10 October 2012

Calling it Quits - Part 1 劈炮唔撈-上卷


It’s 9:30 on a Monday night. You are waiting for the bus to take you home after another long, dreary day in the office. Your head droops to the side, your shoulders slump, and your leather briefcase sags with the weight of existential angst. The woman in front of you pulls a soggy pastry out of a wrinkled Starbucks bag and takes a bite. You think to yourself: I can make a better one and sell it for half the price. The dream of running your own bakery and wallowing in patisserie bliss once again rushes to your head. No more 14-hour days, no more suits and ties, no more crowded buses and microwave dinners. Leather briefcase be damned!

That sinking feeling 


What you just read is a familiar scene to many salaried men and women. Tired of the ball and chain of a desk job, you fantasize about a “Plan B” to take you out of the rat race and put your God-given talent to use. If baking is not your thing, then it may be designing jewelry, becoming a wedding photographer or running an event planning service from home. How about opening a bicycle repair shop or...


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Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.






27 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this article. You are familiar with them: the foreign domestic workers. Like anyone else in this world, they long to go home and be reunited with their families one day. They are looking for means for their return and reintegration. We are conducting leadership, financial literacy, and social enterprise" to give them a little road map. We teach them how to prepare business plan. Some of them might venture into business later on. I would like very much to share your article with them. It is a very good article so they can balance their enthusiasm with reality. Maybe you like to speak during one of our sessions? Why, not?

    Leila

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  2. Sure, Leila. I would love to. I always wanted to get involved with the domestic worker community. We Hong Kongers owe them a big debt.

    Jason

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  3. I totally agree with this alternative. Brilliant. Just simply brilliant!

    CT

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  4. Ooops! Thanks for killing my Plan B!

    Leo

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  5. Thank you so much, Jason. I have been meaning to contact you for a long time now. It is only now that I gained courage to ask you. Our problem with domestic workers is that they have really no choice but to go home sooner or later. We are trying to educate them to prepare themselves before going home.

    I will contact you if I can organize exact date. Thank you.

    Leila

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  6. Love this Article. This is my thinking after starting my business years ago. I am much more lucky than your cousin that it can be maintained until now. Starting a business is really not easy only if you have sufficient cash flow and can stand the pressure.

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  7. Good for you! You should share with my readers your advice to entrepreneurs.

    Jason

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  8. So true. The Plan B is like the momental escape for all salaried persons. I always admire people who can do it and do it so well....

    Hui

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  9. Interesting read but let me share with you my own experience. I was with a newspaper in HK for five years before I left to set up my company. There is no office time now, and there is no personal time. There is just one life with this thing called work following you everywhere. It sleeps with you, goes to dinner with you, crashes in on your holiday and it's next to you when you wake up in the morning. While I only had one boss when I was at the paper, today, I have clients who are still wet behind their ears calling the shots. And they are always right – even if you don't think so. My company is now in its 7th year, and despite all the heartaches and demanding clients, I see a long and eventful journey ahead along a long and winding road with many crossroads to choose from, but definitely no U-turn.

    Peng

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  10. Thanks for sharing your experience, Peng. Entrepreneurship is definitely a double-edged sword!

    Jason

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  11. This is a great article highlighting that Plan B is not an easy path. I'm in the middle of it and could tell you other horror stories of unpaid invoices and projects being pulled last minute.

    Stephen

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  12. Hey stephen,

    Im sure many of us r also in plan A & a half n wud easily feel wat u r goin thru. Unless u r selling space shuttle built for cats, just hang in there n i m sure there is light at the end of de tunnel n it will b all worth it then.

    People who hv trodden de entrepreneurial path, no matter how mch hardship they hv faced, will normally get hooked n wont go back de other road agn. It's really a journey well worth our efforts.

    Peng

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  13. You are so right! Fifteen years ago, with retirement three years away, I started a small, home-based business. While I still had a salary I learned enough to know it would be viable as a retirement career. I was able to 'hit the ground running'. It doesn't come close to supporting me (I have a pension for that - never underestimate the value of a pension!), but it provides a handy bonus. The second career has enabled me to meet many fascinating new people who started as clients and became friends, to travel and deduct the expenses, to feel I am actually accomplishing something, and doing what I love. It doesn't get much better than that!

