How to Win in Business in the Mysterious East

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Written By Athina Antarakis

I lived in HK for a year in 2000 and loved it. It was a delight to head back for business after so long away. The city is as vibrant and fun as ever.

I find people in Hong Kong – locals and expats alike – are always ready to meet with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s to discuss a business deal or simply catch up with old friends and colleagues. The city is small and easy to navigate (even if you’re geographically challenged like me). It’s packed full of chi-chi hotel lobbies, cafes, bars and restaurants just crying out for a casual meeting.

The trip this time around was to meet with a new charity client. I also wanted to touch base with former colleagues from the financial press (I once worked for FinanceAsia). And to investigate the pros and cons of setting up a Copy Collective satellite office there.

What I discovered was pretty positive – it’s easy to set up a business, the reporting needs (GST etc.) are far from onerous, taxes are low, as are barriers to entry.

You get the impression the government is keen to encourage commerce and I guess that’s no surprise given Hong Kong’s history as a trading hub.

3 lessons for business

1. Plan ahead

Be prepared for the other person to pay for everything, especially if they’ve chosen the venue. If you want to be the one picking up the tab, choose the venue and take charge of the ordering when you get there. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself indebted to your quarry when you might have wanted it the other way around!

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2. Dress comfortably.

Hong Kong weather is not dissimilar to Sydney, very hot and humid in summer and cool and wet in winter. Add to that steep hills and a great public transport system (which equals a bit of walking) and flats are mandatory. Having said that, taxis are cheap and plentiful (they only take cash) so there’s no need to work up a sweat on your way to an important business meeting. Uber has hit Hong Kong so that makes life even easier.

3. Stay central

I stayed in a great little hotel in Wan Chai, OZO Wesley, close to Wan Chai MTR, trams, walking distance from some of the best bars and restaurants in Hong Kong, and a short train or taxi ride away from the main business districts. It will make your life a lot easier to stay somewhere central on Hong Kong Island or just across the water in Kowloon, but as Hong Kong is compact you can pack a lot into a day.