Today, I want to share with you some life lessons and business quotes from Li Ka Shing; a Hong Kong business tycoon. Li Ka Shing is one of the richest drop out billionaires in the world; but he wasn’t so few years ago. In this article, Li Ka Shing will be sharing with us some life and business lessons he picked up in the entrepreneurial process of starting a business from scratch. So if you are ready to learn, then below are 42 life lessons and business quotes from Li Ka Shing.
42 Life Lessons and Business Quotes from Li Ka Shing
1. I was facing life for the first time. I was 12 years old, but I felt like a 20 year old. I knew then what life was.
2. This was actually a more difficult job, but the prospects were better. I was confident about the bright prospects of the plastics industry and I told my boss that I would like to start my own business. I already knew a lot about the plastics business, including the technology, the market and sales.
3. The first year, as I didn’t have much capital, I did everything myself, which kept my overhead low.
4. Buying land is not like buying antique. It is not the only deal available.
5. Despite my achievements, I can still remember poverty. I told my children and grandchildren that ‘The fruit that you eat will never taste as beautiful as the fruit that I ate during the turmoil of war. You will never cherish it as much as I do.’
6. I am very prudent financially because of those hard times I went through. I spent nothing. I had a haircut every three months. I shaved my head like a monk.
7. I needed to save every penny…I needed to be strong, and needed to find some way to secure a future. That’s why I am always conservative. I never forget to maintain stability while advancing, and I never forget to advance while maintaining stability.
8. But how many times have you heard that Cheung Kong’s finances were in trouble over the last fifty years? Never; the reason is, we are always prepared for the worst. That is my policy.
9. I wasn’t lucky. I worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself.
10. Vision is perhaps our greatest strength. It has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries; it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.
11. I had a clear intention of taking over one of these companies with underperforming assets and developing it into a multinational corporation.
12. I bought land with my own cash. If somebody invites me to be a partner, and I take only 15% to 20% as a minority stakeholder, they would perhaps get a loan from the bank. But I had no personal debt. At that time, when Cheung Kong went public in 1972, the company had almost no debt.
Even if the company had to borrow from the bank, we would have alternative arrangements, such as buying government bonds equivalent to the bank loan amount, to ensure that we can readily cash out at anytime. The interest income would continue to accumulate, while interest expense on the loan would be repaid monthly. So you see; our corporate finance is very conservative and prudent.
13. You can believe in Fung Shui if you want, but ultimately people control their own fate. The most important thing is to improve yourself and give it your best. Then many things previously thought to be impossible will become possible.
14. Broaden your vision, and maintain stability while advancing forward. That is my philosophy.
15. Times were really tough in the beginning. When I started my business in 1950, I only had HK$50,000, so I was in a tight spot financially. I already had some work experience, but I had an advantage in competing with other companies. I was willing to learn the latest industry trends.
16. Businessmen must move with the times…the correlation between knowledge and business as the key to success is closer than ever.
17. I was already keeping an eye on the political developments within China, and I also had a firm grasp on economics, industry, management and the latest development and productions of the plastics industry. Not many people in Hong Kong at that time were aware of the potential. It was still quite new.
18. You must know and understand your business like the back of your hand. Otherwise, your company would be here today, gone tomorrow.
19. Reputation is the key to success. You have to be loyal to your customers.
20. I was once an employee myself, so I know what employees want.
21. I have set boundaries for myself. There are certain business I won’t get into…This is my principle and I will stick to it.
22. In the Han Dynasty, Xiang Yu was very brave and won many battles, but in the end he failed. Treat people with sincerity and build a good organization. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how famous or how capable you are.
23. If you think, then you will be prepared. If you are prepared, then you will have no worries.
24. Before the Asian financial crisis stuck, the signs of a bubble economy were already glaring.
25. I wake up every day just before 6:00 am and exercise and play golf for an hour and a half. I insist on reading before I go to bed at night. I am still energetic during the day. Your energy comes from being interested in your work.
