6 tips from successful Hong Kong female entrepreneurs on how to start a business

Whether you're venturing into a fashion startup or fintech, travel or cryptocurrency -- starting a business begins the same way: with an idea. 

But how do you take it from concept to execution? Writers Minuca Elena and Winnie Tsoi of WL Media HK quizzed 31 female entrepreneurs in Hong Kong about how they built profitable businesses in a competitive city like Hong Kong. 

Roughly 26% of entrepreneurs polled said that passion and networking were key ingredients, as well as persistence, confidence, and an eye for international expansion.

Drawing from personal experience, six female entrepreneurs shared their best advice for budding entrepreneurs. You'll find six tips here -- and the full list at WL Media


1. Follow Your Passion

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"For me, to be successful in what you do starts with having a passion for what you’re doing. This is particularly important for the business you’re starting because it’s going to be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs from the beginning, and nothing will drive you and keep you motivated but the passion for your job.

Keep your goals, short and long term, within your vision and reach, do all you can to achieve these goals.

Persistence is key. Believe in yourself. Find a good team and spend time with them. Balance overhead and efficiency, keep overhead as low as possible while maintaining optimum efficiency. Network often to seek out opportunities and possibilities.

On top of all this, leave downtime for yourself to sleep, unwind, relax, work out, spend time with family and friends. Last, of all, don’t forget to have fun!"

Vivien Liu
Director, Studio UNIT


2. Network like a Boss


I mentor and advise many women who want to be their own boss.

The first thing you need to succeed is a belief in yourself and a belief in your dreams. Don’t let fear stand in your way.

It is your biggest enemy.

Examine your strengths and weaknesses and be realistic about both. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit that you don’t know something.

Build a strong support network around you, both professionally and personally. This includes strong friendships and ties with family members. Call on your individual team members’ strengths to help you through difficult times and decisions. Work with them as a collective. If you are weak in an area look to your support network for answers.

One of my favorite quotes is “My friends have made the story of my life.” (Helen Keller). Your friends and family make you stronger and able to with stand the lows along to path to success. Don’t take the path alone.

Lesley Lewis
Director, Culture3Counsel


3. Ask Questions


"Don’t get paralyzed by not knowing it all.

Part of building a successful business is surrounding yourself with people who can do things better than you.

This may be in the form of hiring people who are skilled in areas you aren’t or if you aren’t at the point where you can hire, then seek out people in your network and ask questions rather than feeling that you should already know the answers. It is okay to not have all the answers.

But if you don’t know the answers you need to be resourceful enough to know where to find them quickly so you aren’t spending time away from your business feeling paralyzed by not knowing. I have found that one of the key drivers in building a great business is to always ask the questions and know who to be asking them to whether it is internally or externally."

Maura Thompson
Co-founder, Sassy Media Group


4. Budget Wisely

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"My best advice is to budget wisely.

I see so many new businesses where the company has to close after a year because all the funds have already dried up.

Luckily, today, we have co-working spaces, numerous freelancers you can source out work to, as well as social media to replace expensive marketing campaigns. Keep cost down and use all these wonderful tools available to you.

My other tip is to remain flexible and adapt quickly to changes in the market. Yes, you do have to stay true to your vision, but you also have to be able to change your approach if you see that things aren’t working. There’s no point in holding on to an outdated idea if the consumer’s needs have completely changed. There’s only one thing constant in life, and that is change. So be quick and reinvent with it."

Vivienne Tang
Founder and Editor in chief, Destination Deluxe



5. Believe in Yourself

"It starts with a dream, a passion, and a vision. Yet lies beyond these three, is the self-commitment and courage of not easily give up what you are about to achieve.

Dream and passion lead to visualization.

Put your visuals into action, and start talking. Tell your friends, people you know, your world, everyone, what your vision is, gather their advice and opinions for improvements.

Action in Visualization leads to Opportunities. Don’t just seek for it, create your own when the time has come. A successful woman needs to be more than just a taker.

The concept of making a profit from your dream though sounds and does look beautiful, you’ll need to be ready for the downfall. Building a start up can be way difficult and tough than you would have imagined.

Unless you have a strong mentality, else there will be moments of self-doubt, feeling lost and uncertain.

This is when you need to have a break, drink some wine, talk to your friends, ask advice from people around you and even better, experts of the field. You will be surprised on the affection of these little conversations, how they suddenly click and inspired you in keeping you motivated.

Keep talking, keep believing, keep moving on. Open for options and opinions. Never give up, and your day, your moment will come."

Visala Wong
Photographer and Designer, v-for-visala.com


6. Look Toward the Future


"Hong Kong is the place to START, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the place that you have to stay. The city has some very influential people, that you have the luxury of meeting and networking with fairly quickly with the amount of events and meetings going on.

However, don’t continue to run in the same circles.

Expand in different areas, regions, and countries -- the world is your oyster, not just Hong Kong.

Keep good relationships with the people you meet and keep meeting even more.

Profit comes where passion starts if you don’t have an intense passion for your business, it will be tough to succeed in the saturated start-up market within the city. Stop now if you don’t have that burning passion, and pursue the one thing that you truly do have it for."

Sarah Richard
Blogger, Girls that Scuba


Need more inspiration? Find the full list of 31 tips at WL Media HK.