From Biz 101

Shop for Watch Straps

What is an ideal location to open a shop in Hong Kong? asked a friend of ours.

A textbook answer would be “Location, Location and Location”, but in our opinion it is “Affordability, Time, and Online”

Rental is painfully expensive in Hong Kong, and it is not as simple as whether you can afford the rent today, or not. Unlike other places, our standard rental duration is around 2 to 3 years, and rate is fixed for the first or second year, and the landlord has the liberty to raise the rent on the final year while the tenant could opt to vacate the premise without getting penalised. The percentage of a new rent normally goes up at least in double digits.

So why would you need a shop when you could online? And this is exactly the question we have been asking ourself lately.

We want to pull completely out of the shop retailing and to gather all our resources doing online only. We are creating different scenarios and their possible outcomes, weighing out the pros and the cons of each, and trying to figure out what the new logistic would be if we were to stop the physical retail shop. The idea is to turn the shop into a full time studio for videos and photos, that would be really fun for us.



Start ups : Don’t do it unless ….. !!

Once in a while friends would pick my brain about starting a new venture; their plans to raise the capital needed, the responsibility each would bear and the rest of the whats and what-nots. I would try my best to be encouraging and shared my resources where ever possible. The night usually would end with us raising glasses high up in the sky and ordered more beer for the road.

I’d like to view myself as an optimistic individual and consider problems are integrated part of our daily lives along with many other things worth cheering about, sometimes it is bitter and sometimes it is sweet, but a lot of the time it is both. However, after more than 6 years of operating a shop, my view has substantially shifted towards pessimism, and I think it’s because starting up a business is a tiring road and it gets to be extremely ridiculously lonely.

Forget about the extensive business plan, risk management, and whatever contingency plan with fancy names coming straight out of the text book, are you mentally prepared for a start up?

  1. Attitude over time. Do know having a like minded partner is as rare as having a good business plan. A good partner, however you may wish to define what good is, is limited to a time frame, that is, people change as time goes by and the mutual goal you once have is likely to be gone.
  2. Accusation. If you are the initiator of a business, all fingers will be pointed at you if you fail. But if by any chance you succeed, then we have many friends to thank for and many glasses shall be raised up high.

I don’t think starting a business can be taught in school or work, it is acquired one tiny step at a time for as long as you’re in the business. The sluggish progress de-motivates everyone, the frustration leads to distractions in order to escape the harsh reality and makes us shy away from the responsibility we have once agreed upon, it follows by accusations, then chaos which ultimately becomes the dissolving partnership.

So before you start a new venture with a partner or partners, ask yourself this: Can you do this all by yourself? If yes, then congratulations.  You’re half way there.


幾幅近照 Recent Pictures

…在香港,參與投資買賣或者做轉手貿易的都能在短時間內可以有不俗的回報,有這樣的機會成本,加上種種的營商趨勢,在香港要建立一個品牌很難,很難,很難(因為真的很難,所以要說 3 次),而且是一個針對專屬市場的品牌…
…For all we know, branding consists of two things, they are time and money, which fundamentally boils down to a singularity called the monetary investment. So are we making a sound investment? In all honesty…

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Oh the site is down again !

Truth is, the online shop you see today is our third generation. The previous version was being attacked by spammers, viruses and other malicious malware (a name we had recently acquired). Obviously we were spazzing out during the attack, our frantic calls to the given cell phone (or any phones) and emails were unanswered we were beginning to think the firm may actually be out of business !!! At long last, the very first reply we received from them was “we are not liable for the attack, and it will take about 2 weeks to fix the problem”.

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Marketing in the Era of Social Media Boom

We have today, the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Line, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Youtube and a million other apps to stay connected. Everyday we would come in to the office, turn on the computer, scan through each socially connected site to see what’s what. By the time we have finished “staying connected”, half a day would have gone by and half the emails are unanswered.

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Start up failures

Our business partner in Macau has decided to cease its operation. We had called the Macau Shop as our second shop so as to show our support to him, but in reality the shop was completely independent to Annie Barton.

So where did it go wrong? Anything to everything that could possibly go wrong, did in fact go wrong !!

The incident serves as a rude awakening for us and put us into a new perspective. In addition to the regular business planning and what nots, we have learned a few more new things

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Valuation of a firm !!

The question that mesmerizes us is, how do we valuate a company? by discounted Cash Flow? or use the PE ratio and multiplying it according to the industry norm ?? If done so, we would be paying the investor instead, and where is the logic in that? Goodwill valuation seems less damaging and its definition includes “pays more than the fair market value of the net assets” !! Getting more than a fair share is good, greed is very good, and we like the smell of the green !! We are beginning to sound like a desperate idiot 🙂

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Killer Inventory

We don’t like inventory !! It’s fair to assume all companies do not like inventory, and all SME retailers are horrid with inventory. Yet the lack of inventory would also result in a loss of sale ! Oh it’s wonderful to be a business operator, we get to play the balancing act everyday !! 🙂

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Online Shop

The internet is, in fact, a wild west ! And the defenders of our sanity are keeping us with wild guesses !! The reality for us, is therefore, the site is down !! And we don’t have a clue of what is going on !!

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Retailing the Panerai Straps

Vintage Military design: The last couple of years had be stagnant, there just wasn’t any significant change in style in the outlook of a strap ! From our observation, Vintage and military are two most popular descriptions for a Panerai strap ! Repeat business seems unlikely when your first strap has a No.74 on it, and the “new design” strap has the 73 but with everything identical ! We suspect the term “vintage” is outdated.

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The New Ecosystem

Looking at things on a smaller scale, our neighbourhood, the Kau U Fong of Central, has been booming and evolving into a new shopping district. Unlike the conventional malls, Kau U Fong focuses on promoting niche lifestyle, a rare breed of neighbourhood in Hong Kong.

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