Getting to know you: Tarek Gjonnes

What do you currently do?

I am the Managing Director of a specialist Venue Management company called Blank Canvas, based in London. In a nutshell, we take on empty or disused buildings and activate them as events and filming venues.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

When I first started transforming empty buildings into venues, I saw there was a gap in the market as there is a constant demand from clients and brands for new and exciting venues which form the backdrop to events and filming projects. My goal and mission became to start a company focusing on bringing exciting, new and innovative venues to the market place and creative industries.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

It is very easy to get consumed by the here and now, when building up a new business and over the years I have realised the importance of working “on” the business rather than “in” the business. Taking a step back and analysing where the business is in its current state, setting ambitious yet achievable and realistic goals and KPI’s, and remembering to monitor and adjust along the way, is key. Then there is the whole area of developing systems and procedures, which I wish I would have implemented at an early stage of my first venue management company, which I ran for six years. Making mistakes along the way is normal….it is how you deal with them and ensure that they don’t happen again which is vital.

What defines your way of doing business?

Ambition, vision, goal setting and drive are traits and skills I am constantly striving to achieve and improve on, from a personal development point of view. Being honest, considerate and fair is the way to forge, build and nurture relationships in doing business.. so this is the way that I try to perform as an individual and what I strive for my employees to see as second nature, when doing business. It’s all about the network which you build and nurture

Who do you admire?

I admire people who have the courage to start their own business and to follow their dreams and ambitions. Seeing that fighting spirit and dedication is always inspiring, no matter how big or small the ideas are….it’s the people who dare to step into the world of new business and entrepreneurship and find the drive and motivation to solve market needs and find the will to bring their idea into existence.

What advice would you give someone starting up?

Over and above a brilliant idea, focus, hope, motivation, marketing & sales skills, financing…setting goals and having the drive to truly want to make something happen is key. Without that desire, nothing else matters. I have been through a roller coaster of emotions and experiences and have even at times been told to throw in the towel, so to speak, but that has given me even more of a drive to achieve, perform and deliver.