There are six skills every entrepreneur must master: leadership, negotiation, strategy, finance, prioritization, and multitasking. The same skillset that defines survival for a single mother.
While the challenge (and reward) of raising children on your own is equal to none, there are many similarities when you take on “raising” a successful business. While negotiating with a vendor may be different from negotiating with a toddler mid-tantrum, and maintaining a family budget is not as involved as applying for corporate loans, the skills you have mastered as a single mother are easily transferrable to your new path of entrepreneurship.
That transfer, logical as it may be, does require some planning and adjusting, but no one walks the fine line between scheduling and being flexible better than a single mom! Here are some tips to take into consideration:
1. Do What You Love
In choosing your new business, choose one that you will enjoy. Elementary as that sounds, it is probably the most important piece of advice you will get. In some ways, your business will be like having another child – some days, it may drive you crazy, but if you start out choosing something you love, that will overpower the rough days.
The goal of your business, of course, will be to provide for your family; but, what a blessed life you will have if you can provide for your family by doing what you love!
2. Don’t Go at it Alone
Single mothers sometimes feel like they are on their own, but don’t fall into that trap. Your marital status does not define you as a parent, much less as a businesswoman. It takes a village, and it is your responsibility to create that village. Build a team with a culture of empowerment and support.
When your child wants to take karate, you don’t try to teach him yourself – you find a great karate class. When your business needs a logo, if that is not your forte, find a designer to help. You may even consider working with other single moms who are also building their own careers.
A single mom is creative by nature. You find solutions to problems outside the proverbial box. Use that creativity to build the team that will build the business.
3. Be Flexible
Sometimes, you help your child with homework while doing a load of laundry, cooking dinner, and ordering your vitamins online. Sometimes, you need to prepare for your corporate relocation while getting your kids ready for the new school year. Motherhood is not a 9-to-5 job and neither is entrepreneurship.
Set your expectations (and your kids’) to accept that you will sometimes do business things while waiting at your child’s music class, and sometimes have to pause to take care of sick kids during the business day.
Being flexible will come much easier if you have the infrastructure to do so. Set yourself up with a great mobile plan and all of the apps you need to communicate and run the business from anywhere.
4. Balancing Act
You never stop being a mom and many businesses never sleep. Nonetheless, you have to carve out some “me time”. When things are slow (and sometimes even when they are not), take a break from work. Give your kids your undivided attention when they need it; give your work your undivided attention when it requires it; and give yourself some undivided attention every now and then, too. Nourish your soul so you can nourish your family and your company.
Eat right. Exercise. Sleep. Go out with friends. Partake in a hobby. Do what you do to fuel yourself. Don’t overcommit your calendar, but if you need to, block out some time as “me time.” Your kids deserve a mom who takes care of herself. Your business cannot thrive if you don’t.
5. Blur the Lines
Work and family do not have to be mutually exclusive (in fact, they probably shouldn’t be). Involve your kids in your work. Any business has some tasks “that a 5-year-old can do” – have your five-year-old do them! Need a child model for your new website? Guess who will work for their supper?
And, on the flip side, involve your work with your kids – invite your colleagues for a weekend BBQ, share your kids’ milestones – and learn about children of your team members.
6. Return on Investment
There will never be a greater return on investment than the one you get from investing in your children. Becoming an entrepreneur will have returns in multiple realms. It will build your financial nest egg, build your confidence, and build a sense of respect and a spirit of entrepreneurship in your kids. Show them how it’s done, Mom!