Building a successful marketing strategy for your ecommerce website

Starting your own ecommerce site used to be something you would do once you had already come up with the products that you are selling. However, nowadays, it is an essential early step to take if you want to maximize your sales and reach as many people as possible. Customers are used to services such as Amazon and they expect you to have your own site. However, once you have your ecommerce site up and running, how can you get people to come to it? What you need is a successful marketing strategy.

Have plentiful content

Your site needs content as well as products. Your homepage, your product category and product pages all need plentiful text content on them. This is because search engines consider sites with lots of useful, well-written and relevant content to be better than other sites – similar to how people view sites. Your homepage needs to tell people exactly what it is that you sell and why customers should buy from you instead of somewhere else. Your product pages need to explain the features of the product and how they will benefit the customer. You should aim for at least 300 words of content per page, where possible. If you sell hundreds of different products then this might be a tall order, so you should probably just concentrate on the main pages.

Produce interesting blog posts

As well as plentiful content for your pages, you also need to make sure that you have a regularly updated blog that is full of interesting posts. Search engines look favorably upon sites that add new pages relatively often. However, blog posts are also a great way to get people interested in your site and your company. Blog posts can be about anything you want. You could do a post about a new product that you have available on your site. You could write one about something industry related that you are an expert on. You could even interview an industry expert. Blog posts are also a chance for you to express yourself and get your company culture across.

Social media presence

Having a social media presence is an absolute must in 2018. When you start an ecommerce site from home, you are unlikely to have a particularly large following. This is where your existing social media profiles will come in. You will (hopefully) have some friends on Facebook, who might be interested in what you are selling. Set up a new profile for your brand and then share the page on your personal page to get interest started. After doing that, you can do posts on the brand profile about any new products or deals, or even link to your interesting blog posts.

The objective of your social media presence will be, ultimately, to get people to click onto your site and browse your products. It’s essential to get great pictures of your products whether you do it yourself or get professional still life photography of your products for better results. However, you can also do other things to build your following on social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are excellent for having conversations with your followers. Engage with your followers by replying to their questions, complaints and comments. You can ask their opinions about new products and deals and even run competitions for them.

Email marketing

Email may seem like ancient technology compared with social media but it is still an immensely important weapon in the digital marketing arsenal. It is hugely effective at reaching your audience in a more targeted way. Email marketing is not about spamming generic sales emails to anyone and everyone. Since spam is not the aim of the game, you need to be able to harvest people’s email addresses. Existing customers will have already given you their address when they signed up to buy from your site. You can get potential customers’ email addresses by encouraging them to subscribe to your blog.

Email marketing platforms will let you split your customer base into various demographics, based on stuff like whether they have signed up to your blog, what they have bought before and much more. This means that you can send them more personalized emails that will engage with them better. Valentino Vaschetto is an email marketing expert who works for advertising and marketing agency Iconic Industries. Valentino Vaschetto has a popular Vimeo that uses videos to explain all aspects of digital marketing to you.

Conclusion

Starting up a business from home has never been easier. Ecommerce and digital marketing allow you to direct customers to your shop where they can buy your products, all by using the internet.

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More than money: How to tempt the best employees on a shoestring budget

It would be fair to say that we are well and truly in the era of the start-up culture. Wherever you turn, start-ups are popping up everywhere, and there seems to be a story every day about the latest new business securing lucrative new funding.

However, not all of these start-ups can afford high salaries. At the same time, not all start-ups are going to receive lots of funding and as a result, can’t compete with salaries.

This is where creative minds need to enter the picture. Unfortunately for them, employees just aren’t going to choose them if they can’t offer them something else in return. It’s understood that a large proportion of start-ups fail in the first year, so jumping ship and joining one of these companies on a less-than attractive package just isn’t going to happen.

Following on from the above, let’s now take a look at some of the ways in which young businesses can reward employees, without paying huge salaries.

It’s the small things that matter

Let’s kick things off by highlighting that you don’t need to be giving twice the average annual leave, plus other ridiculous perks to join your company. Sometimes, it’s just the small things that count.

Building a good culture is something that can take time, but you can accelerate the process with small gestures. For example, employee holiday gifts might feel like a small token, but it’s something that still makes your employees head home for the festivities knowing that they are valued by their place of work. Small tricks like this can make the world of difference.

