Operating a Business, Startups

8 Game-Changing Strategies of Single Parent Entrepreneurs

Empowering Single Parents in Business: Balancing Entrepreneurship with Family through Smart Planning, Strong Networks, and Tech Efficiency.
Written By: Katie Brenneman
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated February 20, 2024

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In this article, you’ll learn how to:

  • Establish a Dedicated Workspace and Plan Effectively: Single-parent entrepreneurs must have a specific area for work to enhance productivity and balance family duties. Proper planning, including business plans and weekly schedules, is essential for efficient management.
  • Build a Support Network and Maintain Work-Life Balance: Creating a professional and personal support network is important for business opportunities and emotional support. Maintaining a healthy balance between work and family life, including setting work hours and taking breaks, is vital to avoid burnout.
  • Utilize Technology and Resources for Efficiency: Embracing automation and other technological tools can help streamline business operations, saving time for families. Accessing resources like grants and investing in staff can aid in effective business management while accommodating the challenges of single parenthood.
feature image depicting a single parent and entrepreneurship

Wondering how to become an entrepreneur as a single parent? As a single parent, you naturally want to pursue careers that give the best life to you and your family. This can be quite challenging, particularly if your family’s needs somewhat dictate your schedule. One option that can provide you with flexibility and opportunities to pursue a passion is entrepreneurship.

Strategies for Single Parent Entrepreneurs

In many ways, there have been few better times to start your own enterprise. The internet opens you up to a global marketplace of potential consumers. You also have greater access to relatively affordable technology that makes running a business more practical.

This isn’t quite the same as saying navigating entrepreneurship as a single parent is easy. Nevertheless, you can forge an enriching path with some planning and information. We will explore some of the aspects you should bear in mind and strategies to adopt as you take your first steps on the road to potential success.

Resource TypePurposeAccessibilityBenefits
Co-working SpacesDedicated workspaceMediumNetworking, Professional Environment
Business Planning ToolsStrategy and organizationHighEfficient Planning, Clear Goals
Childcare ServicesSupport for parental dutiesVariableTime Management, Work-life Balance
Online Marketing ToolsMarketing and Brand BuildingHighWide Reach, Cost-Effective
Networking GroupsCommunity and supportHighResources, Mentorship, Emotional Support
Financial Aid ProgramsFunding and financial supportVariableCapital for Business Growth, Stability
Time Management AppsSchedule managementHighProductivity, Effective Time Utilization

Establish Your Space

One of the most important steps as a single-parent entrepreneur is to establish a working space for yourself. There may be times when you’ll need to juggle your parental duties with your work tasks. However, it’s important to remember that having an area where you’re unlikely to be disturbed allows you to be more productive and minimizes the risk of working too long each day.

One way to do this is to adapt your garage to be a home office. This doesn’t have to be an expensive conversion. Start by decluttering and cleaning the area to make space for your desk and other essential furniture. You should also make sure that your new office space has access to power, heating, and air conditioning. You may need to add insulation to make your space more comfortable. Importantly, add a few personal items to make it a positive environment. 

The main benefit of creating a space rather than just working from your kitchen or living room is it’s a dedicated area that also supports single parenthood. You can close the door for privacy but open it again for times it’s fine for your kids to drift in and out. You can step entirely away from your office at the end of each day and focus on your family.  

If you can’t have a dedicated office at home, it may be worth considering subscribing to a co-working space. This doesn’t mean you have to work there every day. You could switch between home and the space in line with your family and work needs. The co-working space is also a good alternative option for the days when there are too many distractions at home.

Produce Effective Plans

Good planning is a vital practice for any small business. It helps you to ensure that your company operates efficiently. Various different types of plans can support your journey to success.

These include:

  • Business plans: Firstly, a solid business plan will be essential if you intend to make applications for loans and grants. They’re also useful tools to guide your entrepreneurial journey. This document should outline everything from where your revenue is coming from to the steps you want to take to grow your business in the coming months and years. The more detail you can go into here, the more useful it’s likely to be as a working document.
  • Weekly schedules: You’ll never be able to predict everything that needs to occur on any given week. However, mapping out your key tasks and goals for certain days gives you a little more control over how your week progresses. It also gives you greater visibility of your priorities so you can build your schedule around your professional and family responsibilities. 

Each company has different needs and goals. It’s also important to look into the specific types of plans that are useful for your industry or location. For instance, if you run an eCommerce business, adopting inventory planning is wise. You should look into relevant business continuity planning if you operate in an area subject to frequent extreme weather.

Establish a Solid Network

Among the best resources you can gain as a single parent navigating entrepreneurship is a solid support network. Business can be stressful and — at times — quite isolating when you’re leading the company. It’s important to start building a group of trusted confidantes. They can help you find new opportunities, connect with resources, and safeguard one another’s well-being.

