Danube head Rizwan Sa­jan, one of the top busi­ness lead­ers in the re­gion, re­veals his se­crets of suc­cess to Shiva Ku­mar Thekkepat

Friday - - Contents -

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.’

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