There was an attractive and interesting meeting between Chairman of THACO Tran Ba Duong and nearly 1000 entrepreneurs and startups in the hall of Dai Quang Minh urban area in Ho Chi Minh City. Answering participants’ questions, Tran Ba Duong shared his business philosophy and perspectives as well as his experiences.
Basing on your business experience over the years, what do you think is the "trap" making startups fail in their careers?
Tran Ba Duong: Many startups experienced the failure due to the biggest trap which is the subjectivity in which people think that doing business is easy and they do not carefully prepare the necessary resources.
We must question ourselves whether we have the passion for our career or not. If we do business only for the money purpose, we may face failure at the beginning of our journey as we do not have enough motivation.
What are your motivations to switch from a mechanical engineer to an entrepreneur?
Tran Ba Duong: I majored in mechanical engineering but after graduating, I went back to Dong Nai and work for an auto repair company. Because I think if I want to do my business in the automobile area well, I must go from the starting point as a mechanic; and I must do better than those who do not have chances to study in university.
I want to highlight the spirit in which you are always ready to do the right and the real things. Living with our career, doing the right and real actions which come from our heart and being determined is a way to start our business successfully.
Have you ever made mistakes in the important decisions? And how could you overcome those mistakes?
Tran Ba Duong: Making mistake is unavoidable in our life in general and in business in particular; however, in order to survive and develop, the right decisions we made must be more than the wrong ones. The strategy is the goal and the way of doing business which must be adjusted regularly. One of the biggest mistakes is being discouraged and losing confidence.
If we are wrong because we do not understand and go the wrong way but then we try to fix, I think we should not call it “wrong”. THACO has its brand name today because we made no big mistake while fixed the small ones.
What do you think about the opinion of using love to seduce your staff?
Tran Ba Duong: This love should be quantified and the view and criteria of human resources must be identified in a scientific way in order to have the right team. The goal of doing strategy in the present stage is accepting the shortcomings of the personnel.
We must accept the drawback that Vietnam’s economy has a low starting point in which people mostly focus on earning money instead of righteously doing business. Then it is very necessary to help our staff have positive attitudes including dedication, honesty, and integrity, creating a positive environment to develop and creating the human values.
This is similar to the love in a family. Love does not mean accepting all children’s demands at all cost but having education methods so that kids can develop and succeed.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of leading an over 20,000 staff with a meticulous administration?
Tran Ba Duong: The only disadvantage is having too many things to do without any free time like other entrepreneurs.
Our logical mind and experiences drawn from our meticulous work can be formed into a common formula that can be applied for all jobs.
Vietnamese personnel usually do not put their customers first as Vietnam used to have the subsidized economy. Without a strict mind, we will not be able to efficiently serve all the demands of customers and compete with foreign enterprises in the context of integration. One kilogram of Kobe beef of Japanese people is sold at a higher price than a cow sold by Vietnamese as we do not put our businesses into process and detail.
How can we prepare enough for both viable and long-term visions in business?
Tran Ba Duong: A long-term vision including a visible vision is vital in administration. The time we reach a short-term plan is the most suitable time for us to change and continue developing.
In my opinion, we must notice the new trend of information technology breakthrough based on the 4th industrial revolution. For example, Amazon could gain its achievements as it can catch up with the market trends.
In the upcoming time, trade centers will become the places for people to meet each other, entertain, not buy goods anymore. People will go to see and decide to buy goods online later, which will be a great opportunity for young people as we do not have to invest in big trade centers and large offices with many staff. Only by using a laptop and sitting in a café can we sell our products.
If we do not change and follow the new trends, we will be wiped out like such mobile brands as Motorola and Nokia giving way for iPhone which has breakthrough technologies. We must let the intellectuality become a real resource which is the power of enterprises.
What do you think about the future of THACO?
At the very first stage, THACO distributed automobiles first before opening the chain of showroom retail stores, assembling cars, manufacturing car accessories and then created a closed value chain.
Secondly, THACO has developed from different segments including trucks, buses, and cars with different modes, meeting the demands of customers in different markets like Japan and Europe.
The nature of the 4th industrial revolution is mass production by individual orders. In the upcoming time, there will not be readymade garments. Instead, they would be technically made on the spot.
I want to express that we must accept the change in trends, trying to catch up with that change and converting challenges into opportunities. Trying to find and do the new things and removing the unnecessary ones which used to be our strengths.
Speaking of human resources management, how could you train and keep talented people?
Tran Ba Duong: When an enterprise wants to develop and open more branches, it must have leadership training plan, with its own staff are guided to become the leaders in order to develop and expand the business of companies. That is essential to keep the talented people as they only work for us when they realize that they can learn from us and also receive the deserving remuneration.
A leader who creates professional attitudes must go with his staff from the starting point.
The team working for you from the very first stage are usually not as good as the current one. How have you treated them?
Tran Ba Duong: I usually see it as a goal in the human resources management. The biggest challenge of a leader is how to develop the company while still keeping his staff. In the past, I used to be a mechanic while Tran Ba Son, current Regional Director of THACO, was still an accountant.
However, many people gave up as they were put under too much pressure despite suitable position.
A leader must have and be confident in their high conscientiousness which is also his happiness. A disciplined mind will form a disciplined action, person and then a culture of discipline. I am very consistent with the opinion that intellectuality is the decisive factor, which helps me further expand my business.
Are you willing to cooperate with startups who want to be investors or suppliers of Dai Quang Minh Real Estate Investment JSC, 90 per cent stake of which belongs to THACO?
Tran Ba Duong: I think that we should not distinguish between strategic and normal partners. Dai Quang Minh has both giant and small investors. We are facilitated then we should help smaller enterprises to develop.
I was disappointed when the marketing director of Dai Quang Minh urban area used supplies of foreign brands because using Vietnamese products which can meet the requirements in our projects is one of our criteria in which the quality is prioritized.
Thank you so much!