions obsolete.
“One thing I noticed is that the previous generation believes that productivity is directly proportional to the hours you log in the office. But with modern technology, a lot of my peers can still be productive beyond the confines of the office. This can lead the previous generation to think that you are not maximizing your time (not working hard enough).

“I have to admit though that many Chinoys are workaholics and their business life is an extension of their family life. For a lot of Chinoy entrepreneurs, the lines between business and personal life are not very distinct. My Chinese suppliers do not hesitate to call me even on a Sunday or holiday. The older generation tends to merge business and personal life while the newer generation tends to separate work and family.”

When it comes to business, East and West should complement each other.
“One of the key differences is that Western methods are more objective. They can quickly change and adapt to new situations if the current plan is not working out anymore. You can end your contract with a subcontractor by just paying a penalty, bankrupt a business unit and start over again or cut back to your core business model in a recession.

The Asian way though places a lot of importance in relationships. Before a decision is made, its impact on people would be carefully considered. You hear stories about how management tries to think of creative ways of cutting costs in order to minimize lay-offs as much as they can. Asians in general prefer to work with people who are recommended by someone they respect.

“Eventually entrepreneurs realize that they cannot just rely on relationships and that for a growing business to run smoothly, it needs a professional structure and qualified people, setting objectives and establishing key processes that everyone has to meet. I think my stint at Procter & Gamble and my education at Harvard Business School helped me transition my company from an entrepreneurial start-up into a structured growing company.”

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