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.

A snapshot of statistics:

Recent years have shown a huge growth in the number of women taking up prominent positions in big companies. According to research collated by Prowess 2.0: There are also 620,000 female-owned businesses generating £130 billion of turnover in the UK, with another 100,000 expected to launch over the next decade.

More evidence…

governmental pressure on FTSE 100 companies shows that 25% of boardroom seats are held by women 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. This is just 4% fewer than men.


80% of females incorporating businesses claim to feel ‘empowered’, ‘pioneering’ or ‘confident’ at the prospect of being their own boss. Also, 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. The creative and service-driven industries are 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. These are three stereotypically ‘female’ occupations.

Television’s influence…

Perhaps due to the continued popularity of The Great British Bake Off, cake makers also make the top ten. This shows that female entrepreneurs have a knack for seizing onto emerging trends.

Other entries…

In the top ten, these include pet minders and market traders. The latter showed a 95 percent increase since 2009. This again shows new business women’s ability to take a subject growing in popularity and capitalise on the business opportunity.

The future?

It is truly encouraging to see anyone starting any nature of business. However, the question is: when will we see a move away from traditionally female pursuits? And instead, see women gain a foothold in ‘male-focused’ industries?

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. However, unfortunately, women are responsible for only nine percent of technology businesses in the famous ‘Silicon Roundabout’.

To give this a positive spin…

…if you are considering starting a new business, and have technological skills, this is probably the perfect sector to pitch up in. As an added bonus, the government are trying their best to promote digital economy through the Tech City Investment Organisation. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is 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.

And another…

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 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 opportunities…

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 may point you in the direction of many businesses. From there you can immediately differentiate yourself from the majority of the competition.

What to do:

There are many areas available for women looking to work for themselves. From traditional ‘female-friendly’ industries to those usually associated with being more of a ‘boys’ club’. If you are stuck in a rut ‘working for the man’, consider striking out on your own and being your own boss.

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