How to be a Successful Entrepreneur and a Single Mom

1. Own your single-mom status.

Being a single mom is NOT a setback. Nestled somewhere in the pages of a storybook is the idea that entrepreneurs "hustle," "crush it," "grind" and whatever other word you can come up with to describe working really, really hard on your business 100 percent of the time. Out here in the real world we know that's not true.

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.

2. Ditch toxic influences.

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.

3. Include your kids in your business.

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.

4. Give yourself a break.

"Entrepreneurship, just like motherhood, is not a 9-5 job. Some days I stay up until 3 am 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."

5. Remember: all you need is an idea and serious drive.

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.  Reach out to other business owners who can connect you to experts in manufacturing, production and sales. Each key person met shortens your  learning curve and gives you  confidence. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how other small business owners want to pay it forward and see new upstarts succeed.

6. Focus on the positives.

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.

7. Only date supportive romantic partners.

Don’t date competitive guys. This may seem like strange advice, but I can’t tell you how many dates I went on as a single mom entrepreneur where the guy subconsciously competed with my business and my child. It usually was date three or four when it would come out, but I was surprised at how many men want you all for themselves.

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.

8. Give up on finding the perfect work-life balance

Thinking about how I was going to do it all almost stopped me from starting my own company years ago. It seemed unreasonable to think that I'd be able to get everything done that I wanted to get done as an entrepreneur and still be the mother I wanted to be to my three kids.

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.

9. Slay the comparison critic.

I fell into a mind wrap trap of comparing myself to men who had assistants to deal with the nonstop scheduling, travel, meetings, reports, and presentations – how productive! Or the men with wives to care for children and manage all the shopping/laundry/carpools/cooking/pets/school/homework/sport registrations – how helpful! Or the men with industry connections brimming with money and influence – how lucky!

 We are all pulled in 100 different directions daily - even men with teams, wives, or connections are shackled daily with stress. You could similarly compare yourself to mothers with free time that and are not starting companies or to entrepreneurs without kids or with supportive wealthy husbands – but it’s not going to change the fact that you have to work harder, and smarter, and longer.

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.

10. Find the right schedule for you.

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. There were no marathon workouts for this girl, but half an hour on a treadmill can go a long way to clearing your head and reclaiming your energy. Find what works for you and make yourself one of your priorities!

First seen on Entrepreneur

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Lauren Thompson runs an Interior Design Business and Earth Expo

1509652_875626142488195_27614926840985904_n1. Why did you start your own business?
The corporate world just didn’t work for me, hours were long and the reward didn’t seem to match. I had a passion for something else and part of that was having my freedom to create and be my own boss.

2. What are the hours that you work?
I generally work pretty long hours depending on the projects that I am busy with, but over time and having kids I have had to force myself to balance my work time and family time. So far so good and work smart not hard (The corporate world did teach me a lot)

3. How many people work in your business?
Currently I have 3 new employees for my show, I just wasn’t able to juggle it all on my own. There is always that scary moment when you realise you will now be committed to salaries at month end and may have to sacrifice your own sometimes, but in hindsight those are the team that help you tick and without them you can’t achieve as much. Everyone has their value and it forces you to realise your strengths and weaknesses and let go a little of your ‘baby’ so to speak.

4. What are the goals for your business?
My business has evolved from being involved with interiors, to sustainability and through that it has brought me to being involved in exhibitions which as given birth to a whole new passion and combination of all that I am passionate about. My mission is to spread the word and promote responsible consumerism and at the same time support the entrepreneurs and innovators who need a platform that is affordable and accessible to spread their wings and at the same time make a substantial difference to our earth.

5. How do you handle pressure?
Pressure is not easy to handle and depends entirely on the kind of pressure. Funnily enough though I am a very busy person and work better under pressure, I get bored otherwise and enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the ever changing environments and challenges that I face, it would be pretty monotonous otherwise. To keep me balanced and together I practice meditation which I totally enjoy in the morning and evening.

6. How would a man run your business differently?
Not so sure that would work, without offending anyone I don’t believe that men have the nurturing and passionate nature that women do, whether it is our children, home or our business women give their all and have the ability to juggle multiple things at once. In a man’s world I think things are quite different and they wear only one mask, whereas women can change with times and challenges.

7. How do you juggle being a mom and running a business?
When my kids were babies that was not easy, sleepless nights, work pressure and a lot less time to do things, babies are demanding. I set myself up a very good support structure with a nanny and friends and family who have been amazing, play time is important too, and especially with those who we care about and who reciprocate. As they have gotten older their understanding of work time and family time has become easier and even they are interested and excited about what I do and so supportive, bless their little souls. And they know that a lot of what I do is for them, it opens the door to appreciation and a positive parenting environment…. We do have our moments though. LOL.

8. Would you ever go and work for a boss again?
Never. I have had tough times and good times, but it would have to be very bad before I would do that. I think my family would suffer having to be in an office all day and take instruction from someone you are working so hard for to make them look good and super wealthy, why when you can do it for yourself.

9. Do you ever take work home with you?
I work from home, so work never really ends. There are pro’s and con’s to that, but good discipline and being a self- motivated person enables me to have access to my work when it is required and also be home for my kids when they need me without taking unpaid leave from an office and still being present if work needs to be caught up or done.

10. What do you do to relax?
I meditate and I spend quality time with my family and friends. Some good sleep now and again is also great when it’s possible.

11. What would you like to know more about to run your business better?
I would like to learn more about leadership and delegation. I have run my own business for so many years it’s difficult to hand some elements over to others to handle and trust that they will have the same passion and drive as you do for your business. So far so good though my team is phenomenal.

12. If you had to start again what would you do better knowing what you know now?
I would probably have saved up more cash flow before I started my business so that your first income is profit and not expenses. However you can’t really change anything that has happened and all that has happened good or bad has taught me valuable business skills and lessons and I have grown so much as a person.

13. Did you have to borrow money and if yes what route did you follow?
I have had to borrow money but have always been able to pay it back, fortunately my mom helped me at times and some overdraft doesn’t hurt, as long as you keep going and stay true to what you are doing with passion the wheel turns eventually and it’s all good.

14. What satisfaction do you get from running your own business?
I have the freedom to create and do what I love. I don’t have to be in an office at a certain time and I am available for my family when they need me. When things need to be done they get done and I don’t have to wait for departments or anything to complete my tasks, I am completely accountable for what happens and take full responsibility either way.

15. What makes your business successful?
I believe that my positive energy, people skills and ability to conceptualise and be different, even though scary at times to do things differently and follow my passion.

16. What form of marketing do you use?
I have previously used flyers, but over the last while social media has been amazing and especially with my PR lady helping me who is just such a whizz at this stuff, it’s taught me a lot of do’s and don’t’s.

17. Do you have a favourite mantra or quote that keeps you going in tough times?
Trust in God, His timing is perfect. Let it go and hand it over. All is well. And just breathe.

 

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