More women than ever are choosing to work for themselves, according to new data from Simply Business, the UK’s largest online business insurance broker.
The company has seen a 12 per cent increase in quote requests from women starting up businesses over the past twelve months, with women now accounting for 37 per cent of all start-up businesses, up from 33 per cent last year.
The figures are based on over 117,000 start-up business quote requests received by Simply Business so far this year, of which 42,928 were for business start-ups owned by women, up from 34,116 at the same time in 2010.
Topping the chart for female start-up businesses are creative and service based industries; with cleaners, beauticians, hairdressers and caterers dominating the top ten. However, women are also holding their own in ‘hard-skill’ industries. Accountancy and financial advisory is the tenth most popular female start-up business and there has been a 16 per cent rise in self-employed female lawyers over the past year.
Female entrepreneurs appear to be particularly skilled at capitalizing on emerging lifestyle trends. There has been a 95 per cent increase in women starting up as market traders since 2009, as they embrace the recent popularity for local market produce.
This is now the sixth most popular start up business for women. Similarly, pet-minding and cake-making have also both grown dramatically over the past year, as has complementary therapy, with a 15 per cent rise.
There has also been a sharp rise in the number of women setting up shop in the traditionally public sector spheres of education and health; with female start-up education consultants up by 61 per cent and independent nursing businesses by 46 per cent.
Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business, commented: "With unemployment at its highest for 23 years it is encouraging to see that more and more women are embracing the opportunity to set up on their own.
"Entrepreneurship can provide fantastic lifestyle and financial benefits, not to mention the boost it can potentially bring to the economy, with Teresa May recently saying that female talent could be worth an extra £60bn.
"With more than ever high-profile businesswomen, like Mary Portas, Jo Malone and Michelle Mone, as inspiration, plus support such as the new mentor programme being driven by the Government, we expect the number of female entrepreneurs will keep on growing in the future."
Emma Walker, a former BBC Young Apprentice competitor, is young female entrepreneur (aged 19) who this year set up Enterprise Days, an education consultancy which provides schools and sixth forms with one day business challenges run by successful young entrepreneurs.
Talking about her experience, Emma commented; "While it’s great that more women are starting up their own businesses, more needs to be done to educate and inspire could-be entrepreneurs. There’s a perception among many of my peers that business is hard-nosed, aggressive and too demanding for a balanced life-style or healthy family life.
"But I believe that isn’t the case and, although it is hard work, if you shape your business around something you love then it is also the most rewarding career I can imagine.
"There need to be more opportunities for young women to engage with and feel inspired by business: many of the networking events I attend are almost exclusively attended by men and that definitely needs to change."
Angela Barnard, 39, set up her own personal stylist business, My London Stylist, in 2009 after 15 years working as a fashion industry stylist. Angela commented, "I’d had the idea for some time but the spark to start my own business came when a friend, who owns a hair salon, put me in touch with one of her customers who struggled to find clothes she felt confident in.
"That was my first client and the experience was such a success that I set up a website and within months, had a business. A year after setting up My London Stylist I gave birth to my first daughter and was initially nervous about how I would balance being a mum and a business woman.
"In reality it is much easier that I expected, as working for myself means that I have the flexibility to decide when I work and how it fits around my family.
"The advice I’d give to others looking to start a business is to start small with something you know and enjoy, then grow your business out of those strong foundations.
"I grasped an opportunity and it snowballed from there, but the secret to my success is having expertise in my industry and passion about the business I created."
Top 10 most popular female start-ups
4. Pet Minder
5. Cake Maker
6. Market Trader
7. Caterer /Chef
9. Accountant / IFA
10. Fitness Instructor