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Do you know how to protect your startup ideas from copycats with intellectual property (IP)? We will share with you information on IP and trademark in this article, and more on registered designs, patents, copyright and trade secrets in the next article. Q: What is IP and how do I protect it? A: 'IP' or 'intellectual property' is (a term that describes) a range of rights in different aspects of your business and your products. The most common IP rights are trade secrets (undisclosed commercial information), copyright, registered designs, patents and trademarks. Q: What is a trademark? A: A trademark is a sign that distinguishes the goods and services of one trader from those of others. Typically a trademark can be words (including personal names), indications, designs, letters, characters, numerals, figurative elements, colours, sounds, smells, the shape of the goods or their packaging or any combination of these. A sign must be capable of being represented graphically in order for it to be registered as a trademark. Q: Do you Know the Differences among Company Registration, Business Registration and Trademark Registration? A: A company name registration at the Companies Registry or a business name registered with the Business Registration Office is not the same as a trademark registration at the Trade Marks Registry. A business or company name registration is not an indication of trademark rights. Having registered a company name with the Companies Registry or a business name with the Business Registration Office, you are still required to apply for registration of your trademarks with the Trade Marks Registry. Only the registered trademark owner has an exclusive right to use the trademark in relation to the goods and services in the Hong Kong SAR for which the mark is registered. Watch the video below to learn more about the effective use of registered trademarks in maximising brand values. (Available in Chinese only) Source: Intellectual Property Department “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
The article “Startup Howtos: Do entrepreneurs need to pay attention to IP? (I)” has gathered information on IP and trademark for protecting your own business and products. Go ahead to check out more information on registered designs, patents, copyright, trade secrets and unleash your brand value! Q: What is a registered design? A: The individual designs of a wide range of products, for example computers, telephones, textiles, jewellery and watches, can be protected by registration of their designs. A registered design owner has the right to prevent others from manufacturing, importing, selling or hiring the registered design product. Registered design protection is renewable for a maximum of 25 years. Q: What are patents? A: Patents protect inventions, that is products, substances, or processes which are new and inventive. Patent owners have the right to prevent others from manufacturing, using, selling, or importing the invention. There are two types of patents in the Hong Kong SAR. Protection under standard patents is renewable for a maximum of 20 years. Protection under short-term patents is renewable for a maximum term of eight years. Q: What is copyright? A: In general, copyright is the right given to the owner of an original work. This right can subsist in literary works, musical works, dramatic works, artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmes and the typographical arrangement of published editions of literary, dramatic or musical works, as well as performers' performances. Copyright works made available on the Internet environment are also protected. It is not necessary to register a copyright in the Hong Kong SAR, in order to get protection under the law of the Hong Kong SAR. Q: What is Trade Secrets and undisclosed Commercial Information? A: Trade secrets and undisclosed commercial information are confidential information in a commercial setting, such as formulaes, methods, technologies, designs, product specifications, business plans and client lists, that have commercial value. Watch the two videos below to learn more about how to explore business opportunities through licensing and patent commercialisation. (Videos are available in Chinese only) Source: Intellectual Property Department “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
You may be experienced in writing essays and homework reports, yet how about writing business plans for your own company? You may make reference to the writing tips and templates below for developing a detailed business plan to assist the entire planning process of starting a new business as well as to pitch and apply relevant startup funds. Content Outline Objectives and Goals Industry Overview Competitors／Market Positioning Description of Products and Services Marketing Strategies, Pricing and Promotion Strategies Financial Planning Contingency Planning Company Structure and Background of the Management Team Writing Tips Make your business plan user-friendly, easy to read and understand. Use figures, percentage and quantifiable information along with descriptions and interpretations. Tailor your business plan for specific reader. For instance, you should focus on cash flow adequacy for banks and potential return with payback period for investors. Follow a complete structure to present your business in an organised way. Include a general market overview / market analysis to show your understanding of the industry and your business position. Emphasise your business uniqueness, strengths and competitive advantages. Develop realistic but aggressive projections, explain use of fund and expected payback period. Complete all the sections of a business plan first, then put all the highlights in the Executive Summary concisely. Review and edit before presenting it. Business Plan Template Illustrative Business Plan Source: SUCCESS “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
