10 Things Being a Single Mom Has Taught Me about Running a Business

tenI started my business when I was married and a new mother. In fact, I started it so that I could stay at home with my two boys. At the time, I had no idea that my part-time venture would turn into what would pay all of our expenses. But, it did. And, I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Being a single mom is like boot camp training for being an entrepreneur. There are some amazing survival skills you learn quickly when there aren’t enough hours in the day and failing isn’t an option.

So, I thought I’d share my top 10 things I’ve learned from juggling two kids by myself. They’ve been the best business trainers I could have ever imagined!

You Need a Morning Routine
Mornings are busy when you’re under the gun to get kids to school on time. Up at 6am, feed the cat, prepare lunches, cook breakfast, check homework, make sure the boys are dressed in outfits that somewhat match, and off to school we go. It’s a lot to do but necessary to prepare for the day ahead. I’ve created a similar morning routine to get ready for the workday, too which even includes packing my own lunch even though I work from home. Without the routine, I’d probably flop on the couch and watch the Today Show for a couple of hours.

You Need a To Do List
Two boys have lots of activities, homework assignments, and other things that I have to keep track of on a daily basis. There’s a lot going on in my business, too. As part of my morning routing, I create a daily list to keep organized. If it’s not written down, it is likely not getting done.

You Better Choose Friends and Clients Wisely
After your child experiments with a four letter word he learned from his new “friend”, you begin to ask questions about who they’re hanging out with. While you can’t control who they pal around with at school, you can “advise” them on their choices. In business, you also need to carefully choose your friends and clients. You don’t have the luxury of having someone in your circle who doesn’t pay, is a negative influence, or wastes your time.

Chores Must be Streamlined and Delegated
As a single mother, I’m always outnumbered by kids. It’s a continuous battle to keep the house clean, the laundry under control, and food in the fridge. I’ve learned to consolidate chores (like doing laundry at the same time I’m making dinner) and to delegate tasks whenever possible. I had a team of housekeepers clean my house the other day because I realized that it made more financial sense to work while they cleaned than for me to take time away from work to clean. Business owners also need to look at all their tasks and figure out ways to make them more streamlined. Time is money for both single moms and business owners!

Distractions Have to Be Minimized
Every night we sit down to eat dinner at the table. We turn off the TV and don’t answer the phone. It’s our time to focus on what we’ve accomplished during the day. I’m guessing the boys will remember these dinners when they grow up and hopefully will appreciate the time we spent together without texting, playing video games, and watching TV. A business owner also needs to tune out sometimes from distractions like social media, email, and phone calls to get actual work accomplished. This interruption-free time should be regularly scheduled.

There Has to Be Time for Play
Raising two boys and being a business owner are both tremendously labor-intensive. If I’m going to avoid burnout, I need time for fun. A nightly walk, watching a movie, riding bikes, playing a game, an impromptu trip to get an ice cream cone. It’s these little pleasures that make it somewhat manageable to keep up the pace.

Sleep Is the Number One Must-Have
My productivity level as a mom and a business owner drops dramatically on the days I’m dealing with lack of sleep. This is why it’s absolutely essential for me to get at least seven hours each night. This may be the most important thing that I do!

You Have to Help Others
I admit it! I think a lot about how much I’m making each month. I run the numbers in my head, check my accounts, and am always concocting new ideas to make more. That’s my entrepreneurial nature and my focus as a single mom who is going it alone. But I want to teach my boys about giving, and I often find that when I shift my focus to helping others in some capacity, I will interestingly have a new opportunity pop up or gain some new insight into improving what I’m doing. Helping others is good for the soul and good for business.

You Have to Keep Your Sense of Humor
There are definitely days when I’m overwhelmed, irritated, and just flat out angry about my situation. When I start feeling like that, my productivity drops off. This simply can’t happen. When I start feeling this way, I’ll pop in my DVD of Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes, and I’ll have a good laugh. It always helps!

Creativity Is a Must
There are lots of hurdles to overcome when you’re running a business or parenting by yourself. You can’t always manage things in conventional ways. Being able to come up with better (often strange to others) ways to get things done can make all the difference. Business and parenting advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s all about being creative and figuring out what is going to work for you.

You Need to Think Big
No situation is permanent. The days of single parenting two young boys will come to an end, and there will be different challenges ahead. And, my business will not always be in the same place as it is today. So, why not envision how it’s going to be better in the future. Preparing for success instead of stressing about now and worried about future failure is a better approach. I have high hopes for my boys and my business. Why not? If we can tackle today’s challenge, we’ll definitely be able to deal with whatever is coming our way down the road.

Song of the Day:

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