An Interview With Laura Tenison
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Funding. Starting a business with no investment and growing it organically without capital is tough but sets you in very good stead during an economic downturn. Thinking laterally and attempting everything yourself is great grounding for really understanding your business as it grows.
How did the corporate speaking begin?
I was working as a Welsh Development Agency Role Model – going into deprived Valleys schools and trying to enthuse classrooms of 15 years olds to be positive about their futures. They were often from two generations of unemployment and hearing the story of an entrepreneur who started her business on a tiny scale gave them some hope. The groups started to get a little bigger and I moved from schools to universities. Once I was awarded the 2010 Business Woman Award the requests for public speaking started to come in
Which event has been your favourite and why?
But my favourite event of all was to talk to a huge group of East African women in business. The event was held in Abuja, Nigeria and drew an audience of nearly 1000 women from all walks of business life. It was exceptionally lively and fun – with the audience whooping and applauding during my talk.
Why do you love being a speaker?
I speak because I believe in what I say. I feel that my business ethics are important and I have a message which needs to be passed on. I am often told that the audience relates to me as a speaker.
Who would you most like to share a platform with?
I am lucky to meet all sorts of fascinating people through my public speaking. But I often find the members of the audience who ask questions at the end of the speech the most inspiring individuals in the room.
What do you do to ensure your presentation has a lasting impact?
I will tailor my speech in an impromptu fashion to react to the way the audience is receiving me. I like to know who my audience is and if they appear to be fast asleep when I arrive I will do my best to wake them up and get their attention before starting on the main talk.
What can a typical corporate audience learn from your experiences?
Everything. It is amazing how few corporates expect people to think outside the box. There is a natural reluctance to put anyone in a difficult situation these days and hearing what a self-made entrepreneur will attempt to do or has done is often an eye opener. People need challenges – we are sometimes too ‘safe’.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
Walking the dogs and watching my children play sport from the sidelines, cooking a large Sunday lunch and drinking a couple of glasses of delicious wine with friends. Followed by a snooze on the sofa in front of an open fire whilst watching film.
What personal ambition must you fulfil before you die?
None, I am happy with my lot but I keep learning new things and having new adventures. If you stop learning your start dying. I can’t imagine I will feel any different aged 90.
What have you got lined up for next year?
We have just launched in the USA and we have some great ideas on how to succeed internationally as a domestic brand. Equally, I have a pretty eclectic attitude to marketing and have just bought and renovated a Citroen HY van which starts its tour round the country on a road show shortly.