How to Learn Business English

unnamedHaving trouble communicating with your boss and overseas clients? Are you looking for ways to perfect your business English? Here are four tips that can help improve your learning curve.

First, don’t be afraid to speak it. We have all been there – we know it’s difficult when you feel that a room full of people judging and staring at you. But to perfect your English, you need to be confident enough to speak it and allow sufficient practice. No matter how adequate your written English is, there will be days where you stand in front of your boss and clients delivering a presentation in English. If you want to step up your game, you definitely need to nail the language in every single aspect.

Second, watch English movies. Believe it or not, this has worked out perfectly for me. What I used to do is watching TV drama or movies with bilingual subtitles with a notepad and pen ready. Whenever I came across a word or phrase that I don’t understand, I’d jot it down immediately. By the end the movie or drama ends, I would have about ten new vocabulary and I would try to memorize them. For me this has worked out so much better than just reading a book – it can get boring very fast. Plus, movies demonstrate real-life situations and you can really see how people interact in colloquial English, which is something you may not come across in books.

Third, take a quick five-minute quiz online each day. You will be surprised by the amount of available tools floating around on the internet. You can always take advantage of those and sharpen both oral and written English. Of course, that being said, it is advised you use legitimate, authoritative sources such as BBC and British Council. Even alone on YouTube, you can find thousands of relevant practice for beginners and advanced learners. Try to take advantage of free resources as much as you can.

Lastly, if you need that extra push, sign up for a professional English class! Practical English learning courses in Hong Kong are available almost everywhere. The upside of signing up for a class as opposed to learning everything by yourself is that you always have an instructor available to answer any questions along the journey. Courses are much more comprehensive as well, covering from business emails, speaking on the phone to press releases and presentations. Many of the instructors in Hong Kong also happen to be foreigners which means you will have opportunities to interact with native English speakers. The cost of an English language speaking course in Hong Kong usually ranges from HK$200-500, which I believe is worth it.

The most important thing to remember is don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. If you better yourself, hard work and perseverance are always required. Good luck!

Should You Choose PPC or SEO?

seo-ppc-scaleThe ultimate question for many search marketers. As a digital strategist, I have some insights to offer regarding the question. Let me break down the debate here for you.

For those who are not too familiar with the world of search marketing, let me just give you a brief background of the two strategies. PPC stands for pay-per-click; search engines such as Google and Yahoo charge you by each click. The price of each click can vary, depending on how competitive your industry is. The higher you bid, the higher your text ad will be placed in a top position, outranking organic search results. On the other hand, SEO stands for search engine optimization and unlike PPC, it aims to boost your organic search results. It costs nothing to do optimization work and ranking factors depend heavily on the website’s content, quality of links and authority.

Before you decide which strategy to go with, ask yourself first – what is my goal for my online marketing plan? Do I want quick traffic and conversions? Do I want a long-term strategy that will ultimately improve the usability and content for my website? If you believe you already have a developed website in place and are certain that using paid search can drive conversions with the existing content and layout, then go with PPC by all means. It gets you the traffic that you need in a short amount of time. Results are extremely measurable and you can control your budget with great flexibility. But one down side to this is that since paid search is still ads, it undermines the legitimacy and trust for some visitors, affecting the conversion rate. SEO, on the other hand, is more of a long-term strategy. It enables search engine robots to crawl your website and its content more effectively for better rankings. As the game of SEO has changed tremendously over the years, search engines now pay much higher attention to the site’s layout, content and usability when it comes to rankings.

A comprehensive search marketing strategy should include both in my opinion. While you are working on your SEO, you could use PPC simultaneously to drive immediate traffic. PPC allows you to look at which keywords are likely to convert and you can specifically target those key terms for your SEO long-term strategy, instead of testing them out over a long period of time. It saves you time and cost to do the optimization work ultimately. Since SEO involves much more technical groundwork, you may consider hiring a SEO company to help you out. Local SEO services including rewriting and optimizing your website content in localized fashion and technical tweaks. Next time you need to make a decision between the two, revisit this post again and I hope this has offered some insights to your online marketing planning.

How Can Mini Storage Companies Enhance Sales Online

web buildingMost mini storage in Hong Kong rely on the internet to promote their services. In such a competitive landscape, companies need to come up with creative ways to promote services and target their audience better. First your customers need to be able to find you; second you need to convert their visits into actual sales. After you have achieved the first step, how do you continue to momentum and achieve the second? Let me break down the steps here for you.

