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Becoming a mom turns your whole life upside down. So many things change—that sometimes includes your ambitions, and certainly your day-to-day. But becoming a mom doesn’t change the fact that you still have ambitions, and days you’d like to be as fulfilling as possible. And if that means starting a small business while being a mother, make it happen.
If you do decide to follow your passion and become a small business owner, know that you’ll join a growing number of female entrepreneurs in America. According to a report commissioned by American Express, the number of female-owned businesses grew by 114% between 1997 and 2017.
But entrepreneurial mothers are scanning the landscape with an entirely different set of criteria than others looking to start a business. Not only has the way that you evaluate what constitutes an ideal work environment possibly changed since becoming mom—but it’s also possible that what you actually count as satisfaction after a hard day looks different, too.
Those are some of the reasons that not all industries are created equal. Others? Some fields are growing quickly, while others are stagnant. Some are conducive to flexible scheduling, while others require long hours or frequent travel away from your family. And which fields allow you a healthy workload and to be home in time to put your kids to bed?
Taking into account five essential criteria, we looked at the current landscape of work in America and evaluated opportunity (and lack thereof) to find the best industries for entrepreneurial moms to start their own businesses. There were were some clear winners.
Before we get started, we want to make an important distinction. This list isn’t just a roundup of optimal fields in which mothers can find existing jobs. Rather, these are the fields that we think mothers who want to create businesses can break into. We’re strong believers that the future of the American small business landscape is constantly evolving. There’s a place for everyone to succeed, whether that’s in a brick-and-mortar store on Main Street, or from home between feedings with a sleeping infant on your lap.
Every family is different, and every mother requires (and prefers) different circumstances to take care of her children to the best of her ability. But we think that the majority of all entrepreneurial moms will value a couple of key factors when launching their new ventures: flexibility and opportunity.
Specifically, entrepreneurial mothers will need enough wiggle room in their schedules to account for those wildcard moments (sick kid/pet/partner, or necessary mental health day) that require their full attention as a parent; and enough growth, and opportunity for financial stability, within their industry of choice to allow room for their new business.
We further parsed those two, general considerations into five specific factors. And, when considered holistically, industries encompassing these five factors make for the most conducive—and promising—industries for working mothers to be awesome at both of their full-time jobs.
You’re not a parent from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., so your ideal job can’t be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The industries that got the highest honors on our list allow for flexibility with working hours, whether that means making your own, or not being beholden to a fixed, consumer-facing schedule.
It’s hard enough to get out of the house for dinner and a movie for a couple of hours. These industries are conducive to allowing you to build a business from the comfort of your home—or wherever you want to be.
You wouldn’t want your partner gone every other week, and they’d feel the same way about you. (And who are you kidding—you’ll miss everyone, anyway!) This list is full of opportunities that don’t require heavy business travel.
Being an entrepreneur can feel alienating sometimes—doubly so for being a mom and an entrepreneur. Building a business in a female-friendly industry or community can take away some of the inherent stress on those days when things feel a little too-too.
Create opportunity where there is room for opportunity! If you’re going to create a business when you’re already busy, do it in an industry where there’s a high demand for new ventures. We took that into consideration when making this list, too.
This list, in no particular order, presents eight broad industries that all encompass lots of specific vocations—and opportunities for you to launch your dream business.
Be wary of:
Ecommerce is on the rise. According to the US Census Bureau, total ecommerce sales increased by 16% between 2016 and 2017. And although the field is growing rapidly, there’s evidence that women are being pushed out of retail jobs in brick-and-mortar stores.
But one of the advantages of starting an ecommerce business is that you’re not subject to the hiring-and-firing cycles of the traditional retail industry. If you have a sellable product and a computer, you can start your own retail company without ever stepping foot in an HR manager’s office (or leaving your house if you don’t want to). Plus, running an online store gives you total control over your schedule. So, you can step away from your digital office when you need to pick your kids up from school, spend a weekend away with your family, or put out any of the endless small fires that arise on a daily basis.
Having relevant retail experience can only help you run an online shop. But, on the whole, the only skills you need to launch your store are a drive to promote your website; an ability to regularly engage with your customers; and a willingness to adapt your business to suit the industry’s best practices.
