Super Heroes! That is what I call all the single mothers who are holding the forte and raising a family all by themselves. Normally, being an entrepreneur is a daunting task. And an increased minimum wage will make any employee that wanted to quit and opt for entrepreneurship to think twice.
That is why I really admire these single-mom entrepreneurs. Apart from being entrepreneurs, their added responsibility as single moms poses an even steeper challenge. But they don't chicken out. As a single-mom entrepreneur, success means being the best mom your kids can have and living your dreams while at it. That's a tough job, but they embrace it.
Startups are like plants. They need to be nurtured from planting, to germination up till harvest. It takes time, confidence, perseverance, focus, skill and determination. To a lot of people, building successful startups is a herculean task. But with the right knowledge and inspiration, even this mountain is surmountable.
Are you a single mother? Here are a few things you should know if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur.
1. Get rid of all Toxic Influences
Toxic influences are those people who always remind you that you are a single mom and that the only thing you should do is take care of your kids, but don't tell you how. Toxic influences are people who tell you that business is hard and that you can't build anything worthwhile.
There is no need hanging around people who consistently point you to the problems and not the way forward.
In the words of Lisa Stone who Co-founded Blogher (a female-focused media platform with an audience of 100 million) as a single Mom;
"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 around a toxic person or people who invade your confidence and bring you down, you MUST remove them from your life."
2. Wear Your Single Mom Medal Round your Neck
One essential tool for success in business is confidence and people can smell a lack of it on you. You have to own your single mom status and rock it too.
Being a single mom is not a handicap. In fact that status comes with an inbuilt capacity for business success. Operating on a budget; Multitasking; Delegation; Management; and Problem-solving are both general skills for a successful mother and a successful entrepreneur.
So don't let people make you feel threatened. You are a single-mom entrepreneur or what I call a 'mom-preneur', and you should be proud.
Angela Benton (Founder & CEO of NewME Accelerator) has featured in Ebony magazine's Power 150 in 2010, Goldman Sachs' 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2013 and Marie Claire's 50 Women Who Rule in 2013. She had her first child at 16.
The simple difference is that she knows that being a single mom might be heavy round the neck, but it is not a chain, it's a medal.
3. Don't let funding limit you
Lisa Druxman started FIT4MOM assuming it would just be a small class or a couple of Stroller Strides. She never imagined it would grow into a company with corporate staff and thousands of clients.
Many Single Moms often find themselves inundated by financial demands from the kids and for home upkeep. They are often left struggling with finance to fund their businesses.
Even if the funds available to you are inadequate to drive your business, don't give up. There are so many other financial avenues created specifically for single moms you should equally explore too.
CDFI's (Community Development Financial Institutions) is one reliable government sponsored initiative in the USA. You should try them and others like them out.
4. Redefine the Perfect Work-life Balance
The quest for the perfect work-life balance is what has hindered so many single moms from starting their businesses. Being a mother is the most demanding job in the world as well as the most rewarding.
Nusha Pelicano (an Ironman competitor and a franchisee with Orange Leaf, the frozen-yogurt company and also a single 'mom-preneur') puts it this way:
"...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 it all balances out"
The key is in making sure your kids understand. And that brings us to the next point.
5. Get Your Kids Involved In your business
Lauren Thom (founder of New Orleans-brand Fleurty Girl) knows a thing or two about this. A mother of three who started her business with $2000 from her 2009 tax return; this was one of her secrets.
In her own words:
"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."
This always works, because when you get them involved, they won't feel they are competing with the business for your attention.
6. Don't Date Jerks
A jerk can be defined in so many ways. But in this context, here is my definition:
A jerk is the man who feels threatened by your success or your drive and big dreams. A jerk is the guy who competes with your business and your kids and wants you all for himself alone. A jerk is an insecure man with no dream or passion of his own who will not allow you the freedom to nurture yours.
You can add to the list, but you get the general picture.
My advice? Avoid them like a plague!
Here's to the real super heroes!