The Best Cities for Women to Start a Business in 2019
America is home to more than 11.6 million women-owned businesses.1 From employment rates to equal pay, see which American cities rank the best for women entrepreneurs.
October is Women’s Small Business Month!
Women-owned businesses in the United States employ almost 9 million people and account for some $1.7 trillion worth of sales per year.2 And only 39% of US businesses are owned by women, with some states having as few as 19% of their businesses owned by women—just imagine how high those numbers could be if more women started their own businesses.3
That’s why, to celebrate Women’s Small Business Month, Business.org wanted to find the best cities for women to launch their businesses. We hope to see more women entrepreneurs following their business dreams (and boosting the economy while doing so).
So where should women go to start businesses?
What we learned
California had the most cities make our list of the best places for women-owned businesses, with five metro areas appearing in our top 50. But the Sunshine State gave California a run for its money, with four Florida metro areas making the list. So there’s no need to choose a best coast—both the east coast and west coast have great options for female entrepreneurs.
They might want to avoid Tennessee, though. Memphis came dead last in our rankings, thanks to it low percentage of existing women-owned businesses and its high unemployment rates for women.
But what about the middle of the country? The St. Louis, MO, area has the highest percent of female-owned businesses (30%), while the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has the lowest percentage of female unemployment (just 3.5%)—making them both great options for aspiring entrepreneurs.
And if you’re more of a New England person? Then get used to saying, “Good morning, Baltimore!” because it was the top New England city in our ranking, in position 13.
Our data analysts collected data about four different factors for each of the 50 largest metropolitan areas: the percentage of female-only owned businesses, the unemployment rate for women, the pay differences between women and men, and the number of new businesses per capita. Our sources included the U.S Census Bureau, the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, and the American Community Survey.
Each of the four factors were normalized on a 0-1 scale, with 1 corresponding to the measurement that would most positively affect the final score and 0 corresponding to the measurement that would most negatively affect the final score. These adjusted measurements were then added together with the weights mentioned below to get a score out of 100.
- Percentage of women-owned businesses: 40%
- Number of new businesses per 100,000 people: 30%
- Women-to-men pay difference: 20%
- Unemployment rate for women: 10%
Top 50 cities where women should start a business
Ready to see the complete list? Then without further ado, here are the best metro areas for women entrepreneurs.
|Rank||Metro area||Percent of female- owned businesses|
|Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area||29%|
|Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area||27%|
|Austin-Round Rock, TX Metro Area||29%|
|Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area||28%|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area||26%|
|St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area||30%|
|Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area||29%|
|Jacksonville, FL Metro Area||27%|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA Metro Area||26%|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metro Area||28%|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area||25%|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area||27%|
|Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area||28%|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area||28%|
|Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area||27%|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metro Area||27%|
|Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area||25%|
|Raleigh, NC Metro Area||24%|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area||24%|
|Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area||26%|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area||24%|
|San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area||26%|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area||28%|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area||23%|
|Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Metro Area||25%|
|Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area||24%|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area||26%|
|Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area||24%|
|Richmond, VA Metro Area||25%|
|Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area||22%|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area||25%|
|Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA Metro Area||23%|
|Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metro Area||23%|
|Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area||21%|
|Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area||23%|
|Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area||23%|
|Columbus, OH Metro Area||23%|
|Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area||20%|
|Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area||24%|
|Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area||22%|
|Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT Metro Area||22%|
|Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY Metro Area||20%|
|Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area||21%|
|Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area||22%|
|Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area||20%|
|New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area||23%|
|Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area||20%|
|Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area||21%|
|Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area||19%|
|Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area||19%|
Women-owned businesses make up a vital part of our communities. With all the contributions they already make to employment and our economy, we can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and open that business you’ve always dreamed of—we already found the perfect place for you to do it.
Need a little inspiration to get you going? Check out our list of the most inspirational women leaders around the world!