Recently, changes to the workforce have adversely affected women over men and have created a need for women to find new ways to earn a living. Working for yourself is not only a trend but has increasingly become a sustainable way to earn an income and control your own schedules. Being a business owner is a lot of work, but if you have an idea, a plan, and the ability to work hard, you can turn it into something lucrative.
Before we start generating ideas for you, let's talk about building a business. It's a large, complex topic that can vary from industry to industry. However, I wanted to touch on some basic overarching points that I think are important for everyone to think about.
The first thing you need to do is incorporate your business. Incorporation allows separation of business liability from your own personal finances. Plus, depending on the kind of business and the way you incorporate, you can start building tax benefits.
Build an Online Presence
Everyone has a website, or at minimum a landing page nowadays. I recommend that you grab a domain name and email for your business. This ensures that no one else can take it, and it gives your customers a way to learn about you before they hire you (something everyone wants). Plus, having a professional email can go a long way towards establishing your credibility.
Also, go through each social media app and website and secure your business name at each one. You don't need to be a social media influencer, but it protects you and gives you a stepping stone towards building your social media portfolio.
Have a Business Plan
Starting a business is hard enough. Growing it can be even tougher. The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is first to write out your plan.
Write out your idea, the need for your idea, who your clients are, how much you would charge for services, and your competition. Do the research and the analysis to answer these questions. It'll help you prepare and market yourself better.
Find a Mentor
It's not only hard, but it can also be lonely. This is especially true if you're a one-woman show. Building a business can and will take up all of your free time, a concept that our family and friends often don't understand. Having a mentor to turn to, talk to, and vent to can be invaluable. Keep in mind as well that the types of people you surround yourself with can influence your success. So focus on those that are supporting you and showing you understanding and empathy.
Get Used To Marketing Yourself
We are all bad at this, yet how will anyone know you have a business unless you tell them? Talking about what you're doing (and charging for it) is nothing to be embarrassed or feel weird about. It's something you must do, and don't worry about how anyone takes it.
Get used to being your own biggest cheerleader, advocate, and fan. Because if you believe in yourself, and show it, then everyone else will believe too.
Invest in the Tools You Need
To make money, you must first spend money. Understand that and accept it. I'm not saying you need to dump large amounts of cash to get going, but you do need to make investments towards tools and services to help you get off the ground.
One way you can figure out if purchasing or using something is the right thing to do is to do a cost analysis. Compare what you pay upfront to what you potentially can make later. Also, if an investment will help you scale, then the payoff is potentially much higher.
What are some tools? Online programs, for instance, Canva, to help with designing logos, product tags, presentations, business cards, social media posts, etc. Other investments may include a dedicated business phone or computer or hiring part-time help to help you finish a job faster or do more than one job at a time.
Business Ideas for Women
Many of these ideas are small, and it's unlikely you'll be making a full-time income from the get-go; however, there is potential for growth with each one. What matters is that you get started and consistently stay with it.
1 – Startups
Let's start big. Maybe you have a great business idea that disrupts an industry, or an idea to make our lives easier, or to improve upon a product that's already out there.
That's amazing. But now, what do you do?
The startup world is unique and very cutthroat, especially for women. Women get fewer investments compared to men, and there are very few female-led startup CEOs. HOWEVER, because of this ongoing discrepancy, investors are also consciously trying to diversify and make a point of looking for solid women-led businesses.
So what do you need to do for a startup? A basic checklist is as follows:
- Incorporate your business
- If your idea is patentable, then start working on your provisional patent
- Hire a patent attorney to help with filing and advice on the patent
- Hire legal counsel to help with contracts, documents, and equity division
- Build your pitch deck, basically a very detailed PowerPoint of your business that speaks on your behalf.
- Network anywhere and everywhere you can
- Build your team. You will need one!
Regardless of the industry, this basic checklist is a must for everyone. I encourage you to pursue your idea if you have one. At a minimum, start talking to people and see what they think. Do a patent search to make sure your idea isn't already taken.