It’s well worth taking a slightly unconventional approach to networking. You want to leave a positive and memorable impression on those who could be valuable to your enterprise. Some of the methods you can use include:

  • Social media: Social media networks are one of the most powerful networking resources you have at your disposal. Not to mention it’s free. Take the time to respond to posts by other entrepreneurs and create some of your own. Join entrepreneur groups — perhaps those directed at other single parents — on professional platforms, such as LinkedIn.
  • Branded swag: Business cards have long been a mainstay of networking. Yet, branded merchandise can be a more memorable option to give out at events. These don’t have to be high-end, but wherever possible make sure they’re useful items. If someone is using your branded cup on a daily basis or writing with your pen, they have constant reminders of you as a business owner. This may make them more likely to reach out to you.
  • Industry publications: When you’re trying to make new connections, it’s wise to communicate your expertise in your field or your personality as an entrepreneur. These are things that people may want to learn more about or respect about you. Contributing to industry publications tends to be a good way to lean into both of these aspects and get your name out there. Look for blogs in your field and provide guest posts. Perhaps offer to be a guest on podcasts. Make sure the content you create also provides your contact details.
  • Community groups: The most valuable networking resources are often those in your local community. Connecting with people in person from your area can open you up to the most relevant insights. They can highlight local resources and you can share information about specific local challenges. Many towns and cities have regular meet-ups for local entrepreneurs. Though, you can also make a good start by just visiting small businesses in your area and having conversations with the owners. 

Establishing a solid network shouldn’t just be about what others can offer you. It’s vital to approach networking as a mutually beneficial activity.

Build genuinely friendly relationships wherever possible. Make efforts to reach out and help if others need it. You may gain supporters who care about your professional and emotional needs. This can be a positive resource during the tough times of being a single-parent entrepreneur.

Maintain a Healthy Balance

When you start a business, going all-in immediately is very easy. After all, this is likely to be as much a personal passion as a professional endeavor. Not to mention that single-parent entrepreneurs tend to be more ambitious than other microentrepreneurs. For instance, a 2023 study by GoDaddy discovered that 66% of parents aspire to build bigger businesses

Unfortunately, this can sometimes get out of hand. Particularly as the leader of your company, you might feel obligated to always give as much of your time and energy as possible. When left unchecked, it can lead to burnout and even negatively impact your relationships with your children, family, and friends.

This is why aiming for a healthy work-life balance from the outset is vital. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Define set working hours: Being an entrepreneur, particularly if you work from home, shouldn’t mean you’re always on the clock. You must be protective over your time. Create set working hours for yourself and aim not to deviate from this. 

Importantly, communicate these hours. Let clients and colleagues know you’re not available after a certain time of day. Inform your family that you are only available during work hours on urgent matters. Make sure everybody — including you — respects the schedule.

  • Take regular breaks: Just powering through the day can feel like a commitment to your business, but it may do more harm than good. Instead, take regular breaks throughout each day. Take five minutes to stretch and not look at the screen. Don’t eat lunch at your desk; take it away from the office, preferably around nature. This helps you attend to your wellness amongst your work commitments.
  • Say “no”: This is one of the most difficult steps, particularly when you’re a new entrepreneur. Learning to politely yet firmly decline opportunities or requests is an important way to ensure you can maintain a work-life balance. 

Steer clear of the erroneous idea that saying “no” means you won’t be offered opportunities again. Often, the important thing is how you say no. Thank people for their offers, and be open to saying why you’re declining, while keeping the door open for collaborating in the future.

As a single parent entrepreneur, you likely already know that a perfectly equal balance is a pipe dream. There will definitely be times when either side of your life might require more attention than the other. The key is to be aware of the situation and commit to taking steps to return to a more equal state rather than remain in the unbalanced phase. 

Embrace Automation

A great thing about being an entrepreneur today is that you have incredible access to advanced technology. Particularly as a single parent entrepreneur, it’s worth exploring the tools that reduce the time you need to commit to repetitive tasks that would be better spent with your kids or on other activities. A range of automated solutions is more affordable and practical than ever. Embracing these in your business can be an invaluable step.

The tools to consider include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): It’s important to get to know why AI matters today, as it’s likely to become a more prevalent part of our world very soon. This technology uses algorithms to independently analyze and respond to data. As a result, AI tends to be useful for driving automated tools that boost efficiency, data-led decision-making, and even personalized marketing. 

There are a variety of ways that you can use AI in your business. For instance, chatbots could handle initial customer service inquiries on your website. Generative AI that produces text may be useful for rough drafts of press releases. That said, it’s important to bear in mind that AI should be a support tool, rather than taking over tasks entirely. The human touch is always important and can help you avoid the inaccuracies and biases that can still feature in AI.

  • Social media management: We’ve already mentioned that social media is a powerful tool. Using it effectively for your marketing and brand building requires a significant dedication of time. Until you can justify taking on a social media manager, you might find social media management platforms to be a good solution.

