“If you aspire to be an entrepreneur, you have to prepare for failure.”

Ho Nai Chuen

On Cheong Jewellery

Mr Ho Nai Chuen had no intentions of becoming an entrepreneur. But when someone was needed to take over the family business in 1985, he decided to step up.

The managing director of On Cheong Jewellery described his responsibilities as a family calling, and that he owed it to his relatives to do his best to continue his father’s legacy. As the youngest son of the family, Mr Ho was persuaded to manage the company after his mother’s death.

Founded in 1936 by his father, On Cheong Jewellery has enjoyed success for many decades under his family’s leadership. However, the journey to the top was challenging. Mr Ho’s initial training as an accountant had not sufficiently prepared him for the difficulties of running a business.

To make up for his inexperience, Mr Ho worked his way up the company ladder from a salesman to the human resources manager, before becoming the managing director of On Cheong Jewellery.

Even though the company has been established for many decades before Mr Ho took over, there were many unforeseen challenges to tackle. For example, in 2007, the industry was hit by poor sales and changing consumer habits. Instead of throwing in the towel, Mr Ho persevered and managed to save the company from the brink of disaster. In order to keep the company alive, Mr Ho called for major changes to the company’s products and business model. Instead of selling only gold jewellery, On Cheong Jewellery now carries contemporary jewellery designs to cater to the changing tastes of its consumers.

Mr Ho calls the decision a turning point in his career, and urges aspiring entrepreneurs to be prepared to face similar challenges. He also hopes business owners will learn from his example, and rise up to the occasion to turn potential failures into opportunities.

“If you aspire to be an entrepreneur,” said Mr Ho, “you have to prepare for failure.”

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