Howard is regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong and oversees a number of disciplines including sales, marketing, digital, procurement & supply chain, retail & sourcing, finance, and HR.
Want to be an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry? You’ll need to combine theory, knowledge and experience
I am looking to open my own hospitality business in the near future, and wonder how I can begin to educate myself in the ways of general economics and entrepreneurship. I am a humanities graduate with work experience, but none in hospitality, nor as an entrepreneur. My question is: would you recommend looking at business courses, or should I attempt to learn by applying for an entry-level position at a related company? What should someone with my background do to become more prepared for owning a business?
Thank you for your enquiry; it’s a very important question.
First of all, you need to identify a specific area in the hospitality business that you would like to specialise in, so that you can devote your time and resources to enriching your knowledge in that area. Knowledge is power – the more you know the better off and more prepared you will be.
Once you have identified the type of hospitality business you are going to run, I would recommend enrolling in a relevant course, such as hospitality management, as a starting point. Hong Kong Polytechnic University, for instance, offers well-designed hospitality courses. Choose a course that is focused on learning practical strategies for starting and running a business.
Once you have built a strong theoretical foundation in your chosen specialisation, I would recommend that you network with experts in the hospitality field so that you can broaden your knowledge of the local industry.
When you have a good combination of theory and knowledge, I would suggest that you apply for a junior role in the field to gain hands-on experience and apply the theory and knowledge you have acquired. Often, the most successful and resilient entrepreneurs learn from their practical experience.
To get the ball rolling as a business owner, you need to define your role as an entrepreneur distinctly; be focused and specific. Do you want to set up a business on your own? Or perhaps partner with investors who are like-minded? If so, ensure your partners have substantial hospitality experience.
Regardless, you will have to take on a management role and use the knowledge of hospitality experts in the field as a resource.
Another key factor when deciding to run a business is ensuring you have enough capital to cover start-up costs, including inventory, real estate, labour and utilities.
You also need to weigh in the risks involved to ensure that you have adequate resources to run a sustainable business.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Combine knowledge and experience to start up in hospitality.