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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 66: Why starting a business as a solo mum helped me heal

Elle Sitek

Founder Single Mama Way

May 9, 2023
In our interview she shares how at 40, with a young child, she found herself navigating the murky waters of divorce separation. And the promise she made if she survived it. We talk about the transferable skills in running a business as a solo mum, what to let go of and how to heal faster.

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Single Mama Way

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Elle Sitek

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Ep 66 Transcript

Our guest today is Elle Sitek of Single Mama Way Counselling. 

Drawing on her 26 years in nursing, counselling and NLP mentoring, Elle offers counselling services for women addressing the trauma of divorce, depression, and anxiety. Through, Single Mama Way, she aims to elevate all Single Mamas to achieve stability, social connection & the lifestyle they desire.

In our interview she shares how at 40, with a young child, she found herself navigating the murky waters of divorce separation. And the promise she made if she survived it.

We talk about the transferable skills in running a business as a solo mum, what to let go of and how to heal faster.  


Let’s dive in with Lucy and Elle.

Lucy Kippist (02:34.680)

Here at Mums & Co we are passionate about telling women's stories could you please share yours with us

Single Mama Way Elle (02:43.774)

Yes thank you lucy well in 2016 I found myself 40, separated with a two and a half year old daughter and no job, rental history, or savings. I was in a new town with no friends or family near by and I hit another time low I was overwhelmed angry scared well very lonely and depressed so there were pretty dark days. Having no experience in becoming separated because what woman does?

I felt like I entered the great unknown and I had no idea how to navigate my life going forward. I found no organised support help and living regionally counsellors and psychologists had up to eight months wait lists that's if their books were open at all. I knew I was not the first or the last woman to go through this and clearly if I was suffering then there must be other mothers going through the same.

So I promised myself at that point in time that if I got out of this with my sanity intact I would do something about it. I had nursing and counselling diplomas under my belt so it was a natural transition to create single mumma way a little bit down the track. I was tested in my resolve last year when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer I lost about six months to fighting it. I feel I got off lightly as I've ended up having a couple of major surgeries and at this point in time I've been given the clear but it sort of made me realise that the strength that you can find in yourself when push comes to shove and I believe that every woman has the strength in her and again I wished to realise this by sharing my lessons that I've learned on my own skin.

Lucy Kippist (04:40.560)

Wow what a tremendous journey that you've been on certainly tested in in many ways and absolutely beautiful to hear that you're carrying the lessons and the wisdom and everything that you've taken you want to share that with other women that's a profoundly beautiful and generous step. What do you think is the number one question you get asked the most about your business single mama way counselling?

Single Mama Way Elle (05:08.514)

It depends on what stage the mums are at in the solo journey. In the early stages it's usually related to the shock and loss and grief of the new found position so it's usually; what do I do now? or how do I put the pieces of my life back together? In the later stages women who have not sought help tend to carry that burden of guilt you know everything the whole relationship down the whole situation that they're in it tends to be on their shoulders and they feel that they've messed up. But really the question that I get from perspective of the journey is and it's often the one that's laced with most anxiety, is how do I protect and raise my child? Especially in the majority of situations where the split is not amicable the kids always come as the thing on to the mum's mind.

Carrie Kwan (06:16.560)

I definitely I'm thinking in terms of a solo parents even you know as equal parents running a business that can be really really challenging and you know you have to start doing a lot of things in that process but what have you actually had to stop doing to ensure that you can actually meet your goals?

Single Mama Way Elle (06:45.914)

I've had to stop eating, sleeping, socialising! No I'm joking, that was mentioned earlier, look you lose your social life as a mother in a way it becomes your life so no really if I think about it and I had to reflect a lot it's the letting go of the idea that I have to have things done there and then and that if I don't I'm somehow you know less that I'm not good enough. I had to stop comparing myself to other women around me. There are obviously many women in many various different positions, some with very supportive networks and husbands and businesses that are well literally established you know I can't compare myself to them.

I had to stop doing that and just say look where you are and that is okay. Patients is another thing that's more learning to embrace it so stop being so impatient and you know allow myself to step out of the comfort zone. Single mums I think a lot all of us are very resilient and really self reliance so stopping the whole I can do this all by myself mentality that's been a lesson as I go. I don't think completely let go of that but it is something that that's that's a journey that's going through with me and I'm allowing people to come in and actually assist me and help me and that is okay so I think that's pretty much the only things that besides the sleep and the fun and everything else now.

