Going it alone: is it possible to start a business as a time-poor single parent?

Many people dream of running their own business. The idea of controlling your own destiny, generating significant profits, gaining flexibility and achieving a better work/life balance all have their appeal. But there’s no doubt that getting to that point can be incredibly demanding. In fact, it can take a lot of time, money and courage.

Ask anyone who has started their own business, and they’ll tell you that there are many challenges involved, but this is especially true if you have a family to support . . . and particularly if you carry the burden of being the primary carer and bread-winner for that family.

But this doesn’t mean it is an impossible feat.

What are the challenges facing single parent entrepreneurs?

Being a parent is a full-time job that requires constant attention, so starting a business on top of this is extremely demanding. Add to this the financial pressures of being your own boss, and you’ve got a situation that requires genuine perseverance, patience and resilience.

Research published in Startups Magazine surveyed more than 300 single-parent business owners to determine what unique obstacles they face as a ‘parentpreneur’. Not only did they find that single parents work on average an hour and a half longer each week than other business owners, but they also start out with significantly less money to play with. The amount of available cash that single parent business owners put into their business over the first two years was roughly 20% below the average business (£8,785 versus £10,836), and 50% start their business with less than £5,000.

What’s more, single parent entrepreneurs show no signs of slowing down when it comes to running their business. Almost a third of those asked (32%) said they had no clear, long-term business plans but expected to work well beyond their retirement years.

How to start your own business as a single parent

Ask for help when you need it

Anyone who aims to start their own business needs a support network, especially if you’re a single parent. The help of family and friends is invaluable – whether it takes the form of childcare, help around the house or showing support by spreading the word about your business on social media and with friends. These little things can help you grow and provide some breathing room for you to focus on the business.

Be patient

Growing a business takes time, especially if you’re having to juggle a number of different responsibilities. FreshBooks reports that the average small business takes at least 2–3 years to start being profitable and 7–10 to grow significantly. So, don’t let yourself get down if things aren’t moving at the pace you’d initially expected.

Prioritise your family

You might think running a small business would eat into your family time, but a lot of single parents want to set up their own business for the very reason that it gives them greater control over their work/life balance. When you’re in charge, you can create a schedule that takes school runs, nap times, homework and more into account. It may take a bit of adjusting, but over time you can create a work routine that strikes the perfect balance – depending on the industry, of course.

Find ways to multitask

Listening to podcasts while you tidy up after the little ones, or cooking dinner in the slow cooker so you can fire off a few emails while you wait, can help make your to-do list feel more manageable.

Use resources

There are numerous resources out there for new small business owners, from financial advice and workshops to networking events. Connect with other small businesses to create a circle of trusted people with whom you can share advice and experiences. The majority of online advice and resources are free, so be sure to do your research.

Don’t compare yourself to other brands

While it’s good to make connections with other businesses, try not to compare your success journey to theirs. Every business is different, and just because yours isn’t taking the same path as someone else’s in a similar industry, doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Being inspired by other businesses is great, but the only brand you should be comparing yourself to is your own.

Trust your instincts

Confidence and self-belief are hugely important for any business owner, so don’t be afraid to go with your gut if you find yourself at a crossroads. To find success, you need to be able to weather the highs and the lows.

It’s also important to ensure you have the right support in place when launching a business. Surround yourself with the right people, network with others in the industry, and explore the growth and support options in place from North East business support companies. TEDCO Business Support has helped thousands of start-ups get their feet off the ground in the region, helping them start, grow and achieve sustainable success in their field.


Get in touch with the team at TEDCO Business Support today. Give us a call on 0191 516 61 02 or drop us an email at hello@tedco.org.


What we offer

TEDCO offers one-on-one support provided by a dedicated team of business advisors and a range of pre start seminars available to clients who are taking the first steps into self-employment. This could be looking at an initial idea and developing it further, looking at how to start a business plan, business competitors, business marketing.

Are you eligible?

If you are looking to start and grow a business we’d love to hear from you. Our friendly team of experienced Business Advisors are on hand to take your call to discuss the support available.

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