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Small Business Ideas for Women

10+ min read • Jul 28, 2022 • Katherine O'Malley

It’s time to close the funding gap and open more women-owned small businesses.

As of 2019, there were more than 13 million women-owned businesses (including sole proprietorships and employer firms). That sounds like a lot, right?

But that number actually hides a trillion-dollar missed opportunity. According to Morgan Stanley, if women-owned (and minority-owned) businesses were funded at the same rate as white male-owned businesses, gross receipts could increase by $4.4 trillion. And that was before the pandemic disproportionately impacted both women-owned businesses and the women in the workforce

Women can start any small business they want—including full-time or side businesses, franchises, and home-based businesses. Let’s take a look at services that are in high demand for female entrepreneurs in 2022.

Growth Industries for 2022

To be a successful small business, you need customers. What’s the easiest way to get customers? Give them what they want. With that in mind, here are some industries that are poised for growth in 2022 and beyond. 

Cybersecurity

Data is an asset, and our online lives are here to stay, so businesses and customers alike need solid methods for protecting their online identities. No wonder Gartner ranked cybersecurity mesh as a top IT security trend”—one that women can help develop and grow.

Gone are the days of solely needing secure buildings and vehicles; our digital-everything has evolved cybersecurity into a mesh of protection around our online identities and transactions.

Delivery Services

Delivery service is another “boring” business that’s become incredibly profitable in the post-pandemic-lockdown “new normal.” Consumers have changed their behavior: items are now expected to magically appear on our doorsteps. This means that delivery-services industries are facing incredible growth: the food delivery industry alone is expected to grow to $320 billion by 2029.

Education and E-Learning

The e-learning industry is projected to become a $375-billion industry by 2026. And there’s no slowdown ahead, with multiple avenues for growth: “E-learning won’t be the only potential trend in the education market. Tutoring options to help school kids ‘catch up’ on lost learning will be needed,” too. And businesses utilize their own corporate internal e-learning platforms to educate employees and train them on new skills.

Fintech

Fintech encompasses all those businesses that make mobile banking, peer-to-peer payments, and even contactless checkout at the grocery store possible. Fintech has its sights set on helping the financially underserved—widening its reach even more. And as more and more users have gotten accustomed to banking from their phones and stores remain contactless for payment, the potential for growth remains high.

Fitness

The fitness industry has had to make one of the pandemic’s most dramatic pivots, as gyms, yoga studios, and other exercise facilities temporarily shuttered to in-person clients during the pandemic’s onset. This pivot led to an unprecedented Peloton rise (and fall) as well as numerous other businesses creating new virtual content for at-home workouts. If you have a creative idea for virtual or hybrid fitness, this is a booming sector to explore further.

Human Resources

No matter the industry, workers and owners alike are facing new workplace challenges as offices pivot between remote, in-person, and hybrid and as hiring remains deeply complex in the wake of the pandemic. This means an increased demand for human resources personnel. As O’Malley puts it: “Most small businesses need employees to grow their businesses. This is where the HR industry could explode, as small businesses that offer HR outsourcing services…can help other small businesses with their HR needs.”

Longevity

We’ve entered what many demographers are calling the “gray tsunami:” aging baby boomers. “As boomers age through their 60s, 70s, 80s and increasingly beyond, the ‘big bulge’ of the boomer generation will contribute to the overall aging of the US population in coming decades,” said Stella Ogunwole, a demographic statistician with the US Census Bureau. This aging population represents new workforce needs, as aging-in-place services (vs. nursing homes and skilled living facilities) become more desirable in a pandemic-inflected world.

Mental Health

A national shortage of mental health specialists and an ever-growing need for their services represents a (frustrating) widening gap that bears great possibilities for small businesses who can meet that need. “On average, countries spend only 2% of their health budget on mental health initiatives, so it’s going to take entrepreneurs to step up to the plate to fill the void.” This requires some specialization, but if you’re eligible to provide mental health services—or brainstorm business ideas with those who can—the opportunity is yours to seize.

Online Shopping

We’re shopping online, and for a wider range of products, than ever before. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that “the pandemic contributed an extra $218.53 billion to e-commerce’s bottom line over the past two years—and yes, that’s billion with a b. E-commerce offers numerous growth opportunities for small businesses, whether you’re a B2B shipping company who can help deliver the goods or a boutique with unique items to sell.

Telehealth

You’re probably noticing a trend at this point: these growth sectors have largely arisen due to the pandemic’s effects on our everyday lives, and the way we receive healthcare is no exception. Between virus-spread mitigation and the temporary pivoting of hospital space to COVID wards, many doctors have embraced telehealth as a safer, easier option for patients and providers alike. 

Virtual Conferences and Event Planning

The in-person events industry has faced tremendous upheaval and uncertainty—and it’s poised to make an equally tremendous comeback. While Americans are returning to the “new normal” and attending events, conferences, and concerts in person, virtual and hybrid events remain popular as well. Virtual experiences won’t go away anytime soon: they fulfill the promise of technology designed to connect us across long distances…our lives have permanently gone online.

