Women are taking the social spotlight in more ways than one. Whether it’s in the academe, medicine, the judiciary or politics, women are carving names out for themselves. Business is one of those spheres that has seen the steady rise of women in the corporate ladder. From mere employers, many a number of women are now taking on leadership roles in companies.
According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are about 9.9 million women-owned businesses that are responsible for the employment of some 8.4 million individuals. Furtheremore, there are about 8.8 million women non-employer firms (about 89.5%), that is, there is no other employee except the owner/founder who also doubles as staff.
These data point to one clear fact: Women are becoming owners and bosses of their own companies. This is certainly good news as this reflects women’s increased self-reliance and financial freedom and independence.
It is interesting to see what kinds of companies and businesses women are launching, managing and creating on their own. From their traditional roles in the home, how are women conquering the world of business?
- Food services and catering. Cooking and catering are one of the easiest and most convenient ways for many to break into the small business / micro-business scene. In a study of women entrepreneurs in the New York area alone, it was found that the food industry has registered a 45% increase in women-owned businesses from 2007 to 2012. Many of these businesses are start-up catering and wholesale food businesses, kitchens, bakeries, coffee shops and small diners rather than upscale restaurants.
- Event planning. Event planning and coordination is another scene that’s popular among women-entrepreneurs. Many of these event planning and event management companies are started by a small group of 2–3 women, college friends, colleagues or neighbors who share a common love and interest for party planning. Their clients typically include couples who are on the lookout for the private, homegrown and affordable wedding planners, or parents who can plan and organize kiddie and birthday parties.
- Fashion and online retail. Online sites like Amazon and Etsy have provided women greater access to an extensive market without leaving the comforts of their homes. Online shopping has enabled women to set up virtual stores with minimal capital investment and lesser maintenance and overhead cost. While some online stores offer a wide range of products (from jewelry, clothing, fragrance and cosmetics to home products), many successful ones are those that have created a niche by offering a line of products for certain customer groups. An example is Brass, a start-up that offers high quality but affordable clothing for women by women.
- Tech and apps. Women entrepreneurs are more than retailers or sellers of goods or providers of services. Some of the newest and hottest tech start-ups in the Silicon Valley are developed, started and managed by women. Many of these feature apps and technology services for a wide range of customers, such as Traveling Spoon, which connects travelers to local dining experiences and hotspots in various cities in the world.
If you are woman considering making the leap into entrepreneurship, this should give you some ideas about where women are making inroads in the startup world.