Starting a Business as a Single Parent

Many single parents crave the idea of setting up their own business after deciding to sacrifice their careers to raise their families. Yet, the reality of it is an entirely different ball game to the dream. There are many factors to think about, and balancing a business and family doesn't come easily. Despite this, deciding to run a business in the long term will provide you with many benefits, such as choosing your hours while still bringing in a steady wage.

Most business ventures arise from attaining a passion or talent typically carried out as a hobby, with the sudden realization that money can be made. Finding the time to get started may seem impossible as a single parent, with many other responsibilities on your shoulders. It is all about putting the correct strategies in place and discovering how to turn your tiny seed of an idea into a flourishing business.

Be patient

Firstly, having patience is essential when first starting in business. Success doesn't occur overnight. It takes approximately two years for a company to take off and start rolling in profits and a whole decade to see substantial growth. Therefore, don't blame yourself if you see your business grows at a languid pace – you're a one-person band with a vast number of other responsibilities on your plate. Also, being a parent, you won't have as much spare time as the typical entrepreneur to devote to your business tasks, so it may be a case of dipping in and out of it around your other duties to make this venture work for you.

Get educated

If you have no prior experience in business, it would be highly worthwhile to enroll in a business management course with a reputable institution to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to run a business. Choosing an online course means you can fit your learning around your children so that you never have to worry about seeking external childcare. In addition, by having this degree under your belt, you will be much more inclined to make the best decisions for your business based on the theories you have learned and the experience you have acquired.

Aim for a work-life balance

While you should be spending as much of your free time building up your business as possible, it's crucial to maintain a sensible work-life balance to prevent burnout. By pushing yourself to the limit, you'll not only find working on your business venture grueling and tiring, but you'll also miss spending valuable time with your children, which cannot be replaced. Instead, recognize when it's time to switch off and enjoy some downtime. You'll feel much more in control of running a business alongside parenting by managing your time wisely throughout the day and maintaining a regular sleep pattern.

Keep on top of your finances

Parenting comes with expenses left, right and center, and it can be easy to dip into your business budget when you need some extra cash. However, keeping on top of your finances is crucial. Financial software would be a great starting point to track your income and expenditure and understand the profits. You need to ensure you have a pot of cash to invest in your equipment, products, and services and an emergency fund should any unexpected expenses be thrown your way. The more you invest in your business, the quicker it's likely to grow. If you need financial assistance, there are several options you could consider, including seeking investors or applying for a business loan. 

Ask for help

There may be occasions when you're in desperate need of help, so don't be afraid to reach out to those closest to you. Whether it's helping with childcare, domestic chores, or simply running errands, there are certain moments when your business needs your undivided attention and having support ensures you can relax and focus on building your organization. Once you have built up your profits, you may decide to hire a small workforce or freelance staff; or potentially even outsource tasks to give you more time to concentrate on more pressing matters.

Build a network

Growing your business is often heavily reliant on your contacts in the business world. After all, as the saying goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know." Therefore, taking the time to a network could land you exciting opportunities and bring recognition to your brand. A little bit of expert advice can go a long way – you may learn new tactics and approaches that you had never considered before and potentially be introduced to other companies who are interested in partnerships, which in turn, will generate leads for your business. There are various ways to network, including joining professional social media sites such as LinkedIn, attending career events, and even making contact with professionals connected to friends and family.

Be good at planning

When you have children to take care of, it's difficult to drop everything in business matters. In this regard, planning is crucial if you want your business venture to work out. This not only relates to time but also finances – for example, you may be funding your child's college fees in the coming years. Therefore, having a rough idea of how the next few years are likely to look will help you significantly make the best decisions and prevent facing obstacles later on down the line. In addition, maintaining a diary and making the most of your time will allow you to stay productive and prevent you from falling behind schedule. 

As a final word, running a business as a parent isn't the easiest route, but your strenuous efforts will undoubtedly pay off in the future by following the tips above. Of course, you're likely to be challenged by time and the number of tasks to get through each day; however, with perseverance and patience, you'll start to notice your tiny seed of an idea flourishing into a substantial business. 

More in Workforce Development