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Chinese New Year: What 2019 Means for Business

Chinese New Year: What 2019 Means for Business
Credit: Color4260/Shutterstock

Celebration is underway in China as Tuesday marks the start of the Chinese New Year, the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration that begins on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. While Chinese New Year is steeped in mythology, many believe it may have some impact on your business in the year to come.

To recognize how Chinese New Year may influence your business in 2019, it is first important to understand what the celebration is all about. According to ancient legends, Chinese New Year began with a mythical beast from the sea called the Year. This half-ox, half-lion beast came out on New Year's Eve to prey on animals, people and property. In defense, the people used fire, loud sounds and the color red. This formed the traditions of setting off fireworks, hanging lanterns, and displaying red Duilian – poetry – in front yards.

Alongside the mythical history, Chinese New Year coincides with the Chinese zodiac. A different zodiac animal, whose features signify various types of luck and fortune, represents each year. This year's zodiac animal is the pig. Recognizing what the pig represents may give some indication of what lies ahead for your business in 2019.

The pig, associated with the Earthly Branch, is very grounded. While the pig is a symbol of wealth, it does not mean this year will be easily prosperous. Since the pig is naturally characterized by indulgence and gluttony, it will require hard work and dedication to achieve success.

Brian Ma, resident astrologer and proprietor of Flushing.com, explained that the pig symbolizes an opportunity to do well, but hard work and modesty are a must. Overconfidence in your business ability can bring misfortune.  

"There will be many challenges and fires you might have to put out in 2019," Theresa Nguyen, success coach of More Time More You, told Business News Daily. "It won't all be bad, but know that you will need to work extra hard this year to maintain your current income flow and status quo."

Considering the year of the pig and what it represents, it may be best to avoid any major business decisions or career moves. This year should be focused on keeping your head down and creating efficiency in your current business structure. Nguyen suggests that business owners should continue making these improvements to prepare for the roadblocks that may appear throughout the year. She explained that it is important to resolve current problems now because 2020, the year of the rat, will bring about major transitions.

Here are some ways the year the pig may influence certain aspects of your business.

During the year of the pig, it is important to lower business risk profiles and stay grounded. Maintain a humble, hardworking attitude in the home and workplace. Patricia Lohan, a feng shui expert and motivational speaker, said business travel and expansion is not ideal this year.

"The pig year brings the energy of sticking closer to home, discouraging too much travel," said Lohan. "Expansion to different countries and outside of the business's main territory would be discouraged."

According to Nguyen, instead of focusing on growing your business or expanding to new regions, you should focus on employee growth and satisfaction. By creating opportunities for employee participation and camaraderie, you can cultivate a feeling of belonging and appreciation.

"Begin to create a culture of gratitude and happiness where you work, and this will spill over to 2020 where everyone will have much to celebrate," said Nguyen.

Interacting with customers will be positive and rewarding. According to Ma, there is opportunity to win over customers, but only with honesty and transparency. Customers will be receptive to business tactics, but they will not respond kindly to false advertisement.

"Business owners should showcase their wares and services with high enthusiasm," said Ma. "That said, do not over-promise and under-deliver, as the zodiac pig success in business is tied to righteously balanced marketing efforts."

This year can bring about good luck for your business, but only if you exercise perseverance and precision. Ma referred to the common phrase "fortune favors the bold" when discussing the possibility of good luck this year. If you properly execute your business plan with precision and bold purpose, you will reap the benefits of luck.

When discussing the topic of good luck, Nguyen emphasized the importance of scrutiny. "You will encounter people who may be able to open doors for you, but beware – they may have ulterior motives and only look out for their best interest. It is important you have the clarity to see through the valuable relationships versus the one-sided ones that hold no advantage for you [and only] leech off your business and reputation."

By taking a business approach that is the perfect combination of bold and cautious, you may be provided with good fortune and luck.

According to the experts we spoke with, industries that will do particularly well this year are those rooted in earthly and holistic methods. Since the pig is associated with the Earthly Branch, this year favors industries such as natural sciences, hospitality and healthcare. Industries like metal and mining are also projected to do well this year. 

Although good fortune is possible this year, bad luck will easily fall on those not properly prepared. Since the business climate can change quickly this year, the zodiac experts advise you not to make any major decisions and risk misfortune. Nguyen emphasized the importance of hard work to avoid bad luck.

"This year may not bring in significant income," said Nguyen. "You will need to work harder to see returns. Money management will be very important for you this year, since you won't be bringing in a lot and may need to find creative ways to invest what you currently have to create more capital."

The experts we spoke with stated that the industries projected to struggle are those that are not grounded in the earth, for example, manufacturing and machinery. Businesses that are high-flying and very aspiration-oriented will also find many challenges this year. If this is your business model, focus on remaining more grounded. 

In addition to the pig-specific business projections, there are some general taboos and superstitions around the Chinese New Year. Breaking any of these legendary rules threatens a year of bad luck. 

  • No unlucky words – Saying negative words will jinx you and bring those ill fortunes upon you.
  • No cleaning – Cleaning or sweeping will cause you to sweep away good fortune and wealth.
  • No washing hair or clothes – Similar to the "no cleaning" rule, washing your hair or clothes will wash away good luck.
  • No scissors or knives – Using sharp objects will cut your stream of wealth for the year.
  • No black or white clothes – These are unlucky colors often associated with mourning.
  • No borrowing or repayment – Borrowing money or demanding debt repayment is forbidden until the fifth day. Violating this will cause you to have debt for the remainder of the year.

The year of the pig is all about remaining positive and working hard. There is opportunity to prosper in business, but only if you stay grounded and responsible. Since there is also opportunity for misfortune, it's not the best time for making major business decisions. If you hold firm to your beliefs and do right by your customers and employees, legend predicts that you will possess the strength to move past any barriers you may encounter this year.

Skye Schooley

Skye Schooley is an Arizona native, based in New York City. After receiving a Business Communication degree from Arizona State University, she spent nearly three years living in four different states and backpacking throughout 16 different countries. During her travels, Skye began a blog at www.skyeschooley.com. She now resides in the arctic tundra that is the northeast coast, writing for Business.com