Luck is one thing, but you need certain qualities to start and grow a successful business. You also benefit from the advice of a mentor; a person with a wealth of real-life experience and industry knowledge.
Hong Kong’s superior reputation in international business means many successful people are on hand to guide, nurture and invest in entrepreneurs.
We asked four Hong Kong business experts to offer their advice for entrepreneurs and business owners. Here’s what they told us.
Discipline and determination
Triathlete and private banker, Adam Wong, knows that starting up a business requires a level of mental and physical stamina. Similar to the gruelling races he runs. “Nothing is ever easy,” Adam says. “It’s not always going to be a straight, flat road.”
Commitment and talent
Wong dedicates time to helping young people succeed in the city. “We need them,” he tells us. “Hong Kong students are often taught to work for big corporations. It was the same for me. But people in Hong Kong are committed, talented and have great ideas. They just need a push.”
One step at a time
“Beginning a startup is a thousand times more challenging than working for a firm,” says Wong. “Break everything down into small steps. Start with something easy, then increase either the intensity or the difficulty. That’s how I train for my triathlons.”
Push your limits
When you start your business, it’s easy to worry about things going wrong. Wong’s advice is to push your limits. “There are no boundaries. The boundaries aren’t there. They exist in our heads.”
Shea Stanley, mumpreneur founder of family website Little Steps, agrees. In an interview for the newsDesk, Shea says “Hong Kong has many people who encourage you to do business and be an entrepreneur if you express an interest and ask for help.”
Shea tells us, “I’ve had some mentors who have wowed me. They led me along the way and introduced me to others. They helped me get into areas I need to be in.”
Build a team who believe in what you’re doing
Building the right team is one of the main tasks for a growing business. Shea reflects on her own experience since starting her company in 2011. “I’ve got a fantastic team. In the past, I’ve had a few hires that didn’t work out.”
Her advice? “Make sure that you know what you’re looking for, to complement the culture that you’re trying to build. Have people that can share that passion.”
Read more: Women in business: A conversation with Shea Stanley
Take a risk and be a hunter
Michael Ma is an investor and advisor at theDesk. He looks for the essential qualities that entrepreneurs need. “When you get to my age and have been in business for more than 30 years, you like to pass on your experience,” he says.
Ma says it’s no longer about his development. “It’s about sharing my skills and my knowledge with other people,” he says. For Ma, it’s not about teaching people. “It’s about encouraging them to have no fear.”
“For me, I look at people and ask ‘do they have the necessary quality to play this game?’ In sales, you’d call this type ‘the hunter’.”
“Some people want to play it safe. But I advise them to continue with their office job. But ‘hunters’ who take risks are the ones who have the qualities to begin running their own business.”
Read more: Meet the Business Advisor, Michael Ma
Henry Chan is a partner at TCC Consulting and an advisor at theDesk. Chan recognises the value of mentoring and coaching for startups and small businesses. “Young people who are starting up or working in business in Hong Kong are the future of this city,” he says.
“I gained much experience over my career. For me, it’s important to help younger people when they have good ideas and work hard.”
Henry Chan helps members at theDesk with advice on sales, management and computer software. “I’ve succeeded, and I’ve failed,” Chan admits. That experience is golden and needs sharing with the new generation.
Chan notes how Hong Kong people are quickly adopting a startup mindset “The atmosphere in Hong Kong has changed over the past few years, with more people willing to launch startups than working at large companies.”
Read more: Meet the Sales Advisor: Henry Chan