Single moms use at least ten crucial business skills every day – many of them before breakfast – and that’s why we make the best entrepreneurs. I’d stack any single mom up against top CEOs in these 10 skill areas, and bet she’d come out on top.
- Multitasking: I’d be shocked if there’s a single mom out there who isn’t doing at least two things at once most of the time. I’ve made grocery lists and planned articles in my head while playing with my son. I participate in conference calls while I’m walking the dogs. Making dinner, checking homework, and generating invoices all happen at once. With that kind of non-stop juggling, multitasking at work is a breeze.
- Problem-solving: When it comes to solving problems, single moms are pros. Maybe your child just told you she needs 3 dozen blueberry muffins for school tomorrow and you don’t have any blueberries on hand. Or maybe someone at school is picking on your kid, and she turns to you to figure out what to do. Your on-the-job problem solving skills translate directly to business, so you’ll be able to come up with a plan when clients are late to pay, or the printer has jammed.
- Negotiating: If you’ve ever convinced a child to try spinach, gotten him to do chores without dawdling, or persuaded him to leave the playground in five minutes, you’re a skilled negotiator. Knowing when to negotiate, assessing the other side’s wiggle room, and setting a firm limit are the key skills every negotiator needs – and you’ve probably used them at least once today.
- Managing a budget: Single moms know how to stretch every dollar. We also know when a big-ticket investment (like a new bike) leads to a bigger payoff (your kid is outside and exercising). Managing a budget can be a trying task no matter how much money you have to work with. And years of practice maintaining your household budget gives you the skills you need to operate a business budget.
- Creativity: Making costumes…telling stories…finger painting… Single moms develop creativity by the ton to keep their kids engaged. Being able to come up with innovative, workable ideas (often on the spot) is a key trait of successful entrepreneurs – and single moms.
- Time management: Every single mom I know fits around 30 hours worth of life into every 24-hour day. Balancing your children, household, and job – and getting everything done – takes a time management genie. With your time-budgeting skills, you’ll be able to accurately estimate how much time it will take to complete the projects that keep your company afloat.
- Flexibility: Very often, things don’t work out the way we expect. Things crop up suddenly (like overflowing toilets or strep throat) that force single moms to adapt to a surprise situation. The ability to change gears quickly and figure out alternatives is an invaluable business skill – and one that single moms have to develop very early on.
- Long haul thinking: As moms, we commit to a lifetime of caring for our children. A business requires that same long-term investment philosophy, and the ability to stick it out even during hard times. We single moms hang in there through the sleepless nights, the terrible twos, the teen years. We plan for birthday parties, first cars, and college tuition. And that gives us the mental framework for the kind of long-term thinking every business owner needs to succeed.
- Accepting mistakes and failures: Mistakes happen. We get things wrong – and so do our kids. I had a very hard time accepting my mistakes and failures, and moving on from them, before I was a mom. Being a single mom, helping my son recover from his failures and rebound with what he learned, was a learning experience for me. I still don’t laugh off my failures (unless they’re really funny, like the liquid purple jello incident of 2010), but I don’t judge them harshly anymore – I know they’re coming, and try to learn what I can from them so the next time I’ll succeed. That’s just what single moms do.
- Resilience: It’s hard to bounce back when life knocks you down – but single moms don’t have a choice. We have to be there for our kids no matter what, so we get a lot of practice in being resilient, a highly valued skill in the business world.
I could probably keep going (self-reliance, adaptability, planning without over planning), but that would blow my time budget for writing today, and the laundry won’t wash itself (though I fervently wish it would).
The important takeaway here is this: We doubt ourselves, and often don’t recognize the very marketable skills we develop simply by being single moms. And whether you’re starting your own business, changing careers, or jumping back into a formal workplace, you are bringing a killer skill set with you – skills that any entrepreneur would be lucky to have.