Studies show women are becoming more entrepreneurial than ever before, with more women deciding to go it alone and work for themselves. Still, of all the small businesses in the UK, only a fifth are run with women at the helm.
Recent years have shown a huge growth in the number of women taking up prominent positions towards the top of big companies. According to research collated by Prowess 2.0: There are also 620,000 female-owned businesses generating £130 billion turnover in the UK, with another 100,000 expected to launch over the next decade.
This coincides with governmental pressure on FTSE 100 companies to ensure that 25% of boardroom seats are held by women by 2015 coupled with a growth in women unlocking their entrepreneurial instincts. In a recent survey of female students across the country conducted by Enterprising Women Taskforce in the UK (14-19 age group), 51% said they want to be entrepreneurs, which is just 4% fewer than men. Furthermore, 80% of females incorporating businesses claim to feel ‘empowered’, ‘pioneering’ or ‘confident’ at the prospect of being their own boss, and an encouraging 80% believe the barriers restricting women from realising their business ambitions are disappearing.
The most popular female-led startups traditionally
As far as what the popular industries are, the data from Simply Business' study shows that female-run start-ups now account for 37% of all new businesses, with creative and service-driven industries leading the way. In fact, the top three places in the poll of 117,000 start-up business quote requests went to cleaners, beauticians and hairdressers - three stereotypically 'female' occupations.
Perhaps due to the continued popularity of The Great British Bake Off, cake makers also take up a spot in the top ten - showing that female entrepreneurs have a knack for seizing onto emerging trends.
Other entries in the top ten include pet minders and market traders, with the latter showing a 95 per cent increase since 2009. This again shows new female business women's ability to take a subject growing in popularity - such as fresh, locally-made produce - and capitalise on the business opportunity.
It is truly encouraging to see anyone starting any nature of business, but the question is when will we see a move away from traditionally female pursuits such as hairdressing and cake making in the top ten, and instead see women gain a foothold in more 'male-focused' industries?
With this in mind, here are two such start-up areas that are showing significant growth in female take-up.
New areas of growth for women and startups
One of the main conventionally male-dominated areas women are starting to gravitate towards is the technology sector. In fact, a recent survey by Telefonica and Startup Genome found that London has the highest proportion of female technology entrepreneurs in Europe. While this sounds good, unfortunately women are responsible for only nine per cent of technology businesses in the famous 'Silicon Roundabout'.
To give this a positive spin, if you are considering starting a new business, and have skills and expertise in a technological environment, this is probably the perfect sector to pitch up in. As an added bonus, the government are trying their best to promote digital economy currently through the Tech City Investment Organisation, with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson keen to keep Britain as the "high-tech start-up capital of Europe". As such, there may be some great funding opportunities available if you hunt around.
Plumbing is another man-heavy industry that is happily being infiltrated by women. It is possibly the male-dominated nature of the profession that has meant women who have trained and entered the industry have found such success - some even play on their femininity, turning up to do the job in heels and vintage dresses, as opposed to the usual grubby overalls and work boots. But with 14 million households preferring a female plumber, the business move can't be wrong. Also, female clients who live alone may feel more comfortable having another woman in the house as opposed to a male stranger. Other typical apprenticeship trades could also be a perfect place for you to carve out a niche for yourself. Further research from Enterprising Women Taskforce and a myriad of other organisations may just point you in the direction of many businesses wherein you can immediately differentiate yourself from the majority of the competition.
So, as you can see, these are but a handful of industry examples. There are many areas available for women looking to work for themselves, from traditional 'female-friendly' industries to those that are traditionally associated as being more of a 'boys' club'. If you are stuck in a rut 'working for the man' and fancy a change, consider striking out on your own and being your own boss.