(Image designed by student of Hong Kong Design Institute) On the road to entrepreneurship you may come across to different kinds of challenges: which funding scheme is more suitable for me? How to avoid legal traps in business? No worries, the four consultation services below offer professional advice for free to all your queries about entrepreneurship. Support and Consultation Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises (SUCCESS) - "Meet-the-Advisors" Business Advisory Service SUCCESS provides business starters with not only information on setting up business in Hong Kong, but also free "Meet-the-Advisors" Business Advisory Service. Entrepreneurs encountering problems relating to the starting and running of a business can consult experts on their opinions. Youth Employment Start” (Y.E.S.) - Professional Consultation Service Y.E.S. is set up to provide one-stop employment and self-employment support services to young people aged between 15 and 29. To assist business members to tackle their business problems in legal and accounting fields, meetings with qualified lawyers and accountants will be arranged to obtain professional advice. Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) - SME ReachOut A dedicated service team entitled "SME ReachOut" would support startups through face-to-face meetings to help identify suitable funding schemes, while answering questions relating to applications. The goal is to enhance startup's understanding of the Government's funding schemes, with a view to encouraging better utilisation of the support provided by the Government. Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) SME Support - SME Advisory Service The HKTDC SME Advisory Service provides one-to-one free business advisory service, which covers a wide spectrum of areas such as tax issues, business law, operation of the letter of credit, up-to-date information for new business start-ups, logistics, branding strategy for cultural industry and e-commerce. Source: SUCCESS, Y.E.S., HKPC, HKTDC “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
One of the key factors of starting a business is capital. A detailed budget provides clarity to the capital needed, rate of return and payback period which would benefit your business planning. Let’s follow the steps below to plan your budget! 1st step: list out carefully the items required for entering and operating a business in the target industry, including company registration, rental cost of the store or office, interior renovation, operation facilities, raw materials, staff and liquidity etc.2nd step: estimate the cost and price of the required items. You may refer to the value of relevant consultants and persons with experience, or the relevant Market and Industry Profiles published by Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).3rd step: You may utilise the Budget Analysis Worksheet for Starting up Business provided by Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs (SUCCESS) to estimate the initial capital required, the relation between turnover and profitability, payback period, assets and liabilities; and factors that may affect financial position. (e.g. turnover, rent, profit margin, expenditures, inventory and credit period, etc.) Calculation of return and payback period Usually the rate of return and payback period will be calculated before investing for a business. Simply speaking, you may calculate with the net profit per month: If net profit per month = $20,000Total investment = $300,000Rate of return = net profit x 12 / total investment = $20,000 x 12/300,000 = 80%Payback period = 1/80% = 1.25 years Note: The net profit of an enterprise may generally be lower during opening period and reach the expected profit after a period of time. Thus the actual payback period may be longer than the calculation result. There are a wide variety of sources of financing such as personal savings, capitalising and loans. You may look up the funding scheme that suits you best with our Funding Schemes Finder, or check out more information on funding from Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau, Brand Development and Promotion of the Trade and Industry Department, and the Hong Kong Productivity Council. Source: SUCCESS, GovHK, Youth Employment Start, HKTDC SME Centre, HKPC SME ReachOut “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
Is your startup going to recruit and prepare for launch? Let’s go through the seven common questions below and learn about the points to note when you are hiring and handling personal data. 1. How to ensure that the job seeker is lawfully employable? The law requires an employer to take all practical steps to ensure that the job seeker is lawfully employable. If the job seeker is not holding a Hong Kong permanent identity card, the law requires an employer to inspect the job seeker's valid travel document. 2. Can an employer collect copies of the identity cards of job applicants? Generally speaking, an employer must not collect a copy of the identity card of a job applicant during the recruitment process unless and until the individual has accepted an offer of employment. 3. Under what circumstances can job applicants be asked in a recruitment advertisement to submit personal data? An employer or recruitment agency who clearly indicates its identity may ask job applicants to submit personal data in a recruitment advertisement, provided that the data is adequate but not excessive in relation to the purpose of recruitment and is to be used lawfully. 4. Can an employer directly solicit personal data from job applicants if it merely uses its company email address, telephone number or fax number as a means of identifying itself in a recruitment advertisement? No. A company email address, telephone number or fax number by itself is generally not considered to be sufficient identification of the employer. If the employer does not wish to disclose its identity, it may simply provide a telephone number in the advertisement and indicate that the applicants can make further enquiries before submitting any personal data. 5. Should an employer provide, within a recruitment advertisement, a statement regarding the purpose for which the personal data submitted by job applicants will be used? Recruitment advertisements that directly ask job applicants to provide their personal data should include a statement, as an integral part of the advertisement, informing applicants about the purposes for which their personal data are to be used. Here is an example of such statement: "Personal data collected will be used for recruitment purposes only". 6. How long is an employer allowed to keep the personal data of unsuccessful job applicants? Personal data of unsuccessful applicants (for future recruitment purposes) can be retained for a period of up to two years from the date of rejecting the applicants, and must then be destroyed. 7. Must we obtain consent from an employee or ex-employee before giving an employment reference to another employer? Yes, you should obtain the prescribed consent from an employee or ex-employee (preferably in writing) as disclosure of the employee’s records (including performance assessment) to another person would constitute to a change in the purpose of use of the data. Source: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong - Understanding the Code of Practice on Human Resource Management Frequently Asked Questions About Recruitment Advertisements , Immigration Department “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
