Being a successful entrepreneur parent is a feat in and of itself. But single mom entrepreneurs all need a medal of valor. You don’t only have your business’ profits hinging on your every move, you have your children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being resting squarely on your own shoulders. And every decision you make doesn’t just affect your company, but your family…with few, if any, people to help you carry that load.
Being a mother requires tremendous amount support. Being an entrepreneur, just as much. But when you carry the boulder of responsibility of the two alone, well, some days running and hiding in your blanket fort sounds far more appealing. Yet, you get up and do it anyway because they both depend on you and that’s your only option.
These 10 single mom entrepreneurs do it every day and have created businesses that are thriving and successful, and so are their babies.
1. Single motherhood is not a setback.
“Being a single mom is NOT a setback”, says Angela Benton, founder and CEO of NewMe. Her company has accelerated over 300 startups and helped them secure $17M in venture capital funding. Design and tech leading lady has been power listed in Ebony, Marie Claire, and Goldman Sach’s.
“Don’t get me wrong, entrepreneurship is a ton of work. However don’t let the perception of this lifestyle count you out before you even count yourself in. Being a single mom comes with a wealth of skills that do well in entrepreneurship like: multitasking, creativity, managing and/or operating on a budget, and problem-solving to say the least. I don’t know about you but I’d put my money on someone with these skills rather than a new college grad.”
Use the skills you’ve mastered as a mom to master your business by utilizing your think-outside-the-box creativity and resourcefulness to make your supermom status work for you in your business.
2. Your babies are the most valuable parts of your team.
“You have to make family a part of your business… I’ve always considered my kids to be my board of directors, whether we’re moving or having them share a bedroom so we can open a store in our house. Make them a part of that journey. And that’s for any mom, not just single moms… Our kids are our reason to seek out a better life,” says Lauren Thom, founder of Fleurty Girl.
Lauren took her 2009 tax return, invested it in her t-shirt idea and five years laters, her brand is a staple for the NOLA enthusiast.
Whether it’s letting them in on deadlines or turning a bedroom into an inventory space, like Thom did, keep your babes in the loop and on top of what’s going on in your biz. Some of them even work well as motivators to get you back on track when you’re feeling off. (My youngest serves as a manager on those days when I can’t get my head around everything.)
3. Feel out your own rhythm.
“The truth is you can do it all if you just change what your definition of balance is. There are times where my business gets more attention than my kids and vice versa. In the end I like to believe that is all balances out. Part of being an entrepreneur is being comfortable with changing direction quickly. Needless to say as a single mother and entrepreneur you’ll get a ton of use out of that skill! So relax, have faith, and take it one day at a time,” says Nusha Pelicano, owner of 5 Orange Leaf franchises, Iron Man competitor, and single mother of six.
Balance happens when magic does. Make your magic in your business on you schedule, even if it means working when everyone’s asleep or making arrangements for them to be entertained so you can work when you’re at your most creative.
4. Fairy tales don’t serve you.
“When dating, look for potential partners who love what you do and show it by changing their schedule to be there for you. When I found my husband, he made every effort to help me with Sage, he’d drive almost two hours to babysit so I could do marketing events, even though he had an executive position of his own. Not all partners will want to play a support role, so find someone who has a deep passion of their own and isn’t afraid to nurture it, they’ll allow you the same,” Zhena Muzyka, head of the multi-million dollar fair trade tea company, Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.
Date only the people that see your value and don’t try to detract from it.
5. Say no to toxic people.
“Ban toxic people from your life. You don’t have enough time already, right single mom or dad? So if you are living or working or worshipping around a toxic person or people who invade your confidence and bring you down, you MUST remove them from your life,” says Lisa Stone, co-founder of Blog-Her, a women-focused media platform with an audience of 100 million.
People can suck the life out of you or they can add to your power. Stay away from the energy drains and pay attention when the red flags pop up in your gut.
6. Break before you break.
“Entrepreneurship, just like motherhood, is not a 9-5 job. Some days I stay up until 3 a.m. working and then have to do a 7 a.m. child drop off at school. Be kind to yourself. Make time for you even if it’s just to breathe and smell the air. Kids are going to make messes, they are going to eat your reports and download viruses to your computer. Your best weapon is a sense of humor. Enjoy your single mom entrepreneur life, wear the title proudly. We are basically super heroes, says Karla Campos.
Sometimes a shower is all you need to take a few minutes to recharge your batteries, but the key is making your breaks conscious additions to your day by reminding yourself, “Okay, it’s time to walk away for a minute and when I come back from it, I’m going to be re-energized and ready to roll (with the kids or the work).”
7. Drive trumps all.
“Look for inspiration everywhere. Make note of all the things that frustrate you in your daily life, then research creative ways to address those inefficiencies. All it takes is an idea and an Internet connection to create a product that changes the world.
Don’t let inexperience stop you. My business résumé was basically limited to school bake sales. Not knowing which steps to take first nearly paralyzed me with fear. I overcame this by reaching out to other business owners who could connect me to experts in manufacturing, production and sales. Each key person I met shortened my learning curve and gave me confidence. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how other small business owners want to pay it forward and see new upstarts succeed,” Melissa Kieling, owner of the $14M PackIt Personal Cooler company, born out of her need to keep her kids’ lunch cool and safe.
Drive is a massive substitute for talent. Don’t see what you don’t know as a block, see it as fuel to get to the next step.
8. Kiss guilt goodbye.
“There is enough guilt to go around for any parent, so I make a conscious effort to let it go and focus on the positives. I may have a hectic schedule, and, as a result, my children are learning how to be independent and self-reliant. They are getting an inside-look at how a startup works, by testing our app and coming into the office, which I know will benefit them in the long-term,” says Natalie Angelilo, founder and CEO of Swopboard.com and Swink Style Bar, she’s also held VP and C-Level positions as Getty Images, PhotoDisc, and PhotoZone.
This guilt thing is a huge road block for so many. Keep your goal in mind and remind yourself that you’re creating a better life for your kids, while teaching them skills that will give them self-confidence in a world that won’t always flow in their favor.
9. Adopt a new view.
The “poor me” mentality only serves procrastination, self-doubt, and a negative thought loop – not our greater purpose or our nobler ability to trust. Furthermore, those added stressors (or ‘influencers’ as I sometimes refer to my ten year old twins) may in fact be the very inspiration for your next product line, marketing initiative, or social media campaign,” Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai.
Feeling sorry for ourselves as moms who may not have the luxury of time that others have puts a veil over what we potentially have the ability to accomplish. Hold your regard for getting things done high because you ARE making it happen without the ease that others have.
10. You are your only protector of your time.
“Mompreneurs, more than other entrepreneurs, need to be disciplined in their relationship with time. When I was a single mom with a growing business, I would wake up at 5 a.m. so I’d be in the right frame of mind to deal with my then teenage children. Morning conversation and breakfast provided the energy we needed for the day and a sit-down dinner provided the engagement we needed to stay connected. I found the natural rhythms in my business and used them to schedule appointments and work out,” says Sherry Colbourne, 20-year tech star from Canada, now living and growing entrepreneurs in Oman.
Guard your time, and look for the windows of minutes that will accumulate enough to give you what you need to make magic in your business. Sometimes that means letting go of the notion that you’ll be able to sit down and accomplish things in one sitting. Chris Brogan calls this “weaving time”. You work when you can and don’t hold out for the huge chunks of time you dream of.