Gym memberships and wellness programs

This is something that has come into its own over the last few years and is regarded as very important by a lot of employees.

Companies have realized that the likes of gym memberships and wellness programs don’t just put a smile on their worker’s faces, but they can also make them healthier. Ultimately, the number of sick days should theoretically reduce.

As a company, you can tend to get discounted gym rates if you can promise that a set number of your workers will subscribe. For the employees themselves, they at least know that they are saving the best part of $50 a month – and this is something that they can link back to their salary.

Performance bonuses

This is largely going to depend on the type of industry you are involved in, but it goes without saying that lower salaries can be offset by performance bonuses. In the UK for example, Sports Direct is known for its low salaries, but at the same time it offers huge bonus pay-outs to all of its staff. Ultimately, this is something else that workers can factor into their decisions.

Flexible schedules

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of flexibility. Recent studies have shown that more and more companies are encouraging their staff to work from home, and the effect it can have on morale is incredible.

Sure, this isn’t something that is applicable across all industries, but if you can manage it in yours you will prove to be a much more attractive proposition to potential employees.

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4 Tasks Every Small Business Owner Should Outsource

As a small business owner, you are used to wearing many hats and acting as a Jack of all trades. You likely know a little about a lot, and it’s no wonder why. Running a business requires initiative, skill and savviness. You certainly benefit from the support of your staff, but at the end of the day, you are the one running the show. It can be difficult to delegate tasks to others when you trust yourself the most, and it might be even more difficult to outsource portions of your operation and let go of control completely.

Part of being an effective manager, though, is knowing when to do exactly this. There are several tasks that every small business owner should outsource. Outsourcing can help you free up resources, focus on the essential aspects of your business and avoid errors by getting help from experts trained in the task at hand. The following are some of the processes that might benefit from outsourcing.

Marketing

You might think that your marketing skills are sufficient for promoting your business and attracting customers, but sufficient is not good enough. You work hard to sustain your small business and provide customers with the best service possible. It would be a shame for these efforts to reach only a portion of the market containing potential customers. Rather than do your business a disservice by managing the task of marketing all on your own, consider the benefits of outsourcing it to a company that specializes in small business marketing. This can be a great way to reach new customers.

Bookkeeping

Too many businesses are crippled by the consequences of poor bookkeeping. It is absolutely imperative that you keep track of all revenue, outgoing funds, taxes and payroll. Outsourcing bookkeeping and/or payroll can help you avoid many of the problems that small businesses often encounter with money. Even if you use software and other resources, small mistakes can have major repercussions, and this is a task best left to professionals who are experts in managing small business finances. Outsourcing can also eliminate the stress of spending hours each week managing the minutia of your company’s money.

Web Design

Just as many small business owners are capable of basic bookkeeping, many small business owners are capable of basic web design. When you settle for basic, though, you are doing your company a major disservice. Utilizing a professional website builder is the better option, and it can boost your business’ revenue substantially. Many customers find businesses online, and when your website does not represent your company effectively, you are losing potential sales. A website builder can ensure that potential customers are motivated to follow through. Web design and marketing for small businesses is best left to dedicated professionals.

Conversion

At the end of the day, your ultimate objective is to convert potential customers into loyal clients. Maximizing your conversion statistics demands the use of proven strategies and an effective approach. This means you must utilize marketing, web presence and customer service effectively. Conversion experts who specialize in small businesses can help you use all of these tools to boost profits and reach your target market effectively. A good sales pitch alone won’t do the trick, so it is important to enlist help from specialists when you want to get conversion rates that are worthwhile.

Outsourcing is an important part of running a small business. No matter what industry you are in, you should consider outsourcing these aspects of your company to experts and focusing on what you do best—running the day-to-day operations of your business. This can alleviate stress and free up your time, so do not hesitate to outsource when it becomes necessary.

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Why It’s Important For Small Business Owners To Outsource

As a small business owner you will know only too well about how overwhelming this position can be. There is a temptation in the early stages of your business to micro-manage every aspect of the company in order to save money and assert control. This however, is not a sustainable attitude and it is one which will leave you burned out, and the business in an unstable place. The key to surviving in business is learning how and when to outsource various aspects of the business, and here is why doing so is extremely important.

