What Henry Sy Can Teach Us To Become a Successful Entrepreneur in Retail Business

He’s not only retail king, but Henry Sy is hailed a hero for employing, directly or indirectly, at least 100,000 Filipinos through his SM Department stores across the county. The malls aside, Sy’s other retail interests and the family’s extensive portfolio investments in real estate, banking, and food and beverage companies benefit other businesses and the economy as a whole. They are SM Investments Corporation, SM Prime Development Corporation, SM Prime Holdings Inc., Banco de Oro Universal Bank, China Banking Corp., Shoemart Inc., Highlands Prime Inc., and Sysmart, to name a few.


In his speaking engagements, Henry Sy has imparted simple yet profound words of wisdom worth more than a thousand quotes and sound bites.

Early in life, he learned from his parents, especially his father, the importance of discipline, hardwork, and good credit. His father was a trader in China. Looking for better opportunities, his father came to the Philippines and opened a sari-sari store. And at the age of 12, the young Henry followed his father to Manila.

He conceptualized his retail business model when he saw the shopping center development across the United States while on buying trips. He knew that this could also happen in the Philippines. And the rest is history, he traiblazed his retail business to success.

Here are the secret sauce of his investing success:

On work
“While I am not big with words, I am big and bold in dreams and vision. By nature, I am curious and adventurous. I like the excitement of change and new and better ideas. I look for excellence in performance.”

On his management style
“I am hands-on and personalized in my management style. I do not do things on impulse. I think long and hard about every project.”

On relationship
“In life and in business, you need to be a good-hearted and trust worthy. This is the way to build long-term relationships.”

On having balance
“Another important thing is balance in life. When you succeed, do not change your lifestyle. Equally important, keep your feet on the ground.”

On goal-setting
“Know what you want and have a goal. Do something you like.”

On planning
“You must plan well and work had to realize it. Stay focused on whatever you do and do your best.”

On crises and opportunities
“I have been in business for over 50 years, and have experienced many crises – the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, the Aquino assassination in 1981; the series of military coups from 1987 to 1989, and worst of all, the Asian financial crisis in 1997. But crises produce opportunities, and when they come, you have to be ready to embrace them. Otherwise, they go to somebody else.”

On success
“Success in not just good luck. It is a combination of hardwork, good credit standing, opportunity, readiness, and timing.”

On why he continues to work
“On some occasions, I bump into friend whom I have not seen for a long time. They ask me, “You have done so much already. What are you still working for?” I tell them, ‘I dream a lot, and I like to make things happen.’”

Henry Sy’s Golden Rule
“There is not such things as overnight success or easy money. If you fail, do not be discouraged; try again. When you do well, do not change your ways. Success is not just good luck: it is a combination of hardwork, good credit standing, opportunity, readiness and timing. Success will not last if you do not take care of it.”

Chinese-Filipino Businessman Henry Sy had no money when he came to Manila from China before World War II. But now, this successful entrepreneur is one of the planet’s wealthiest people and the richest person in the Philippines with net worth of $7.2 billion, as of June 2011, according to Forbes Magazine rich list.

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Source: Success Secrets of the Country’s 50 Top Entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur Philippines

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