Historically, women have been disproportionately represented in the professional world. The business world has been largely seen as a male-dominated arena in the past, but since the turn of the century, women have fought for more and more seats at the table.1
In this article, we will dive into 10 great small business ideas for women in 2023. We will set the scene with some background on how women’s entrepreneurship looks around the world and why more women should start small businesses. To wrap things up, we will review a few tips for running a profitable small business.
Women’s entrepreneurship around the world
As more women are empowered to follow their dreams and claim their rightful position as leaders in a variety of industries, more women are starting businesses around the world.
In fact, recent studies indicate that there are as many as 10 million SMEs with at least one female owner. In the United Kingdom, for example, 40% of micro-businesses are woman-owned. This is a jump from 32% in just two years.2 Even with this growth, only 1 in 3 businesses in the world are owned by women.3
Although women are beginning to step into more powerful roles in the business world, it is important to acknowledge that some cultures make it more difficult for women to thrive in leadership. Some nations have rules on who can and cannot own property, we recognize that this puts many women at a disadvantage.
Why women should start a small business
There are many reasons why women should start businesses. Some are focused on what they can gain, and others are focused on paving a path for those who will follow.
Let’s take a look at a few motivations that women have when starting a small business.
For some women, passion is the biggest driving force. This could be a passion for an industry, a specific product, or some other mission that they hold near and dear to them.
This passion could stem from a specific experience, or it could tie into an overarching desire to make a name for yourself in the business world.
For others, there is a desire to have better control over their income. As an entrepreneur, you can remove the limits capped by your salary in traditional employee roles. As the saying goes, “money talks.”
Money isn’t everything, but it can be a powerful resource for finding freedom and power. Creating this wealth gives women more power in their communities, which is very important. It gives these women a voice to make a change.
Some entrepreneurs have a keen sense of knowing when to jump on an opportunity when it jumps up. Think of the past few years when an item goes viral on the internet, and immediately, everybody wants one. These are things like fidget spinners, pop fidget toys, beauty blenders, and other gadgets.
If demand arises and someone has a solution to satisfy it, starting a business is a no-brainer.
Some women are driven by the idea of creating a legacy. In this situation, the woman often wants to create something that is larger than herself. She may want to create something that outlives her.
Whether they want to create generational wealth or make the road smoother for future women entrepreneurs, their goal extends beyond themselves. Sometimes the goal is notoriety, and other times the goal is simply to create something for the founder’s family, friends, or mentees to have for years to come.
10 small business ideas for women
When it comes to small businesses that women can start, the opportunities are endless. However, digital business endeavors tend to be attractive among aspiring entrepreneurs because, in many cases, the barrier to entry is much lower.
With that said, let’s review 10 small businesses that women can create online.
If you are looking to ease into entrepreneurship, dropshipping is a great way to go. For those who aren’t familiar, dropshipping is a business model that involves selling products and then outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party supplier.
With the dropshipping business model, the seller doesn’t have to hold any inventory. This is great because it is low-risk and doesn’t require much of an initial investment.
It’s important to note that if your goal is to build a strong brand, dropshipping may not be the way to do it since so much of the customers’ experience relies on your fulfillment partners.
2. A traditional e-commerce store
Starting an e-commerce store with in-house order fulfillment is another option. With this kind of business, you can create your own products or source items from a wholesaler. You can even curate collections of items from various brands.
When you create a traditional e-commerce store where all of the business operations are under your control, it gives you an opportunity to build a brand.
This type of business requires a bit more of an investment than a dropshipping business, but it can still be done without a ton of resources.
If you have the resources to get started, there is a lot of money to be made in manufacturing.
Since manufacturing requires owning or renting a factory and purchasing the machinery and materials upfront, this type of small business requires a relatively hefty initial investment.
However, this initial investment should not deter you from starting a manufacturing business since there are ways to secure funds. Some options to get startup funding include grants, business loans, or investors.
Although manufacturing is technically wholesaling, you can also start a wholesaling business that doesn’t involve manufacturing. You can source items from a manufacturer or another wholesaler to sell to your audience, still in bulk.
You may wonder why this is necessary since a manufacturer could sell directly to retailers, but there are many instances where an intermediary is valuable. This is especially applicable in exporting.
5. Online courses
If you have a skill that is particularly valuable or you’ve developed a method that others can replicate to achieve some sort of results, you should consider creating and selling online courses.