Most management platforms provide some form of automation. You can upload a selection of post content and select dates and times in advance for these to be released. The platform posts these across all your chosen platforms, reducing the digital leg-work for you. Many platforms will also automatically collect and produce reports on your social media engagement data on all social channels. This makes it easier for you to adjust your marketing campaigns based on reliable information.

Automation doesn’t mean you can set the programs running and entirely walk away. You need to keep assessing how well they’re operating and keep an eye out for inaccuracies or issues. These are tools to reduce your practical burden, not a replacement for you or another staff member.

Understand Customer Needs

Your customers and clients will be key to a thriving business. As a single parent entrepreneur, you naturally want to give your company the best chance of resonating with audiences soon after launch. This is essential to keep that all-important revenue starting to flow in.

So, how can you best align your business with consumers? You can start by conducting voice of the customer (VoC) research to provide you with relevant data to make more informed decisions. In essence, this research is aimed at gaining an understanding of customers’ wants, needs, and expectations of a business like yours. It can also highlight issues consumers have with the industry, your competitors, and your company. It’s the most direct data related to how to improve your business from the customers’ perspective.

Some of the effective ways to perform VoC research include:

  • Customer surveys: Issue occasional customer surveys with VoC-related questions. You can do this through email or by hosting the surveys on your website. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, in-person surveys can also be useful. 
  • Social media: People generally aren’t shy about sharing their opinions on social media. While this can make for awkward encounters sometimes, it can also be great for VoC insights. You can certainly make posts to invite consumer comments on the matter. You can also search for hashtags and mentions related to your business or your industry. This opens you up to qualitative information about your demographic’s thoughts and feelings. 

It’s important to understand that VoC research isn’t a one-and-done activity. Customers’ needs and preferences will change over time. As your brand develops, their opinions and expectations of your company will change, too. Commit to performing research a couple of times a year. Indeed, having open feedback channels — such as a dedicated email address or messaging account — can mean you gain useful data in between your specific campaigns.

Identify Supportive Resources

One of the common experiences of opening a new business is treating your resources carefully. Indeed, it’s not unusual for single parents to already have limited access to money when they begin their journey as entrepreneurs and start an enterprise. Yet, the capital you have at your disposal can affect your trajectory as an entrepreneur. Certainly, business loans are an option. Nevertheless, you should take some time to identify other relevant supportive resources.

These might include:

  • Grants: There are various grants available to help entrepreneurs on the road to success. Many are directed toward fundraising to assist underrepresented demographics, such as single mothers of color. While many of these receive federal funding, they’re usually administered by local programs. You should research local grants in your area and produce a robust application.
  • Opportunity programs: Money isn’t the only resource that’s useful as a new entrepreneur. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to get a regular flow of clients. The good news is that there are programs designed to introduce underrepresented groups to opportunities. For instance, single mothers may qualify for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Women-Owned Small Business program. This effectively makes certain federal contracts only available to certified women-owned businesses, thereby reducing competition.

Don’t just look for government-backed resources, either. Professional organizations or nonprofits dedicated to helping entrepreneurs in specific demographics can be good sources, too. Some of these will be national, while others could be focused on individual states. A little research can give you access to tools that help your business thrive.

Invest in Staff

As soon as you can realistically afford to, it’s important to invest in staff. They’ll be among your most important resources. As your company grows, it will become harder to take care of everything yourself. Not to mention that having contributors with different skills and perspectives can spur innovation in your company. In time, you may establish a staff base that ensures you can spend less time at work and more with your family.

There’s no doubt that this investment feels like a big step. There are some approaches that make it a little easier and more practical.

These include:

  • Prioritizing roles by needs: Knowing where to invest your hard-earned revenue can be quite challenging. Often, the best approach here is to assess the needs of your business. Look at what expertise can genuinely make a difference to your operations and what practical tasks you aren’t able to personally perform. This enables you to understand the priorities of the roles you need to hire for so you can invest your money in the most relevant areas.
  • Utilizing remote teams and freelancers: Hiring staff doesn’t necessarily mean you also have to invest in a larger office or even take someone on full-time. Freelancers and remote teams are an increasingly practical option in the current digital landscape. In many cases, it also means you have access to a global talent pool, which improves the diversity possibilities of your hires.

Investing in staff isn’t just about hiring and paying your workers. You also need to invest in retaining them and developing their skills. As you move forward, consider the possibility of subsidizing certifications and training for employees you feel have leadership potential. Providing benefits — even if these are relatively small, to begin with — are demonstrations of how much you value your workers. Keep this in mind as your company grows. Alongside investing in new tools and exploring new markets, keep showing your staff you recognize their talents.

Final Thoughts on Single Parent Entrepreneurship

Navigating entrepreneurship as a single parent can certainly be challenging, but it’s also often rewarding. Part of the key is to perform some solid advanced research and planning in a range of areas. There’s also huge personal and professional value to be found in surrounding yourself with supportive people. Be open to seeking help wherever you can find it, while also offering your own support. This helps to make entrepreneurship more practical and more rewarding.

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