In this week’s interview, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Sarah Fung, Founder and Publisher of Liv Magazine.

Before starting Liv, Sarah was the managing editor of HK Magazine, which was Hong Kong’s largest English-language weekly publication. When she left HK Magazine, Sarah saw a gap in the market for a city magazine that focused on all aspects of health and wellbeing, not just fitness but food, mental health, sustainability, pampering and more. There had been a few “alt” titles previously but she wanted to create a product that was sophisticated, beautifully designed and catered to an emerging crowd of well-heeled wellness enthusiasts working on Hong Kong Island. Since then Liv Magazine has become a creative agency with a focus on wellbeing, and run regular activations, guides and events through the year, including Wellness Week, Women of Wellness, the Wellness & Lifestyle Awards, The Small Business Guide and The Wellness Guide, to name a few. They also run bespoke events and create content for clients, from hotels to lifestyle brands.

Connect with Sarah
Let’s start with the timeless 60 seconds ‘elevator pitch’, what’s yours?

Liv is Hong Kong’s authority on health and wellbeing. With a lively voice and trusted recommendations, our readers are engaged and eagerly wait each month for the next edition. There are so many ways of working with Liv Media. In addition to our flagship publication, Liv Magazine, and its associated digital channels, we also run special projects, events, and activations through the year. We have helped hundreds of brands launch and grow their businesses, from SMEs and startups and corporates and professional associations. Whatever your strategy, we have a solution to help you reach our network of influential wellness enthusiasts.

At one point or another, it is inevitable that challenges will pop up in business. What’s your approach to overcoming challenges?

The past few years have been challenging for everyone, with a one-two punch of protests followed by a pandemic. With some of our key client categories (spas, gyms, hotels, travel) decimated overnight, we had to move fast and adapt our strategy. We found that rather than working around our clients’ marketing plans, we instead built products that they would want to be a part of, and that were priced attractively for the small businesses and solopreneurs that emerged during the pandemic. We found that creating guides, awards, and activations that were buzzy, simple to pitch and fairly priced was key to our success during this time.

Sales and marketing are two very important, but different, functions within a business. What is your number one sales tip?

Apply mindfulness to your pipeline! Rather than sending a million generic emails that elicit barely any response, take time to think about who would be a good client, and then tailor an email accordingly. And remember to say what’s in it for them – too often we think about who we want to partner with, without thinking why they might want to partner with us! If you can tell them in your first email why their business will benefit from your product or service, you’re much more likely to get a reply.

Sarah Fung, Publisher, Hong Kong
Sarah Fung, Liv Magazine, Hong Kong
What is your favourite business tool or system?

We do everything on G Suite. Information submission forms, photo sharing, group editing articles, presentations, advertorials, sales tracking, invoicing… It’s the perfect tool with everything we need in one place to run our business. All of our accounting is done through Xero, which is an amazing tool for small businesses, and I recommend that all new small businesses get a Xero account as soon as they can and start doing their accounts on the platform straight away.

It is important to celebrate your achievements, particularly during the difficult times. How do you celebrate your achievements?

We make a point to go for a lovely team Christmas lunch at the end of the year, where we make a point to express gratitude to each other for our hard work and support through the year. We also try to do something fun every now and again, whether it’s a fitness class, a sound meditation, or even getting a cake delivered to the office during our weekly meeting.

Being in business is like an education in itself, what are the three most important lessons you’ve learned in your business?

Lesson 1: A sale is never confirmed until the ink is dry, so don’t bank on that big deal that you’re DEFINITELY going to close soon. Too many times we’ve had a deal fall through our fingers at the last minute! Stay hungry and keep looking for other opportunities, just in case that deal falls through.​

Lesson 2: Decide on your values and build your company accordingly. Work-life balance is hugely important at Liv Media. As many of the Liv team are parents, we mostly work remotely and rely on calls and WhatsApp to keep in touch with each other. There is a slight tradeoff in efficiency, but what we get back in return is happy staff with autonomy over their schedule, and as a result, our staff retention is high.

Lesson 3: Be direct. When I first started in my career, I felt that I couldn’t say no or give my honest feedback out of fear of offending people, but actually being indirect just wastes everyone’s time, and most people appreciate honest feedback. As women, and particularly living and working in Asia, it can be hard to retrain ourselves to just say no or share information we think others might not want to hear. But from my experience, it’s better to be clear and candid when communicating with clients, suppliers, or staff.

What business-related book or podcast has inspired you the most?

I loved and always recommend “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. He’s a former FBI negotiator and it’s incredible how many hostage negotiation skills you can apply to a sales negotiation! If you’re nervous or find that you fold too easily when you start talking about money, it’s a fascinating and insightful read and it teaches you how to negotiate in a low-conflict way that stays friendly while allowing you to get what you want. Beyond business, it’s actually a great read for the many negotiations we encounter in our day-to-day lives.

The purpose of such an interview is to promote your business. Please tell us, who is your dream client?

We would love to work with any of the major health insurance brands in Hong Kong!

If you are Sarah’s dream client, please contact her through her website, liv-magazine.com.

Thank you for taking the time to connect with us Sarah. We are delighted to showcase you on our site.

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Women Business Owners Asia is a passion project to showcase the women, living in Asia, who have taken the plunge and started their own business.

“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” – Unknown

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