3 lessons for entrepreneurs from my single-parent mother

Because being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a single-parent…apparently

I was coming back from a networking event and exhausted from the day-to-day of having a job and starting my own business. It made me reflect and identify with my mum, a single-parent of three for 25 years, spanning two generations, juggling her job and her family on her own. The stress triggered my desire for wisdom and I sought my mum’s advice. Asking her to reflect on being a single-parent, who was solely responsible for the survival and growth of an idea, what follows are thethree principles she shared with me:
 
1) Values based Co-founder / Team selection

Being a single-parent wasn’t part of the plan, but it was part of the reality. I asked my mum, “what would have made this whole process easier, partner wise?” Her answer was twofold, shared-values and somebody who cares and can provide. Both my parents cared and sacrificed a lot to provide, but their values and approachers differed. They parented much better separately than they did together, and my mum had a huge advantage as a nursery nurse, which brings me to her next principle…

2) Industry Experience

My mum has over 30+ years’ experience, a degree and several other qualifications in early years development. She’s a master of her craft when it comes to nurturing children. It’s not the pay that motivates her, but her purpose and impact. My mum knows her industry and loves the role she plays in serving others with her gifts. She has a love for the industry that she admitted made it easier. She also said that her growth as a practitioner made her want to learn more which kept her going through difficult times.

3) Invest EVERYTHING

As a single-parent, especially at first my mum spoke of how she had to invest all her money into us. She also had to invest in building a support network for us too. I asked her if she had felt that her investment had been repaid yet; to which she simply replied, that love without expectation is the eternal ROI. This helped me to understand that to truly start an organisation because you love it, means you’re going to have to invest everything you have into it. The returns? Love without any expectations that continues to have an impact beyond your wildest expectations.

“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves” 
— Henry Ward Beecher

I’ve never spoken with a single-parent who has said that it’s easy. A view shared by CEOs, leaders and entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with and one that as a founder, I can now empathise with. I have a new level of appreciation for my mum’s sacrifices and passion, as well as parents in general. It’s a type of appreciation that inspires me to do as good a job as an entrepreneur as she has a parent, knowing that the greatest thing any of us can do is give birth to an idea in an industry you love, nurture it and watch it grow into something you can be proud of forever.

Best hopes, P.D.
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