You can sell your online courses on your own site or on a marketplace. If you want to create an online learning business that extends beyond you, consider creating a marketplace that features courses from other experts or educators.
6. Content writing
Content writing is a valuable digital marketing service, and women with sharp writing skills should consider it as a business opportunity. You can either build a career as a freelancer, or you can create a content writing agency.
Some specific services that you could explore in the content writing category include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) content writing
- Website copywriting
- Ad copywriting
- Social media content and copywriting
- PR writing
- Grant writing
- Email writing
Editing is a similar service that you can offer alongside freelance content writing or as a separate offer.
No matter what path you decide to take, make sure to sharpen your skills before you start selling your services. You need to ensure that your writing is high-quality so that you can provide the desired results for your clients.
7. Brand strategy
So many small businesses have popped up in recent years, but there has been a widespread disconnect when it comes to brand building. Many new business owners fail to understand the importance of creating a persona for their businesses that connects with their audiences.
That is where brand strategists come into play. This type of professional provides services that help businesses create a cohesive brand presence, complete with visual style guides, logos, brand voice, and more.
8. Web design
Website design is a valuable service since many businesses are treating their websites as fully-functional alternatives to their brick-and-mortar stores. The goal is often to create a branded experience that urges viewers to take the intended action.
A good web designer can create the perfect balance of aesthetics and functionality. The site should represent the brand well and provide prospective buyers with answers to all the questions they may have.
Like content writing, this is something you can do freelance or with an agency.
9. Web development
Website development is a counterpart to web design that brings a site to life. A web developer takes the design and turns it into an active website.
This typically involves some technical know-how. Some designers use a drag-and-drop site builder as the foundation of their work, and others specialize in custom coding.
Development and design can be offered by the same business if you have members on your team who are capable of both.
10. Event planning
Event planning is another great idea for aspiring women entrepreneurs who have a knack for organization and are on the social side.
Event planning is great for women who want a flexible work schedule since you can take on as many or as few events as you’d like. However, it is worth noting that party planning can also come with some abnormal working hours.
Some types of event planning businesses you could start include:
- Corporate event planning
- Virtual event planning
- Musical event planning
- Wedding planning
- Family party planning
Although these different types of events require the same basic skills, focusing on just one or two types of events is a great approach since it gives you the opportunity to build authority in a niche.
5 tips for a profitable small business
Now that you have a better idea of some of the top small businesses for women to start online, let’s take a look at a few tips you can apply to make your women-led business profitable.
1. Understand your audience
The key to any successful business is understanding your audience. You need to have a clear idea of who you want to serve and the value you can provide to them.
Creating an ideal customer profile that defines exactly who your target audiences are and what they want is an activity that you should do early on. Your findings from this activity should drive all of your business decisions moving forward.
2. Create strategic partnerships
No matter what your business is, there is value in forming alliances with other businesses in your industry. Partnerships can open doors to new opportunities and help you grow your business.
You can collaborate on product launches, act as affiliates for one another, and more. There are really no limits on what you can do with brand partners.
3. Prioritize community
As you create your partnerships, it is important to prioritize community. This includes the other female entrepreneurs in your circle and the community you’re serving.
When given the chance, lift other women up. Don’t push them down. Create opportunities, and never gatekeep. This will reflect positively on you and your brand, and it will make a real change in your community.
4. Lead with honesty
As an entrepreneur, you’ll encounter people who lie and cheat to get to the top. This may provide short-term results, but it won’t set you up for sustainable growth. That’s why it’s very important to lead with honesty.
Leading with honesty will help build trust amongst your team, peers, and customers. Plus, when you prioritize honesty, you don’t have to worry about getting caught up in lies and facades.
5. Be confident
As a woman in business, there are times when you might feel intimidated, but it is important to recognize that you are as capable and intelligent as your male counterparts.
With that, it is crucial to exude confidence, even if it requires you to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Even if you’re nervous, sometimes it is important to put on a brave face and just put your best foot forward.
Sell on Alibaba.com
A B2B e-commerce marketplace is a great tool for female entrepreneurs that want to start an online business. Alibaba.com, for example, is a platform for wholesale trade that facilitates trade between B2B buyers and sellers from around the world.
Our global marketplace is equipped with a variety of tools that help suppliers connect with more buyers and make more sales. Some of the most notable tools include Trade Assurance, brandable Minisites, and keyword advertising. Alibaba.com also hosts a variety of sales events and virtual tradeshows throughout the year.
Open a seller account to start selling in no time.
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