You may come across with various legal matters, such as company registration, licensing, and Labour Legislation, during your entrepreneurship journey. To aviod possible labour disputes, we have gathered ten questions and answers regarding labour legislation for entrepreneurs: 1. Q: Are “temporary”, “part-time” and “substituted” employees covered by the Employment Ordinance? A: The Employment Ordinance does not differentiate between “temporary”, “part-time”, “substituted”, “permanent” and “full-time” employees. All employees covered by the Employment Ordinance, irrespective of their designated job titles or working hours, are entitled to statutory rights and protection such as wage payment, restriction on deductions from wages and granting of statutory holidays, etc. An employee who has been employed continuously by the same employer for four weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked in each week is further entitled to rights such as rest days, annual leave with pay and sickness allowance, etc. (Click here to see the leaflet on “part-time employment”.) 2. Q: Which kind of employment contract, written or verbal, provides employers and employees with better protection? A: Under the Employment Ordinance, a contract of employment can be made orally or in writing. Employees’ rights and benefits are protected under the Ordinance irrespective of whether the employment contract is made verbally or in writing. The use of written employment contract may help employees better understand the terms of their employment, remind both employers and employees of their contractual obligations. Please see the Sample Employment Contract prepared by the Labour Department for your reference. 3. Q: How is minimum wage computed? A: Minimum wage = Total number of hours worked by the employee in the wage period × SMW rate (i.e. $37.5 per hour) 4. Q: What will be the consequences if an employer fails to pay wages on time? A: Wages should be paid not later than 7 days from the end of the wage period. An employer who fails to pay wages to an employee within 7 days after they become due is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of HK$350,000 and to imprisonment for three years. 5. Q: Can an employer compel an employee to work 7 days in a week without granting him any rest days? A: No. An employee employed under a continuous contract is entitled to one rest day in every period of seven days. 6. Q: Should rest days be with pay or without pay? A: This term is to be agreed between an employer and an employee. 7. Q: Under what circumstances is an employee entitled to sickness allowance? A: An employee employed under a continuous contract is entitled to sickness allowance if: the sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days (unless for any day off taken by a female employee for her pregnancy check-ups, post confinement medical treatment or miscarriage, any such day on which she is absent shall be counted as a sickness day and, subject to the following conditions, be paid sickness allowance); the sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate*; and the employee has accumulated sufficient number of paid sickness days (Please read here for how the paid sickness days be accumulated) 8. Q: Can an employer make payment to an employee in lieu of annual leave? A: An employer should not include in an employment contract a term to forego all or any of his employee's annual leave entitlement, including payment of wages in lieu of any annual leave days. However, the law allows an employee to choose to accept payment in lieu of that part of his leave entitlement which exceeds 10 days. 9. Q: Can an employer require an employee to work on statutory holidays? A: Yes. An employer is required to give his employee at least 48 hours' prior notice for work on a statutory holiday. The employer must then arrange an alternative holiday within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday. 10. Q: Are employers obliged to take out employees' compensation insurance policies for all employees? A: According to section 40 of the Ordinance, no employer shall employ any employee in any employment unless there is in force a policy of insurance to cover his liabilities under the laws (including the common law) for injuries at work in respect of all his employees, irrespective of the length of employment contract or working hours, full-time or part-time employment. An employer who fails to comply with the Ordinance to secure an insurance cover is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for two years. For further information on Labour Legislation, please refer to Frequently Ask Questions of the Labour Department. Source: Labour Department “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
Young people may have questions and doubts in exploring the career pathway: should I start a business? Can I handle it? Which industry is suitable for me? The three quiz tools below provide further references for your better understanding in your strengths and potentials before starting a business. 1. Y.E.S. Services – Career Assessment Kit Professor WONG Chi-sum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has developed a comprehensive career assessment kit which includes Big-Five Personality Scale, Career Maturity Scale, Entrepreneurship Potential and more. You may try it for free. 2. Employee’s Retraining Board - Training and Career Needs Test The test is designed with reference to the Self-Directed Search (SDS) assessment tool developed by John Holland, which briefly classifies both people and working environment according to six basic types. You may have a preliminary understanding of your career aspirations and select a suitable field for entrepreneurship and relevant training courses. 3. Talent.gov.hk – Career Quizzes There are three career quizzes are provided by the Talent.gov.hk: Skill-Career Quiz, Interest-Career Quiz and the Background-Career Quiz. Through answering a series of simple questions regarding your interests, strengths, education, and experiences, you may get insights on the entrepreneurship direction that suit you the most. Source: Y.E.S. Services, Employee’s Retraining Board, Talent.gov.hk “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
