Op-Ed: When Business Inspiration Strikes at 3 a.m.

If you wake up on the brink of an epiphany, you’d be crazy to go back to sleep. This is an opportunity.

Inspiration can strike at inconvenient times. Lately, for me … at 3 a.m.

I often roll onto my back searching for a quick nod back to sleep, but find myself thinking about work instead. We’ve all been there. The difference between some of us and others is in what we do next, and that may depend on how we feel about our “work.”

The word “work” is often saddled with some negativity. Probably like you, though, I am passionate, even obsessive, about my work, which is all about my business so, even if I am awake at 3 a.m. preoccupied with a badgering problem, more often than not I enjoy the subject and, regardless, I just can’t resist thinking about it.

I would hazard to say that if you’re passionate about your work, you should not resist. If you wake up on the brink of an epiphany, you’d be crazy to go back to sleep. This is an opportunity.


3 A.M. Opportunity

Why at 3 a.m.? I can only speculate. Perhaps that’s when I’m most rested, or maybe on the edge of sleep my thoughts are more fluid and creative. During the day, there is so much going on that it’s hard to carve out time for core creativity. Traditional hours, in my case, are for executing the creativity that arrived at 3 a.m.

That’s no mistake, suggesting that creativity arrives, which is part of why I’m reluctant to resist. Sometimes, it feels as though a creative thought has found me, rather than the other way around. When creativity knocks, I answer.

I am not suggesting that insomnia is a litmus test for success. But if you’ve launched your own business, if you’re an entrepreneur, you are going to lose sleep, you’re going to trade sleep for the time you need to succeed. Those late nights may be much more about tightening the nuts and bolts than creativity.

For example, I’ve spent late nights working with contractors in one of our salon suites and combing through financial records. I make it a point to grab a stepladder and change a light bulb (dead light bulbs are a pet peeve of mine) when I find one in any of our 50 franchise locations across the country.

I think a “true” entrepreneur is a do-it-all shop. We’re always ready to roll up our sleeves to get something done and no job is too small. Again, count on losing sleep. Entrepreneurship is not an 8-to-5 gig. It is much closer to 24-7. To succeed in business, you’ve got to be passionate about your work, you’ve got to want it so badly that losing sleep is a passive sacrifice. When opportunity knocks, be it at 3 a.m., answer the door. Otherwise, you may wake up wondering what you missed.


Productive, Sleepless Nights and Teamwork

And now I’d like to acknowledge business reality. Occasional sleepless nights are worthwhile, but it shouldn’t be the norm – that’s common sense. You can’t keep that up. For instance, I’m trying to move my 3 a.m. brainstorming sessions closer to 5 a.m.

I keep a pen and pad next to the bed so that when lightning strikes in the wee hours I can jot down a few notes. That has a way of securing the thought so that I can get back to sleep.

Also, I’ve learned that you can’t do everything. I couldn’t go on those impromptu ‘night rides’ of creativity and problem-solving without my incredible wife and family. I co-founded Phenix Salon Suites with my wife, Gina. She’s as passionate about our business as I am, and her family has more than 80 years of indispensable experience in the salon industry.

Remaining focused on the needs of our salon professionals has been key to our success. Our franchise partners are passionate, too. We carefully selected franchise candidates for their passion and abilities. And at the heart of our business are the salon professionals, the experts behind the chairs. They are both business owners and artists, creative and passionate people by nature. They define their own space and ultimately the experience of the clients who walk through the doors each day.

All of these people not only make it all possible, they make it worthwhile. What would it be if we were alone with our creativity and success? I think that as entrepreneurs we want people to participate and share in our journey. It wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and it certainly wouldn’t be as much fun.


Jason Rivera and his wife, Gina, are founders of Phenix Salon Suites, the fastest growing salon concept franchise in the nation with more than 50 locations serving more than 2,000 salon professionals. Connect with @PhenixSalon on Twitter.


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