First, your website needs to have a legitimate, decent design. It doesn’t have to be a magnificent masterpiece designed by a top-notch designer, but it has to be presentable to say the least. Each page should have a consistent layout and there should not be any broken links. Who is going to trust a website that does not have a proper sitemap or graphics that showcase the business? A nice-looking website always wins customers over – remember, our attention span online is extremely short. For a business like mini storage, most of your competitors are very likely to operate just the same way as you do, with the only differences being their locations, prices and first impressions. Your website makes a very significant first impression to most of your customers. First impression is key because it is the time where you demonstrate professionalism and service quality. Your website needs to be able to capture their attention in matters of time in order to score their trust and money.

Secondly, a good website should have engaging content. It should have information about its business background, pricing and contacts. If your website fails to incorporate these three elements, its bounce rate is doomed to be high. Again, remember, we lose attention fast online. What you can do the least is prevent users from reading boring, dreadful text. If I am looking to make an inquiry, I just need simple, straight-to-the-point information. Also remember that pictures speak louder than words. Show me pictures of your storage and how clean and professional they look so I can be convinced to use your service. Keep your text short and sweet.

Lastly, make sure your website loads fast and is easy to navigate. Nobody likes to linger around a website that has an extraordinarily slow loading time. Users also need to be able to find information easily on your site. You need to ensure that each page has a relevant information and navigation buttons. A menu should always be on top and the bottom to allow users to jump from page to page anytime.

All of the above ultimate contribute to the overall experience of your website. If you do all of them right, you might just win the next deal in no time.

How to Select the Right Business Registration Service Provider

business-registrationSetting up a new business can be a pain in the neck. With all these documents and information you need to process, it can really drive one crazy. Fortunately, many accounting firms in Hong Kong provide company registry services that help lift your burden – they provide one-stop services including company secretary and trademark registration. But with the surge of such businesses, how can you make sure you are choosing your service provider wisely? Below are three tips that may be helpful.

First, experience always wins. There is a reason why it always adds confidence to the selection process. Experienced companies have been around for so long and have handled more cases than you and I can imagine. No matter how difficult your situation may be, they have got adequate experience under their belt to help you. If you want to ensure that you are getting everything right with just one trial, choose a company that knows what it is doing.

Second, adaptation is key. With all these new laws and rules that are changing the entrepreneurial landscape in Hong Kong, a good company is always up-to-date with the latest market trends and news. If you are relying on your company for taxation and audit services as well, you need to find out if they have the capacity to handle an ever-changing business environment. One way to know this is perhaps ask them relevant questions about the current market or how new regulations will affect your business. Knowing the credentials or education background of the company staff is also another great way to find out. This is an important step to protect yourself and ensure that you will receive quality service.

Third, presentation is essential. Although they are just handling your business registration and taxation, it does not mean that they can be sloppy in presentation. The way staff dress and carry themselves and communicate with clients on the first encounter is a key factor in evaluating their customer service. Notice if your consultant is dressed appropriately, asking the right questions and listening to your needs attentively. If his or her shirt is not tucked in and is chewing gum in the middle of the meeting, that is a sign of a lack of professionalism. It can really be a deal-breaker because how do you expect someone like this to treat your business seriously? It is therefore essential that you pay attention to these seemingly trivial yet important details – you may just save yourself from a bad deal.

If you want to succeed in being an entrepreneur, do not neglect the importance of registration and accounting services. In fact, it is the very first step that helps determine your initial success. Good luck!

Why Mini Storage Exploded

img99Anywhere you go in Hong Kong, a mini storage is bound to catch your eye. The rise of such business in Hong Kong is really no surprise to most people. Let me break down the reasons why its demand and supply have increased over the past decade.

First one is a no-brainer – Hong Kong is a small city with very limited space. On top of that, housing is extremely expensive and becoming increasingly unaffordable for many. Most ordinary families of four live in an apartment of 700 to 1000 square feet, which does not leave a lot of extra room for miscellaneous items and clothes. And since people in the city share a very deep love for shopping, each year we are buying more than we can consume. That is why demands for storage space have become so imminent over the past decade.

Secondly, the storage environment is excellent for certain valuable items such as red wine and clothes. Many storage have set an optimal temperature for items as such to keep them in perfect condition. In a city like Hong Kong where it is almost humid for half of the year, you need to make an extra effort to prevent your expensive items from turning bad. A storage space can easily solve this problem – it runs 24 hours every day and everything is kept safe at all times with full-on security.

