訪問前一晚下傾盆大雨，莫樹雲 (George) 的公司險遭水患，幸而辦公室安裝了水浸警示，否則損失更大。整天處理善後工作之後，甫坐下來，他竟氣定神閒：「做生意就是這樣，要將未發生，甚至不會發生的風險計算在經營成本之內，還要事事親力親為，隨時『執生』(應變)。」一句聽來簡單的道理，卻是他多年實戰經驗累積而來的智慧。
It rained heavily the night before the interview. George’s office nearly flooded. Fortunately, the office was equipped with a flood alarm. Otherwise, he might have suffered heavier losses. He spent the next day trying to recover from the disaster and manage any resulting damages and risks. Just as he was sitting down to start the interview, he calmly said: “This is what managing a business is like, you have to take into consideration both real and imagined risks into your operating cost. You also have to be ready for the unexpected.” It sounded like a very simple principle, but this was the product of his years of accumulated experience and wisdom.
George was born into a Hong Kong family that runs a family business in building watch parts, which his father started in the early sixties. George chose not to inherit the family business, however, and, instead, decided to study abroad in Canada. Initially, he went to Alberta to study computer science. Following his graduation in the eighties, he decided to return to Hong Kong. At the time, Hong Kong’s economy was experiencing rapid growth, and there were opportunities everywhere. He started his career in a technology support department, and eventually became a member of the top level management team. It was smooth sailing for his career, but he was not satisfied.
He began to think only entrepreneurship could advance his career. As negotiations began on Hong Kong’s return to China from British colonial rule, George started to think how this might impact his children and Hong Kong’s futures. Out of these concerns, he decided to migrate his family to Canada.
Arrived Canada, he started his business plan right away. He did not have a lot of financial resources after emigrating, and was not familiar with the business environment. He strongly believed in his passion and ability in running a business. Even if the location changed, and even if there were no fully prepared plan and schedule, his determination would not be wavered.
He experienced many roadblocks in the early stages of his entrepreneurial adventure. He was concurrently operating three different businesses, which included vegetable supplier, kitchenware, and automotive exhaust pipes. He had been cheated. He had conflicts with his business partner. He almost declared bankruptcy due to insufficient circulation of funds. What was most memorable to him was when he could only idly watch as a set of large freezers for vegetable storage, originally valued at seventy thousand, were being sold for five thousand dollars. “In order to succeed, you have to first learn how to face failure, as well as how do clean up after yourself”, George said.
To George, failure is also a good experience. “Sometimes even if you know you’ll fail, you still have to try and not only that, you also have to try your best.” When another opportunity presented itself to George, he grabbed it and transformed his company into a sole agent for a security system. Finally, he opened a new chapter in life.
George’s passion towards entrepreneurship is almost like a leap of faith. Is this a trait of the baby boomers? George admitted that his and his generation’s environment growing up trained them to have a type of fighting spirit. Among his friends, there are many examples of a long held belief that if “you persevere then there will be opportunities, and if you work hard you will succeed” This belief to persevere is what allowed him overcome hurdles one after another at the beginning of this entrepreneurship.
What advice could be given to young entrepreneurs in the current entrepreneurial environment today?
George admitted that his decade of working experience post-graduation in Hong Kong, and the opportunity to be promoted into management, allowed him to gain invaluable experiences in running a small to medium sized business, and fundamental financial management. It is different today. There is currently a focus on the multi-disciplinary, and running a business requires a diversity of knowledge.
Risk taking and flexibility are what today’s youth lacks is. Furthermore, entrepreneurship requires a large sum of funds. It is very difficult for today’s youth to independently establish their own financial base. George thanks his parents for their approach in education, which offered him a lot of freedom in academics and work. They also encouraged him to try new things.
George does not deny his business talent, which he inherited from his parents, especially his mother. Even though she only received elementary school education, she was very talented and assisted his father managing the business successfully for years. “If she had the right qualifications, she definitely could have been a business iron lady”, George said. As for his father, without a doubt, he was very successful given his achievements over the years. Despite their success in business, George’s parents never demanded their children to inherit the family business, but encouraged them to explore their own career path to their heart’s content. During the interview, George mentioned multiple times that he loved business and was suited for business, which was something that was strongly influenced unknowingly by his parents.
Similarly, as a father himself, George also inherited the open-minded hands-off attitude from his father in raising his own children. George’s son initially studied pharmacology but after one year of practicum he discovered it wasn’t something suited for him. He then converted to study law and now he is a licensed lawyer.
George encouraged his children to choose a career that they enjoy and love, not for professional identity or reputation. This was what he believes as professionalism.
樹雲說，他從不擔心子女的學業和發展，他看重的是他們如何做人處世，他說：「從小到大，我不容許他們在家裡說 『It’s not fair』。我要他們明白，世界就是不公平的。天行健，君子當自强不息。」
Despite being very open minded, George strictly prohibited the phrase “It’s not fair” to appear in his family. He wanted his children to understand that the world is naturally unfair. What he wanted to emphasize is that we should fulfill our own duties.
He had taken pride in his business talents and now, it is his children that make him proud the most. Even though they grew up in western culture, they still inherited Chinese’s view and emphasis on “family”. Interpersonal relations are very important to them, especially towards their family. This is what makes George the proudest.