"I wasn't lucky. I worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself."
Sir Li Ka-shing, born 29 July 1928 in Chaozhou, China is a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of April 16, 2014 he is the richest person in Asia, with a net worth of 31.9 billion USD. Compared to other individuals that had a chance to attend university, Li did not get rich through paper qualifications. He quit school at age 12 and started as an apprentice in a watch-strap factory. By 14 he was working full-time in a plastics trading company to help support his family.
In 1950 Li quit to start his own business making plastic toys and everyday items. He retooled his factory to focus on plastic flowers after learning about their popularity in Italy from trade
journals, figuring they offered him better business prospects. After learning how to operate a plant, Li founded a plastic manufacturing company in Hong Kong with funds borrowed from family and friends and contacts he cultivated as a salesman. Li avidly read trade publications and business news before deciding to supply the world with high quality plastic flowers at low prices. Li learned the technique of mixing colour with plastics that resemble real flowers. After hiring the best technicians he could find, he prepared for weeks for the plant visit of a large foreign buyer. Impressed with the quality of Li's plant, the buyer placed a large order. A few years later, Li grew to be the largest supplier of plastic flowers in Asia and made a fortune selling them. He named his first company Cheung Kong, after the Yangtze River, whose power comes from a union of countless smaller streams.
Li feels that the most important thing in a successful business is to focus on even the finest of details. "Small problems, though small, must be attended to as soon as possible. Loose ends must be tied as small cracks need to be mended. Untreated cracks will eventually grow larger and bring upon doom to you and your business." "Also, do not involve yourself in debts. They will make your hair fall like leaves just thinking about how to manage your accounts." Li Ka-shing has to date owed no debts since 1950. He advises young people to make good use of their money and carefully plan for the future whether it's seizing an idea for a future business or nurturing their own stash of cash. "Always calculate profit and loss the way a general would before battle. It's not just about you, but also the people around you, whether it be personal or business."