Every entrepreneur will face challenges in getting a small business started. Now, add in the responsibilities and time demands of being a single mother, and the path gets that much more challenging.
But inspiration can often come from those that have experienced such struggles. Here are a few examples of single moms that have gone on to small-business success.
Be kind to yourself.
Karla Campos, a single mother of three, was included in a recent entrepreneur.com feature by Kate Taylor. Campos is the founder of marketing company Social Media Sass, and is also involved in the social media conference Florida Social Con.
She connects entrepreneurship to motherhood, because it “is not a 9 to 5 job,” she says. “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.”
Don’t let inexperience stop you.
Melissa Kieling is also a mother of three, and featured in Taylor’s entrepreneur.com story. Kieling developed the Packit Personal Cooler, a lunch bag with a gel lining that can freeze, therefore keeping kids’ lunches cold. What started as a small project is now a multimillion-dollar business.
“Look for inspiration everywhere,” she says. “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.” Kieling admits she was initially “paralyzed” with fear as she tried to get her business off the ground. “I overcame this by reaching out to other business owners who could connect me to experts in manufacturing, production and sales,” she says. “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.”
I had to rethink how the business could grow.
Bianca Whitfield had a challenging road to business success after a divorce. With family support to help look after her young daughter, Whitfield went back to school to pursue her master’s degree. She eventually founded an accounting firm, WhitGroup Consulting LLC. In a 2010 story by womenhomebusiness.com, Whitfield describes adjusting to self-employment, including the work-life balance difficulties that single moms often face.
“You don’t work less when you’re self-employed, you just get more flexibility with when and where you put in the hours,” writes Whitfield. “My daughter was very sick in the fall with one asthma attack after another. She was in and out of school, back and forth to the doctor, and I was slammed with audits, fourth quarter financial reports, and a host of other client needs that I just couldn’t meet. Things really started to unravel, and I had to scale back, get help and work smarter. The business essentially still revolved around me, and I had to rethink how the business could grow. I’m still answering some of these questions, but with well-trained staff on board, redundant systems, backup and forward planning, I have mitigated some of these problems.”
Find what works for you.
Sherry Colbourne is a social-media specialist in Canada who also helps to mentor young entrepreneurs. The schedule demands of being a single mom and starting a small business are significant, she says in Taylor’s entrepreneur.com story.
“Mompreneurs, more than other entrepreneurs, need to be disciplined in their relationship with time,” says Colbourne. “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!”