Practical advice from 3 single parent business owners on overcoming the obstacles they faced:
For HR consultant and business owner, Laura Callahan, starting her own business was also the start of a new life. Having worked in HR in-house for many years, in 2016 she had an epiphany and decided to leave her job, marriage, sell her house and start her own HR consultancy business. Four years on, Laura employs two people, has a strong and growing turnover and manages to be mum to two children ages 6 and 4.
Laura says: "My biggest philosophy is in order to be productive you need to be flexible - whether that means managing your time around the children, or being more flexible with employees - we are all human beings and have lives outside work, there is no reason that you can't manage your business life around these commitments.
She continues: "However, that is not to say it is plain sailing. I have grown used to managing my time well to be there for my children as well as providing for them and my staff financially. I often get up at 6am to do some work before the children wake up, so I can be there for breakfast, and I always make sure I am there to put them to bed. Sometimes I have evening meetings with my staff, who are also working mums, because it fits our family schedule to meet after the children have gone to bed. It’s not about the 9-5, it’s about trust and flexibility.
Laura is a huge advocate of going into any project with an open mind, she adds: "Having a bit of confidence and self-belief is crucial to success as you have to weather the highs and the lows by yourself and find the motivation within yourself. I had no idea whether my business was going to work, so just in case, I set aside three months' money to cover the bills, and told myself that when I got to the end of that money, I would find a full-time job again. Luckily, I didn't get to that point, but setting that goal or challenge to myself really did push me on."
Owner of KIH Products and Founder of the Single Mums Business Network
"I work on average around 56 hours a week. It has to fit around school hours, when you can get childcare, in the evening, at the weekend. Many single parents business owners do not give themselves enough credit for when they are working because most find it hard to recognise what is work and what is downtime. Flexibility is the key factor in setting up a business, and the ability to work from home. The alternatives are to take a job way below your skill set/pay grade with better hours, or look at jobseekers/benefits - for this season setting up a business is a great option.
"I didn't set up the business to make a huge amount of money, moreover, to provide a useful service that would make a difference in some way. I can also still put the children first and have managed to successfully juggle the demands of family life as a single parent and run a business. If i can do it, anyone can!"
Founder and owner of Cheeky Little Prints
"Yes, it's challenging at times, but as long as you remember the reason you set up the business in the first place, you will succeed" is the mantra Lisa Berry, owner of bespoke jewellery and personalised gifts company, Cheeky Little Prints, lives by when navigating the balance between home and work life. Lisa was a new mum when she set up her business. Her son was just 10 months old, but she decided to fully embrace the challenge of looking after a new baby and a new business, she adds "After my son was born, I was keen to find a way of establishing a business that would enable me to stay at home with my son. I carried on working as a Research Scientist while setting up the business, and then decided to fully commit to Cheeky Little Prints after I had my second child. It was the best decision I made!
Lisa is a huge advocate of taking the plunge, and starting your own business. She commented; "It may seem daunting at first, but if you take the longer term approach, be realistic on what you want to achieve in the first year and be mindful of keeping costs down, there is no reason, that with a bit of help from friends and family, that your business should anything but a success."
Please note that these guides are provided for information purposes only and not as advice or recommendations. Before deciding to undertake any course of action you may wish to seek independent professional advice.