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Running your own business is no piece of cake. Neither is raising a family. These 10 single moms, all of whom have built successful companies, manage to do both with a mix of intelligence, creativity and sheer determination.
For some of these mompreneurs, starting a business was a means of creating a better life for their kids; for others, the kids themselves inspired the business idea.
All of them have learned critical lessons along the road to success. Check out their top 10 tips and get inspired.
Angela Benton is the founder and CEO of NewME. Since launching in 2011, NewME has accelerated over 300 startups and helped them raise over $17 million in venture capital funding. Having her first child at 16 has never slowed Benton down as she has made a name for herself in the world of design and technology, appearing on Ebony magazine’s Power 150 in 2010, Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2013 and Marie Claire’s 50 Women Who Rule in 2013.
Her advice: “Being a single mom is NOT a setback. Nestled somewhere in the pages of a storybook is the idea that entrepreneurs “hustle,” “crush it,” “grind” and whatever other word you can come up with to describe working really, really hard on your business 100 percent of the time. Out here in the real world we know that’s not true.
Don’t get me wrong, entrepreneurship is a ton of work. However don’t let the perception of this lifestyle count you out before you even count yourself in. Being a single mom comes with a wealth of skills that do well in entrepreneurship like: multitasking, creativity, managing and/or operating on a budget, and problem-solving to say the least. I don’t know about you but I’d put my money on someone with these skills rather than a new college grad.”
In 2005, Lisa Stone co-founded BlogHer. Today, the female-focused media platform has an audience of 100 million. BlogHer also hosts the largest U.S. events for women who blog and use social media, and an award-winning social hub at BlogHer.com. Through BlogHer’s growth, Stone has learned how to succeed as an entrepreneur both as a young, divorced and single mom and now the working mother of a three-kid Brady bunch (ages 26, 18 and 14).
Her advice: “Ban toxic people from your life. You don’t have enough time already, right single mom or dad? So if you are living or working or worshipping around a toxic person or people who invade your confidence and bring you down, you MUST remove them from your life.”
Lauren Thom founded New Orleans-brand Fleurty Girl using $2,000 from her 2009 tax return. When the Saints went to the Super Bowl later that year, her t-shirts quickly became a must-have item for every New Orleans fan. Five years later, the single-mother of three now owns five locations and manages 30 employees.
Her advice: “You have to make family a part of your business… I’ve always considered my kids to be my board of directors, whether we’re moving or having them share a bedroom so we can open a store in our house. Make them a part of that journey. And that’s for any mom, not just single moms… Our kids are our reason to seek out a better life.”
Karla Campos is a single mother of three and the founder of digital marketing training and education company Social Media Sass. Currently, she is working on Florida Social Con, a conference dedicated to bring affordable quality social media training to small business owners.
Her advice: “Entrepreneurship, just like motherhood, is not a 9-5 job. Some days I stay up until 3 am working and then have to do a 7 a.m. child drop off at school. Be kind to yourself. Make time for you even if it’s just to breathe and smell the air. Kids are going to make messes, they are going to eat your reports and download viruses to your computer. Your best weapon is a sense of humor. Enjoy your single mom entrepreneur life, wear the title proudly. We are basically super heroes.”
As a mother of three, Melissa Kieling struggled finding a product to keep her kids’ lunches cool and safe until lunchtime. So, she patented the idea for a lunch bag with a freezable gel built into its lining – an idea that grew into PackIt Personal Cooler. Five years later, PackIt has grown into a $14 million business with products that span lunch, wine, baby, picnic and shopping and distribution reaching more than 40 countries internationally.
Her advice: “Look for inspiration everywhere. Make note of all the things that frustrate you in your daily life, then research creative ways to address those inefficiencies. All it takes is an idea and an Internet connection to create a product that changes the world.
Don’t let inexperience stop you. My business résumé was basically limited to school bake sales. Not knowing which steps to take first nearly paralyzed me with fear. I overcame this by reaching out to other business owners who could connect me to experts in manufacturing, production and sales. Each key person I met shortened my learning curve and gave me confidence. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how other small business owners want to pay it forward and see new upstarts succeed.”
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