Application for various licences is one of the essential preparations for starting a new business. See the information below of some basic licences required: 1. Registration of a New Company A new company is required to complete its company registration at the Companies Registry and obtain a Certificate of Incorporation. The legal liability varies among different types of companies. For example, a limited company must comply with the various provisions in the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which include the timely disclosure and reporting of specified information about the company, its officers and shareholders, etc. and any changes in such information to the Registrar of Companies so that members of the public can have ready access to the latest information of the company kept by the Registrar of Companies. It simply takes three steps and HK$1720 to register a new company. You may choose to submit you application either electronically through our "e-Registry" or by delivering the documents in hard copy to the CR with the correct fees. Please refer to the website of Companies Registry or Incorporation of a Local Limited Company for further information. 2. Business Registration The Business Registration Ordinance requires every person who carries on a business in Hong Kong to apply for business registration within 1 month from the date of commencement of the business, and to display a valid Business Registration Certificate at the place of business. Under the one-stop company and business registration service, you will be deemed to have made a business registration application at the same time you deliver an application for incorporation of a local company or an application for registration of a non-Hong Kong company. The Companies Registry will issue the Certificate of Incorporation (or the Certificate of Registration of Non-Hong Kong Company) and the Business Registration Certificate in one go if the application is successful. Other businesses have to register with the Inland Revenue Department within one month of business commencement. Check out the website of Inland Revenue Department for further information and fees on Businesses Registration. 3. Particular Business Licence You may need particular licences, permits, certificates and approvals from the Government to start your business operations at individual fields in Hong Kong, for example catering, construction and finance. You may try the Business Licence Information Service to acquire online the kinds of licences you need to operate your business. If you have already made a licence application, you can make use of the Licence Application Tracking Facility to check the application status online. GovHK also provides access to detailed information regarding restaurant licensing, telecommunications licences, environmental permits and licences, etc. Source: Companies Registry, Inland Revenue Department, Business Licence Information Service, Licence Application Tracking Facility, GovHK “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, online platforms have become popular for consumption which create business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Be sure to check the three bullets below before you start an e-commerce business: 1. Legal requirements The Government has enacted the Electronic Transactions Ordinance to provide a clear legal framework for the conduct of e-business in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Ordinance is to accord electronic record and electronic signature the same legal status as that of their paper-based counterparts; and establish a voluntary recognition scheme for certification authorities to enhance public confidence in electronic transactions. Be reminded to learn about the relevant legal regulations before you start an online service or trade. 2. Information safety Information security is a crucial pillar for e-commerce development. You may refer to the Information Security Guide for Small Businesses - Security Tips for e-Commerce provided by Cyber Security Information Portal of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO). You may also learn about Information Security in Electronic Services from the InfoSec website. The Government Computer Emergency Response Team Hong Kong has been working closely with HKCERT and the industry to share information on security threats and vulnerabilities. 3. Privacy There are legal regulations on how data users should collect, handle and use personal data in Hong Kong. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) has provided advices for business through Guidance for Data User on the Collection and Use of Personal Data through the Internet and Information Leaflet on Online Behavioural Tracking on the collection, display or transmission of personal data through the Internet. You may also learn to handle personal data in daily operations through real-life examples and interactive quiz in the Self-training Module on Protection of Personal Data for SME produced by The PCPD. *Tips* Eligible enterprises may apply the “Distance Business (D-Biz) Programme”, “Technology Voucher Programme” or other funding programmes for developing digital business. For more information, please refer to the websites of individual funding schemes. Source: OGCIO, PCPD “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