Focus

The biggest reason for a small business owner to outsource areas of their business is so that they can spend their time focussing on what they do best, which is running the business. For example let’s say that you are an excellent restauranteur who has just opened a French Bistro, how well do you think you are going to be able to focus on the restaurant itself, when you are getting bogged down in human resources stuff or the supply chain? The truth is that you cannot and the more time that you spend on areas of the business which don’t need you to be managing them, the less time you can spend on the areas which do require your attention.

Skill

Outsourcing is not just a time saver, it is also about letting experts take the reigns on certain parts of the business. For example let’s say that you start getting bogged down in bookkeeping and accounting for the business, in a effort to save some money. You may very well be able to work your way around the balance sheet, and use free budget templates to see the ins and outs of the business, but the time that it will take is likely to be double that of an expert in this field. The smart option is to outsource and area of the business such as accounting, in order to let the experts complete what for them, are very simple tasks, rather than you spending hours on such an activity.

Time

One thing which business owners want more than anything else is more time, something which is not easy to come by, especially in the early years. When you outsource an aspect of the company however, one of the best returns on this investment is the gift of time which it will give you. Something as simple as outsourcing delivery services like those available at www.askabsolutely.com can save you any unnecessary hassle. Business owners need to be at their best at all times, so the additional hours in the day can help to keep you more focussed. As we have preciously mentioned, with this extra time you can focus on the right parts of the business where you can be effective, rather than the areas where you cannot.

The idea of outsourcing is to make the business more productive and more dynamic, to offer a higher standard in many aspect fo the company and ultimately to allow you to focus on the important stuff and not the minutiae.

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Choosing the Right Business Premises

You might be a tiny start-up or a more established business that needs to move to a bigger, better place. Whatever your reasons for upping sticks, there’s four things you have to consider before choosing the right dotted line for you and your enterprise.

Your location

Of course, this depends a lot on the nature of your business. If you’re an interior design company, you’ll need a big window with lots of footfall so passers-by can see what you’re all about. If you’re an IT-based company then you might be better off in one of the many offices to let in Teddington or nearby.

You already know that business premises get more expensive the nearer to the city centre they are. However, this doesn’t mean that you should settle for a cheap out-of-town place because the lack of passers-by might kill you off. You also, no matter what your business, need room for customer and employee parking and delivery vehicles.

It’s fine to ask around for advice – solicitors, your business advisor, your associates – but you shouldn’t feel pushed into anything. Your location is, alongside your finances, the biggest consideration, so don’t just jump in.

Your finances

If your ideal location is way out of your budget then you’ll just have to carry on dreaming. Avoid wasting too much time on the “if onlys” by restricting your search to your budget. Your first big decision is whether to rent or buy. These days, rental options are brilliant because there’s a culture of shared office spaces which are brilliant for techy start-ups.

If you’re having to rent a large unit, though, and you’re not planning to move for a good few years, then think about buying premises. Once you’ve pinned this fundamental decision down, look at what your business rates will be, as well as all your utilities, insurance, taxes, maintenance and security costs.

Your look

It’s unlikely that you’ll walk straight into your premises and not have to change a thing. Most of your changes will be cosmetic, probably – don’t go mad making big changes of any kind to start with, as this is a big drain on money. Just make sure that the outside looks presentable and inviting, as well as any interior areas that customers see. You don’t want to deter clients.

Space is also important. Have you got enough room for your immediate growth plans? Can you afford to have a waiting room or reception area? These things matter to clients and suppliers alike – they need to have confidence in you.

Your legal considerations

You also have some legal things to consider. There are several different types of commercial licences and not all premises have the same ones, so make sure your shortlisted premises have all the paperwork you need.

It’s also important that your building is fully compliant with all the legal regulations, like ventilation, fire, space, hygiene and heating.

Lastly, you need to make sure the infrastructure around your place is sufficient. If you’re a manufacturer, is there space to store waste until it’s disposed of? Can your delivery drivers make collections and drop-offs all day or are there time restrictions?