Thirdly, storage is literally everywhere and extremely accessible these days. It used to be limited in industrial areas in the New Territories. But now, since demands have increased, businesses are expanding their storage locations to virtually everywhere in the city. You no longer need to travel long hours to store and retrieve your items when you can just find one around the corner of where you live. If you are having a home or office relocation, it will definitely come in handy.

Finally, from the perspective of a storage business owner, the entry of barrier and maintenance fees are rather low compared to other service industries such as food and beverage. Let’s set the scene here. You can basically rent a floor easily in any industrial buildings and turn it into a storage with surveillance systems and air-conditioning. Maintenance fees are rather low – all you need is a cleaning lady to sweep the floor from time to time and make sure everything is working fine, maybe 2 extra security guards to keep the storage safe at all times. It is a business that requires rather minimal maintenance and allows you to generate a ludicrous amount of revenue.

To conclude, mini storage has become so convenient and affordable that it has risen to be one of the hottest industries in recent years. As the need for space continues to rise, demands are expected to increase in the near future.

3 Reasons Why Old-Fashioned Way of Shopping is Better

window-shoppingIf there is one thing my online scam experience has taught me, it is that the internet is full of crooks and your bank is basically useless in helping you get your money back. So here are three reasons why I still prefer old-fashioned way of shopping than online.

First, you need to get your hands on the products that you want! It may sound like a no-brainer, but most people do not understand the importance of the golden rule. Some products are just never meant for online shopping, such as lingerie and jewellery. Let’s say you are looking for some gold jewellery for sale, the online description can only tell you so much about a product – its material and size with a standard, corny two-line description. How would you know for sure if those 24k gold earrings look good with your skin tone, hair color and outfit? And how would you know if the sellers are telling the truth about its material and quality unless you can see and feel them in person? If you are spending over a hundred dollars on a pair of earrings and want to make every penny of yours count, go to the store and find out for yourself first before you make a purchase.

Secondly, pictures are deceiving! You think you would know better by now with all these beautiful filtered Instagram pictures floating around on Facebook and other social media platforms. Pictures do not paint a thousand words anymore; instead they paint a thousand lies. If you saw your friend at dinner last night and could barely recognize her from those high-angle selfies with 5 filters on Instagram, what makes you think that you have the skills to see right through these beautified pictures? With a simple function on Photoshop or heck, even Instagram, anyone can make their products look as amazing as ever. Oh how I love technology.

Finally, it is just so easy make a trip to the store. I understand sometimes you are lazy and would rather just veg out on the couch and eat Ben and Jerry’s while checking out cute clothes online, but isn’t it ten times more fun when you can go to the store and try whatever you want in front of a mirror and take a thousand selfies in the fitting rooms with your friends? I promise there is Ben and Jerry’s in most malls too.

Don’t’ get me wrong. I don’t hate shopping on the internet; in fact, I was just looking to buy handmade earrings online the other day because they are so hard to find anywhere else. But unless the products are very rare and there are crazy discounts and free shipping, I honestly would not even bother browsing online due to the above reasons. I have to wait five days to receive my flats where I can just head to H&M and get a pair for 10 dollars right away? Nobody has time for that!

How to Choose the Right Pest Control Company

pest-control-2-300x300Choosing a pest control company might seem like a no-brainer to most people. You go to Google, type pest control, and go for the one on top of the search results without any further investigation. However, finding a good one is harder than it looks. If you want to nail the right company, below are a few tips that may be helpful.

Firstly, check if the companies are licensed or certified. These days it is not hard to find websites promoting and selling all kinds of services or products without legitimate business practices. So before you decide to hire help to carry out termite control or bed bug control, it’s important that you do enough background checks on the history and certification of companies. If the information cannot be found online, contact the companies via email or phone to find out more just to play safe.

Secondly, ask relevant questions. This is important because pest control is serious matter that needs to be handled with extreme caution and care. You want to find a company that has a wealth of experience in the past and uses the most top-notch, effective chemicals. You may also want to be a hundred percent informed on the contracts because most pest control companies that offer maintenance or prevention work nowadays will not charge customers should the pest make a return. If you want to be a smart customer and pay the least that you can, go through all the contract terms carefully.

Finally, word of mouth always makes the best recommendation. It is far more effective than any media coverage or marketing strategies. Ask around friends and families whether they have used services from pest companies and were satisfied before to get good recommendations. That way you can also save yourself a ton of trouble and time looking around online.

