Female entrepreneurs and business owners encounter many unique challenges along the path to starting and growing a successful company. Forbes lists some of the top barriers for female entrepreneurs as limited access to funding, limited support, gender inequality, and social stigmas. But women are continuing to make their place in the business world by accessing local support networks and business resources to help their new and seasoned companies thrive.
To celebrate October’s Women’s Small Business Month, we’re highlighting some of the best cities for women in business, taking into account gender pay gaps, local business resources, and other professional support networks.
7. Vallejo, California
Though it’s one of the most expensive states to live in the nation (the cost of living in just about every city in California is above the national average), we can’t deny that it’s a land of opportunity. The Golden State ranks fourth out of 50 states in lowest gender wage gap: female to male earnings are 88 percent.* Two large metro areas in California—San Jose and San Francisco—rank in Self.inc’s list of the top 15 large metros with the most female business owners. The percentage of business owners in these areas who are female is about 43 percent.
So, where is the best place to settle your business in the Golden State? We’d recommend Vallejo, in the Bay Area, only about a 40-minute drive from Oakland. Women business owners in Vallejo have access to several small business resources, including Solano County Small Business Development Center’s programs for companies in startup, growing, or transitional phases.
Your business will also be situated strategically near two of California’s best cities for women in tech—San Francisco and Oakland—and perhaps the most famous wine region in the nation: Napa Valley. Settle your business in this fantastic location by securing a virtual office in nearby Oakland.
*We mention the gender pay gap frequently throughout this article. Though women business owners do have the opportunity to pay themselves a fair salary, often they are still making less than male businessowners. This may be due to lack of capital, fewer business resources, and more.
6. Tucson, Arizona
Head to the land of saguaros and desert sun to set up your business. And no, we’re not just talking about the benefits of the famous high desert air. Tucson is a great place to settle your woman-owned business.
Grow a successful company here by accessing financial planning workshops, one-on-one business coaching, and other resources through the Southern Arizona Women’s Business Center. You can also become a member of the local Tucson Chapter of the National Association for Women Business Owners to get connected with and inspired by other female entrepreneurs and business owners in the area. Another particularly helpful resource is Boss Women Unite, a platform for local business owners to showcase their company at events. The organization hosts development workshops, networking events, and other focused community groups to learn from and empower fellow businesswomen.
Not only does Arizona have a lower wage gap than other states, but Tucson itself boasts 38 percent of its businesses owned by women. It’s a climate worth expanding your business in. And you can start by selecting a virtual office in Tucson, which provides you with a professional business address in one of the best cities for female entrepreneurs.
5. Colorado Springs, Colorado
When you think about Colorado Springs, it may conjure all things outdoorsy: from Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak to the seemingly countless mountain biking trails only minutes away. But this town isn’t just for adrenaline junkies.
If you’re considering transitioning your side gig to a full-time business, Colorado Springs may be just the place for you. Though Colorado female workers make only 79.8 percent of what men make, the state enacted the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act in early 2021, which will help minorities and workers identifying as female to close the wage gap. The number of women-owned businesses here grew 45 percent between 2002 and 2012, and that number has continued to grow. In 2018, women-owned firms made up 22 percent of all firms in the state.
Looking for opportunities for female entrepreneurs in Colorado Springs? You can become members of the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce to collaborate with a solid network of like-minded women. Learn from and build business relationships with Chamber events, workshops, and training programs.
For new business owners, download templates and roadmaps for starting your company in Colorado Springs. The step-by-step guides provided by COSOpenforBiz are intended to shepherd new business ideas through the development stages: from securing grants for female founders to expanding your business.
Need a professional business address? We’ve got you covered. Book a virtual office in Colorado Springs for a fraction of the price of owning or renting a physical office space.
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
If you’re looking to open or expand your business services, Hawaii may be the perfect climate—for business and just about everything else. Just because this island state boasts pristine beaches, turquoise water, and ideal weather doesn’t mean you should overlook the opportunities it provides for women-owned businesses.
Notably, Hawaii has the second-lowest gender wage gap of all 50 states. So, if you run a business here, the chances are good of making more on the dollar compared to female workers in other states. The Aloha State also boasts the second-highest percentage (about 24 percent) of women-owned firms in the country.
Settling your business in Honolulu, though, has its benefits—and we’re not talking about catching waves at Waikiki Beach. About 47 percent of business owners in urban Honolulu are female. That means as a female entrepreneur or business owner, you’ll have a vast network of professionals to collaborate with and learn from.
Access trainings, educational opportunities, and business programs at Honolulu-based Mink Center for Business & Leadership. The center also offers low-cost, one-on-one business and legal counseling to assist female business owners with getting their companies off the ground responsibly. You can also find business resources with the organization Rising Tide, which also offers a program focused on women entrepreneurs called We by Rising Tide.
