Compare this cafe row which I saw in Hong Kong earlier this week with what I blogged here last month. While the competition was tough in London, it is even tougher in Hong Kong. In this one street I counted six eating places packed next to each other and I mean packed.

For the owners of these Hong Kong cafes, there is no decor to differentiate – it all comes down to product and service. I stood watching for fifteen minutes or so, in awe of the bravery of these businesses. They don’t have the tricks on which others rely – an expensive location, a sexy shopfit, staff uniforms, branding. No, they grow or fade based on their menu and service. I love the purity of the business model.

For me, watching these restaurants was a reminder that focusing on the core of your business is essential and that the benefits of tricks – marketing etc – will be short lived. It is your products and service which will really determine your success.