What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Ram Buxani’s Legacy
Merlin Chacko
10X People

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Ram Buxani’s Legacy

Ram Buxani's rise from humble beginnings to becoming a business titan in Dubai carries valuable lessons for entrepreneurs.

In a tragic turn of events, legendary and veteran Indian businessman, Ram Buxani, passed away in Dubai. The news is circulating across all social media platforms and condolences are pouring in. As people reminisce on Ram Buxani’s legacy, I am reminded once again of the immense impact and influence that entrepreneurs can have on the lives of others and their community. 

Ram Buxani is a figure who needs no introduction. His influence in growing and diversifying ITL into a global conglomerate has inspired countless entrepreneurs. Having arrived in Dubai six decades ago as a young 18-year old with responsibilities, he went on to become the Chairman of ITL Cosmos Group. His career trajectory is the classic example of a rags-to-riches story.

His impact extended beyond business; Buxani played a pivotal role in not only expanding his business empire but also in nurturing and solidifying the Indian community in the UAE. In recognition of his efforts to support the Indian diaspora, he received the Shield of Honour from India’s President in 1983.

Key lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from Buxani’s journey 

Autobiographies resonate with entrepreneurs for a reason. There is a lot of value in imbibing lessons from the journeys of successful individuals. Despite their achievements, these leaders are often people like you and me, who started from humble beginnings and had their fair share of ups and downs. What sets them apart is their ability to make sound choices to navigate these challenges. 

From a businessman who built an empire and leaves behind a lasting legacy, here are some key takeaways that you can incorporate into your own life and business practices:

  • Courage is key

    Buxani left his home in India and arrived in Dubai in 1959 on a boat. With just five rupees in his pocket, he had a dream of making a life in a foreign city that was vastly different from the Dubai we see today. Despite having no assurance of a successful future in an unknown land, he decided to pursue his dreams with courage.

    Fear often holds us back - fear of “what ifs” & fear of uncertainty. What if things don’t go as planned? What if your story becomes one of failure instead of success? In the age of the internet, where all you see are success stories on your feed, this anxiety is tripled.

    It is impossible to not be afraid - after all, fear is a natural human instinct. But I encourage you to take risks and make decisions while being afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear, but taking action despite it, pushing beyond your comfort zone. And if you are a true entrepreneur at heart, you understand that failure doesn’t hurt as much as the regret of missed opportunities.

The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.
Mark Zuckerberg
  • Find the right opportunity and seize it

Three years into his job at ITL, Ram Buxani was offered a promotion. He could either have a salary raise or accept a comparatively lower raise with a profit share in the company. He chose the latter. In an interview with Gulf News, Ram admitted, “I was 21 and yearning to achieve a lot in life. An opportunity had fallen on my lap and I did not want to say no.”

One right opportunity was all that was needed to change his life. And there are only so many finite opportunities that life will offer you.

Sure, it is unwise, and impossible, to accept every single opportunity that comes your way. The genius lies in discerning which opportunities will help you reach your next immediate goal or, as in Buxani’s case, having the foresight to choose something that will serve you in the long-run.

  • Give back to your community

Perhaps more than his business acumen, Ram Buxani is known for his service to the community. Extremely philanthropic and social, he was a key figure in strengthening the Indian community in Dubai. Whether as the Founder Chairman of the Overseas Indians Economic Forum or as the Chairman of the Indian High School, his contributions made a significant impact.

Building a business is fundamentally a people-oriented task. Your business, employees, and you are always interacting with new people. It is through these connections and interactions that your business grows. Therefore, giving back to the community that supports you not only strengthens your venture but also creates a positive cycle of mutual benefit and growth.

Actions actually do speak louder than words. Your choices as a businessman can define your leadership, but your actions outside of business reveal who you are as a person. You are the face of your company, and people do business with you. Whether through your business or individual efforts, ensure you tap into the power of your community and grow together.

  • Change with change, or better, be the change

The world is evolving every day, and the MENA region is no exception. Development has become competitive, with countries striving to surpass each other and even their own achievements. New technologies are continually transforming all sectors.

In the Gulf News interview quoted above, Ram shares “From a business perspective, one should always accept challenges. It is never about being profit-oriented. Honesty is essential. Change is imperative. Embrace it and learn to survive after the change. If you change with the change, you succeed. If you cause the change – then you lead.”

As entrepreneurs, adapting to evolving times isn't just a choice anymore - it's a necessity that should be ingrained in your business strategy. Leading this change positions you to make a greater impact in your industry and beyond.

  • Money is important, but it should not be your only driving force

While money is crucial for sustaining your venture, paying employees, and expanding your business, it shouldn't be your sole driving force. What motivates you to wake up daily and relentlessly pursue your goals despite failures, rejections, and setbacks?

For Ram Buxani, his motivation stemmed from the ability to create a positive impact on those around him. Similarly, having a mission or purpose beyond financial gains drives you to pursue your goals daily. By steadfastly working toward your core mission, you will inevitably leave a lasting impact on those in your circle of influence.

Ultimately, the true meaning of legacy lies not only in what you build but in how you build it. Long after you're gone, what remains is the positive impact you've had on the people around you and the world at large.