24 Feb 2019

The Journey to Live Well London by Sam Willoughby, Founder

Sam Willoughby

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was sitting in my kitchen deciding whether set up my own events business and launch my own events.  Fast forward 12 months and the first of those events, Live Well London is happening from the 1st – 3rd March at Old Billingsgate in London and I now have a business with 3 permanent staff and several freelancers, all working hard to deliver an exciting, much needed event in the wellness space.

So how did I do it and why?  After 18 years working for two of the world’s leading event organisers,’ I needed a change.  I’d worked my way up, delivered market leading events and had been given great opportunities but, I was becoming frustrated with the hierarchy and speed of a large company and having to follow strategies and goals set by others.  I was losing my energy and enthusiasm and dare I say it, confidence that I could do something else.  Work life balance was not there and with two school age children, it became a daily struggle of feeling guilty…guilty that they were last to be picked up from afterschool club, or guilty that I was taking time off in the holidays or they were sick.

It wasn’t a quick decision as the ‘confidence’ aspect made it hard to believe I could make the change.  I felt safe were I was, my team were great, it was a well-respected company to work for, but I wasn’t happy. I was also scared to make the jump.  What if I couldn’t find something else?  This is where my ‘angel’ appeared in the shape of a wonderful personal coach, who spent almost a year going through with me what my concerns were, why I felt like this and what I could do to change it.  She helped give me the confidence, that whatever happened, I needed to do it and it would be okay, the world wouldn’t end!

So, you might ask how did I end up running my own company and launching Live Well London?

I finally left my role and made the decision to have some time off and give myself the headspace to think what I really wanted to do. The first few weeks were great but then, I started to feel a bit like a fish out of water.  Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do sitting still, I like to be busy and it felt strange not having what felt like an identity.  This is where, my next angel appeared in the form of a past client who I had been to lunch with just before I left my role and we had chatted about what I might like to do in the future.  He rang me 4 weeks into my break offering me the opportunity to set up my own events business and launch my own events, with them as the investor. 

I’ll be honest, so many thoughts went through my head.  Excitement, fear, disbelief that someone would want to do this.    At this point there was no business or plan, so for someone to do this and believe in me so much gave me the push I needed to say yes.  I knew that if I didn’t give it a go, I would regret it.  So, in January 2018 Lime Events Group Ltd was born and I set about researching what would be the first market we would launch into.

Bearing in mind the reasons why I made the change, I wanted not only to launch an event that I knew would succeed commercially and that was needed in the market, I wanted to do so in a market that I had a genuine interest in and wellbeing, was one of those I felt strongly about given the importance of wellbeing for myself and my family as well as others.  At the time of looking into this, it was evident that mental and emotional wellbeing wasn’t being addressed as much or given as equal a focus as physical wellbeing and the two go hand in hand.  It was also very stereotyped to a certain age and size, whereas wellbeing and how to keep healthy and fit needs to be accessible to all.

So Live Well London was launched, and I couldn’t be more excited about the 1st March or prouder of the team that has built this with me.  I’m also so grateful to have been given this opportunity and supported and trusted to go for it.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though….I have to admit in the first few months, sitting in my front room working out how to set up a business, find a show to launch and do things I had always had a team to do for me (my previous team will laugh reading this especially when I mention my lack of IT skills!) was tough.   I questioned at times what the hell I was doing and I quickly realised I am not someone who can sit working from home on my own, I thrive having people around me.  It was a lonely place to be. 

But I believed in what I was doing and the more I went out and spoke to people, asking their thoughts, it became clear that this was going to work.  Getting out and about, going to meet people and building my network was the single most valuable thing I did and its key to making a success of what you do.  It’s not what you know, it’s who and people are so willing to help and support if they also believe in what you are doing.

So here I am sitting in my office (conveniently located where I live, but not in my front room!) and wondering what advice I could give from my journey.  

1) If you don’t try it, you’ll never know and ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? 
2) If you are struggling to make a change or you don’t know how to do it, consider getting a personal coach. 
3) Network, network, network.  It’s so important to get out there and talk to people  
4) Remember, you will have your ups and downs but give yourself time if it’s a big change. Don’t underestimate the emotions you may go through. 
5) Find yourself someone you admire, who also supports you and believes in you.  A mentor if you like, although in my case it was my investor and I’m lucky to have two people there who are amazing. 
6) Don’t be scared to take risks.  Sometimes you have to, to see if something works, but trust your instinct as its usually right and if not, you will have learned something.

To sign off from me, I’d love you to come and have a great day out at Live Well London.  See what you can achieve if you can get the courage to go for it!  Come and see what you can do to look after your own wellbeing, from credible experts and brands and try something new.   Please support my launch event!

Grab your tickets here!

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