BUSINESSES IN CHINATOWN
People make countless comments about "how easy it must be to have my job". The one that I get quite often is "You're the boss, so does that mean you just sit around and boss people around all day?"
9 out of 10 times I just play dumb and nod to these ridiculous comments. It would take way too much energy to refute them. There are however those times where I subtly mention a lil' something...
It was just the other day that someone said that owning and running a business is so much easier than pursuing a career in academia. I wouldn't necessarily say that one is harder than the other, but I thought that was a very ignorant comment coming from someone who was so educated.
I am a third generation Chinese American and my family was able to give me a lot of opportunities. I had the luxury of attending a private college and finished graduate school. I will tell you that in all my years in school, I learned only a small fraction of what I learned through my business.
I am so glad that I work here in Chinatown. It keeps my humble, hard working and creative. I am surrounded by so many immigrants who have come here with nothing and have had none of the opportunities that I have had and have become very successful.
Many of the successful businesses owners here speak in broken English. I betcha that many of the will tell you that they don't have a fancy college degree or abbreviation attached to their name to tout themselves as something special.
Their merit is based on operating in a foreign country and creating profit. Many of these people make more money than college graduates. Some of them make much more money than doctorates. Many of them have started with nothing but the shirt off their back and a dream.
Statistics will tell you that nationally 80 percent of small businesses do not last five years. The remaining 20 percent just last, but do not necessarily generate a profit. In NYC, I am sure that the stats are even more steep. People think that gambling only happens in the casinos, but I'll tell you that starting a business is the biggest gamble there is.
These immigrants and store owners sacrifice all of their savings and pool it with others in hope of having a successful business, though the odds are stacked up against them. It's not just their savings that they are gambling with; they also work themselves to the bone rely on family labor.
When I see all the ingenuity, sacrifice and hard work that everyone does around me; I refuse to complain and think that I am smarter or work harder than anyone else.