There’s a lot to think about, so talking to a commercial letting agency is always a good idea.

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How to Start a Business After Bankruptcy

One often overlooked advantages of living in the U.S. is the fact that the bankruptcy laws tend to be much more forgiving than other countries. This can be seen when it comes to starting a business as some countries don’t even let those with a bankruptcy open a bank account.

However, there are no such prohibitions in the U.S. and if you are looking to start over by starting a new business, then read on as this article will give you some pointers on how to make it happen.

Don’t Mix Accounts

Granted, you don’t need a bankruptcy to do this but if when you have a business you don’t want to mix your personal and your corporate accounts. Doing so can not only lead to an accounting nightmare but it might make it harder for your new business to establish credit and trade lines.

As such, get started by incorporating. The truth is that it has never been easier to set up a company and the new tax laws make it to your advantage to do so. By doing so, you will make sure that your company can establish the credit it needs to grow without you being the co-signer. Granted, this does not mean that you will be able to get a million-dollar loan for your new business but you will be able to open the trade lines you will need to operate.

Register for a Tax ID Number

Also known as an Employer Identification Number, think of this as a Social Security number for your business. Getting a new number is especially critical if your previous business was involved in your bankruptcy proceedings.

However, you want to keep in mind that businesses, unlike people, cannot be discharged from Chapter 7 bankruptcies. This means that if you reboot the business, then creditors might still try to act against you. While this shouldn’t happen, there is a risk and as such you will want to discuss this with your lawyer. If you are not sure where to start, then you might want to check out this site – https://www.getfreeofbills.com/chapter-7-bankruptcy-attorney/.

Be Prepared

One thing that bankruptcy should have taught you is that things can change; sometimes rather quickly. While this can lead to a sense of uncertainty, you can harness this to your advantage. Part of this is knowing that you need to be prepared when things aren’t going as planned.

When it comes to your business, this means you need to keep an eye on two things. First, what is your cash position? Remember cash is king and having a good handle on where your company stands will be vital to your long-term success.

Second, you will need to have a plan to get small fast. Often this is how companies get into trouble as they assume the good times will last forever, and then live in denial when the market starts to turn. History is strewn with companies that thought they could weather the storm – remember Lehman Brothers.

Creating Financing

Let’s face it, most banks are not going to welcome you with open arms just after a bankruptcy. However, this does not mean that you are completely cut off from getting the money you need for your business; it just means that you need to get creative.

This includes picking a business that does not require significant capital – including a home-based business or some sort of professional service business. You could also look at working as a subcontractor first – at least until your cash flow stabilizes.

Beyond this, you can look for a partner or seek outside investors and then there are always your customers. Maybe some will be willing to pay upfront for your product or service and this will help to offset the cost of getting your company off the ground.

Look Out for Minefields

One way people can get into trouble with your business is by not paying their taxes. Not only can this create problems with the IRS but you could also run into trouble with the revenue department in your state.

Don’t let this happen to you, make sure you keep clean records and that you file your taxes on time. Keep in mind when it comes to income taxes, you can carry forward the accumulated losses from starting your business. As such, it pays to keep track of your taxes.

Be Very Careful of Giving Payment Terms to Customers

It’s a competitive market and customers have choices. However, you want to be very careful of giving payment terms to your customers as this can come back to haunt you – especially if the economy turns. Remember, cash is king and if you are starting a business after bankruptcy having cash in the bank is more important than being owed $1,000,000 from your customers.

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Building a Team: The Basics

Hiring is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make at work. The people you bring in to your business don’t just bring a skillset and experience, they bring personality, attitude and the ability to influence the people around them. Your company culture is only partly set by corporate diktat: what really creates your working environment is the people who fill it.

Hiring is a chance not just to find a new programmer, executive, or department manager, it’s an opportunity to make your whole company more committed, more sustainable, fairer, more diverse or whatever you’ve decided your priorities are as a business owner. If you say you’re running a company that values it’s employees, that wants people to work smart not hard, and support a healthy work-life balance, but you don’t hire executives who believe in this and encourage those values, you don’t really have that philosophy at all. So when you’re building a team you need to make sure you’re talking the talk as well as walking the walk.

Today we’re looking at how you can do that, and build a team that works for you, your company and your employees.

