Updated: Jul 7, 2019
Sam Leigh is the Managing Director of Sleigh Services Ltd, a provider of courses in mental health first aid. He founded the company in 2016 after a career in the Department of Health that lasted 17 years.
Sleigh Services has collaborated with multiple organisations including the Department of Health, Leeds City Council, Lloyds Banking Group and Coventry University.
Sam was born in London to Nigerian parents and lives in Leeds with his wife and 3 children. He also has one grandson.
Tell us about your brand?
We’re a mental health first aid company that teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue.
What inspired you to start your own venture?
Well, I needed more. I loved the job I was doing but I knew I could offer more, and I knew if I wanted to achieve my goals and dreams, I really did need to start my own business. To be honest with you that’s probably the main thing that inspired me to leave my job and get started.
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been in business now, full-time, for two and a half years. Although I’d been doing other things over the years, I left my full-time job completely in 2016. So yeah, two and a half years!
Tell us about one highlight of your entrepreneurial journey.
I would say that has been achieving my short-term goals. Something else is the freedom that I now have to do as I want, when I want, and being on course to achieve all the other goals I’ve set.
What impact has your venture had so far?
What we do as a company in mental health first aid helps a lot of people. It’s life-changing. And it’s amazing how many emails I receive on a regular basis from people who have attended the course we do and have changed lives or have had their lives changed.
I received a text recently from a lady who told me during the time she did a course with us that her son had a mental health issue. We had a really good chat and I gave her some pointers. Then she sent me an email later saying ‘Thank you very much. My son is on the mend. Things are going well for him.’ And that email came after the son of a friend of hers had completed suicide. She was just grateful that her son was still here.
So, the impact we are having is saving lives, literally, and changing lives on a daily basis.
What’s one key challenge you’ve faced so far and how did you tackle it?
I would say the major issue I had when I first started was finding business. Mental health first aid is a niche area and I had to figure out how to make people take me seriously and realise that they needed our service.
What worked for me was going to networking events. In the early days, I attended 2-3 events per week! I actually joined a networking group that cost me £1200 per year; we had to meet at 630 in the morning until about 830/9, regularly, and each person had to be there, on time and you couldn’t miss it.
For me that was great – you know someone said to me, ‘You don’t worry about the cost of the shovel if you are digging for gold.’ And so being part of that group turned my business around. Another saying is that ‘The poor work for a living and the rich network for a living,’ and so for me networking really, really worked, and I would highly recommend it. Go to different ones – golfing events, food events, everything! Go to as many as possible.
On a day off, what would you do?
I enjoy going to the cinema with my family regularly and play badminton when I can. Number one though is hanging with my family and friends. Sunday is generally my day off - I try not to work on a Sunday.
The first thing you do when you wake up is…
Read my bible. I’m a Christian and reading the bible starts my day off right, on a positive note.
And the last thing you do before going to bed is…
Apart from talking to my wife – we kind of chat before we both fall asleep, I then go over my goals. I look at them – they’re all over the place – on my wall, on my phone, in my diary. So, in my diary at night the alarm goes off and the title of the alarm is my goals, so I can look at them in the morning and at night.
Three people you’d like to have a chat with are:
King David – that man went through so much and I would like to find out how he did it.
Madam CJ Walker, that woman! She found a niche market, she had to step out in faith to start a business and I would like to ask her how she faced her challenges.
Finally, Richard Branson. He’s like Marmite, some people like him, some don’t but I think he’s awesome. Just to be able to get from where he was to where he is now is… I don’t think anyone has as many streams of income as he does. So definitely would want to chat with Richard Branson!
So that’s me really!
Thank you so much! It’s been really great to hear about your life-changing enterprise.
You can find out more about Sleigh Services Ltd at:
T: 07939 564998
FaceBook: Sleigh Services-Financial Education and Mental Health First Aid
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