The Challenges of Starting a business as a Single Parent

Starting a business is a challenge, we all know that. Add a child or two into the mix and that challenge can become even greater- it could even feel insurmountable. The playing field may feel rockier for ‘parentpreneurs’ but many are still willing to play as they truly believe in their business.

It’s a juggling act.

Doing it all – working, planning and childcare can feel like a juggling act. Finding a balance between your babies can be tricky, especially when commitments conflict with each other.

Childcare can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting your own enterprise, the one thing with the greatest likelihood to make all the balls that you’ve been keeping up in the air come crashing down – and generally when you least expect it. Friends and family can’t always help so knowing about all the options available to you is really important – as they say ‘be prepared’.

Some councils and Local Authorities do offer child care assistance, but this can be hit and miss. Tree Shepherd are pleased to be partnering with one such organization-the Baytree Centre in Brixton. They support women to acquire the resources, skills, and sustained behaviour changes necessary to improve their life chances- all useful when trying to start or run a business.

One thing that you can rely on is the UK Government’s free childcare scheme for children aged 2 and up. All 3 to 4-year-olds in England are eligible for 570 free hours per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, and this is extended to 2 year olds if you receive state benefits. If you aren’t familiar with the scheme all of the details and eligibility requirements can be found here.

When it comes to occasionally needing help don’t be afraid to ask for it, accept that things won’t always go to plan. Within you are the skills to make this work but sometimes we all need a bit of help along the way.

Not for the faint of heart.

Being an entrepreneur can be unbelievably rewarding, but it comes with hard work. Most entrepreneurs work longer than the typical average work week, sure there’s flexibility but it can be hard trying to ‘fit it all in’.

Single parent entrepreneurs are three times more likely to start a business for a better work life balance. To achieve this though it means putting in long wrap-around hours, fitting it all in between and around family commitments. Taking on those hours and putting in that effort does and will pay off – you just have to keep the faith and keep showing up.

In everything you do as a parentpreneur you’re showing the world your commitment and determination to not only succeed in business but also in showing your children that hard work pays off.

Being your own boss is hard.

Being your own boss means you can make the time to be at the game, the dropoff, the parent teacher meeting but the work still needs to be done, and the buck stops with you.

Demands on your time seem to come endlessly from all angles and it can be hard.

You’ll have good days and you’ll have days that make you question why you ever even started – but the key is to always keep the goal in mind. Remind yourself – and your children why you’re doing what you’re doing, and that it won’t always be like this.

You’ve got the skills!

Balancing finances, child care and general parenting are probably the biggest factors when considering starting a business venture, but they are also some of your greatest assets.

All of these daily (often thankless and boring!) tasks build in you a huge amount of skills, ones that will be useful when trying to grow a business!

Remind yourself of this whenever self doubt starts to creep in.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or in need of support remember that at Tree Shepherd we run courses aimed not only at teaching you new business skills but importantly how to recognise what skills you have and how to believe in the power of you.

In addition we have a team of coaches and mentors here to offer a more tailored approach to helping you achieve your goals.