Starting your own business can be an empowering way to take control of your financial life, while also (ideally) allowing for more flexibility in when and how you work. But knowing where to start or what to do can be daunting.
How To Choose the Best Small Business for You
When deciding what kind of business to start, it’s important to look for an opportunity that matches your skills and interests.
“There are endless small business ideas — the trick is finding the one that works for you,” said Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa, a fintech that provides community banks with financial products and services. “Think about your existing skills, talents and interests, or ones you’ve been wanting to develop. Then evaluate how your business idea will work into your lifestyle. Do your due diligence and ensure there is a market for your idea, you have a competitive differentiator and you can cover your startup costs.”
You may want to consider starting a business that caters to other women, based on a need that you have experienced firsthand.
“Women should seek opportunities to start businesses related to their own lived experience, with a majority-women target consumer base — like women’s health or consumer products that address barriers uniquely experienced by women,” said Joanna Kuang, VP of impact at Illumen Capital, an impact fund addressing systemic inequity by reducing racial and gender bias in investing.
You may also want to hone in on an industry that has the greatest potential for growth.
“According to our latest Small Business Owner Report, 41% of women business owners believe the tech industry will see the largest influx of new entrepreneurs in coming years, followed by the personal services and construction industries,” said Sharon Miller, president of small business and head of specialty banking and lending at Bank of America.
To get a sense of what may or may not work, talk with other women business owners.
“Connect with mentors and network with other experts to exchange knowledge, share best practices and learn from each other,” said Derek Ellington, head of small business at Wells Fargo.
Small-Business Ideas for Women
With those guidelines in mind, here are a few ideas for small businesses to start.
“Becoming an Amazon seller is a great opportunity for anyone to dive into the business world,” said Yoni Mazor, CGO at GETIDA. “Selling products on Amazon is a game of pure performance, and it provides an equal opportunity for anyone who is performance-driven to succeed. If you are passionate about creating new products and building a brand with a clear vision and distinction, Amazon is an incredible platform to reach consumer marketing in the U.S. and around the world.”
Jewelry Store Owner
“During COVID, I found that ‘retail therapy’ is really a thing — people needed a pick-me-up after being home all day, and buying pretty jewelry helped lift their spirits,” said Priya Vasan, owner of Priya Jewelers. “Being in a Zoom call, wearing the same jewelry every day was starting to bore women. Indian women love gold and diamond jewelry anyway — pile COVID on top of that and you have a winning business idea. Because I’m the only woman Indian jeweler in the area, women are more comfortable buying jewelry, which is personal, from a woman.”
IT Support Company Owner
“We still live under a cloud that wrongly says women aren’t well suited to work in the IT, programming or cloud computing industries. This simply is not the case,” said Steve Gickling, founder of ETLrobot. “The future looks exceedingly bright for women who are interested in any or all of these technical fields. The rise of artificial intelligence is an especially promising field that will require all sorts of skill sets as we design user interfaces, protect the security of our data and so forth. More time spent working from home might represent a huge opportunity for women (or anyone, really) to train themselves for their own IT-support company or consultancy.”
Social Media Consultant
“My advice for anyone considering starting a small business, including women, would be to follow what you enjoy doing — but don’t follow trends,” said Chalmers Brown, former CTO at Due. “If you enjoy creating content, don’t just specialize in helping others learn TikTok. Be known as an all-around social media expert. That will help keep your business around longer.”
Advice for Female Small-Business Owners
Here are some extra tips from executives and entrepreneurs.
“I encourage potential small business owners to choose a digital product or service for their business,” said Yenn Lei, former head of engineering at Calendar. “This offers them flexibility on when and where they work. They can start their business as a side gig until it makes enough money to become a fully built business, or they can run it while also staying home with their kids. There’s more flexibility with digital.”
Do What You Love
“As far as I am concerned, women should be looking to make a dent in any industry for which they are both qualified and eager,” said professional keynote speaker John Hall. “‘Do what you love to do…the money will follow.’”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.