Useful tips from a friend saved my business from going under

I have been feeling exhausted and mentally drained lately, like I’m running out of gas and haven’t been able to boost my energy no matter how many hours I sleep at night. It is not a condition triggered by winter blues or hormonal imbalance as a result of the lack of exposure to sunlight. To be honest, I know exactly the cause of my flagging energy level: my business is going downhill. I run a small manicure shop in a nearby area. Thinking that beauty care is a profitable business given the number of women who love getting pampered with a manicure once in a while, I naively believed that starting a manicure business on my own would be a piece of cake and money would come easy.

Of course I was wrong. I started off working on my own without getting any extra help, which means I could only attend to only one customer at a time and couldn’t take on more even if I wanted to. What’s more, since I was the only one working in the shop I was responsible for everything in the daily operation. Overwhelmed with my workload, I tried hiring manicurists to help me serve more clients and assist me with the daily routine. But I could only hire young manicurists considering my limited budget. I have tried a total of three manicurists who were proved to be unreliable and unhelpful and have either left or fired by me. After that I was back on my own and every day I multi-tasked as the manicurist, receptionist, accountant and procurement officer of my little business. I simply didn’t have enough time to take care of everything and was often late on schedule and customers were kept waiting. The number of customers dwindled as their patience worn out. I was at my wits’ end.

The silver lining came when I met up with a friend whom I haven’t been in touch for some time (I didn’t have time left for my social life!) and who has been running his own coffee shop for some years. He totally understood my situation and shared with me his experience and some useful tips about running a business. He said that my first priority is to solve the problem of manpower. He suggested that I look for interns who are taking manicure programmes and certificate beauty training courses. In this way, I can get help from someone who have some basic knowledge about the industry at a lower cost. Based on their performance and work attitude, I can offer them permanent positions after they have completed their courses.

Another useful tips he offered me was about marketing. He said that running a shop in a nearby area does not mean that I can rely on my reputation (which needs time to build) and words of mouth to promote my business. He suggested me to invest a small sum in marketing, such as hiring a HK SEO services provider to help craft a website that can attract potential customers to my shop. He said online marketing is a powerful tool to promote a business at an affordable budget, and it can achieve great results if it is properly executed.

I feel like seeing the light again now that I know what to do to save my business. Do you share the same experience? Or are you currently stuck in the rut like I was? Feel free to share your feelings or insight in the comments section.

For more information about how SEO can help you, please click here.

Why Systems Engineering is Important to Businesses

imagesWhen I still was a freshman in college, I had contemplated on doing a systems engineering degree before I discovered the wonders of political science. Till this day, being the nerd that I am, I still regret my decision of not opting for a double major. It still isn’t too late if I decide to go for a graduate degree in engineering management because of its ever increasing importance in businesses in today’s world. Let me break down the reasons for you in this article.

Systems engineering has become one of the most sought-after knowledge in the business world. The field spans across various complex disciplines including science, engineering and IT, making it one of the most complicated subjects in college education. Businesses are constantly trying to refine processes and optimize performance. Whether it is a huge global retailer or software provider, management systems are always needed in place to automate procedures in order to reduce human errors and deliver sophisticated analysis and prediction models. As we have entered the golden age of technology, every business decision has become as data-driven as ever. Businesses no longer rely on instincts or the media for directions; instead they readjust strategies based on the data they can see in front of a computer screen. A sophisticated system or algorithm allows you to quantify even the most abstract components that were difficult to measure once upon a time, such as content in advertising. With knowledge in the field of systems engineering, you get to design innovative algorithms to build interfaces that help optimize results, ultimately driving better performances and profit. The valuable data collected through these systems helps businesses derive important insights to make better and smarter decisions over time.

This is why businesses are willing to spend top dollar to hire talented individuals in this interdisciplinary field. The products and services you use the most in your day to day life are all based on some of the most sophisticated algorithms ever created in the world. Google, for example, employs the most intricate, complex algorithms to deliver the most relevant and useful information for users through online search. The search giant has become a billion dollar business with major revenues from online advertisements and other innovative products. In order to succeed in systems engineering, you not only need incredible analytical skills, but you must also have the ability to create, pushing boundaries one step at a time.

So if you ask me today, I’d say that I still think it was possibly the biggest mistake I have made in my life for giving up the unique learning opportunity in school. Perhaps I would be in a completely different field than I am today had I taken on an alternative path.


How to Spot the Perfect Spray Tanning Salon

suntanIf you are a tanning lover without much extra time to spend, spray tanning salon is just right up your alley. While most of us would wish to sit on the beach sipping on a margarita and getting suntanned, the truth is we just don’t have the time. If you are looking to get a beautiful, luscious glow for the summer, here are four tips on how to spot a perfect spray tanning salon.

First, check out reviews online. With the help of online review platforms like Yelp, you can see what the previous customers have said about the business and you can be the judge yourself. You can also check out all relevant information including pictures, opening hours and services on the page. Watch out for fake online reviews which typically just sound too good to be true. Many businesses hire online marketing agencies to produce such reviews to deceive customers and boost ratings, so be sure to keep an eye out. Comments from regular, credible users are always much more reliable.

Second, make sure the salons are using safe, high-quality products. Generally spray tanning is considered safe, but various skin types react to the chemicals differently. If you happen to have sensitive skin, chances are you could have serious allergic reaction. The best tanning salon employs a variety of products to cater to different types of customers. Before you make up your mind, be sure that you understand the nature of the products to ensure utmost personal safety. You don’t want to put your health on the line just for a tan.

Third, if you are still not sure, why not pay a visit to the salon? If you are spending thousands of dollars on a tan, you’d better get your money worth. It is therefore a good idea to check out the professionals and products firsthand before you decide. You can also learn more about spray tanning by talking to a professional to put your mind at ease. You can also check out the perfect glowing tan on the satisfied customers as they walk out of the tanning salon and see real results with your own eyes.

Lastly, if you are simply too busy to go visit a tanning salon, there are professionals who are willing to visit your home and perform the session. Such services will typically be more expensive and prices will vary depending on the locations but hey, sometimes you just don’t have time to spare. Ultimately you are going to benefit from the time saved.

Next time if you decide to swing by a spray tanning salon in Hong Kong, be sure to remember these tips and get yourself the perfect natural glow that you have always longed for.

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!