A little secret: ask lawyers for an introductory phone call. They will do that for free, for about 30 minutes, and you can ask them all sorts of questions related to your industry, your idea, and costs. Do this with multiple lawyers, ask all the same questions and see how many answers you get. Then, and only when you're ready, you can sign a letter of intent to hire one.
Teaching is a prevalent profession amongst women. To work outside of academics, though, you don't necessarily need a degree in education to teach others. What you need is skill or expertise in a particular subject that can be taught and passed on. Doing so requires either a curriculum or a set of educational goals that you can help students accomplish. I do recommend that for school-level subjects you should at least have that level of education yourself. This is not only to understand the subject matter; it also makes you more marketable.
No matter what you decide to teach, be sure to choose teaching modalities that you can monetize. With the ideas listed below, you could dabble in all or just a few to grow your personal teaching brand faster and make more money.
Different ways you can impart your wisdom?
2 – Tutoring
In-person or online, you can help kids of all ages with their homework, projects, or exams. If you get the word out, you may be able to host tutoring or study groups for more than one student, all of whom pay you by the hour.
3 – Online Classes or Courses
If you have expertise in a subject, field, or niche, then creating an online course is a great way to earn income. There is a bit of work to do upfront to create the curriculum, record the teaching and perhaps have handouts or printables. Once it's done, however, you can sit back and reap the rewards. Where can you post your course? Try Symposium. You can upload, charge and schedule as many classes/courses all within the same program.
4 – Khan Academy
This is a nonprofit online learning database filled with free lectures and information for students of all ages and grades. You do NOT have to be a teacher to work for them, and you can make a decent hourly wage.
5 -Post Videos on Your Own Website
Another avenue to explore is to create your own landing page or website to host your courses. Website building and hosting are not super expensive, but getting your name out there and generating leads can take some time.
6- Teaching English as a Second Language
There is a huge need for this in all communities, and with the shift to online learning, you may be able to connect even more. Even if you aren't a teacher, you could teach basic beginner English and build a solid business around this expertise.
If you have an eye for design and a creative streak, then consider these different areas to potentially pursue.
7 – Website Design
Everyone is trying for online businesses of some kind or establishing an online presence. If you have experience or skill in website design or using different platforms, you can really capture the market. You can charge by the hour or per project.
8 – Interior Design
Working from home? So is everyone else. Now, more than ever, people need a dedicated workspace in the home that is not only comfortable but within budget and works with their lifestyles and jobs. Some states may require an interior design license. So definitely research your area to ensure you follow the rules.
9 – Graphic Design
This is not just for websites. Perhaps you know people who are building an app? Anyone starting a new business or rebranding and need help with logos and marketing? Graphic design encompasses a wide variety of skills and job possibilities.
Do you have a product you can sell? Do you have skills that you can offer up for a fee? If so, then you can make money online by establishing an online home-based business.
10 – Etsy and Amazon
Sell your products online through two of the biggest online stores out there. Be aware that you will have to pay a commission, but if you have a high-margin product that people find useful, then you have the potential to scale.
11 – Virtual Assistant
VAs can be for websites, social media management, and technical help, but that's not all. You can also be a VA to be a kind of personal assistant, organizer, or bookkeeper. Another online business idea that goes with this is you can also offer up skills to assist and “consult” in different areas, depending on your expertise.
12 – Freelance Writer
If you enjoy writing, then building a freelance writing business can be a lucrative way to work for yourself.
Show off your Marie Kondo skills of organization by turning it into a service! Market yourself as a consultant and help people get their personal and professional lives on track. You can charge by the hour or by the project. Common pathways to follow include:
13 – Home and Closet Organization
Be the decluttering expert and give people the organization and space they need, plus the skills to sustain it themselves.
14 – Professional/Office Organization
Help other professionals update their workspace, make technology upgrade recommendations, & spruce up their productivity through ergonomic design.
15 – Cleaning Service
Instead of scrubbing the floors, help people clean out the rooms of their home, their garage and get rid of clutter.
16 – Bookkeeping
Help others organize and keep track of their finances. Once you get their books in order, you may be able to continue working for them through a retainer to maintain the books on an ongoing basis!
