Danube head Rizwan Sajan, one of the top business leaders in the region, reveals his secrets of success to Shiva Kumar Thekkepat
Danube chairman Rizwan Sajan on doing business differently, risk-taking, and how to avoid losing millions.
I’m obsessed with details,’ admits Rizwan Sajan, chairman of Danube Group, and it is clear that he truly believes in it. Nothing misses his eye; a file off-kilter on the table and he has to put it right before he starts talking. We are talking about the secrets of succeeding in business, when Rizwan, No 12 on Forbes’ list of Top 100 Indian Leaders in the Arab world, comes up with his point on looking into the details.
‘I know it might sound unimportant, but I can’t stress on it enough,’ he says. ‘Millions can be lost if you miss out on a single detail in a contract.’
He should know. Rizwan has made millions by following such simple rules to the T. Unsurprisingly, Danube’s turnover last year was in the region of $760 million (Dh2.79 billion). So what are his other rules for success? ‘The first three are: hard work, hard work, and more hard work!’ he says. ‘There’s no substitute for it, no shortcuts.’
Which leads to his second big must for success: integrity: ‘Do whatever business you want to do, but don’t look for devious methods to succeed. Don’t look to make money overnight, and never, ever be dishonest.’
High also on his list is focus. ‘One has to first learn to recognise one’s strength and then focus on it single-mindedly,’ says Rizwan. ‘From my youth, I realised that business was my forte, so I focused on it. You can’t do something you are not cut out for and expect to succeed.’
Being the success story that he is, what kind of advice does he have for new entrepreneurs? ‘Thorough market research before launching anything,’ he says. ‘The market is very competitive, whichever field you choose. So learn all about the business before starting your own. If you can work with a mentor, all the better.’
But all that can come to naught if you are not willing to take calculated risks. ‘There’s always the chance of failure, but then if you are afraid of failure you should not be in business,’ explains Rizwan, adding that timing is as important as risk-taking for success. ‘You need to enter the market with a product when you are convinced the time is right for it.’
He cites his own case of launching the Ritz by Danube housing project last year. ‘I started the project at a time many would be reluctant to do so. My logic for it is simple – every time we do a project, we try to offer something different, create a lasting value. And we have done the same in this project too by offering an innovative plan to save space in apartments.’
hat is another of Rizwan’s rules – do things differently. ‘Do business differently,’ he emphasises. ‘Don’t follow the trend or copy someone.’
Rizwan next pointer is conviction. ‘You need to be convinced 100 per cent about your product/service or business idea,’ he says. He mentions the example of Cha-Cha Chai. ‘There are scores of coffee shops and brands in the market, but few branded tea shops. And a majority of Asian expatriates, especially Indians and Pakistanis, love tea. I spotted the niche and decided to fill it. Cha-Cha Chai today is a huge success.’
‘As a YOUTH I discovered that BUSINESS is my forte, but I was taught the lesson early on that if you give into TEMPTATIONS, one day the entire WEALTH you’ve made will be TAKEN AWAY unexpectedly’
Rizwan concludes by offering one last piece of advice. ‘Resist temptation. In business, one would come across a lot of them, where you think there is more money to be made at every corner. If you keep giving into it, one day the entire wealth you’ve made will be taken away unexpectedly. I always remember that lesson my grandfather told me early on.’