Online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon provide the framework to establish a homepage or seller account to market your goods. And thanks to services like Wix and Squarespace, creating a small business website is easy and affordable. You don’t need to be a marketing professional to promote your digital store, either: digitally focused tactics like social media posts and SEO optimization put the power of inbound marketing right at your fingertips.
No matter how rapidly things change, the world will always need teachers. But because the world is changing so rapidly, educators no longer need to work in schools. Now, tutors and course instructors can operate entirely online. According to data from FlexJobs, in fact, tutoring is among the fastest-growing remote job listings.
You don’t necessarily need to be (or have ever been) a schoolteacher to create and launch an online course. If you have the credentials for it, you can teach almost anything remotely: standardized testing, creative writing, resume writing, photography, personal finances, fitness—if you know the subject deeply, and have the drive to teach those skills, you’re likely to find an audience online.
If you’re not sure how to create your syllabus, or where to host your course, look into digital tools like Teachable, Udemy, and Skillshare. These were all created specifically for facilitating online education. Don’t underestimate the power of YouTube, either. Some of the most successful YouTube instructors, like Laura in the Kitchen (a chef and a mom), started their series from their own homes. Alternatively, you can launch a local business and cater to nearby clients or conduct sessions in your home, if space allows. Either way, you won’t need to take long business trips away from your family.
Whether they’re virtual or in person, one-on-one sessions with students are the only potential factor in a freelance education career that depend on someone else’s time. Otherwise, you’ll have the flexibility to arrange your work hours around your own schedule. And if you’re providing a service for students, such as SAT tutoring or homework help, you’ll likely be able to enjoy slower periods during school vacations.
According to CNBC, companies in the healthcare industry are posting more and more remote jobs. That means there’s a place in the healthcare industry to launch a business that provides health care services remotely—a great solution for entrepreneurial mothers trained in some field within healthcare who want to operate out of their own homes.
Women make up a strong contingent of the healthcare industry in general. In their 2017 annual report, the National Women’s Business Council listed healthcare and social assistance as the top industry for women-owned businesses, according to number of firms. In fact, the data shows that healthcare companies make up 17% of all women-owned employer firms in the nation. Even bigger numbers? Women make up 75% of all employed healthcare practitioners and healthcare technicians, according to 2016 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Healthcare is a high-opportunity industry, too: the Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that half of the twenty fastest-growing occupations are within the health services field. Some other new business opportunities in the healthcare industry include account managers, pharmaceutical copywriters, physical therapists, personal care aides, and healthcare IT consultants, just to name a few.
You’ve probably heard the term “wellness” before, but you might not really know how to define it. The National Wellness Institute explains it as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” What especially sets wellness apart from conventional healthcare is its “multidimensional [and] holistic” approach toward self-improvement, which “encompass[es] lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment.”
It’s a pretty broad term, and many positions can fall under the “wellness” umbrella. Personal trainers, fitness instructors, life coaches, therapists, dietitians, and health coaches can all be considered wellness professions. Same with meditation instructors, acupuncturists, clairvoyants, naturopaths, reiki healers… you get the idea.
Of course, many of these positions require certifications to practice, and some of those certifications require more time, money, and dedication to earn than others. But if you’re already qualified for a job in the wellness world, or are considering qualifying for one, know that this industry is growing fast. As of 2016, the global wellness industry was worth $3.72 trillion, and it grew 10.6% over the previous two years. And with more growth comes more demand for services. Experts project a 26% growth rate in massage therapy between 2016-2026, for instance—much faster than the average job growth rate.
There’s a ton of space in the market for wellness companies. One of the perks of starting your own business in this industry is the potential for flexibility in your schedule, since most of these professions cater to clients in one-on-one sessions.
Take Zeel, for instance, an on-demand app that brings licensed massage therapists directly to the users’ homes. In general, working through an app is a great place for certified healers to dip their toes in the wellness industry, before turning a side-hustle into a business. And, barring a few clients with irregular schedules, you can slot all your sessions into your preferred hours. That way, you’ll have as much time and energy to take care of your kids as you do for your clients
You don’t have to work in a 9 to 5 office setting to work for a business that runs a 9 to 5 office. According to CNBC via Flexjobs, positions like client services coordinators, office managers, operations managers, HR reps, and virtual assistants can be done remotely via telecommuting. That means companies are increasingly outsourcing administrative work to individuals or external contract companies.
