I was a novice when I stepped into the business field. Until then I had had no background or experience of running a shop. I would trust everyone naively in the hope that they would guide me. But soon I realized that every person who shakes hands with us is not necessarily our friend. Business is an extremely competitive field and here applies the rule- survival of the fittest.
In those days, I would share the information of my business openly with others. If I met people at a party and someone asked me casually how it was going, I would begin talking extensively. I would tell them how my business was progressing, what my turnover was and about the future plans of expansion. The listeners would congratulate me at the time.
Later, it came to my notice that some of my important works were being delayed or denied without reason. For example, if I approached a locality to open a new store, the space would already be rented or the owner would simply refuse to lease it to me. I was quite surprised and began thinking- Why would this happen, if I had completed all the necessary formalities? I couldn’t get to the bottom of this.
Later I met an elder trader, who was like a mentor to young entrepreneurs like me. I told him my problem. He thought for a moment and smilingly asked, “Son, try to remember if you have offended anyone knowingly or unknowingly.” I said no. Then he thought for a moment and advised, “It seems that you talk more than necessary while in public. In business, the first thing to remember is to keep our cards hidden. Not everyone is pleased with the progress of their rivals. Some might even turn into backstabbers.” I then learned an important lesson and changed myself into a taciturn person. If someone asked me how it was going, my reply would be very crisp – “okay, somehow meeting the expenses.” I also stopped disclosing my future plans. It is necessary to understand the technique of when, where and how to talk. Speak extensively with your customers but be tight-lipped when you are with your competitors.
Sometimes we have to be cautious about the people who are unnecessarily sweet-tongued. I used to seek the advice of a broker before setting up a new store. The person was very talkative, but surprisingly he would constantly disapprove of the locations for unknown reasons. When I realised this, I distanced myself from him and started to look for spaces on my own. I stopped taking others’ advice and began to open new stores directly. The idea worked well. I learned the second lesson of business wisdom from this incidence. First complete the task and then make the announcement. Today, I have a chain of 43 super stores spread across the GCC region and all are successful ventures.
I always remember the old proverb- an empty vessel makes much noise.