Published on September 26th, 2013 | by Alexandra Gray0
Want to start your own business?
Ali Golds is a single mum to three children and a successful businesswoman running two entrepreneurial mentoring organisations, Operation Enterprise and The Juno Project. Ali is passionate about helping single mums start their own businesses, and recently visited Downing Street to talk about her forthcoming book, The Single Mums Entrepreneur: Perils, Pitfalls and Successes.
What makes you so passionate about working with single mums?
Most single mums don’t become that way by choice. I know I didn’t. In a matter of weeks I realised that my marriage was over, and with it went my job – we ran a business together – my home and any security I had. Single mums work hard to keep their heads above water and to juggle their children, their work and their lives. The skills they use are the exactly the same ones I use to run my business, yet when I speak to single mums they say they don’t think that they have the skills to run a business. They couldn’t be more wrong. My goal is to prove they can and, using my blog and the book I am currently writing – alongside the speaking I already do – I am going to show them how it can be done. No challenge is too big, and anyone can overcome anything to get to where they want to go.
Why do you think single mums should start their own business?
I aim redress the overwhelming negativity that single parents face both in day to day life as well as through the media. I want to show single mums they have more to offer to themselves and their families than they might possibly imagine, and that they can reach and exceed their dreams, and take control of their futures. My book not only looks at the practicalities of running a business but the associated plusses – increased confidence, self-esteem, wider circle of friends and contacts. And of course, the financial implications.
Why is this a passion for you?
I had a difficult early life, peppered with bullying and abuse and undiagnosed dyslexia and dyspraxia. People told me I would never amount to anything. Then my marriage fell apart, and a subsequent relationship turned violent and I ended up in a women’s refuge.
I realised I could either sink or swim, and I swum. Sadly, there are lots of people with a similar story, and I want them to have the inspiration and confidence to pursue their dreams. I work a lot with Women’s Aid and with Gingerbread trying to inspire people with my story, helping women gain economic independence.
How can a single mum (or dad!) juggle running their own business with parenting?
The reason I set up my business was due to exactly that – not being able to juggle working for someone and the childcare! Working for myself gave me that opportunity. There are many ways it can be done, from running a business part-time (which many mums do) and working when children are at school or early in the morning and once they’ve gone to bed to working in a co-operative so a few of you work together and cover childcare for each other. You can also get your children involved in your business, depending upon their age. I know of friends who helped their single mums from a very young age by packing boxes to send to clients, for instance. My youngest son used to help me with general tasks around the office. Take up the offers of friends and family to look after your kids, and use the time to deal with business tasks. The thing to remember is that they do get older – and the older they get, the more independent they become and the easier it is to run your business!
How can the government can help single parents?
If a single mum is keen to investigate setting up her own business, she should be able to access a package of tailored support to include free start up training delivered by, preferably, other single mum entrepreneurs, vouchers for further education training as an incentive to retrain, mentoring and pre-start up advice to ultimately be delivered by single mums who have been through the scheme and other support, such as IT and office space. Single mums need to get their businesses off the ground with little initial outlay. They should have access to small grants rather than loans to cover other business costs i.e. business cards, and tax deductible childcare up to a certain amount. One issue that really needs addressing is the fact that councils and housing associations don’t allow tenants to run a business from home – this will put off a lot of single mums before they even start and, indeed, I spoke to three ladies only a couple of days ago who have had to shelve their dreams of self-employment because they can’t work from their council owned homes.
You can read more of Ali’s great advice on her blog singlemumentrepreneur.wordpress.com