The founder of airplay blow dry bar, Wang Cheung, has an eclectic background. From architecture to toys and then finance, this multilingual Hong Kong entrepreneur lived in Switzerland, the United States and Japan before partnering in business with his wife. Wang received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2007. Tell me about your background – how did you go from architecture to finance? I chose architecture, to combine creative and technical. But I realised I liked working with people, so I spent seven years in the toy industry, working with international customers. When the company launched stocks, I realised I didn't know anything about finance, so in 2005 I did an MBA and started credit trading. What made you decide to leave finance to start your own business? I always wanted my own business; I was always looking out for good ideas. I read an article about a blow dry bar in the US and thought it would work in Asia. It turned out my wife had already suggested it, and had put the magazine in my bag! It took three months to write a business plan, find a location and investors, and hire staff. We had to move fast, to be the first in Hong Kong. Through my MBA I met people with different backgrounds and did case studies, so I learned not to be afraid. Looking back at those three months, I realise how little we knew, despite the finance, human resources and lessons in building business relationships. What are the ups and downs of business and life? Owning a business is fun – but more stressful. As an employee, you always getting paid, but now I can work really hard and still lose money. What you put in isn’t always equal to the return, at least in the short term. How do you keep the right balance between work and home – and deal with conflict? My advice is: don’t start a business with your wife – it’s impossible to avoid conflict with a business partner! We were determined to keep work and home separate, but it’s impossible – you think about your business 24/7. The good thing is that if we argue over business, we always compromise and make up – those are marriage skills. Can you give me some insights into your business model and strategy? You have to be one step ahead of the game, especially in retail or anything on trend. Keep innovating, because anyone can copy your business model. When you’re operating, you experience customer behaviour, see room for improvement, watch the competition. The challenge is to document ideas and decide what to execute. The blow dry bar business is not a salon: Our model is no cut, colour or perm, which keeps the location clean and smelling good. Customers sit at a bar, relax with friends, have a complimentary drink or something sweet, while our artists make them party – or work – ready. I hear you find the 4Ps (price, product, promotion, place) crucial when you do business. Tell me more. When you run a business, you don’t think this way because there are so many moving pieces. It’s an important framework, but each “P” can split into a lot of sub-categories –you’ll soon discover more factors to consider. How has your MBA helped you in your career – and your life aspirations? My MBA gave me conviction; there are a lot of options and you can be adventurous. You learn different frameworks, which help you to structure your thoughts around issues – it’s more efficient dealing with challenges. The basic skill sets are also helpful, because a business owner needs the basics in everything. And the networks are really helpful. Now I’m on the board of the Harvard Club in Hong Kong and an officer of the Harvard Business Association of Hong Kong, so I stay close to the alumni; it's opened a lot of doors. You have lived in so many countries, and several languages – how does this inspire you? I love to see what’s different in each market, which informs my strategies – we took a US model and adapted it to Asia: here, we need makeup services too and the opening hours extend later. It's made me adventurous and curious, open to ideas and cultures around the world – I’m also adaptive, which is useful as an entrepreneur.