Small Business Strategies: Year of the Dragon offers lessons

ByABC News
January 26, 2012, 10:11 PM

— -- Luck. Money. Ambition. Initiative. Success.

Who wouldn't want all that? Well, if Chinese astrology is right, they're coming your way as we enter the lunar — or Chinese — New Year.

It's the Year of the Dragon, considered the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac, and it should be a great year for entrepreneurs and small business owners, according to what's predicted to affect you and your small business in the coming year.

The Chinese New Year began Jan. 23 and festivities continue for two weeks. So "Gung hay fat choy!" (Loosely translated, that's "happy new year.")

Now, I'm not a believer in astrology, but why not have some fun with this tradition that more than a billion people around the globe share? We have an annual Chinese New Year lunch in my company.

Moreover, it's an opportunity to reflect on how you can choose to embody some of the traits associated with the coming year as you plan to grow your business in 2012.

Chinese astrology is based on a 12-year cycle, each year named for one of the animals that supposedly responded when the Buddha called. Each animal is associated with certain traits, generally ones you can figure out: the ox for hard work, the tiger for aggressiveness. In a large part of the world, personal and business decisions are influenced by which year it is in the Chinese zodiac.

The Year of the Dragon is an incredibly auspicious year, the most fortunate of all, according to tradition. Dragon years are associated with good luck, money, accomplishment, celebrations, longevity, success.

If that's what this year brings, it should be a terrific time for business owners or to start a new business. People born in the year of the dragon are likely to be leaders, who are active and powerful, take initiative and are creative — good traits for entrepreneurs.

The dragon is considered the most powerful symbol. It's the only symbol that is not a real animal and has mystical qualities. In China, many people want children who embody Dragon traits, and births in China rise by about 5% in Dragon years.

Likewise, it is a good year to give birth to a new business.

According to the Economist magazine, the stock market likes Dragon years, too. From 1900 to 2011, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased an average of 7.7% in Dragon years, the second best record of any animal of the Chinese zodiac.

So what is the astrological forecast for this year, and what does that mean for you and your business?

•Wealth. It should be a good year for making money, and with luck this means an increasingly strong overall economy.

So don't be afraid to aggressively pursue financial goals this year. You're more likely to succeed. But as the cash rolls in, be sure to put some aside for a rainy day.

•Ambition. Have you been afraid to live your dreams, follow your passion?

Now's the time to go for it.

•Innovation. A good year for trying new approaches, introducing new products or services, and reinvigorating your company with creative ideas.

•Virtue. As you grow your business this year, remember your social responsibility to others: your employees, society, environment.

•Harmony. Find ways to communicate better with your employees and customers and create an amiable workplace.

•Big changes. Dragon years can be tumultuous, so be prepared for the unexpected.

But this year can be a time to shake yourself up, too, so it can be a terrific year to try new things, take big chances, make significant change.

As you grow your company this year, remember to harness the strength and power of a dragon and try to attract the good luck dragons bring.

Dragon years are associated with people who take initiatives, so don't wait for good fortune to come to you. Go out and make your own fortune.

Be bold, be brave. Make your mark. After all, a fire-breathing, tail-wagging dragon would likely carve quite a path wherever it goes.