Even though I still haven’t been lucky enough to visit Hong Kong, I expect to do it sooner than later. Why Hong Kong? There are a few reasons. First of all, Asia market has always got my attention, I think it still has enormous potential. With the middle class growing more and more and the upper class getting used to high economic status, new opportunities arise despite the global crisis. Also, Hong Kong is a convenient backdoor to Mainland China, making cultural shock effect bit easier to handle. Being able to use English instead of Chinese (Either Cantonese or Mandarin) is also an advantage, though if you want to have a long stay there is obviously advisable to learn at least Mandarin.
Their unique mix between west and oriental culture can only be compared with Singapore’s one to some extent. And I love that. Big important international companies coexist with smallest local businesses and understanding their differences it’s fundamental to survive in that kind of environment. It’s really challenging, but because of that is rewarding at the same time. We always hear about stories of Chinese origin people going to study abroad on the west and when they go back to their homeland they know how to make the right decisions and so being able to be incredibly successful (one example would be Robin Li, founder of number one search engine in Mainland China – Baidu). This can’t be a coincidence, so I truly believe having both points of view is really useful, both in professional and on personal life. One important thing that we should understand is that despite they have a bit more western mentality than the rest of Asia, they still have a really deep sense of certain Chinese/Confucian moral values.
Because of all of this I felt it was essential for me to approach their culture, as culture differences can be (and they usually are) the main reason why even well-known brands or managers on the west fail when they try to expand to Asia. I try to do this in the most humble way I can and taking advantage of my open-minded nature. But still, I know I won’t be able to fully grasp their culture until I see it with my own eyes. Seeing is believing!
Of course there are also disadvantages. Pollution, very expensive rents and general cost of living, really hot and humid weather… Also, even if I said that English can be used, it still doesn’t mean that if you want a professional career is enough with that. Finance, property and law are the three main sectors where English-speakers are found. Is of course not impossible to access other sectors, but is not as easy as in those.
In conclusion, Hong Kong is a great place for business that can be used as a trial before getting into Mainland China and offer lots of opportunities. This has been smartly applied by the music streaming service Spotify, which recently expanded into Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. If things go right, we won’t be surprised to see them trying to win over other Asian countries, but for that they will need to incorporate a lot more Asian music into their service.
In future posts I will analyze bit more in-depth how business world works in there and things to take into consideration. Feel free to post any ideas or more explanatory observations in the comments section below!