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Cool. Single. CEO. November 19, 2009

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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Cool. Single. CEO.

That’s the tag line for a great blog, Single Startups, which profiles companies and products created by single people. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this blog–maybe one  of our regular readers or some blog I read regularly flagged it. In that case, many thanks, long-forgotten flagger! 

Here’s how the CEO of Single Startups describes her site: 

Single startups is an interview blog designed to explore the lives and businesses of single entrepreneurs.  Through personal interviews with CEOS, founders, and serial entrepreneurs, I hope to unlock what makes this special group…well, special.

I often get asked why I choose only to interview single entrepreneurs.  A certain intangible quality exists in this determined group and I believe that not every successful business person would be so if they didn’t have a supportive partner waiting in the wings.

Having another person lay out your tie or cook you a hot meal cannot be discounted as being a key factor in start-up success.  Those who have the endurance to survive and thrive despite this support are the people I want to meet, and people from whom we can all learn.

I do question whether simply having a partner  when starting your own business is an automatic bonus, or whether society trains us to see a partner as such. That same person cooking your hot meal might also be insisting you sit down at the table and eat it at 6 pm, which is when your West coast customers are most likely to be at their desks.

Nonetheless, having a (super) supportive partner to pick up life’s logistical slack (car emissions inspections leap to mind; sigh) certainly would free up a lot of time for you to plan your marketing strategy and tax dodges. I agree that single small business owners–sort of like single parents–should be generally admired and learned from.

In particular, we need to find out what legislative gaps or other institutionalized discrimination they face as single CEOs. For example: Singles pay more in taxes. How does this affect single-owned startups?    

And socially, how does being a single businessperson affect interactions with one’s clientele? Do customers look on a single CEO as an independent trailblazer or an unsettled lone wolf? Or neither?  

Specifically, are small businessowners similar to politicians, in that they almost have to be married–ideally with children–in order to hold any significant office or achieve significant success?  (Lest you think I’m exaggerating–me? exaggerate?–I assure you I have a Powerful Personal Anecdote that illustrates just this point, and I will post it later.) 

I would love to see Single Startups pose these questions to the single CEOs profiled in the blog! (Although maybe these issues have been raised and I just haven’t read enough posts to notice.)  

Copious Readers, have you owned or do you own your own business, as a single person? Do you know any single CEOs? How much does having a partner contribute to an entrepreneur’s success? 


P.S. In order to boost my self-esteem and sense of inner verve, from now on I will sign my name with an exclamation point. Let’s see how this goes down at the office (where I am definitely not the CEO).


1. Trauma Queen - November 19, 2009

I have noticed most successful women CEO’s – are single. Rather divorced. Which I think is unfair cos they have had to make a choice between their careers and their families. I think this whole deal of ‘striking a balance’ is a myth – women are still sadly expected to be homemakers (especially after babies) and I know very, VERY few family women who are at the top of their careers. One woman I do know, her husband chose to be a house-husband.

In other news, I was pressed for words and thus decided to switch loyalties to WordPress. Do update your blogroll link to this URL:


See you there!

2. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles - November 20, 2009

I have that blog on my blogroll but haven’t kept up with it as much as I should! It was Bella DePaulo who alerted me to it on Living Single some months back. It’s such a fantastic concept!

You raise some interesting questions. A few weeks ago, I attended Single Edition’s “Live the Life You Love” event, and one of the guest speakers talked about start-ups and echoed what you said here. She had started two businesses, one when single and one when married, and she thought it was somewhat easier as a single because she had all that time to devote solely to her work. However, she claimed to have a supportive partner who helped in a different way after she was married. (She didn’t elaborate on how.)

I’m a self-employed freelance writer/editor/proofreader (and hopefully web start-up if I can get it going before the year is out!), and I honestly can’t say whether it would be easier to do this in a supportive relationship because I haven’t been in one since I went freelance. I’ve been in an UNsupportive relationship, though, and that sapped all my energy, creativity, and focus. I was miserable the whole time because it was clear that he didn’t support my work.

However, I suspect that even when you try to compare starting a biz solo to starting it in a happy relationship, the benefits and drawbacks cancel each other out. When you’re single, you theoretically have more time on your hands than a married individual with familial responsibilities. But, then, when you’re single, you have no one to help you with day-to-day tasks, so that’s a time suck right there. When you’re single, you don’t have to answer to anyone and can make all your own decisions. But when you’re single, there’s no one to automatically help guide you through the decision-making process, and the consequences of your decisions rest entirely on your shoulders. When you’re single, you may be in a better position to take risks because you’re not responsible for anyone else. But when you’re single, there’s no one to help you out of your own mess if you don’t succeed. I could probably think of five or six more ways in which marital status is six of one, half a dozen of the other. (This is, of course, assuming that we’re talking about comparing singleness to a HAPPY marriage in which the spouse is interested, involved, and supportive.)

I think single entrepreneurs get more of a break than politicians do because governmental leaders are expected to represent the values of the people, and right now, the values of the people are primarily matrimaniacal. As private citizens, singles in business are given more leeway in their personal lives, I think. Actually, some of the most successful start-ups were single when their companies took off. (Google and Facebook, I’m thinking of you.) I certainly HOPE small business owners don’t HAVE to be married or else I’m screwed! 🙂

3. Lauri - November 20, 2009

I think that hands down, the advantages to having someone to help out would win out over having “more time to yourself.” I think the whole idea that relationships are time-consuming is just a myth. Plus, any time-consuming aspects of them are voluntary- you WANT to spend time with this person. Like wanting to go get a message. Car emissions inspections (which I NEVER have time for) aren’t voluntary. Having someone else to go do them (obviously just as one example) would be a huge advantage when trying to start up a business.

This is all holding kids constant of course.

Onely - November 28, 2009

Agreed. . . and I still haven’t done my car emissions inspection by the way. . .

4. Laura - November 24, 2009

Thanks for featuring SingleStartups! Loved all your provocative thoughts and potential interview questions – never even occurred to me about discrimination against single business owners…hmmm?
The people I have met through the site have been nothing short of amazing…definitely a breed all their own. And behind the scenes, a few have connected professionally as well.
By the way, I am thinking of opening up some interviews for guest bloggers soon – swing by and pick from my long list of men awaiting their turn:) Wish I had the time to interview all of them myself!

Onely - November 28, 2009

Thanks Laura–that sounds great!

5. singlethirtysomething - November 25, 2009

I started my business nearly four years ago and have been single throughout. I agree that there are pros and cons to being either single or partnered-up, as everyone else above has said – but the one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is money.

For the first three years, as my business became established, it was often touch-and-go as to whether I could pay all my bills at the end of the month. Had I not been single, I’d have been able to rely on my partner’s income to ensure the basics were covered. Perhaps not having that made me even more determined to generate the revenues (extra pressure perhaps?) but I have several married friends who are also entrepreneurs, for whom the whole start-up thing has been a lot less stressful, because their household still has one regular income.

Fortunately I have wonderful parents who have been immensely supportive (whenever they’d visit, they’d bring a small bag of groceries 🙂 ). Without some sort of support system, I don’t think entrepreneurs – single or otherwise – can stay afloat.

Onely - November 28, 2009

Thanks for sharing your story, singlethirtysomething. Perhaps we need more legislation and resources dedicated to single entrepreneurs, so that they don’t *need* that ad-hoc support system. This might help encourage more local businesses to offset the gross strip mall culture wer’e developing. . . at least here in Northern Virginia.

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