26. The more you know, the more prepared you will be when opportunity knocks. If you are lazy and wile your time away, you would not know how to take advantage of opportunities even if they stared you in the face.
27. I want to build a corporation that not only the Chinese are proud of, but that even foreigners are impressed with.
28. If you have done your best to make meaningful contributions, when it is time for you to go, all you will feel is a little tired, just like when the sun sets you need to take a rest. I just hope that I lead a full life.
29. I was very careful. I had no debt (actually, I was not qualified for a bank loan at the time), but I knew my company’s finances like the back of my hand, and I could answer any question that anybody asked.
30. The first year, as I didn’t have much capital, I did everything by myself, including the first set of account books. I needed to go the Inland Revenue Department, and I asked my auditor if my accounts were correct, since I had no experience doing accounting.
He said that it was complete and that I could take this to the government. I had no experience, but I learned by reading books on accounting. When you want to understand the balance sheet, you needed to know a little bit about accounting. I did so many things by myself, which kept my overhead low. I have made a profit every year since 1950. I have never lost a penny in any year.
31. My father had tuberculosis, which was as devastating a disease as cancer is today. If you were rich and could afford proper care, you might have a better chance. We had no choice.
32. On New Year’s Day, the boss announced that the bonus that year would be based on sales. At the end of the year, my sales figure was seven times higher than the second best. If they paid my bonus based on my sales, my bonus would have been higher than the general manager’s. The other salesmen were already jealous. So I said to my boss, “Just pay me the same as the second best salesman; it would make everyone happy.” As a result, I became a manager when I was 17 going on 18.
33. During my father’s time, our family finances were deteriorating. My uncles did not make any contribution to the family after they came back from Tokyo. I always had a fighting heart. I only had a small amount of capital when I started my own business. That’s why I am always conservative. I never forget to maintain stability while advancing, and I never forget to advance while maintaining stability. Stability and advancement must always be in balance.
34. Our principal policy is never to take financial risk.
35. You have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If nobody buys your property, can you support your debt? For 56 years, especially after we went public, Cheung Kong has never had any financial problems.
36. Doing business may be tough, but I am willing to learn, to innovate, and to work hard, which are the reasons why my business can continue to grow. We focus on our core competencies while looking for new areas for expansion. New businesses sometimes fail, and sometimes succeed. But the ones that succeed can be very profitable. This has been my experience. Setbacks and difficulties are ways to build character.
37. First of all, I am an optimist. When you study hard and work hard, your knowledge grows, and it gives you confidence. The more you know, the more confidence you gain. When I was 10 years old, I lost my schooling, but I still had plenty of hope to return to school.
38. I have worked hard to establish my business over the past decades, and now we are seeing the fruits of our labor. Not only is my group reaping the benefits, I am also able to make greater contributions to worthy causes.
39. The most challenging issue raised by globalization is how we can all get along with each other in our race against time. Corporate leaders must possess far-sighted vision, detailed action plans, macro-thinking, and a global outlook. To get ahead in the race, they must also possess a deep understanding of their own organization and that of their competitors.
40. I would like to do more meaningful deeds. I don’t care how much money or how much energy it takes. I have very simple needs. With the blessings that I have received, I have no need for more wealth. But if I can do more for mankind, for our people, and for our country, I would be more than happy to do so.
41. Well, I have my own definition for the term “retirement”. Life was extremely hard when I was young; today working without the burden of pressure to me is the same as the luxury of retirement. These few years, our Group has embarked on some new projects and is in exciting times. We plan all our projects meticulously. Our work is certainly challenging, but we are not under any pressure except for the pressure to outperform.
42. Since many seem to be interested and concerned, I am happy to report that I am in good shape, and can rise to the opportunities and challenges of our times, and I embrace each project with enthusiasm. I also spend a lot of my time on education and medical care initiatives. This is a passion that I will never grow tired of. In fact, I consider it a lifelong endeavor.