Shortlisting

The first, and most important thing is to make sure that your values and culture are built into the recruiting process from the off. Whether you’re using your internal resources to recruit or retain an executive search agency, don’t just include a list of the experience you want, whether that’s managerial, in client facing roles, or developing products. Include your values as requirements, and your candidates will know from the start whether this is the job for them. If you’re consciously building a diverse team (and research suggests you should be), an upfront discussion of that as part of your job description will help you find the candidates who will fit into and foster that culture.

Regulations

When you’re doing this you need to make sure that the culture you’re trying to foster is supported by the law. If your attempt to build a company based on ‘old fashioned, reliable values’ and that leads to you turning away highly qualified women and minorities, what you’ve actually done is built prejudice into the heart of your company.

Run your ideas past a lawyer to make sure your corporate values don’t have a darker side, which could lead to you ignoring valuable talent as well as ending up on the wrong side of the law.

Interview

Don’t neglect to discuss what’s important to your company at the interview stage, and as with your other questions don’t hedge around in hypotheticals. Get specific. If you value a good work life balance, ask what they’ve done to foster that value at other companies. Ask how they’ve reacted when their personal feelings have conflicted with a company’s stated position.

If you can follow these three important points you’ll find you’re building a team that gels well and gets results!

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Top 5 Things You Should Know About Your EIN

An EIN number is a nine-digit number required by the IRS for businesses in the United States. The Employer Identification Number is mainly used as identification of your business by the IRS, however, the number has other uses. Once you apply for an EIN online, you will have the number you need to use for your business. Below are the top five things you should know about this number as it is associated with your business.

Open a Business Account

One way you can use your new EIN number is to open a business bank account. Most banks will require your business to have an EIN number before you will be allowed to open up a new account for the company.

Business Permits

Another use of your EIN number is for business permits. If you need permits for your business based on the type of company or location, you will need an EIN number. With this number, you will be able to apply and secure such permits for your company.

Filing Taxes

With your EIN number, you can file your taxes with ease. An EIN number for a business is considered to be like a Social Security Number for an individual. With this number, you can file taxes for the business as well as focus efforts on employee payments and tax needs.

Credit Card Needs

To help with expenses, a credit card for your business will be needed. Applying for a credit card requires an EIN number when considering a company card. The EIN number will ensure that a card is issued to your business so that purchases can be made as needed.

Applying for Loans

An EIN number is also required by banks for a business to be able to apply for a loan. If your business will need monetary assistance via a loan, the EIN must be secured first before applying.

As you can see, there are many ways that an EIN number is used within a business. Be sure to file online to secure the number you need to get started.

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Sticking the Landing – How to Perfect Your Point of Sale

If you are in retail business, whether it is selling clothes, cooking food, or any number of other products and services individuals purchase, you know how vital point of sale is. You want a sales-friendly environment and be able to upsell to any customer with ease.

You also want software that can assist you in your retail endeavours. Since technology is the future, it is time to get on board with point of sale or POS software. This software tracks critical information that you need regarding your clients and their wants and needs.

Continue reading below to learn how you can make your point of sale operate more efficiently.

Know Your Busy Times

Regardless of the type of retail business you own, you need to know your busy times of the day, week, month, and year. You need to know this information to be able to schedule appropriately as well as order the right amount of inventory. To be able to perfect your point of sale, you need software that can track this data to be able to better your company and get the highest ratings from clients that you can.

Market To Current Clients

Another excellent way to increase your point of sale is to keep in touch with repeat customers. If a customer has purchased with you before and had a good experience, they are more likely to come back and purchase from you again. Take advantage of this and market to your returning clientele.

Many businesses will focus on getting new customers in the door. However, if you can get repeat business, that is where the money is at. Find software that will integrate loyalty reward programs as well as personalized mailings and emails to clients who have already shown you some love.

Simplify Inventory

Inventory is needed in any business, whether that inventory is ingredients for a restaurant, or clothing for a fashion store. Inventory can be fickle though. How can you make the process simple, especially if you have multiple locations, new staff, or a tricky budget? You need to investigate software that can scan the current inventory in stock and recommend what needed items should be ordered. Certain software can also make it impossible for store clerks to lower prices or change the price at the register.

