What does the Year of the Rat hold in store for you and your small business or startup?
Chinese New Year began on January 25 and celebrations continue until the Lantern Festival on February 8. While in the Western new year we make resolutions, those who observe the lunar calendar look to Chinese astrology to see what the year ahead portends.
Now, while I don’t believe in astrology, Western or Asian, I still feel like I fit the bill for the Leo that I am in Western astrology. So why not have some fun and take some inspiration from a tradition that more than a billion people observe?
The lunar calendar is based on a 12-year cycle. Each year corresponds to one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, and it is believed that the characteristics of the animal associated with a year will be the defining characteristics of those born in that year and the year itself.
This year—which has just started—is the Year of the Rat. Rats! Yuck, right? Don’t be too quick to judge. Rat years are generally seen as positive years. People born in the Year of the Rat are those born in 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020.
The rat is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac and, as such, represents new beginnings. That means this year should be a good year for fresh starts. It’s a good year for startups, launching new projects or products, changing directions, moving on to a new chapter in your business or your life.
How did the rat get to be the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac? Because rats are seen as intelligent, clever, even sly. That goes back to the story that is told as to how the rat secured its primary place in the calendar. According to legend, the Jade Emperor held a race among animals to see the order in which the animals would appear in the calendar. The ox was ahead, but the rat cleverly convinced the ox to give him a ride on its back, jumping off and sprinting ahead to win the race.
So 2020 is a good year to use your intelligence and wit to sprint ahead of your competition. This doesn’t mean cheating, just being clever.
Rats are also seen as a sign of wealth. Rats are known for having large number of offspring, so this is associated with plenty. As a small business owner, that’s got to be a good omen. Hopefully, your efforts will be very fruitful this year.
Rats are also aligned with the idea of “hoarding.” Thus, it’s a good year for saving and being careful with your resources.
Rat years are generally seen to be good for creatives, so it can be a good year for those businesspeople who are involved with creative pursuits such as graphic artists, writers, editors, musicians. But it also means that it might be a good year to take a more creative approach to some aspects of any business. Hey, how about a more creative Instagram feed?
For some reason, those born in the Year of the Rat are supposed to be good at paying attention to detail. Engineers, accountants, designers, and the like—take note. This year’s for you.
Other characteristics associated with the rat include:
** Being adaptable and resourceful. Aren’t all small-business people resourceful?
** Being optimistic. I think this is a characteristic of just about every entrepreneur I’ve ever met—at least when they start their businesses. Keep up your belief in yourself and your vision this year.
** Being energetic. Expect to have to be especially hardworking this year.
** Having high spirits. Make sure you create a positive, happy atmosphere in your business and with your team. Perhaps some team building activities this year?
** Being impolite. If that’s you, try to watch what and how you say it this year.
And here’s a fun thing to keep in mind this year: rats can eat anything. It’s a good year for trying new foods. So “Gung Hay Fat Choy”—the traditional greeting for the Chinese New Year. I hope the year of the rat is fruitful, creative, and energetic for you and your small business.
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2020
This article originally ran in USA Today on January 29, 2020