If you are a single parent, in many ways your child is your boss. Your employer has to remain flexible so that you can be available if your child needs you, for any reason. But what if you were your own boss? There would be plenty of challenges, to be sure, but the benefits might make the effort worthwhile.
Great ideas begin at home
Many single parent entrepreneurs say their idea for a new business began with their children. Being a parent brings to your life a whole new world of obstacles and opportunities. Your priorities shift, and your focus is on far more than money. You want to build a better life for your children, now and in the future. Single parenting presents a completely different set of challenges. What can you do to make life easier and to enrich the quality of life for you and your children? The answer may not be in getting a higher-paying job to pay for a full-time nanny who raises your kids while you are at work. If you were the boss, you could adjust your schedule to suit your life and raise your earning potential.
Starting your own company
So you have a great idea for a new business. You can see a place for this business in the market, and you are confident you can bring your vision to reality. Now what? You need sound business advice. Once you have systems in place to get the ball rolling on your business idea, you need to brand yourself with a logo and a website. You don’t have to take a second mortgage on your house to start your business. Many successful single parent entrepreneurs started with a great idea and a few thousand dollars as seed money. Join an online or local business networking group. Share ideas on how to launch a successful business, and compare notes on the most cost-effective ways to do that. For example, you might begin with a simple WordPress website and an online logo designer. There will be time to upgrade your website in the future when you begin to see substantial returns on your investment.
Prepare for challenges
Single parents who run their own businesses are experts on what to expect in terms of challenges and how to face them. Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself is to become extremely organized. Even without running a business, running a household requires an accessible calendar that the entire family can share. This can be a low-tech whiteboard and handwritten notes, or you can take advantage of smartphone technology with your older kids. Create a budget that eliminates any extra spending until your business gets off the ground. Once you have a bit of profit saved in the kitty, you can expand your budget beyond your basic needs to include ‘wants’. Ensure your daily, weekly, monthly and annual schedules leave time to connect with family. Sometimes this means bringing your laptop to the kitchen table so you can be with your son while he does his homework. Try to keep at least one day a week where your children know you will be available for something that they want to do. And finally, remain flexible. Part of any business success is the ability to adapt your processes and plans to accommodate change.
Focus on the positive
Any single parent will go through times where they just feel stretched to the limit, with no time, energy or financial resources to spare. This is especially true when you are attempting to run your own business. At times like these, it is important to surround yourself with positive people. Stay away from competitive boyfriends or girlfriends who may not support you in your goals. Remember that no parent-child relationship is perfect, and release the guilt. Some businesses will have seasonal demands that make it almost impossible for you to spend any time with your kids. If that is the case, plan ahead to a quiet season where you will do something special together. Although being an entrepreneur is time-consuming, focus on what you are teaching your kids: independence; believing in yourself; drive and commitment.
Once you have your business up and running and a support system established for your kids, remember to look after yourself too. Make time for exercise and quiet meditation, as well as fun. All work and no play is just not a good life balance.
Caitlin Miles is a busy mom with a business. She loves to share her startup success stories with others, and her articles can be found on many business and mom blogs today. Image – VGstockstudio/shutterstock.