Wondering how to implement your ideas and start your own business? Follow the five steps below and be prepared for your entrepreneurship journey now! 1. Set Products and TargetsProspective entrepreneurs can try to observe and get information from daily life or the Internet to establish product/service and set their goals. Entrepreneurs also need to determine the business direction based on market conditions. Read the stories of our “Social Entrepreneur Series” and be inspired! 2. Assess economic and financial conditionsBefore you start a business, you can assess your own financial ability and feasibility of the business by "Budget Analysis Worksheet for Starting up Business". In addition, various types of funding schemes are provided by the Government to support young entrepreneurs. Try to look up the funding scheme that suits you best with our Funding Schemes Finder! 3. Develop a business planA detailed business plan can provide clear information to form business concepts and operation plans. It can also be used to raise funds or apply for related venture funding. For more tips on writing a business plan, please refer to the Business Start-up Information Service provided by SUCCESS. 4. Conduct market research and investigationMarket research and investigation can be divided into product/service, sales, marketing, promotion and other parts. Entrepreneurs who are interested can define survey questions and objectives first, formulate research plans, collect information for analysis and finally summarize and write research reports to obtain more marketing information. Please refer to the article “Market Information” for further information. 5. Establish good psychological flexibility In the process of starting a business, you may encounter different levels of psychological stress and difficulties, such as time and money constraints. Therefore, it is important to be highly flexible and develop a quality mindset. Entrepreneurs can accommodate themselves to situation changes by learning and experimenting new things, while learning to be patient and courageous to embrace challenges and to bear the pressure and risk. Source: Life Planning Information of Education Bureau, SUCCESS “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
What does an entrepreneur need to consider before starting his/her business? Brian is an award-winning glasses designer who produce distinctive glasses with a wide variety of materials including granite slabs, ebony and walnut wood. In 2017 he founded his handcrafted eyewear brand “Unsuikyo”. To conclude his entrepreneurial experience, Brian found that a designer simply cares about problems on one dimension: design; an entrepreneur, in contrast, need to concern about various aspects comprehensively. (The video is conducted in Cantonese) Brian suggests interested youngsters to plan well on the three factors below before starting their own business: 1. Capital There are quite a few expenditures involved in business operation, for instance, rent, salary, raw materials, machines, etc. Calculate your cost before you start your business and find a stable source of fund. In the case of Brian, he applied the “Youth Development Fund” and received a seed money for setting up his enterprise. 2. Sales Nowadays sales campaigns are not limited to stores but the online world as well. Sales channels and customer groups vary among different business sectors. Research the preferences of your target customers and choose a suitable mode of sales to boost the effectiveness. To provide you with further support, sharing among practitioners and professional consultation services will also be arranged by the funded organisations of the “Youth Development Fund”. 3. Mindset Being a boss may imply greater stress and concerns than being an employee. Prepare your mind, stay calm in challenging situations, and never give up easily! Starting your own business may not necessarily bring you success but lessons that will be useful for a lifetime. Source: Youth Development Commission - Facebook page “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.
You would never miss to set up a “body” to house your innovative business ideas. The very first baby step to grow your business is definitely to incorporate a company. To start a business in Hong Kong, you may first consider your preferred scale, sector and ownership mode of business and choose a suitable form of business entity. There are many companies offering comprehensive company registration service. However, you can also save cost by filing the registration yourself. Start it up easily with a 1-2-3! 1 | Think Twice the Type and Name of Company The liability of every member of a company limited by shares differs from that of a company limited by guarantee. Company members should well understand their liability in a company and choose the type of company that suits them the best. Before choosing a company name, you should go through the Guideline on Registration of Company Names for Hong Kong Companies for the point to note and conduct a company name search through Cyber Search Centre service provided by the Companies Registry to avoid using a name used by another company, which may render your application being rejected. Another search in the Trademark Register maintained by the Intellectual Property Department should also be conducted to prevent infringement of intellectual property rights. 2 | Get Ready for Application After reaching a consensus, you should get ready the signed incorporation form, a copy of the company's articles of association and a Notice to Business Registration Office. Bring along the application fee (HK$1,720) and correct business registration fee and levy to the shroff on the 14th floor of the Queensway Government Offices for lodging the application. The Companies Registry also accepts application through their electronic filing service, the e-Registry. Founding members and directors should register as individual users to sign the e-incorporation form with their digital certificate or password and submit thereafter. 3 | Get the Certificate and Kick Off! You will receive a notification to download or collect the Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate if your application is approved, meaning that you have already incorporated your new company. If you have filed electronic application, certificates in electronic form will normally be issued within 1 hour via email. For applicant who filed hard copy application, certificates in hard copy form will normally be issued within 4 working days and the presentor will be notified by fax or other means. If you wish to obtain more information about incorporation of local limited company, you may refer to the website of Companies Registry. Setting up a new company is just the beginning of building your business. To get away from any violation of laws, you are always reminded to spend time on studying the roles and duties of a member or a director of the company. You should also apply for licences relevant to your business operations. It is no bed of roses managing a company! “Startup How-tos” is an introductory guidebook written for entrepreneurship newbies, providing startup tips and related public services information.