Published 27 June 2016 Category: Worklife

Top 6 Inspirational Business Books – as recommended by Hong Kong Entrepreneurs

We all love curling up with a good book – all the more so if it’s one that can motivate, encourage and educate you in your business life too! We asked six of Hong Kong’s most exciting entrepreneurs for the books that most influenced and inspired their businesses, from cost models to communication:
 
Janice Leung-Hayes, founder of Honestly Green
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss really changed my perception of what a "job" was and what "success" meant. Back then, as a recent graduate, I thought a successful career meant climbing the corporate ladder, but Ferriss' book – written way before the emergence of the sharing economy of Airbnb, Kickstarter and Uber – told me that the Internet meant the world had changed forever. It gave me the confidence to reach out to the world via resources like a blogging platform and a Twitter account, and to take my ideas to a much wider audience – to start something like Tong Chong Street Market, for example, in collaboration with a multinational like Swire.
 
Honestly Green is a social enterprise start-up that brings sustainable food to Hong Kongers and co-organises the Tong Chong Street Market. Janice is also a freelance writer who blogs at www.e-tingfood.com. www.honestlygreen.hk
 
Nickey Khemchandani, co-founder and CTO of BSD Academy
The primary advice I took from Business Model Generation: A Handbook For Visionaries, Game Changers And Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur –  advice that I still use on a daily basis – is on cost structure (which you can see for yourselves on page 41 here). This directly affected our pricing model at BSD Academy when I successfully scaled the business to five times its size around three years ago. It convinced me to go with a lower price point, scaling with volume instead of going with a premium product that no one could afford – hence us deciding to offer an affordable group course priced at HK$8,000 in all our most popular categories, from “Making a Business Website” to “Digital Marketing for Businesses”. 
 
BSD Academy offers courses in coding, digital marketing and much more, with locations in Hong Kong, Bangkok and USA. hk.bsdacademy.com
 
Belinda Koo, founder of XYZ
Don’t be put off by the title of How To Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – there is plenty of practical advice inside that can foster better understanding and communication towards employees. In general, employees want to take on more responsibility without being micromanaged, yet they may seek constant feedback and recognition for their work. This book explains the risks of giving too much praise to a teenager – and the same might be true for employees. It’s crucial to find a balance between encouraging your team and rewarding their hard work without inadvertently promoting a sense of entitlement. This book helped me understand how to create the kind of climate in the workplace where employees feel free to express their ideas, and how to train managers that listen to them non-judgementally and help them make responsible decisions.  
 
XYZ is Hong Kong’s leading indoor cycling studio with locations in Central and Causeway Bay. www.youarexyz.com
 
Angela Wong, founder of Little Things In Life HK
The business book that has probably influenced me the most is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi – it didn’t “teach” me anything earth-shattering but did help me un-learn some of the bad habits and beliefs I had picked up in life! Firstly, although the work-life balance is a great concept, it’s unrealistic if you have your own company. You can't separate work and private friends; some of my closest friends are other business owners, whilst my nearest and dearest have introduced me to my best customers… Compartmentalising doesn't work for me! Similarly, it’s important to be helpful to others and share ideas rather than following the “dog-eat-dog” mentality of keeping your ideas to yourself in case someone steals them. When you first meet someone, think about how you can help them – people will remember and return the favour. The great thing is that there are so many people like that in Hong Kong, but I only noticed it once I stopped working in my little banking bubble!
 
Little Things In Life HK is an e-commerce start-up providing organic cosmetics for sensitive skin. www.ltilhk.com
 
Kiri Sinclair, founder and managing director of Sinclair Communications
Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur was an inspiration when I was starting up my business. I wanted to do things differently and this book gave me a way to think in a new way; it sparked my imagination. Using the tools within helped me to form new ideas and gave me a way to understand and document my own thinking process – I still use many of the ideas today! Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats was also a fantastic reference on how people think. Understanding how and why people think the way they do is an essential skill in running a professional service business. It helps me manage both my colleagues and my clients.
 
Sinclair Communications is an integrated public relations agency that develops and implements PR and marketing strategy for the most exciting lifestyle, travel and art brands in Asia. www.sinclairasia.com
 
Malcolm Wood, co-founder and managing director of Maximal Concepts
As an entrepreneur in the food industry, Danny Meyer’s Setting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality has been one of my biggest influences in developing Maximal Concepts. It’s a well-written book that’s useful for any entrepreneurs who need extra advice regarding the evolution of their creative business – not just those in F&B! Reading Meyer’s journey of developing restaurants was significant for my work as he outlines the fundamentals of customer service, how to sustain businesses regardless of any circumstances (the aftermath of 9/11 being a prime example), and discusses life as a successful businessman in general.
 
Maximal Concepts is the company behind some of Hong Kong’s best-loved restaurants, including Brickhouse, Mercedes Me and Mott 32; the latter is set to open branches in Vancouver, Dubai and Bangkok. www.maximalconcepts.com