How Going Camping Helps Me Be a Better Entrepreneur


Entrepreneurs have all sorts of secrets for their success. Focus, stick-to-it-iveness, passion…even trust. What works well at one company may not work as well at another, and of course, and what works for one entrepreneur might not work as well for another.

But in a recent study of empirical data cited in the Harvard Business Review, researchers cited “being a morning person” as something that is strongly correlated with business success. The logic is sound. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, morning people tend to get the day started on the right foot, tend to be up and at work before many other people (thus giving them uninterrupted focus time), and tend to be more optimistic than night owls (which is also a factor in entrepreneurial success).

The HBR article, however, stated that if you’re not a morning person, you’re basically screwed. There is no way, it said, to “become” a morning person if you’re not naturally inclined that way.

Despair not, night owl ecopreneurs

But HBR types and the researchers they follow may not be the “new” type of entrepreneur that is building the green economy. Their old school research likely never looked at the effect of artificial lights.

That natural lighting cycle was recently tested by some nerds at the Smithsonian, who found that in just one week of camping in the backcountry of Colorado, they were able to turn night owls into full-fledged morning people.

According to the nerds:

The key, Smithsonian reports, was that they had no artificial light sources:

Eight people spent a week camping in the Colorado Rockies without any source of artificial light. To a person, the time spent outdoors during day and night restored a natural sleep cycle, turning even night owls into early risers.

I’ve always felt that Mondays after a weekend spent camping were some of the clearest thinking, most productive times in my entrepreneurial life. Now I realize there was something more to it than just the fresh air, clear mountain streams, and lack of internal combustion engine noise. But I’m sure that stuff doesn’t hurt my productivity either.

Camping photo from Shutterstock

About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on