#Start-up Insomnia: Do Entrepreneurs Ever Sleep?

woman with insomniaI read an excerpt from a book about to be released by Andrew Yang called Smart People Should Build Things. In it, Yang describes starting a business as something like having a baby. Now that I have done both – had babies, and start a business  – I can see the similarities.

When my first child was born, she slept in a bassinet beside my bed. As with most babies, she was a noisy little sleeper – but I didn’t know the difference between her sleepy grunts and fussing. Every peep that came from that bassinet was like a clap of thunder over the house. My daughter was (and still is) a restless sleeper. For months, I fed her every time she moved. (So, every half hour or so.) I can’t remember ever being so tired – or so obsessed with something.

When my second child was born, he slept in the bassinet for two nights. I had by then realized that babies stir in their sleep. But that stirring set off all my hormonal motherly responses and prevented me from sleeping. I moved him into his own room on his third night home. And we both started sleeping for four hour intervals.

Now my children are older and – save the occasional nightmare – generally take care of their own middle-of-the-night needs. But I have a new baby to keep me up.

My business, a boutique communications firm for healthcare and tech start-ups, was born from passion. A passion for innovation and improvements in health care delivery and behavior change that sets my heart racing. I’m only in the very beginning stages of entrepreneurship and it’s very much like having a newborn baby in the house. I lie awake thinking of calls to action, of new ways to measure the impact of our work, of new story ideas, of new ways to engage customers and venture capitalists. I think of making subtle changes to websites I’ve developed. Of cutting the paychecks. Of strategies – mostly for my clients but also for my company, because I don’t get enough daytime hours to think of it.

I’ve got to figure out how to be a business owner and still sleep. How to be a business owner and be a wife/mother who might occasionally discuss topics other than her baby business. I’m a new mom. It’s terrifying. Exhilarating. Exhausting. But, at least I’m not lactating.

Advertisements