What Makes These Growth Industries?

Demographic changes, changes in consumer behavior, and of course, the pandemic have made these industries ripe opportunities for entrepreneurs, especially for women. 

For example, longevity industry projections are based on demographics—more senior citizens mean more services for the elderly are needed. Similarly, as digital-first becomes the norm for consumers and businesses, cybersecurity and technical industries at large will grow.

Other industries may experience an increase in customers due to the long-term impacts of the pandemic. For example, instances of mental health issues—substance abuse, anxiety, and depression—have risen to the impact of economic shutdowns and social isolation. And adjustments made due to social-distancing rules have forced some traditionally offline industries to online models (e.g., conferences and events)—thus opening up whole new customer markets. Some sectors, like telehealth and fintech, experienced accelerated consumer adoption due to pandemic-related closures.

Small Business Ideas for Women Who Want to Work From Home

Are you a woman who’s looking to start a business from home? You’re far from alone: in US workplaces, according to Forbes’s coverage of a LinkedIn survey, women are 26% more likely than men to apply to work remotely. This desire easily translates to those looking to start their own businesses as well.

Here are some growth-forward options for your own female-owned small business—and they’re easily startable from your own home.

Consulting Services for Nonprofits

Nonprofits can be excellent clients for a home-based consulting service. Nonprofits have the same backend office processes as any other business—including HR, legal, administrative, and technology—but they typically have less support staff than a for-profit business. Evaluate your skill set (bonus points if it includes fundraising or grant writing) to find what you can market to a nonprofit.

Cybersecurity Consulting

If you have a background in cybersecurity, the time to start your own consulting business is now. According to ZipRecruiter, “The average annual cybersecurity consultant salary in the United States is more than $110,000.” Cybersecurity consulting also gives you the opportunity to participate in an important fight against cybercrime, which has spiked since the pandemic’s onset. If you need to brush up on your cybersecurity credentials, never fear: the small-business insurance marketplace Insureon has you covered with a list of required credos.

E-Learning

The e-learning boom screams “opportunity” for female entrepreneurs skilled in creating content, developing mobile apps, or administering backend learning management systems—all easy roles to fill from home. If you aren’t tech-savvy, though, no worries: the education market holds diverse opportunities for engineers and non-coders alike. Children need catch-up tutoring to counter remote learning gaps, and adult workers require upskilling to prepare for new roles post-pandemic.

Fintech Franchise

The world of fintech offers a vast array of at-home female-owned business options: whether you’re interested in investment management, mobile banking, lending, crowdfunding platforms, or any other fintech niches (depending on your past experience), this sector could be perfect for you. And if a fintech business interests you and you’re not looking to build your own company from the ground up, consider a Lendio franchise to help fuel the American dream for other small business owners. 

Fitness Coaching

Once a more specialized offering, at-home fitness coaching—whether remotely over social media/Zoom or drop-in at-home classes—has become a widespread phenomenon, thanks to social distancing and ever-changing gym protocols. These days, interested customers can do yoga in their living room or take CrossFit classes in their garages. If you can coach them—either in-person, remotely, or through pre-made video options on YouTube or other platforms—they’re eager to find your woman-owned fitness business.

Food-Related Services

When you hear the phrase “home-based food business,” you might immediately think of making birthday cakes. That’s viable, for sure—but so are meal kits and meal delivery options, as the aging population and remote workers alike seek home-cooked meals that won’t require them to grocery shop or clean excess pots and pans. Before you dive in, though, make sure to check state and local ordinances around operating food-based businesses from home (for example, here’s some from Chicago).

Human Resource (HR) Services

If you’ve previously worked in HR, have you considered growing those skills into a home business? With the right credentials, working as an HR consultant is in high demand and offers tremendous flexibility. Daniel Borz of SHRM has an additional idea: “Instead of becoming a[n HR] generalist, working with clients across a wide range of industries, consider branding yourself as a specialist in a particular field or service.” This will help you thrive with a focused mission and to differentiate yourself from other work-from-home consultants.

Online Store

Online shopping is here to stay, so you could set up an online store as your home-based business. An Etsy shop may be the perfect option if your products fit the art or creative categories (e.g., jewelry or woodworking items). You could also offer B2B solutions, allowing you to tap into a massive growth sector. According to Bigcommerce, “In 2020, the global B2B ecommerce market was valued at $14.9 trillion—over 5 times that of the B2C market.”

Virtual Assistant

The rise in solopreneurs and small businesses means that more folks than ever need help managing their calendars, meetings, and more—but they lack the staff that a larger company might provide. This presents the perfect opportunity for virtual assistants, who can manage these tasks from home. As Gathering Dreams puts it: “As a virtual assistant, you get to choose who you work for and what tasks you take on. You’ll be able to manage your own schedule and work from anywhere.”