In another life, I was probably an event planner. If you're someone who has a mind for details, is organized, and loves coordinating things, then you may enjoy building an event planning business.
In my experience with planning, it helps to have relationships with businesses to get better deals when placing orders and coordinating deliveries. If you already have some of these relationships, then you're one step ahead; if you hope to grow outside of the community you're in, then keep this in mind.
17 – Wedding Planning
Give people the big day of their dreams, handle all of the planning so that they actually enjoy their day! This will likely require a group of people to help you, either subcontractors or people you can hire directly to work for you all the time.
18 – Party Planning
Weddings aren't the only party in town. There are also birthdays, bachelor/bachelorettes, wedding showers, baby showers, anniversaries, retirement parties, and basically anything else that can be celebrated. Parties also don't have to be huge. You can also provide planning services for smaller, intimate events.
19 – Travel Planning
You can be a travel planner that helps people figure out where to go, what to do while there, and stick with their travel budgets. You can create a travel itinerary for a fee so that your clients can pack up and go without worry.
Turn Your Hobbies/Skills Into a Business
If you don't have a particular subject of expertise or any of the above ideas, don't appeal or work for you. Then take a look inward. What do you enjoy doing already? Often the best small business ideas arise from what we already know, are good at, and take pleasure in doing. All that's left is to monetize it.
Numbers 20 – 31 are hobbies or skills that can start as a great side business while you continue to work at your job to give yourself some time to grow and establish yourself. It's also a way to make extra money and establish another income stream.
- (20) Gardening/landscaping consultant
- (21) Sewing/alterations service
- Food services
- (22) Catering
- (23) Baking/dessert
- (24) Food trucks
- (25) Portraits
- (26) Landscapes
- (27) Artistic or abstract prints
- (28) Event photography
- (29) Lessons – e.g. art/music/dance
- (30) Hair & Makeup artist
- (31) Private coach – e.g. sports
- (32) Flea Market Flipper
That last one is a bit unconventional, but if you have the time to find good deals on used items and have the skills to fix them up, you can make good money.
Another approach to these options is to create home-based hobby classes. So then, instead of you going to others, you host classes to teach these skills. It would also allow you to cater to multiple students/clients at once!
A great way to make money and build a business is to offer services that help people in their regular day-to-day lives. Many people are willing to part with money to save time. Offering up common time savers can really add up. Some examples of this are:
33 – Childcare
To babysit multiple kids at once and really grow this service, be sure to get licensed by your state, especially if you want to do this as an in-home childcare business. It will give you protection in your own home and help you set rules and guidelines on the number of kids you take care of.
34 – Personal Shopper/Stylist
Some people hate shopping. Not sure who these people are, but they do exist. While there are clothing subscription options out there to help prevent you from going to a store, offering up a service to shop for and style someone so that they don't have to guess or think can be invaluable.
35 – Pet Care or Grooming
If you love animals, then offer up your services to take care of others!
36 – Housekeeping
Beyond cleaning and organization, some people have households (or multiple) that require regular maintenance and help. You can be that point person to help people stay on track, stay organized, and take care of the details they may not care to think about.
Outside of regular day-to-day life services, there's also the possibility of coaching someone through their life changes. After all, what greater life service is there, and I think this is one of the business ideas for women uniquely suited to them. After all, women have been through more life and career changes later than anyone else.
Some coaching options include:
37 – Life Coach
People have been dealing with a lot lately, as I'm sure you have. Adjusting to life-changing events is not easy. You can be the life coach that helps people through it and guides them through their next steps.
38 – Career Coach
You're not the only one dealing with career changes. Again, for some, leaping to the next step is extremely difficult. Be the career coach that helps them succeed no matter what they decide.
There are plenty of business ideas for women out there that I'm sure I haven't even mentioned. However, I hope that this list inspires and motivates anyone interested in pursuing their own path. There are opportunities out there for women. They need to be taken.
So push your comfort zone, take a chance and have a little faith. The road to success definitely will not be easy, but if you work at it consistently and don't give up, you can build something that lasts.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success.
With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top.
Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.