Most importantly, make sure that they leave you with a good first impression. Most companies will visit your premises to conduct a first round of free inspection before going to services. After that, they will provide you with a free, tailored report that details the causes and solutions to the pest problem. From there you can get a fairly rough idea of what kind of a company you are dealing with – Do they appear and speak professionally? Do they react to your concerns or questions promptly and efficiently? Do they conduct their inspection thoroughly and ask relevant information? All these will help you determine whether it is a professional company that deserves your trust and money.

If you are having trouble finding the right service provider, look to the tips above and it might just help you score the perfect company with the best pest control practices and reputation. Remember, pest control is serious, so do not be lazy with your research!

Why Speed Dating Has Become so Popular in Hong Kong

speed-datingSpeed dating in Hong Kong is becoming increasingly common, which is not a surprise to most people because for many, relationships are not as easy as they used to be. There are a few key factors that contribute to the phenomenon from both the male and female perspective.

First of all, the imbalanced sex ratio has created a difficult environment for females in Hong Kong, who are outnumbering the opposite sex by almost 10%. The ratio discrepancy has contributed to an intensifying competition among women who are looking to secure a partner in the city.

In addition, the economic independence that most women enjoy these days contributes to higher standards for their counterparts. As women are becoming socially and economically independent, priorities have changed drastically where most of them prefer focusing on career goals in their 20s instead of being a stay-home mom and raising children. As they step into their 30s, however, many begin to realize that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a partner when most of their male counterparts are getting married and having children. And in a city like Hong Kong where Chinese traditions and values are so deep-seated, most men are still expected to be the main breadwinner of family, despite the equal or even higher financial ability their female counterparts have. As a result of high living standards and increasing economic independence, women are finding it more and more difficult to find the right companion who can provide for them.

Speaking from the male perspective, many believe that women in Hong Kong are overly materialistic and overbearing. Such negative portrayal of Hong Kong women in the media and social platforms has become a widespread perception among both sexes nowadays, especially among men. This has led to a number of negative consequences, one of them being that a rising number of men in Hong Kong now prefer dating and marrying women from Mainland China. A widely perceived image of Mainland Chinese women is that they are more understanding and gentle compared to women in Hong Kong. As a result, more and more men are moving to neighboring areas in China such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou to begin searching for the love of their lives. A number of them are even relocating to reside in China as a result of high living standards in Hong Kong.

All of the above reasons are key reasons why speed dating is flourishing so quickly. Services such as singles events and table for six in Hong Kong are particularly popular. As living standards skyrocket, relationships have also become more difficult for many, especially for women. Marriage is no longer just about making a commitment between two people loving each other; rather, it involves a series of realistic financial decisions. The dilemma is unlikely to be resolved if the current living conditions and values continue to prevail.

How to Choose the Right Music Center

dsc_0323If there is one thing Hong Kong is famous for next to its magnificent, transcendent skyline, it is the abundance of music centers. They is no way they can escape from the corner of your eye in this city because there must be one near you no matter where you go. To those of you who are looking to enroll in a DJ or guitar course in Hong Kong, below are a few tips that might help you choose the right music center and become the next musical genius.

First of all, diverse offerings are important. Pick a center with a great variety of musical instrument and theory courses available because you never know when you want to change your mind. One day you may want to sing and play the guitar like John Mayer, the next day you may wake up in the morning and decide to work on your mojo and try to look sexy with a saxophone. It’s therefore vital to keep your options open.

Second, experienced instructors are key. You don’t want to be learning music from some part-time lady instructor who is rushing home to look after her kid and is always too busy to answer any of your questions the moment the session is over. You want the most passionate, professional artists to show you the magic of music and take care of all your questions and concerns wholeheartedly. Some professional music centers offer the most top-notch, prestigious artists who have been in the music industry for decades as your instructor. Of course, with that being said, it will cost a little bit more extra money, but when you become the next Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake, I can guarantee it’s all going to pay back.

Third and probably the most important, it is extremely essential that you go through the course description carefully. The last thing you want is to enroll in a class without a detailed outline of progress. For example, a foreign friend of mine decided to learn the flute in Hong Kong and has been taking the course for about a year now. But he hasn’t really learned anything in-depth about music theory until about a month ago, which was quite absurd to me and it seems like the syllabus of the course he is enrolled in is quite unorganized. Even though he can play the flute quite well now, he cannot even grasp many simple basics of music theory. A good music center offers you a clear outline of every course, and it becomes particularly helpful when you want to track your performance from time to time.

If you have decided to pick up a musical instrument, don’t wait and follow the tips above and choose the perfect center now. Life is too short to procrastinate!