Make Your Register Precise And Accurate

The most crucial item you need to perfect your point of sale is an accurate and precise cash register. You want software that can work offline if you lose internet connectivity and that will save the transactions on the device and sync to the cloud when the connectivity returns. You also need to have the ability to run the point of sale software on the go, especially in a restaurant setting.

Involve Your Employees

The last vital tip to perfect your point of sale is to involve your staff with the acquisition of new point of sale software. This is an important gesture as the employees are the ones who will be using the software the most. It will also show your employees that they matter in your decision-making, which makes morale rise and respect gain momentum.

Why Should I Change My Software For My Business?

As a business owner, you want to have the top of the line software, and other technological advances as that are what consumers are looking for. They do not want to do business with an outdated or antiquated retailer. That is why many customers go online to shop, as it is so much easier.

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If you want to stay relevant, you must switch your software and the way you do business. By doing so, you can market to repeat customers for additional sales, know when you are the busiest to appropriately staff and order the correct inventory. But, most importantly, you can have pinpoint accuracy with your cash register where errors are a thing of the past and move towards a more efficient point of sale setup for your business.

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District Dilemmas – 3 Areas in Hong Kong to Consider for Your Business

Those who have been fortunate enough to visit Hong Kong have experienced the wonder one of the world largest economies. The city, home to a number of financial institutions and corporate conglomerates, has one of the most thriving hospitality industries boasting some of the most luxurious hotels and restaurants. However, Hong Kong is really known for an economy supported by a variety of industries.

In this island city, this wealthy locale has been an attractive place for many entrepreneurs for years. Finding office space is no longer a problem, as Hong Kong’s commercial real estate market has a number of traditional and alternative office leasing formats. In addition to the standard co-working and virtual office formats, serviced offices in Hong Kong can accommodate your business. The problem is no longer whether you can find affordable space but where to set up shop.

Let’s take a look at some of the best locations to get started with a serviced office space in Hong Kong.

The Central

While you can consume a good portion of your time in the Golden Shopping Centre, and your money, a few miles away in Hong Kong’s central business district, known as The Central, professionals can experience the awe of working among some of the most internationally-known, wealthy institutions. Key areas that are a draw for both business and tourism are the Bank of China building and HK Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The area is located below Victoria’s Peak, which is directly across the harbour from Kowloon. In this area, financial titans, government consulates, and other corporate interests make this location their home. The area bordered by Aberdeen (Wing Kut Street), Admiralty and Victoria Peak has been the centre of international trade and finance since the British colonial era in 1841. For those looking for office space, this area is serviced by a few leasing companies that can provide you with office space.

The Pearl River Delta

Another possible lucrative market is the Pearl River Delta (PRD) located around the Pearl River estuary. As one of Hong Kong’s most densely urbanised areas, the PRD is known for being a consumer market, a trading hub, a services market and place for investing. The area has one of the fastest growing economies, and because of its link with Hong Kong, it has seen rapid growth in the last couple of years.

Described as a boon economy, the PRD’s economy is primarily supported through trade of goods, services and capital among major cities Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Macau, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Huiyang, Huidong, Zhaoqing, and Jiangmen. For this reason, this area’s population is expected to become one of the largest in the world, overtaking even The Central in terms of business. Those looking test out this market might take advantage of the numerous all night co-working spaces or even the virtual office, both offering professionals a lot of flexibility.

Container Terminal 9 (Container Port)

As with many other international locations, where there is a port, there are opportunities for business, and Hong Kong’s Container Terminal 9 offers prospective business interests the opportunity to take advantage of this area’s import/export trade. The port is undergoing a facelift that when completed will provide those doing business in this area six berths with a capacity to hold more than two million twenty-foot equivalents (TEO) yearly. This area is primed to be one of the busiest ports in the world.

An Island With Plenty Of Growth

Hong Kong’s beauty is the stuff of legend, but on a more mundane level, its business economy offers any entrepreneur a number of options. Entrepreneurs can find they have a place among all three areas whose intertwining interests go back and forth between finance and trade. The Central, PRD and the port are the financial backbones of a city-state whose economic presence in the world has been long-standing.

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