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The Best Cities for Women to Start a Business
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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%
Ready to see the complete list? Then without further ado, here are the best metro areas for women entrepreneurs.
Top 50 cities where women should start a business
Percent of female- owned businesses
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area
Austin-Round Rock, TX Metro Area
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area
St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area
Jacksonville, FL Metro Area
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA Metro Area
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metro Area
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metro Area
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area
Raleigh, NC Metro Area
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area
Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Metro Area
Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area
Richmond, VA Metro Area
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA Metro Area
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metro Area
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN Metro Area
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area
Columbus, OH Metro Area
Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area
Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT Metro Area
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY Metro Area
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area
Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area
New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area
Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area
Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area
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!
- American Express, “The 2017 State of Women-Owned Business Report”
- NAWBO, “Women Business Owner Statistics”
- NAWBO, “Women Business Owner Statistics”