Lucy Kippist (08:46.100)

yeah

Carrie Kwan (08:48.900)

Well you you strike me as a very self aware person when you're talking about there's one thing about the action that you've taken but then there's the story that you attached to that action and you know there's like this two step process that you've just referred to and I think that's actually super pertinent you know to life but also when going through very challenging times the meaning that actually attached to that will will frame you or set you up for success or failure as you as you go along. I just lifted to perhaps a different tack with our conversation we obviously love to network a little bit different Mum's & Co and we strive to be Australia's most caring network and for me I'm always actually quite interested in explaining what caring or deeply caring means. It's not just the emotional support but it's the it's access to upskilling is access to meaningful connections strategic connections for you that's how we show you that we deeply care and I'm wondering if you actually like to network what are some of the reasons that you might do it and in particular what are the ways that you might be doing it digitally.

Single Mama Way Elle (10:22.454)

Well I am a funny one. I love helping people and I love caring for them and I'm great with that one on one situation but if you get me in a room full of people networking I just get super awkward I get the sweat and end up shrinking into the darkest corner so to be honest the rise of digital network in platforms and platforms like Mums & Co has allowed me to step into that networking situation with a bit more confidence and feeling supported and looked after. There's that buffer of a screen I suppose that acts on my self consciousness but also you know that there's other women there that have been there before you that all there gathered there to support you all over the countryside so to speak so with Mums & Co. There's a couple of other platforms that am involved with as well and their members are all over the country. Now there's no way in the past before digital networking before covid that I could have had access to any of this support or any of these wonderful caring and giving people so you know that is one good thing about covid I suppose that's happened. That and networking is a crucial part of my business. It is essential for me to establish those caring professional relationships with other women you know there's a wealth of knowledge out there and I only know so much I've got my own journey and an experience and taught knowledge and skills but I cannot know everything everywhere and to be able to just go and meet up on zoom, send someone a message and say “hey I've got someone struggling with this” or “I'm even struggling with this” and being able just to tap in so easily and know that someone on the other side is not going to go off her again or you know what means it's a loving caring relationship that's that's established and that's amazing that's you know it's I love it I've actually learned to love networking.

Lucy Kippist (12:47.800)

That's going to be like magic words to Carrie’s ears hearing that right now I think she's doing a little dance.

Carrie Kwan (12:56.580)

That is exactly it and I was actually thinking you know I've just come off from the plane from Melbourne we had an amazing meet up with local Melbourne members there and I'm led to you now think back to how women actually do business and often I'll hear” I don't like networking” and “I don't like business development” like the two common things that come up all the time and then when you actually frame it in the right way and it's done in a deeply caring way and you see the benefits of it you end up being exactly the opposite because I've gone through that course I think the last thing I want to do is try and convince someone to sell you know to buy my product out subscription product but then I realise that's exactly how I can help them the most and that's that's where the you know you're actually helping their solve their problems for them you're not selling them anything except for a solution to their problems or their challenges or to prevent problems and then with networking it's the same thing it's like well I am I've met someone I established a connection with them and I'm doing business with a person and I love that I had that opportunity because now you know we're on this journey together doing amazing things that's what networking is so…

Single Mama Way Elle (14:18.214)

Yeah absolutely and it's it's relationships that you built around the business side but friendships and that connection with with other women which is I think you know in our day society where we're so cooped up working independently in our own homes we don't have that village to reach out to so it works on many different levels not just from the business side of things.

Lucy Kippist (14:44.120)

I was going to say that the word that jumped out to me in what you are sharing was accessibility and we hear that so much even when we have in person meet up and we have the online meet up monthly as well and just being able to deep in when you can and from wherever you are and as you say you you’re based regionally as well and we know that thirty percent of our entire  community are the same and we're always looking for innovative ways to connect with those women and make sure they feel that that connection is accessible to them. To change a little bit tact a little tact now you've spoken a bit at the beginning of the interview about what it's like to be a solo mum and I'm one too so I totally appreciate what you've shared there I'm wondering what you have found to be the most transferable skills in terms of being a mum and running a business is there some nice alignment there?

Single Mama Way Elle (15:46.874)

I think it goes hand in hand I think running a business well I've learned in the last year and a half because I've always worked for other people but I'm actually learning that it's like running a household it's more like motherhood than people realise. You have to be creative, you have to be organised, you have to be disciplined, you gotta speak and treat others compassionately but you know how they treat you. You know there's so many things you have to know when to have fun and when to attend to the less pleasant things like bookkeeping. You know you run your own accounts in the house that transfers just as well across you have to equip yourself with patients, reach for the YouTube tutorials where you can put your learning hat back on and then in some cases you have to get used to the algorithm rules changing just as you finally get the hang of it so it's very very transferable.

Lucy Kippist (17:02.500)

I love that answer. What about in terms of risk because risks a big part running a business and you and I were speaking before we started to record about you know the challenges of building a business and that you know even putting your time into it could be considered a risk. How do you approach that aspect of business life at this point in your business and what are some of the processes you put in place to protect yourself?

