Words guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of most single mums at some point, and also that of entrepreneurs. I can vouch for that.
Does that surprise you?
Most people have the idea that entrepreneurs/business owners are really comfortable with money; picking apart bank statements as a hobby, gaily reading financial plans until the early hours as though they were the latest chick-lit novel, borrowing vast sums of money without a second thought.
True to say that being acutely aware of your financial position is vital – knowing how much money you have in the bank, how much is due to go out, how much is due to come in and when – but not true that entrepreneurs are completely free of worry when it comes to money.
Let me use myself as an example.
My businesses are doing well. One is expanding rapidly, the other is just starting to take off. I always use the analogy of children when describing businesses for setting one up is akin to having a baby – particularly given the time, effort and passion that goes in to making one happen in the first place!
I see a very new start up as a newborn. Totally unable to do anything for itself, and in need of constant attention. Then they get a little more independent, rising through the weaning stage into teething and then walking. Before you know it they are starting to develop personality (sometimes not the one you might like so you nip bad habits in the bud), and then off to school. Or in the case of a business, you let someone else hold the reins and worry throughout the working day that they might not be looking after your treasured child as you might like.
You get the picture.
One of my businesses is in between the newborn and weaning stage. Exciting, time consuming and keeps me awake at night. The other is toddling. Far too quickly for my liking but that’s the way it works and I should be proud for it’s my nurturing in the early stages that has got it to this point so quickly.
And, of course, I am but it means that it now needs an injection of cash. And this is the bit that makes me ridiculously scared.
There is a lot of evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, that women are nervous not only of maths, and anything related to numbers but of borrowing money. Of being in debt. We like the security of knowing we don’t owe anything to anyone, and are happy to develop our lives at a slower pace in order to carry on enjoying that peace of mind feeling.
Just because you run your own business doesn’t mean that you necessarily change that mindset.
It always surprises people when I tell them I am dyscalculic (in essence, the numbers version of Dyslexia). They are astonished that I can competently run 2 businesses but not be able to grapple, very successfully, with maths. That sometimes looking at the paperwork sent through by my accountant leaves me in tears because I have absolutely no idea what it means, and that I have often made elementary mistakes – sometimes in business meetings – that don’t look terribly professional.
Because, of course, good at maths = successful businessperson
Nope. Successful businessperson = someone who knows their strengths and plays to them, and pays someone to cover their weaknesses.
My toddler business needs a cash injection in order to grow a bit quicker, and capitalise on the potential in the market before others see it. I have lost count of the times I’ve clicked on the website for my bank to apply for funding, only to read what they are looking for, consider the fact that it will mean I/my business will owe money, and change my mind – thinking of other ways around it.
As a single mum, this worry is even more acute.
I know what it’s like to not have 2 pennies to rub together. I know what it’s like to only be able to feed your child and not yourself. I know what it’s like to have to weigh up putting money on to the electricity key to use the oven to feed said child or petrol in the car to get to work to earn money to be able to buy the electricity. I know what it’s like to have to shop secondhand all through the year, including at Christmas.
The worries you have as a single mum around money, are the same that an entrepreneur has. It’s just the situation that’s different.
‘This invoice hasn’t been paid on time.’ equates to ‘My benefits are late’ or ‘My hours have been calculated incorrectly at work and they haven’t paid me what I was expecting’.
‘I only have x amount of money but y amount of bills’. That one needs no translating.
Single mums up and down the country, and across the world, deal with exactly the same problems as entrepreneurs every single day of the week. Without exception. But you learn how to deal with it, you get creative, you get a bit tougher, and you learn where the help might be. And if there is no help, you batten down the hatches and you just get on with it. For we all know, eventually, the tide turns. It might take a while, and you may despair in the meantime but it does.
In my experience, single mums are expert at learning how to manage money. How to save a little here and there, be creative at finding bargains and deals. Because every penny really does count. They know that more than most.
That’s a fantastic skill to have, and one that an entrepreneur needs to develop really quickly in order to build successful businesses that aren’t financed to the hilt so that with the slightest gust of an ill-wind, the whole thing comes tumbling down.
Single mums can do that. You can do that.
Take a look at how you manage your money. How you’ve overcome the hurdles in the past. How you’ve learnt and moved forwards. And now tell me that you couldn’t use those same skills in a business environment. That, using those skills, you couldn’t survive the tough first couple of years in a start-up.
Single mums can do that. You can do that.
See you tomorrow!