Ever thought about starting your own business here in Hong Kong? Kristina Pavchenko from She's Got a Business discusses her own journey and how her company has evolved
We love chatting with wildly talented women in Hong Kong. From those on a battle to change things like Liz Thomas to others speaking openly about life’s problems, such as Brenda Scofield, this town is packed full of ladies doing great things. And one of these women is entrepreneur Kristina Pavchenko, Founder of She’s Got a Business. We sat down with her recently to learn about her transition from the corporate world to business owner and her recently launched online courses.
Hi, Kristina. Thanks for chatting with us today. Firstly, tell us a little about how She’s Got a Business started
Today, She’s Got a Business is a marketing and business development agency helping female entrepreneurs in business and life. But it didn’t happen in a day and it really started on a playdate! Back then, I couldn’t imagine what was possible if you take a leap of faith and risk a little. I can tell you now that I am living a dream (on most days), yet She’s Got a Business wasn’t born out of a dream, more like an opportunity taken.
In 2015, I was already running my own business, consulting with European and Russian corporates and high net individuals on entering Asian markets, when my neighbour asked me for help. She has been designing jewellery for a famous brand for years, and given her second maternity leave she decided to take a chance and start her own business, doing what she loved most – designing jewellery. She needed help setting up the legal entity, establishing some contracts, and getting some general guidance of what is required from her as a business owner. My knowledge and skill set made the process of the birth of a new “female” business smooth and enjoyable, and the client got exactly what she needed: professional, affordable and friendly consulting service. I shortly was recommended to another client, followed by one more and another.
Working with female founders felt really special, I was helping them to make their dreams come true. My first months working with female founders showed that expertise and professional support was required and was crucial in providing a desirable outcome. From a personal point of view, I felt something I never felt while working at corporates, that I was where I was meant to be, doing what I was supposed to do – making a real difference in these women’s life, facilitating the creation of the life they truly want and deserve.
What is the aim of the company?
I am on a mission. I believe that everyone has what it takes to start and run a successful business. Everyone has unique talents, skills, abilities, which are easily transferable into a profit making enterprise. What most people are missing is courage and support. She’s Got a Business is on the mission to provide affordable, reliable and relatable business consulting and marketing services to female entrepreneurs to support them in their entrepreneurial journey.
I can tell from first hand experience that doing what you love, and having flexibility to work around your life is priceless. It really changes how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
We have been running private consultations called Start Your Business Strong for over two years now and we realised, that it has the ability to change lives! From answering questions like: ‘I don’t know how to start a business’ to ‘how do I make my business profitable’, or ‘what should my next move be’ to actual profit-making businesses and increased life satisfaction, we’ve seen so many success stories.
Why did you decide to work with women exclusively for this?
I did this for many reasons. I always felt strongly about equality. As a law student and practicing lawyer in the past, I always wanted to change the world, to make it a more fair place for all.
I find it frustrating that a large number of businesses, even those predominantly serving females, are still owned by men. That has to change and it will only happen if women get adequate support to start and run businesses, and I feel inspired to be a part of it.
Since my first client, I realised surprising truths about females starting their own business. One which struck me hard was how my neighbour, a talented and recognised jewellery designer, was not sure of her ability to create designs for her business. I have seen this strong self-doubt (or imposter syndrome) many times among female founders, yet it wasn’t that prevalent in the man’s world. It was that goosebumps kind of inspiring to see how just a little assistance and professional support helped my first female client required to turn her whole business self around to the right direction.
Personally, as a trailing spouse and mother of two, I know first handed how easy it is to lose yourself in the needs of the family, and it’s beautiful place to be if that’s what you want to do. However it can feel like a prison if you have a professional ambition, yet want to support your family and kids.
Unfortunately, as we stand today it is still harder for a female to build an empire. It’s a combination of a limited access to funds, defined social roles and general man’s world rules.
What are the most common problem areas that women face in Hong Kong when establishing a business?
Hong Kong is an amazing place to start a business, yet it can be pricey. Most established consulting companies fees will be out of reach for someone who is just starting out on their business journey. That remains a very important part of the She’s Got a Business philosophy, to get creative but keep our services affordable for female entrepreneurs.
Additionally, Hong Kong in many ways is still a very traditional society, which makes it even harder for starting female entrepreneurs to secure funds, compared to other jurisdictions.
How do you equip women with the skills to start their business?
It takes a village to raise a child, they say. It’s the same with business. No one should be left alone to build a business, it’s such a complex process. It requires special knowledge and expertise, and it’s rare that one person has all it takes to build a profitable business.
Women I work with are usually experts in the area of the service or product they provide. They usually have core expertise in their service and product, but they never went to business school, they never actually run a profit making business. Therefore they usually are missing some fundamental skills and knowledge to start and grow their business.
It’s hard to figure out everything on your own. Ideally we start from pre – launch stage. I help to formulate and evaluate business idea. I see a big number of female entrepreneurs wrongfully ignoring initial market research, customer discovery via interviews, researching profit models and income streams. As much as an idea might sound exciting, it’s not enough to just run with it. We need to follow tested business starting models. All that is crucial to set fundament for a profitable business.
Branding and marketing is another big module we work with. With competition on the rise, only strong and authentic brands have the space to survive and thrive, only the marketing message which is build to resonate to be heard will reach the audience. Branding isn’t rocket science, but it is a science and it’s hard to figure it out on your own. There is a magic formula how to create brands that people love, and it shouldn’t be a shot in the dark, however many female entrepreneurs unfortunately do.
If people are interested in working with you, but can’t make face-to-face sessions, are there other options?
The Start Your Business Strong Program was run for years as private one-on-one sessions. We heard often in the past that someone would really want to join the program but could not afford the fees, and that broke my heart every time. I am so grateful to say that we have recently launched an online version of Start Your Business Strong Program to be able to reach those women for whom private consultations are out of budget.
It is a 12-week program, which consists of 12 videos and worksheets which you do at your own pace. The modules cover all the topics you need to look into and all the questions to consider when starting your business.
After each video there is a practical worksheet to fill in and research and that would be the building blocks to your future business. You can choose to get your progress feedback and I am still available for some consultations if required. I think it’s a really great option for someone who requires help, but for some reason prefers to do it online.
What do you enjoy most about running your own company in Hong Kong?
What makes Hong Kong special for me is its geographical position and amazing expat community. I travel a lot in Asia, often working while I do so. This flexibility is incredible, it keeps me inspired and motivated.
I also love the amazing community of female entrepreneurs we have here in Hong Kong. It’s supportive, diverse and incredibly inspiring. I find attending and organising events is extremely useful to keep you focused on your goals.
Hong Kong is a very special city. I love how it is always full of opportunities. We’ve recently had some incredibly difficult times in the city. However I believe that it will bounce back. How? Businesses will have to reinvent themselves, become stronger, more resilient and definitely create more value for customers.
Find out more about She’s Got a Business.