    Ross

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  14. Finally, some success stories! :-)

    Jason

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  15. True story, especially the part about "capital cushion" AKA 'cash-flow hiccups' which is according to my exp. the major reason of fails.

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  16. I can totally empathise with your first paragraph, save for one bit – 9:30 p.m., is it really that late? And is a 13-hour day at the office really that long by today’s standards? It is not anymore honestly if you look at all the professional fields in Hong Kong!!! Even those in the academia are working around the clock…

    It’s always been my dream to open a bookshop (maybe with a coffee shop inside as well), though I know full well the hardship of one, having bought and on very close terms with quite a number of the booksellers who operate their own shops and not the massive chain shops in Hong Kong. You remember the sad plight of the one who perished in his godown while he was clearing it as cartons of book avalanched on him a few years back? I got the information that he was definitely short of cash to manage everything. I know him personally and it is a sobering enough thought already that I should not make such decisions rashly (though I have even thought of the name and the facade of the bookshop). The fear of the axe falling is on everyone’s minds nowadays, especially in the tertiary education and professional circles. They are cutting down on funding and projects and posts and on research grants very seriously.

    [To be cont'd]

    Christine

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  17. But no matter what happens, I don’t think I can ever bring myself to say, “losing my job is the best thing that ever happened to me!” It is a great blow to one’s confidence afterall.

    Alfred’s story is so sad, but could very well be the case around town each day now, like all the bookshops and coffee shops I frequented before. At least 90% of them have closed down. If you just think about how many new faces you see around the Soho area or the Quarry Bay area every time you pass by. All are suffering from the most meagre margin and livelihood is heaps harder than a regular salaried job, unreasonable as you think your boss and clients may be. Especially in Hong Kong, when it comes to massaging with the escalating rent and managing your staff… One has to be a jack-of-all-trades to handle every single thing that could go wrong in an entrepreneurial business, and the hours you put in working or worrying usually by far exceed the case if you are just an employee. Though I also empathise with the fact that though some employees can worry less, others take their projects and files to their beds at night as well.

    My favourite bookshop owner had a stroke earlier and coupled with the sky-rocketing rent, he has to close his bookshop in Wanchai in 2006. That nearly caused me to had a cardiac arrest too if you had seen the stacks of books I and my friends bought off his shop every week before. Who wouldn’t be risk-averse if you know the next thing would be the banks chasing after you with your losing your entire life’s savings and unscrupulous landlord spraying red paint on your door.

    Christine

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  18. Even with well established businesses they too are struggling to keep up in the current economical status. Around where I live I constantly seeing businesses moving in and out of shop spaces. Plus with the expensive rent and stricter regulations it's understandable. It's not like in the old days where people can set up cart around the street corner and sell fishballs.

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  20. Starting a business is like gardening from seed. You have to water the tiny little seed faithfully. If you are lucky, it springs to life and starts to grow. But that doesn't even mean anything because you may find yourself running out of water before it became a tree and bear fruits, or ENOUGH fruits. Philosophy taken from my dad. One dies, he starts growing another one. After all, it only takes one big, healthy tree to get all the fruits you need. You can even sell the surplus! G

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  21. Plan A definitely makes your life easier - 95% of startups failed, also being a boss in fact means postponing retirement indefinitely with no holiday whatsoever. Which plan is better solely depends on one's personality.

    NaNa

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  22. Yes, this article on Plan A, Plan B etc is absolutely a must-read. Opens up eyes especially those who are in a hurry to venture into the unknown.

    For me, I absolutely LOVE his Plan A1/2 !!! (Note to self : Work it out, boy...work it out.)

    Cheewai

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  23. These briefcases is complete of full-grain leather, has no zippers to smash and no buttons to fall off. It uses just solid metal buckles to protected it, and unbelievable thick synthetic string to cling to it mutually.

    leather briefcase

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  24. The lawyer briefcase is made from the best leather.

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