23 September 2015
Building Your Own Business in Hong Kong


By Dr Anne Hilty

On Wednesday 23 September, WiPS members and non-members gathered to hear a presentation by Julia Courtenay-Tanner, founder and managing director of Venture Language Training Ltd, on "Building Your Own Business in Hong Kong" Approximately 30 attended this lively and engaging talk.


Julia, who has built her business over 27 years with a precedent in UK, regaled the audience with stories and delivered a number of key points. Stating that she incorporated in order to have a business that was "bigger than just me", despite its modest beginnings at her dining room table, her keywords were: communication, trust and delegation, team-building, flexibility, systems and technology, integrity, and highest quality. She emphasised cultural considerations (e.g. never causing a Chinese colleague to "lose face"), and warned that at times, running one's own business "can be quite lonely" as one is alone in ultimate responsibility.

Over the years Julia has continually recreated her products and services in order to meet changing needs in the market, including the addition of a second business called "Language Line", and has remained enthusiastic despite challenges and setbacks. The business is not her "baby", however; while she advocates for the smooth integration of work and home life, she also separates parenting from needing to make a profit. On the matter of retirement, she referred to a friend who just retired at age 85, and stated that as far as she's concerned, "there's no endgame in sight". In addition to her keywords, Julia's ultimate advice was twofold: stay strong, find positives in the negatives; and, try to find a moment of joy in each day.


Following a Q&A for Julia, two other WiPS members were invited to join her on the dais: Guilda Kabalan, managing director of "Easy 2 Learn", and Elise Phillipson, managing director of "Run 'Em Ragged". Each provided a brief synopsis of her company, and all took further questions from the audience.