Single Mama Way Elle (17:31.554)

I think I'm all for taking calculated risks in business and in professional life and in personal life. I'm a firm believer that until you leap into the unknown you don't know what you can accomplish but you can't just jump in you need to look at everything. So before starting this business I sat down, I evaluated I ensured that I had enough savings there to carry me through.

I did my research on the topic and yes I felt passionate about this is what I wanted to do but if there was no need for it in the world then that wouldn't have gotten me very far. I'm not risk averse I'm happy to take those risks but you first have to calculate them well and truly and look to seek lots of information and lots of opinions from others because your perception of how things are tainted by your enthusiasm for the topic of enthusiasm for the idea and then of course you need to look at protecting yourself in ways of working with the people that work in law an accounting so that they can offer the best ways to set up your business so you are sort of set up and minimise that risk from putting insurances in place.

I've created systems which can be taken over by somebody else being a solo mum as you can imagine if I get sick and especially losing the six months last year it really put that in my front front of my mind not only who's gonna be looking after my child but what happens with this business what happens with all this investment of my time and self that I've put in so again systems that have to be in place just in case something happens to you so that somebody else can step in. I think the fundamental things that to look at as to mitigate whatever might occur but definitely take that risk just calculate it first and put steps in to protect yourself absolutely it's worth it it's scary but it's worth it.

Carrie Kwan (19:51.700)

You mentioned something before in terms of the question that you most commonly get asked and it's how to protect yourself and your children and your lifestyle and I think that's very much the same approach with business. You actually figure out plan on how to protect those assets you know a bit of a crude way to define them but in the day you're actually protecting what's important to you.

Single Mama Way Elle (20:26.394)

At the end of the day you brought a little person into this world and see your first responsibility to look after them and you follow your dreams to be able to serve others but you also need to serve that little nest that you've created and look after.

Carrie Kwan (20:37.020)

Beautiful segue into our next question which is when we talk about striving for a harmony between a triangle that circles around ambition, livelihood and wellbeing a circular motion around this triangle so I love to hear how you describe the shape of a good life for you?

Single Mama Way Elle (21:13.754)

I don't really see myself as ambitious to start with everything I do, I do because I love being of service to others and selfishly I want to show my daughter that she can be anything she wants to be if she puts her mind to it but I acknowledge that all those three are intertwined and connected I don't think you could have a livelihood without feeling wellbeing and I suppose could be translated by the motivation to help and empower you and the satisfaction of being able to do that again fills my happiness and my joy so in my mind I strive for a constant balance between the three when my daughter is at her dad I still struggle with the house’s emptiness so this usually disrupts my but carefully crafted balance and I tend to throw myself into the work and I forget about the wellbeing. I do have my little dog cookie here who comes to my aid. Basically he'll come in and put his paw on my arm over a couple of hours and he'll demand a walk or play and basically that's his way of saying you're taking a break and he does not take no for an answer so it's very passive aggressive like that he's my timekeeper and makes sure that wellbeing gets slotted into everything so I think you know surrounding yourself by people that also care for you animals or critics that care for you feeds into that as well to assist you in maintaining the ambition and the livelihood and the wellbeing to continue feeding into itself and keeping that balance.

Lucy Kippist (23:08.740)

That's a beautiful shape and a shout out to your dog and what kind of dog did you say he was?

Single Mama Way Elle (23:18.354)

He's a moodle maltese cross yes oh he's adorable very very cute.

Lucy Kippist (23:26.140)

The final question from us today is something I know will resonate with you in the work you're doing we obviously love to support other women in business so we'd love to hear from you perhaps a couple of women or business owning mothers that are in your network that you'd like to say hello to?

Single Mama Way Elle (23:49.414)

So I was going to say first people to say hello to would be my mum and my daughter but they're clearly not in business but they're the most important women in my life. They're just my rocks and my stars but fellows would be Naomi from Results and Co here in Coffs Harbour and from the Fairy Room as well here in Coffs Harbour they are just inspirational. They've been there for me and guiding me through all my learning curves and just being lovely, really good resource files and really supportive and then obviously from my personal life as well women like that they're encouraged me and put up with me and frankly throughout the years I don't know how old I've made it without them they're all business women in their own rights just not locally around me. 

Lucy Kippist (24:59.600)

Thank you so much for joining us on mumbition the podcast today and if you'd like to find out more about Single Muma Way you can find her on our Mums & Co business directory. At Mums & Co we help women in business grow so join our membership today we have packages that started just forty nine dollars that includes a range of networking and upskilling workshops head over to mumsandco.com. today.