I am a single-mother and small business owner. I have raised my son on my own since the day he was born and have tried my hand at owning more than a few businesses in my adulthood (I’m 35… well 36 on 2/18!). As a single-mother with no assistance (co-parent, child support, government, or otherwise) I’ve run into my fair share of hardships: I’ve lived in hotels, had cars repossessed and relied on public transportation more than once. Like too many other women in our society, I survived a physically and emotionally abusive relationship in my mid 20s, and I didn’t even earn my Bachelor’s Degree until 2018. And while I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, I started my latest business venture, Websites x Design when the startup I was working for decided to close its doors three days before Thanksgiving in 2018.
I started as a freelancer, converted those gigs into a full-fledged business in August 2019, hired my first employees in February of 2020… and then COVID hit. As a single mother, I wouldn’t say I shouldered an increase in domestic responsibilities because of COVID (and everything else that made 2020, well 2020), as taking care of the home, my business and my son has always been solely on me. However, hiring employees, even on a part-time and/or contract basis, definitely added new levels of stress and responsibility, as I felt I needed to do whatever was necessary to keep my team on as consistent a payroll and schedule as possible. The world was/is already crazy enough. The last thing I want is for my team to feel like their jobs (and livelihoods) are in jeopardy. I think the biggest realization that I’ve had through all this, is that we’re a lot more resourceful than we give ourselves credit for.
There are always ways to get more clients and reduce expenses. If traditional methods aren’t working, identify some of the specific talents you (or your team members) have, and leverage those skills on platforms like UpWork or Indeed (which now lists gig and remote work opportunities), even if they aren’t exactly inline with your current service offerings. Use free forums like Instagram, Tik Tok (YES, Tik Tok) and Facebook to connect with people and build a community (post ONE sales related post for every SIX pieces of content you post) and ENGAGE with others rather than expecting them to engage with you. Use these platforms to connect with people in real ways: Remember… people do business with PEOPLE first, not companies or brands. Go out into your physical community and interact with other small businesses, spend money with them and build rapport, because chances are they’re just as in need of you as you are them.
Finally, I would say, whatever you do, DO NOT underestimate the value that your personal time and energy brings to your business. If you’ve cut back on employees and overhead, but are stuck in the day to day operations of the business, answering emails, preparing proposals, posting to social media and executing marketing initiatives (because you can never stop marketing! Not even in a pandemic!), you’re not spending your time and energy in ways that will ultimately bring money into and grow your business. If you can’t connect with clients and seek out new opportunities for growth your business is going to stagnate, no matter how low your expenses are. You might think you can’t afford $15-$25 an hour to hire an assistant (virtual or otherwise), but what is YOUR time really worth? What is YOUR value? What is your SANITY worth? At the end of the day, you really can’t afford not to.
It’s 2021. It’s time to stop making excuses and start making things happen. Pivot, analyze and pivot again. As business owners, especially women business owners, we are the only reason we will succeed or fail, and the sooner we own that and harness the power that ownership wields, the sooner we will take over the whole damn planet!