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May 5, 2016, by The Ingenuity Lab

Ingenuity16 Mentor Profile: Steve Ellis

During Ingenuity16, a range of successful business men and women based in Nottingham and further afield have got stuck in mentoring the University of Nottingham’s budding entrepreneurs. Their guidance and advice has been incredibly useful for the students and alumni competing for the £110,000 prize fund.

Over the next few weeks, we will be uploading profiles of some of Ingenuity16’s mentors and coaches sharing their top tips for success.

University of Nottingham Alumni Steve Ellis delivered two inspiring talks on How to Win in the Market during Ingenuity16. We caught up with him to get some more insights into how to make a business successful…

Company: I am currently acting as an independent consultant and business advisor. Previously I have held roles in the UK Board of Molson Coors and as Managing Director for 2 Sisters Food Group.

Website: Check out my LinkedIn Profile

What is your educational background?

I graduated with a BA in Economics from the University of Nottingham in 1993. As part of my management development with Bass Plc, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a Diploma in Management Studies and from Lancaster University with a MBA.

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Selfie time at the Ingenuity16 Awards Ceremony! From L-R: Elspeth Gilfillan (Director of Philanthropy at the University of Nottingham), Trishna Daswaney (Ingenuity Lab member and Director of Kohl Kreatives), Lili Zhu (Winner of the Ingenuity16 Asia Business Prize), Steve Ellis, Rachael Green (Head of Volunteering at the University of Nottingham) and Louise Hemming (Development Officer at the University of Nottingham)

My time at the University of Nottingham was incredibly important in preparing me for the world of work. The academic side helped to stretch my thinking and consider problems with a curious and challenging mindset that I still try and put to work today.

But, more importantly for me, it gave me the opportunity to meet people from all different backgrounds who shared my sense of ambition and opportunity. It was these friendships, which are still going strong today, that supported me through my studies and helped shape and develop my early adult life.

How did you originally get involved with the Ingenuity Lab?

I saw a request to volunteer my time through the Alumni Office. I wanted to give something back to the University and students, and The Ingenuity Lab was the perfect environment for me to do this.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone interested in setting up their own business?

The best way to fund your growth is to be profitable and manage your cash tightly. Get paid more quickly than you pay your suppliers, and you should be onto a winner!

What do you think are the key challenges that new entrepreneurs will face when setting up a business?

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Steve Ellis sharing his knowledge of How to Win in the Market at the Ingenuity16 boot-camp

Making the scale up transition can be hard. Your fixed costs will increase as your business grows and you commit to more staff or overheads. If your sales don’t come you can quickly run out of money.

Take on the resources that will add the most value to you. This gives you the time to do the most important tasks.

Also, make sure you are all over the detail of the P&L to understand your break-even points and cash flow forecast. Planning ahead allows you to take pre-emptive action before a problem becomes a crisis.

What work are you currently involved in?

At the moment, I’m involved in advising financial investment companies and businesses involved in the UK fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market.

I was also involved in mentoring and judging during Ingenuity16. It was great to see people’s ideas grow over the course of the competition.

If you started your business today, what would you do differently?

I have always worked for large companies. However, if I had my time again I would definitely look into setting up my own business. I believe that the innovation driven through start-ups is vital to kick starting the UK manufacturing sector.

If you would like to find out more about the work Steve Ellis is involved in, please visit his LinkedIn profile.

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