Entrepreneur Friday – Ella Barrington
Time for another Entrepreneur Friday where we interview female business owners. This week we have the fabulous Ella Barrington – a new commercial consultancy specialising in Motorsport and technology industries.
Entrepreneur Friday – Ella Barrington
Tell us a bit about your business?
Corse Concierge provides commercial services to those within STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) industry. We specialise in motorsport and high-performance technology assisting with business direction, development, strategy and administration.
What inspired you to start it?
I’ve worked in motorsport in some context for nearly 15 years and been around it my whole life. I have a technical background and commercial experience but soon realised that it wasn’t a natural transition for a lot of engineers. A lot of people go into engineering because they prefer things to people, however people skills are vital to running a business. Even those that aren’t anti-social are actually still required in the technical aspect of the company. Corse Concierge can come in and take those other elements on – either on a temporary or regular basis.
What is your career background?
I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Leeds University and a Master’s in Racing Engine Design from Oxford Brookes. I’ve worked in a variety of roles within motorsport teams and the supply chain, in engineering, sales, project management and general management.
What is your vision for your business?
We’d love to be trusted partners for forward-thinking companies; the extra set of eyes (and hands) for that project that seems a bit overwhelming. I really look forward to working with a wide range of technology spheres – luckily being based in Oxfordshire there is always something scientific going on.
How do you maintain a good work/life/family balance?
Coming from a motorsport background I’m not used to being in an office 9-5 routine, so I tend to work with my natural body clock on the tasks that don’t involve clients. I’m one of those annoying morning people, so I tend to wake early, get straight down to work and get things done whilst I feel fresh. Then I can “sign out” at a reasonable hour in the evening to do some Yoga or drink some wine without feeling too guilty. My partner Martyn, who is also the Digital Director of Corse Concierge around his full-time job, is much more of a night owl, so sometimes we end up with a bit of work time at either end of the day. It keeps projects moving and suits us both, however, it isn’t that romantic!
What was your light bulb moment? When did you realise you wanted to be an entrepreneur/business owner?
I don’t have one of those “I sold sweets in the playground” type stories. I was more likely to be the kid that bought the sweets! It was more of slow realisation that the people around me who were business owners or leaders weren’t necessarily more intelligent or super gifted (although I have met some that are) – but they were just willing to take the chances.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
Don’t be scared to ask for help or do something you haven’t done before. Whether it is just a recommendation for a supplier or an introduction to someone in another network, most people will be happy to do so. There are loads of great online resources and events out there for start-ups. Give it a go – you’ll probably surprise yourself.
What has surprised you about owning your own business?
In a positive sense, how supportive other business owners are and how willing they are to share what they’ve learnt on the way. Simple offers of meeting spaces and spare desks are really appreciated when you are having those moments of doubt. The downside has definitely been discovering how much jargon and seemingly unnecessarily process involved in tax and accounting. Luckily I’ve now got a fantastic accountant who speaks to me slowly and clearly, but I do wonder how people do it themselves.
Who and what inspires you?
I’m rather fickle and have a new hero every week dependent on what podcasts I’d listen to! There are some inspiring female tech leaders like Martha Lane-Fox and Sheryl Sandberg who aren’t just brilliant business people, but all round amazing women.
Do you have a daily routine or rituals you do?
The downside of being someone who really seeks progress all the time is that I sometimes struggle to celebrate the small things and worry too much about the negative moments. This year I’ve made an effort to write down three things that went well each day at the top of my work diary. When you are having a bad day it’s great to look back over all the little victories that you had otherwise forgotten about. It gives you such a positive boost.
What obstacles have you had along the way?
This pre-dates my business career, but I really struggled during my Undergraduate degree. I felt like a fish out of water and spent most of the first year threatening to leave. The whole experience just wasn’t what I had pictured and it really made me doubt my abilities as an engineer and as an adult. For a while, I couldn’t picture myself “making it” in the industry.
What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started
I think it is quite important to know your worth, whether that is a product or personal, and stick to it. You don’t need to be a busy fool – that is something I’ve definitely been in employed positions and it isn’t enjoyable or sustainable.
Tell us your favourite tools that make your life easier (apps, websites, software etc)
I love Slack for messaging; it is great on the move and reduces email clutter. My favourite website to browse whilst on a tea break (other than Female Business Hub of course!) is Arianna Huffington’s new project Thrive Global. It has some great pieces on work-life balance and thriving at both work and home.
What is your favourite quote?
I only heard this a week ago, but I think it is really apt in the current economic and political climate – “A rising tide raises all ships”
A reformed engineer, Ella is an award-winning business and operations director for motorsport. She has worked with and for teams and tier one suppliers around the world. Now settled back in her teenage home in Oxfordshire she runs Corse Concierge, a new commercial consultancy specialising in motorsport and technology industries. When she isn’t looking at spreadsheets or dogs on Twitter, Ella is a Young Enterprise mentor and a STEM ambassador.
Thank you for taking part in Entrepreneur Friday Ella!
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