Lessons learned when a newly-single mom becomes her own boss
on January 06, 2022 • 5 minute read
If you came to me five years ago and told me that, fast-forward to today you wouldn't find me fighting my way to the top of some corporation, I would have been offended. I was raised in a culture where it was understood that once you grew up, you only had three options:
- Become a professional: a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer
- Become a stay-at-home mom
- Join the corporate world
Since everyone around me worked for big corporations at the time, I saw that as the only option for me — and nothing was going to change my mind.
But that was the old me, the one that hadn't yet discovered that being your own boss can be a whole lot easier with the right mindset and the right tools. Today, I’m not just one of three things, I'm many things: a business owner, a technical writer, an SEO specialist, a photographer, a cybersecurity enthusiast, an artist, a dreamer and most importantly — a thriving single mom.
My journey started somewhere around 2019. Being a new mom is hard enough... but I experienced an added challenge when I suddenly found myself as a newly-single mom. I was struggling — physically, emotionally and financially. I just didn’t know where to start. Getting a job was incredibly hard after being on maternity leave for two years, and I felt like I didn’t have enough time to get back on my feet — how was I going to provide for my son when I didn’t even have the time to figure out a plan?
My resources were running low. At the time, I was ready to do anything to stay afloat and protect my son (just as any mother would do). I remember browsing the internet, looking for jobs and business ideas with my son balanced in one arm, while trying to reach the keyboard with the other. I remember hot tears running down my face because I was so desperate and had no idea how I was going to fix the situation. Every breath I took was painful, the anxiety was killing me — I needed to find a way to provide for my son, like, yesterday.
I was in this state of not knowing for a few months, until it hit me — I could start freelancing. I started to see a silver lining, a plan was starting to form... so what could possibly go wrong?
Spoiler alert: things didn't exactly go as planned. But my experience taught me a few important lessons along the way. Lessons I hope you might find useful on your own solopreneur journey.
Business doesn't have to mean bureaucracy
When you're raised in a culture of bureaucracy, you don't know that there's any other way. Starting in high school, teens in my native Romania are taught how to begin preparing mountains of paperwork (which I always considered a little too extensive for my taste).
My first plan was to start a business in Romania so I could legally work with the clients I found. There was one problem, though — actually, about 100 problems. In order to start a business here, you need a ton of paperwork — birth certificates, fiscal documents, house deeds, IDs, marriage and divorce documents. Any document you can think of, you'll probably need it to start a business in Romania.
I remember making lists with all the documents I needed — I had to get some papers I have never even heard of. I discovered government offices I never knew existed. So imagine me, hovering over my laptop with a coffee in my right hand, my little boy pulling on my left hand, reading all that information and trying to get it to all sink in. After I finally got everything down on my list, my journey seemed impossible. Some of those papers were only usable for a couple of days, so if I wanted to get started, I had only a narrow window of time.
And take it from me, finding your 18-year-old self sitting in a line full of people fighting to take your place, overseen by a handful of completely detached public functionaries — really starts to take a toll on you.
I felt completely desperate. My perfect plan was slowly falling apart. It was time to look for alternatives.
The alternative: going solo with Xolo
Luckily, I discovered Xolo and e-Residency just in time. I was a week away from gathering all my papers when I submitted my e-Residency application. I remember being in my bed, reading all the documentation and feeling skeptical about it initially. After being raised in a culture of bureaucracy, something this simple felt... a little too good to be true.
I swallowed my misgivings and sent in my application. Two weeks later it was approved, and Xolo had everything set up in just a couple of days. I basically started a real business from my bed without having to cry myself to sleep every night in the process! It was surreal at the time and I felt heroic — I couldn't believe I had actually started a legit business! Me, the scared single mom who didn’t know what was happening in her life... was finally taking back control. I didn’t have to submit a mountain of documents, the entire process was as transparent as possible... and I didn’t even have to leave my house!
I wasn’t looking for a tax haven — I was looking for a legit way to avoid bureaucracy and stress. And I actually found it with Xolo!
When betting on yourself is the surest investment
In Romania, half of your profits go straight to the public budget — for me, this was terrible. If I managed to make enough money to survive for one month, I’d have to give half of them away after spending a few hours a month at multiple offices filled with sour people who seemed to take pleasure in letting me know how little they cared about me and my business. Oh, and if I wanted to work with international clients, all this would have gotten significantly more difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have some taxes to pay. But with an Estonian company, the advantage is clear. After feeling completely lost, I was finally feeling like I could do great things. And since I no longer needed to worry about going bankrupt from taxes, I was able to invest thousands of dollars in myself — books, courses, specializations, everything I needed to become the boss I now know I was meant to be. And believe me when I say that nothing in this world compares with knowledge. Your perspective changes completely when you dive deeper into the things you're most passionate about.
You only get one life so do what you love
Since I didn’t have to deal with accounting, declarations, and long, pointless trips to government offices, I had a lot more time to devote to myself, my business — and raising my son.
I’m the dreamer type, and I have quite a lot of passions. And guess what? Because I don’t need to struggle to stay afloat, I can pursue all of them — I can photograph, I can develop my film, I can travel, I can keep doing whatever I like from anywhere in the world.
Aside from the simplicity, I love the fact that I’m not bound to one place. If I had a “traditional” business, I’d have to engage in the overly-complicated process of moving it to another country. It’s so complicated that some people recommend closing it and starting another one once you relocate. With my (now ruined by the pandemic) plans to move to the Netherlands, Xolo was the perfect solution. I could keep living my life without worrying about my company, headquarters, new taxes, rules, regulations... everything. I'm finally free!
Freelancing is for everyone
I believe that people should live their lives to the maximum, doing exactly what they love. With so many opportunities around the globe, the world of freelancing is wide open. We’re no longer bound to one country, to one language, to a specific market — so why not take the opportunity to finally live life on our terms?
Unsolicited advice? If you have the slightest doubt about starting a business in your own country, give Xolo a try. While I myself use Xolo Leap to start my own remote EU business, Xolo's Go plan can be a better fit when you're just starting out and validating the market, as it's low-cost and doesn't involve any long-term commitments. But my advice to you is don't be afraid to go for it. Nothing’s more important than your dream, and independence is our greatest asset.
Andreea is a Romanian content marketer, with a focus on cybersecurity, photography, and personal development. She believes that she can make the world better one step at a time, and is constantly working towards it. When she's not writing, you can find her investigating data breaches, taking creative photos, or studying the human mind. Andreea uses Xolo Leap to run her 100% remote EU solo business.