One of the richest businesspersons in Indonesia, with investments in more than 10 countries in the world, Sukanto Tanoto was not born and grown up in a wealthy family. His father, Amin Tanoto, passed away when Sukanto Tanoto was 18 years old. After his father’s death, as the oldest child in his family, he then received the burden to support his family. It was another reason for him to quit going to school, in addition to disadvantageous government’s decision at that time.
The question is how could he become a rich person without formal education? The following are some keys to Sukanto Tanoto’s success in business.
- Reading every time possible; since his father was still alive and he was still going to school. Sukanto Tanoto spent much time reading, while helping his father selling fuel oil, gasoline, or automobile spare part. He has been reading much since the age of twelve; he read any books, including those about American Revolution and World War I and Two. Later, he is interested in finding out how the American companies survive the Great Revolution and the World War.
- Learning by doing, he learned business for the first time from how his father managed the family business. He learned how his father dealt with various challenges; and he learned not to give up to any kinds of problems and to find the right solution.
- Being smart in looking for any opportunities, Sukanto Tanoto was smart in looking for opportunities other people might not think of. For instance, when plywood import from Singapore disappeared in North Sumatera at the beginning of 1970s, he thought that it must not have been a problem since Indonesia is rich in timber. “If we have much plywood, why should be depend upon import from another country?” he said.
Sukanto Tanoto is an example of rich businessperson who began his business from zero point. He did not inherit his wealth. These are only three keys to his success in business. More will be discussed in the next post.