The world of startups has long seemed like a boys’ club. Let's change that.
Entrepreneurship is for anyone. Yet despite the narrative that all you have to do is pull yourself up by your bootstraps and become your own boss, the world of startups has long seemed like a boys’ club.
It’s no secret that there is an inherent gender bias when it comes to small business financing. In fact, women are approved for small business financing less often than men, and when women do receive loans, theirs are typically for smaller amounts, over shorter periods, and with higher interest rates.
Thankfully, female entrepreneurs are changing the game.
As of 2015, about 29 percent of small businesses in the U.S. were owned by women, and that number keeps growing. Women-led businesses are also known to perform better, with up to three times the returns of male-led businesses. Even against all odds, women are some of the best business leaders in the world.
However, women are still underrepresented among entrepreneurs. Put simply, we need more female business owners. To help encourage more women to enter the world of entrepreneurship, here are the five most profitable industries that they (you!) should consider getting into.
On-Demand Mobile Industries
Mobile businesses — not to be confused with mobile phone apps, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive — are services that travel to their customers rather than the other way around. Increasingly, consumers are becoming used to receiving what they want in an instant. And why shouldn’t your businesses capitalize on that?
If you live in a mid-size or big city, you’ve probably noticed more than one new artisanal food truck pop up over the past few years. In fact, food trucks are on the rise. In 2015, the food truck industry raked in $1.2 billion, and it just keeps growing.
And food trucks are just one example of a mobile business. Laundry delivery services, in-home massages, grocery deliveries, getting your errands taken care of — there’s an on-demand mobile service for just about anything you can imagine.
So, what are you passionate about? Can you take that on the road?
Childcare and Child-Related Businesses
Millennials are now America’s largest living generation, and the need for childcare services is increasing.
There are many opportunities within the realm of childcare and child-oriented businesses. Doulas have been gaining popularity, and other services for new mothers, like lactation specialists, are very much in demand. Although these businesses require some education and certification costs, they are relatively inexpensive to keep afloat.
Additionally, the U.S. education budget is shrinking due to cuts to public school programming. Therefore, expect to see a rise in the number of private after school enrichment activities. If you have an interest in instructing children in a number of fields — yoga, gymnastics, music, foreign languages — now may be the perfect time to start that private education business you’ve always dreamed of.
Finally, youth is becoming synonymous with technology. Parents want to give their children opportunities to be engaged, entertained, and educated (as well as occupied). If you have an awesome idea for a child-centric learning app for smartphones and tablets, there’s never been a better time to pursue it.
Sharing Economy Startups
Many industries simply aren’t what they used to be, thanks to the ever-growing “sharing economy.” For example, rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber are outperforming traditional taxis in many cities.
And there are plenty of opportunities to break into the sharing economy beyond rideshares. For example, the fashion industry is not just about making clothes anymore. It’s about making fashion more accessible for everyone.
Rent the Runway allows women to borrow beautiful designer clothing for just a small fraction of what they sell for in traditional retail. Businesses like Le Tote offer a monthly subscription service, wherein women can borrow a set number of apparel pieces for an affordable, flat monthly fee.
New fashion startups are popping up everywhere. Simply look at the potential clientele around you. Whether that’s busy working parents or college students looking for affordable ways to stay on trend, fashion is here to stay.
If fashion’s not for you, there’s likely something in your life you can profit from sharing. For example, if you live in a big city or near a tourist destination, you could rent out unused (or underused) space in your home through a site like Airbnb or Homeaway. San Francisco and New York both have thriving car- and bike-sharing markets.
As mentioned, consumers are coming to expect more opportunities to get what they want on demand. That doesn’t just mean they want dinner delivered within 30 minutes by simply touching a few buttons on their phones (though that’s certainly important). They want their education to be at their fingertips, too.
People want to learn more, but they want to do so from the comfort of their own homes. And even if you’re not an academic, there’s probably something you can teach. Offering an online course is a great way to help others while also earning money.
Take Skillshare, for example. Subject experts from all over the world teach everything from web typography to game design to tips for handling human resources issues. The company has reached over 2 million students and paid more than $5 million to its teachers.
YouTube is also a popular place for people to find free content and education, especially when it comes to fitness. For example, entrepreneur Cassey Ho has built an entire career out of teaching Pilates through her website Blogilates.
If you’re thinking of getting into the online ed game, try taking advantage of the community you’ve already built. Author Laura Jane Williams recently launched a writing course, and she was able to find 100 students simply through reaching them via her social media channels.
Whether you’re a tenured professor or expert hobbyist, there’s something you can teach the world.
Accounting and Other B2B Services
At this point, you’ve probably heard of the side gig economy. With fewer opportunities for traditional day jobs, many young people are jumping into careers as freelancers. And other businesses can seize this opportunity to cater to an all-new audience of go-getters who prefer to work for themselves (just like you).
Freelancers need a variety of business services, especially in the field of bookkeeping, accounting, and record-keeping. Not only is this one of the most profitable businesses for entrepreneurs to start, it’s not going anywhere.
And there are plenty of business services that cater to those in the gig economy: graphic design, consulting, and virtual assistant services are also booming. There are plenty of options in this industry, no matter where your talents lie.
Female entrepreneurs may still face an uphill battle, but it’s one worth fighting. The more women we have running small businesses (or big ones!), the easier it will be for other women in the future. Take advantage of these profitable small business opportunities, and everyone will benefit.