Can a Single Mom Start a Business?


Many of the single moms in my community have a dream of having financial stability and wonder if owning their own business is the solution. Are you too wondering if it is possible to be an entrepreneur and a single mom?

I started my mental health counseling business in the middle of my divorce. I’m sure some people thought I was crazy. Some days I thought I was crazy too. Starting a business takes courage and the ability to tolerate risk. Especially if you don’t have another job. My journey as a business owner started with a jolt.

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Why I Started Two Businesses as a Single Mom

 Suddenly I was out of work. I had been thinking about starting a mental health counseling business since I had done that before………….but it seemed too scary and too risky. There was no job in my field within an hour of the kids’ schools and their dad. I came up with zero options for jobs to even apply for. 

I agonized over what to do and got advice from a trusted mentor. It seemed the best option was to start my own psychotherapy office. So with fear and trepidation, I proceeded to figure out what I needed to do and start moving forward. 

Even though it has worked out better than most people thought possible I wouldn’t recommend quitting your job to start your business. Having a business has many advantages. On the other hand, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, because some things are more difficult when you work for yourself.

I started my second business online because I dream of traveling the world and that requires a work from anywhere income

Qualities a Single Mom Needs to Start a Business

  1. Self Motivation
  2. Determination
  3. Flexible Attitude
  4. Risk Tolerance
  5. Ability to Build a Support System

Self Motivation Keeps You Moving Forward When Building a Business

One of the big differences between working for someone else and being your own boss is structure. When you have a job you know when you need to be at work and when you have time off. You show up and usually do the work that someone else has determined is your job to do. You may be able to negotiate some on what the priorities are, but usually, someone else decides your priorities.

One of the biggest challenges for most entrepreneurs is you are your own boss which sounds like a good then and it can be, but you need to be able to prioritize what needs to be done and motivate yourself to get it done even if it is a task you would prefer to avoid. It is much harder to do things you don’t really like to do when you are making your own priorities.

Determination Gets You Through the Lean Times to Financial Stability

Often there are challenges is starting and running a business. When you work for someone else it is their job to solve the problems that are causing the business to be inefficient or less profitable than it could be or even than it needs to be to provide the needed profit.

When you have your own business you have the responsibility to create a vision, identify obstacles, and solve the problems. You can hire people to help you, but you are responsible for running the business.

Flexible Attitude Gets You Over or Around the Obstacles to Financial Stability

This appears to be a good thing and it can be. Flexibility is especially important for a single parent. If the other parent has the children at predictable times that is a huge benefit. You will be able to schedule longer work days when the children are with the other parent and get off earlier when they will be at your home. You will also have the flexibility to take time off during the day to be at their school events or leave early to go to an out of town event.

The other side of this is you will have to work enough hours to support your family and you will not have the safety net of paid vacation and paid sick leave.

With some businesses, you will be able to work from home. This can be a blessing or a curse. Remember there is a limit to what you can do with your children at home unless they are older and independent.

Risk Tolerance Gives You the Courage You Need to Be an Entrepreneur

At first glance, it appears that having your own business is much riskier than working for someone else. It could fail in the first few years and many small businesses do fail. Your income will be less predictable than a steady paycheck where the exact amount hits your bank account on the first and fifteenth.

On the other hand, recent years have shown us that big established companies that seemed invincible have gone bankrupt, closed, or had heavy layoffs. In our area, Gander Mountain, Macy’s, and Herbergers are just a few of the stores that seemed like landmarks that have closed. Look at hotels, theaters everything from small-town movie theaters to Broadway closed down in March 2020 with little idea when they would be able to reopen.

One advantage a small business has is that it is more agile and can more quickly respond to changes in the environment.

Your Support Network is an Essential Resource in Running a Small Business

Running a business takes many skills. There are people who are good at their craft, for me that is treating anxiety, depression, and couple’s therapy but do not have the skills to run a business. Running a business is not something you learn in most programs that teach professional skills, so you will need to seek out that information.

You can learn the skills you need to run a business or hire people to do them for you, but you need to have an overview of what needs to be done and make sure things are getting done to your standards.

You need more than friends. You will need a mentor or coach on your team who has been there and done that. Early on I had two mentors with different skill sets to advise me. I also had a group of peers to consult with clinical and business issues. Having people to talk through my ideas and tell me what I was missing was necessary for my success.

I hired someone to do my billing and then a bookkeeper and accountant because I avoid math whenever possible.

Earning Potential

If you have a business your earning potential is only limited by your time, creativity, and ability to find people who need what you are offering. You are in control of developing products and services. that you are able and willing to sell. Generally speaking, having your own business gives you more earning potential than working for someone else. 

On the other hand, many small businesses fail in the first 5 years, because they miscalculated something about how their business is designed. Even if the idea and system are sound, there will be a period of time when you are building the business that you will probably be making less than you were as an employee and working harder longer hours. This is when a mentor or coach is invaluable to save you time and frustration.

Moderating Risk

One of the ways to moderate risk in starting a business is to keep your day job. You can start building your business in the margins of life until it is able to provide the minimum income necessary to support you and your family.

As a single parent if you have scheduled time when your kids are with their dad this is a huge blessing. You can use this time to build your business.

Even if you don’t want to ever quit your regular job consider having a side hustle business. It will be another income stream that will provide you with additional income more financial security. As a home with two adults, you had two potential income earners. If you are a family with one breadwinner having more than one income stream increases your financial security.

As I reflect on the value of having my own business 17 years after opening it I think all single moms can benefit from having a business. Yes it was scary, but I have had more flexibility and a higher income than I could have had working for someone else.

Unexpected Benefit of Owning a Business

Having your own business takes away the false sense of security that a big organization is secure and looking out for you. For me running a business is an act of faith. An opportunity to keep my work and life purpose in alignment in a way that can be more difficult when working for a bureaucracy. 

As I look back over the past 17 years with a mental health therapy business and 4 years with an online business I see that it has given me so many opportunities to be blessed. You need to be comfortable taking responsibility when you have a business. There are busy times and slow times. There are opportunities to take advantage of or let pass and it is up to you how you handle these.

Having a business is not for the faint of heart, but the opportunities to live your purpose, serve the world and take care of your family are less limited than working for an organization. 

Is starting a business in your future? This article is first in a series of articles on single moms and businesses. Sign up for my newsletter below to make sure you don’t miss the next article on single moms and business. 

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