#TRADETALK with Lewis Ellis

  1. Jas Sensi

    Jas Sensi UKBF Newcomer

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    From getting the boot from Lord Sugar’s boardroom when starring in BBC’s The Apprentice to starting his own businesses during a global pandemic, Jasdip Sensi sits down with Lewis Ellis to discuss the impact of COVID-19, his achievements, regrets and his advice to anyone venturing into business.

    Could you tell me about yourself?

    “My name is Lewis Ellis. I work in marketing, which I have been doing for quite a long time. But, not long ago, I decided to start up my own travel company and that is what my plan was before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

    “As the pandemic hit, I unfortunately lost my job and had no other choice but to either find another job or leap into the world of being self-employed and launch my own business, which I did.

    “So I started working full time at my side hustle, which is called Hussel Marketing, and I have been doing that ever since. For the past five months now, I have been working full time at my marketing agency, whilst also starting up a travel company.”

    What was the transition like from your previous job to owning Hussel Marketing?

    “I think what I found is that you don't really stop working when you are working for yourself. There is no cut off period or time for you to finish at the end of the day compared to an average 9 to 5 job. Some days it's very time consuming and will take up all your time if you are not careful. Especially this year, it is important to make time and do your own thing and look after your health.

    “I think one of the main reasons behind that is running your own business no longer feels like work when you are doing it for yourself. It no longer feels like I am working, but it feels like I'm working on my passion project.

    “When money comes in it's all down to all your hard work, you made that happen. Nobody paid for you, nobody gave it to you, you went out and you found it. I really think it's more rewarding when you are working for yourself.”

    What made you start your businesses?

    “The travel company is mainly because I love to travel, but like so many other things, it has come to a pause due to the pandemic.

    “However, the marketing agency is because I have always been doing it on the side for many years and I never really thought I could ever go full-time in it, but actually, when I didn't have a job I decided to venture into it.

    “Everyone thinks working for yourself is a risk, but I think there's more risk in a job in the current climate – so if the risk is the same why not take the leap? That's what I did, I jumped into my own thing and I haven't looked back since.”

    What is your background in business?

    “I decided at the age of 21 that I wanted to start a business someday. For that reason, I did a business degree and after that, I did a masters degree in business and marketing. I entered the industry by taking the education route first to get the understanding behind it.

    “I went on to work in different marketing companies for about seven years before I went full-time on my own. I actually made a very conscious effort two years ago to get ready to run a business, by going from working in-house to working in an agency.

    “Simple skills such as how to deal with clients, how to get business and how to network were some of the things I wouldn't have learnt without working in an agency.

    “At the same time, I was going out and about interviewing people that owned agencies in Manchester, asking how they did it, how they started out, and how they knew what to do.”

    How do you describe your management style?

    “My management style is paternalistic. I try to empower people. I want them to take control of everything they do. I try to give them as much freedom as possible and want to make sure their needs are being met.”

    How do you overcome problems?

    “To be honest, one of my biggest skills in life is that I am very decisive. I weigh up my options: here is the evidence I have to work on, and here is the decision I have to make.

    “If there is an issue, I won't wait until it's too late to take action. As soon as I come across the problem, I will pounce on it.”

    What inspires you?

    “Well, I watched my mum have no money and my family struggled. So I decided a long time ago that I was never going to end up in the same position and the only way I saw to make money was to start my own business.

    “I can't sing, I am not very good at playing instruments, so natural talent was all about learning things quickly and having that drive and determination to make sure my family are not in the same position I was in when growing up.”

    How has COVID-19 impacted your business?

    “It 100% has. Especially my travel company. We were meant to launch in the summer and we couldn't.

    “After lockdown, we were getting ready to launch again and the same thing happened. Now we’re thinking this could also be a good thing for us, mainly because we have less competition. It's not all bad. Just a waiting game.

    “My safety net of having a job has gone as well. I lost my job, couldn't launch my company, had no money coming in, but every time there seems to be an issue I don't worry about it, I don't panic.

    “If there is something that is out of my control, I think of ways around it. Panicking is not going to sort anything, so I think about what I can do to change my situation, and do things accordingly.”

    Have you got any regrets?

    “I think my only regret is not starting sooner. I have always said I wanted to start a business, but I didn't know what I wanted to do it in. I always thought there was a secret behind it.

    “I am glad I waited long enough to become skilled in what I do, because of its credibility. I know what I am doing has been tested and proven. But I wish I had started sooner in something I was passionate about and just taken the plunge.”

    What advice would you give to someone who is trying to start their own business?

    “The only advice I have is just start. I know it sounds silly, but just start.

    “I read a quote not too long ago, which I wrote in my business diary that I took to networking events a few years ago. It said ‘the only thing standing between yourself and success is inaction’.

    “At the time I wrote that down, I didn't realise how true it was.”

    #TRADETALK is our new series of interviews with UK-based small business owners. If you’d like to be featured, get in touch with Jas on UKBF or email [email protected].