Innovative Woman Nicole Johnson

The Baby Sleep Site, sleep consultant, Innovative Woman, Nicole JohnsonMeet Innovative Woman Nicole Johnson, mother, sleep consultant and founder of The Baby Sleep Site®. 

How and why did you start your business?
Before my oldest son was born, I did “all the right things” – including reading up on baby sleep. I figured that if I read a few of the most popular sleep books, I’d have enough information to ensure that my son slept great. Boy, how wrong I was! My son was an incredibly challenging sleeper. The books contradicted each other and I was really confused, since he wasn’t “textbook” and wasn’t “easy.” I spent many, many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to help him learn to sleep well, in a way that fit with my goals and desires as a parent. Fortunately, after much additional reading, and lots of trial-and-error, I was able to help my son learn to sleep through the night in a way that worked for both of us. That’s what ignited my passion for sleep consulting – I knew I wanted to help other parents achieve the same (and hopefully faster than I did!), taking their baby’s unique personality into account. At first, I operated a small baby sleep message board, answering people’s sleep questions. Over time, moms on the message board urged me to write my own book. I then had the idea of creating a website that also had a “Helpdesk” to help other tired families. And that’s how The Baby Sleep Site® was born. Today, The Baby Sleep Site® enjoys over 600,000 site visitors each month, and connects with over 320,000 newsletter subscribers each week.

What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Hands down, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is formalizing the internal structure of the company. Once we grew large enough, it was time to become a “real company” with a formal employee handbook, established policies, a system of oversight and employee evaluations, etc. The Human Resources side of the job was overwhelming at first, and managing payroll and taxes and the legal aspects of running a company were definitely outside my wheelhouse.

One way I immediately dealt with these challenges was to hire a qualified, experienced employee who could handle our HR needs as well as payroll processing company who also aided in HR. My HR employee has been invaluable in strengthening The Baby Sleep Site®’s policies and internal practices, and in helping me sort out the myriad of regulations associated with owning a business. Additionally, I have worked to make the company more scalable, which has helped my team tremendously to deal with the ebb and flow of the seasonal nature of our business.

How do you define SUCCESS?
To me, true success means being successful both in my professional life, as a sleep consultant and business owner, AND in my personal life, as both a wife and a mother. To this end, I believe 100% that having a healthy work/life balance is the key to truly lasting, meaningful success. That’s one reason why I’m committed to keeping my company virtual; this allows my employees to work from home, which in turn allows them valuable time at home with their young children, and allows them to flex their work hours around their families’ needs. If my company can help other families – both internally, with my employees, and externally, with our customers – then my company is a success.

If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began, what would that be?
When my baby didn’t sleep, I felt very alone, like it was just me. I wish I knew just how NOT alone I was, back then! Little did I know then that one day, my website all about baby sleep would attract millions of other exhausted, overwhelmed parents each year. Although I’m so glad to know now that I wasn’t alone in my struggles, I wish so much that I had known it back when I was a young mother with a sleepless baby on my hands. I may have made different decisions years ago, knowing that one day we’d need to service so many families. When I started The Baby Sleep Site®, I never anticipated it growing to its current size and scope. Scaling has been challenging, with such explosive growth, but worth every minute!

What makes you an innovative woman?
I created a profitable small business that employs 15 incredible women – and in doing so, I helped to create the niche industry of baby and toddler sleep consulting. Prior to my creating The Baby Sleep Site® in 2008, a tired parent’s primary resources for solving baby and toddler sleep problems were books and articles that offered fairly one-size-fits-all advice, and couldn’t provide any personalized solutions. I knew that there had to be parents around the world just like me, who craved a customized solution to their babies’ sleep challenges, and who wanted help from a real, live person, and not a book or online article. While there were some sleep consultants around at that time, baby sleep consulting was certainly not very well known.

That’s what led me to start my baby sleep message board, and to eventually form The Baby Sleep Site® . The baby sleep consulting industry has certainly grown in the last 7 years, partially due to our success in showing families it is OKAY to ask for help and it’s just as normal as hiring any other professional to help you with your baby. I’m proud to say, though, that my company remains the industry leader by a wide margin, thanks to our unique virtual consulting model. Most sleep consulting organizations offer live, in-person sleep consulting, which is obviously limited to a very specific geographic region – and which tends to be quite expensive. At The Baby Sleep Site®, all of our sleep consultations are 100% virtual, and happen via phone and email, which ensures that our clients are not limited by geography. What’s more, the virtual nature of our consultations allows us to offer personalized help at a lower price point than most consultants.

In addition, our new product, the Express Sleep Plan(TM) has quickly become very popular as I have created a program that will ask families a few questions and then offer them a custom sleep plan. This has taken years of my experience with thousands of families to develop a “system” smart enough to understand what a family needs to be successful. It can’t take the place of talking to a live person, but for those families on a tight budget or who have less complicated sleep issues and who don’t need the support during the process, it’s the perfect solution for tired parents worldwide!

To learn more about Nicole visit The Baby Sleep Site®, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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