Martin Pedley blogger

From 9-5 to life as a Solopreneur

For 20 years I worked a series of 9-5 jobs. Then in 2008, I put that behind me and started my journey as a freelance creator. Now in 2023, I’m beginning a new journey. That of a Solopreneur.

Most definitions of a Solopreneur suggest a person that works alone, much like a freelancer. However, when you look at self-professed soloprenuers, such as Justin Welsh, I don’t see a guy trading hours for money. Instead, I see someone building systems that allow him to create passive income and spend more time with his family.

This is where I want to take Sleep for Breakfast. Working for myself, helping others, all whilst operating within a system that allows me to take time off and avoid burn-out.

College Days

It’s 1987, I’ve just graduated from Nene College, Northampton in Graphic Design. It’s the start of a journey that includes; 15 years at a regional newspaper and a further 15+ years as a freelance creator. Developing friendships, connections and building everything from e-commerce sites to CMS systems.

Why the change?

Becoming a Solopreneur, is my final professional goal. I’m not looking to take on more clients and, trading hours for money has its limitations.

Then came the reality check

After leaving college, my first job was creating print artwork for a national builder’s merchant. Not the creative agency work I had imagined, but a paid creative job all the same.

After 12 months, I took a step up the creative ladder. I was now working for a print shop franchise. It was a small step in the right direction. Then in 1989, I joined the largest regional newspaper in the UK.

They were an award winning newspaper and one of the most technically advanced in the UK. One of the first newspapers in the country to install Apple products in their creative, editorial and production departments.

Was it the creative role I was looking for? No. But, opportunities like this often pay back later in your professional career. The exposure to state-of-the-art technology and industry standard software were experiences that at the time, were limited to those working for agencies and publishers due to cost.

Macromedia Dreamweaver was my entry in the world of web design and coding. As this interest grew, I was offered a seat on the newspaper’s Internet Steering Group. A small group representing different departments of the paper. More valuable experience.

Finally the break I needed

It’s July 2004 and I’m offered a creative role for a large motor group. A job that called for print advertising and web development. Two completely different disciplines. But one I could do, thanks to the opportunities I took during my years at the newspaper.

For the next four years I was designing print advertising for; newspapers, magazines, direct mailing and 48 page billboards all while building and running the group’s online showroom. I was learning new skills every week, I enjoyed the diversity of the work. I was a creative. But, there was a downside.

The constant switching between disciplines (pixels and print), and the sheer volume of work was becoming too much.

I would find myself lying awake at 2am, reaching for the notepad and pencil and scribbling down ideas, worried I may not remember them in the morning. Then waking after way too little sleep, rushing to get to get ready, with no time for breakfast.

Something had to change

In late 2008, I made the decision to go freelance. I’d always wanted to work for myself. But before now, the timing didn’t feel right. Fear of change and fear of failure were just two of the many obstacles I had to overcome in order to leave full-time employment and go it alone.

Finally, after 15 years of freelancing, I felt there was one more professional goal to achieve. To become a Solopreneur. That meant, new skills to learn, new fears to be conquered and all this while working as a freelancer for my long-term clients (friends).

Why Sleep for Breakfast?

One thing most of us can agree on, is that breakfast is THE most important meal of the day. So what if we started treating sleep like we do breakfast? We give it the attention it deserves.

eating a healthy bowl of breakfast cereal

Sleep has the greatest effect on our well-being. More than exercise, food or water, says Matthew Walker Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology. And yet, most of us hardly give it a second thought other than to acknowledge how tired we feel. We simply accept a poor night’s sleep as the part of life. Just as I did for years.

Amazon Recommends a Book

In late 2019 I was scrolling on Amazon and came across a selection of "Recommended for You" books. Nothing for me I thought, except for one. Simply titled "Sleep".

Up to now, I’d never given much thought to my sleep. It wasn’t perfect, I would wake up tired most mornings and, getting up in the middle of night to go to the bathroom didn’t help. But isn’t it like that for most people?

sleep book cover by nick littlehales

Short story, I bought the book. Within a few hours I’d read it cover to cover, it inspired me to at least try what I’d read.

Within a week, I started waking up naturally around 6.30am even in the dark mornings of Winter. I wasn’t tired anymore. I hadn’t got up during the night.

It really was transformative. I’m not an affiliate for this book, but Sleep by Nick Littlehales was the inspiration I needed to completely change how I think about sleep.

Improved Productivity

Waking up at 6.30am every morning, feeling more awake than I had in years also had another benefit. I gained two hours in the morning. Plenty of time for research, enjoying a morning coffee, breakfast and going through my to-do list. I had become more productive.

using a productivity app on my smartphone

The idea of a sleep-first approach, focusing on improving the quality of my sleep as a priority, gave me an extra working day a week in time. And still left me with weekends to do other things.

Is it possible to improve your sleep in 30 days?

Absolutely. All it took was a commitment to make a few simple changes to my pre-sleep routine. There were no supplements to take or gadgets to buy. Other than the book that sparked this transformation. But one book is like another, unless you’re prepared to act upon the advice given.

After 30 days I’d dialed in my pre-sleep routine and was feeling the benefits of sleeping well.

Sleep, Step and Repeat

Sign-up for my Sleep, Step & Repeat newsletter. Where every Saturday I share 1 actionable tip to help you improve your sleep, tackle procrastination and take small achievable steps towards your goals.

If you’re interested in improving the quality of your sleep, download a free copy of my ’Sleep Better in 30 days’ guide.

In there, I share how I reset my body clock and now wake naturally, at 6am every morning, without the need for an alarm clock.

pinterest pin - sleep for breakfast

I reset 30 years of poor sleep in 30 days. Here’s how.