Affiliate Marketing

Already got a sizable social media following or savvy? You’re practically already set up to work as an affiliate marketer—especially if your following represents a particular niche. Shouting out a brand or product that you believe in to convert your followers to that brand’s customers is valuable to all parties involved, and it can net you solid income. The best part? Once the content is made, your earnings are largely passive income, allowing you to focus on the next task ahead.

Freelance Writing

Between writing for SEO, editing a company’s social media content, or providing grant writing services to nonprofits, there are numerous great options for putting your writing and editing skills to work as a woman-owned small business—and since all you’ll need is a computer and a WiFi connection, it’s a perfect WFH gig. Credentials for some of these skills, like SEO writing, can also be earned for free from reputable sites like HubSpot or Google.

Social Media Consulting

As with affiliate marketing, if you’re already active on social media—especially, in this case, if you have experience running social for a brand or business—transitioning into a social-media consulting career makes the perfect at-home small business. According to Sprout Social, “social media consultants are individuals or agencies who work with clients to improve upon, optimize and grow their social media presence.” Some specialize in one area for multiple clients, like restaurants, whereas others might manage a single brand’s entire presence across platforms.

Graphic Designer

If you’re a female entrepreneur with a knack for visual creativity, a graphic design business might be a great fit for you. From logo design to advertising illustrations to infographics to typeface design and beyond, working from home as a graphic designer has relatively low startup costs. Bonus: you can partner with other women-owned small businesses to kickstart the visual elements of their businesses!

Why Are Home-Based Small Businesses Ideal for Women?

You can save money with a home-based business by eliminating offsite office expenses and (possibly) claiming tax deductions for part of your home. Eliminate your commute, and you have extra time in your day.

Home-based businesses also confer tremendous flexibility, especially for women who also manage complex domestic situations—whether that’s childcare, elder care, or more. The data show that this domestic labor, especially after the pandemic’s onset, unduly falls on women to manage. The Brookings Institute puts it best: “This moment provides an important opening to rethink how policy supports women’s roles as financial providers and parents.”

While we exert pressure to equalize gendered labor in the workforce, you may find that the ability to work from home helps you to juggle the many roles you likely occupy as a female entrepreneur.

Side Business Ideas for Women

A side business can be a great way to try out your small woman-owned business idea. You can also use it to supplement your day job—to step into full-time business ownership, earning extra income, or diversifying your income.

Side business ideas for women include:

  • Caretaker services
  • Cleaning services
  • Coworking space franchises
  • Delivery services
  • Food service
  • Technology assistance services

Why Could These Side Businesses Be Successful for Women?

A side business or part-time business that targets industries with big markets helps set you up for success.

For example, your next customer could be aging in place to avoid the cost (and pandemic-related risks) of long-term care facilities. The so-called longevity industry is projected to be a $13.5-trillion industry by 2032. By 2034, the Census Bureau predicts that an estimated 77 million people will be 65 years of age or older. That’s a lot of elderly people who may need help with meals, household chores, home healthcare, transportation, and personal assistance.

Cleaning services aren’t glamorous, but they can be profitable. First Research predicts that global cleaning services may become a $74-billion industry by 2022. Businesses may increase their cleaning protocols post-pandemic, and remote workers often want to outsource household chores, so there’s an opportunity here.

Large corporations are predicted to shift to all-remote and hybrid work models, including “hubs” rather than one big office building. That means coworking spaces will increase in popularity. Coworking Insights predicts there will be “over 40,000 coworking spaces by 2024.” You could buy a coworking franchise as your side business.

As noted above, delivery services are booming, and operating one could mean flexible hours and unprecedented growth. Don’t forget: your delivery service business could focus on food and grocery delivery, courier services, or anything else you can imagine.

How to Start a Woman-Owned Business

Starting a women-owned business follows the same principles for starting any business—just be prepared to work harder to be “heard” over gender biases when seeking financing and support (an unquestionable frustration). 

Broad steps to starting your woman-owned business include:

  1. Write your business plan.
  2. Secure your financing.
  3. Plan your pricing strategy.
  4. Launch your product or service.

Any of the ideas listed above could be your full-time small business, side hustle, or home-based business. Focusing on growth industries is helpful, as the potential for future success is greater. Ultimately, identifying your unique abilities and passions and using those to launch your own successful woman-owned small business will serve you best of all.

Originally published May 2021 with updates contributed by Rachel Mennies Goodman in August 2022.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post does not and is not intended to constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice. All information, content, and materials available in this post are for general, informational purposes only. For advice specific to their situation, readers should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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Katherine O'Malley

Katherine O'Malley is a contributor to the Lendio blog. A technology geek at heart, she splits her time between traveling, freelance writing, database administration work, and implementing SEO on her travel blog. In her free time, she loves to research the challenges small-to-midsize tourist suppliers face and find ways that technology can help them out.