Ready to settle your business in one of the best places for women in business? Secure your Honolulu virtual office today.
3. Greensboro, North Carolina
North Carolina has more than 300,000 women-owned businesses, and the rate of their growth in the state over the past 20 years has been more than 138 percent. That’s great news for women thinking of starting or growing their company in the Tar Heel State.
Greensboro, situated in north-central North Carolina, is the fourth-largest city in the state and one of the best places for women in business. It has a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War and is home to several museums focusing on the role the town played in the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Thriving local industries include health care, technology, and global logistics—if your business falls under one of these sectors, there’s a good chance that it will thrive.
But accessing a local support system is crucial if you’re a woman in business. First, you can participate in the Minority/Women Business Enterprise of Guilford County, a government program that ensures equal opportunity for business contracts, pay, and resources.
Next, you can become a member of Business Women of the Triad, a dues-based organization that helps build working relationships between fellow women business owners, hosts networking events, and serves as a respected local platform to promote your business.
Finally, you can search for relevant programs, loans, and resources from the statewide Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s Western Women’s Business Center. It offers trainings, access to capital and grants for women in business, business coaching, and events to help women-owned businesses grow and succeed in North Carolina.
Get started solidifying your place in the local market by securing a virtual office in Greensboro.
2. Huntsville, Alabama
In Huntsville, aerospace and military technology are the name of the industry game. They’ve fueled the local economy for decades and paved the way for Cummings Research Park, the second-largest research park in the nation.
Huntsville is a hub for successful business sectors, so it only makes sense that it’s one of the best cities for female entrepreneurs. The gender wage gap here is the lowest in Alabama—women make 79.8 percent of what their male colleagues make. (Women in Tuscaloosa, on the other hand, make 58 percent of men’s income.) Again, the wage gap continues to be a huge barrier for female entrepreneurs—and employees in general—but it pays to settle your business in a spot where you can make more on the dollar.
Even though there are systemic issues with wage gaps among genders and minorities, Huntsville still has much to offer women business owners. Whether your company falls under defense contracting, bioscience, real estate, or tech, you’ll have ample resources to help your business thrive.
You can also become a Huntsville Women’s Business Council member to network with local female CEOs. Then, join forces with fellow energized and driven female business owners at The Woman’s Business Center of North Alabama, a project by The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship. The center’s goal is to “empower women in all stages of business” and serve as a resource for learning how to scale your business, secure funding, manage finances, and more. The Woman’s Business Center in Huntsville also includes focused small groups, like Mompreneur, to serve as a resource for moms who work from home, who are starting businesses, and more.
Take advantage of Huntsville’s beneficial business climate by renting a virtual office.
1. Bethesda, Maryland
One of the most well-known communities in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Bethesda has earned its place on the map. This vibrant town and economic hub has attracted large and small companies and artists who can receive tax breaks if they create their work in the designated Arts & Entertainment District.
It’s home to the National Institutes of Health, the National Naval Medical Center, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, and more. Bethesda is also one of the best cities for female entrepreneurs due to its sheer number of business resources and its relatively low gender wage gap.
Network with other female entrepreneurs and business owners by becoming a member of Women Business Owners of Montgomery County, an organization dedicated to empowering its members with educational tools, resources, and events. The Maryland Women’s Business Center—with a location in nearby Rockville—is a highly impactful resource to any woman in business. The organization offers business counseling, information on grants for female entrepreneurs, networking events throughout the state, workshops, and other services catered to each stage in the business process.
If you work with or do contract work for government entities, you’ll be strategically located only 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. Set up a virtual office in Bethesda or in D.C. to access all that this area has to offer women entrepreneurs. If you manage a team of employees, consider renting an office at a Bethesda coworking space, and check out our entrepreneur’s guide to coworking.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the best places for women in business, as many cities have tools and resources that you can leverage. But it can serve as a foundation for finding the best professional climate for your business. When your next business idea needs a little capital, you can find a list of some of the best government funding for female entrepreneurs on Fundera.
There are various resources and support networks across the country focused on helping female founders and businesswomen succeed—you just need to know where to look. You can also check out our list of other top entrepreneurial cities.
Lower your overall business costs by utilizing Alliance Virtual Office’s flexible workspace solutions for your company—whether you’re a business of one or 100. We help simplify your daily workflow with our Live Receptionist service and provide affordable virtual offices and coworking spaces when working from home doesn’t quite cut it. And when you want to get other female entrepreneurs together, rent a meeting room to host an event, seminar, or conference in your city.