Although remote management and admin positions are often full-time, the work-from-home model can allow you to keep an eye (or ear) on your kids when they get home from school. And the lack of a commute can provide hours of free time with your family to bookend your day.
Remote or not, there’s evidence that mothers who work in administrative services are satisfied with the flexibility their jobs afford. In a study conducted by Working Mother, 70% of women who worked in management and administrative services said that their jobs allowed them enough hours to spend with their children, and 71% said that they were able to take time off work when necessary.
If nothing is certain except for death and taxes, then the demand for certified personal accountants is a certainty, too. That extends to bookkeepers, financial advisors, and wealth managers, as well. As long as people are earning money, they’ll need professionals to help them organize it.
And financial professionals no longer need to operate in-house at large corporations. According to Daily Worth, accounting is one of the top five most profitable industries for female entrepreneurs to launch new businesses. Demand is rising for freelance financial services especially as freelance work in general becomes more popular, and those freelancers require outside professionals to balance their books and organize their tax documents. And if you launch your own financial services company, you’ll have the freedom to choose and arrange those clients around your own schedule.
Financial service jobs fetch some of the highest salaries on this list. According to Working Mother’s study, women in finance earned the highest income of all the industries queried, with a median salary of $47,410. On average, those women earned $19,000 more than mothers in the retail industry, and about $1,000 more than mothers working in professional services, the second-most profitable industry surveyed.
With high demand for services, high potential salaries, and flexible scheduling, starting a business in a B2B financial sector is a golden opportunity for qualified mothers.
Consultants act as advisors to businesses or individuals on their fields of expertise. So you can be a consultant in almost anything—but business development, healthcare, technology, education, social media, marketing, fundraising, and public relations are a few of the fields that are growing the fastest, and need these professionals the most.
Consulting was practically made for working mothers with entrepreneurial spirits. As a consultant, of course, you must work around your client’s needs and schedules and hit the deadlines they set. But independent consultants work on a contract basis, so they can choose to take on as many clients as they want. Plus, many freelance consultants can run their businesses out of their own homes. You might need to take occasional trips to your clients’ offices, but your home base will be, well, your literal home base.
To be a successful consultant, you need to be a clear communicator and naturally resourceful. (As a mother, you’ve probably already developed these skills, right?) Much of the time, companies hire consultants when they need a perceptive, objective third party to identify internal problems and find creative solutions to boost their performance and productivity. So, if you’re seriously knowledgeable about an in-demand field or skill (or certified, in some instances), and you’re great at networking, collaboration, and sharing your expertise, you could be a great candidate to start a consultancy business.
How female-friendly is the consulting industry? Four of the world’s most influential consulting firms—McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers—have all earned spots on Working Mother’s annual Best Companies lists for their women’s-advancement programs, generous parental leave policies, efforts to promote more women into leadership positions, and more. As an entrepreneur, of course, you wouldn’t be benefitting from these corporate advantages. But these powerhouse firms demonstrate that the consulting world is dedicated to supporting and empowering women in the field.
The tech field isn’t known as the most female-friendly industry in the world, true. According to 2016 data collected by the National Center for Women and Information Technology, for instance, women held 57% of the positions in the country’s workforce, but only 26% of the country’s computing jobs.
Hopefully, that gender gap will decrease in the coming years due to the efforts of organizations like NCWIT, Girls Who Code, and PowerToFly, which focuses entirely on placing female engineers with Fortune 500 companies and high-growth startups. But for now, this gender imbalance means that there’s a lot of space in the tech world for qualified women to fill. In fact, the NCWIT’s research shows that of the 1.1 million tech jobs expected to open by 2024, only 45% can be filled by workers with computing bachelor’s degrees. So, moms: if you’re qualified to start your own technology business—now’s the time to do it.
And the lack of gender parity in computing has actually fostered a strong and growing community of women in tech. In addition to NCWIT and PowerToFly, organizations like Women in Technology, the Anita Borg Institute, and Women in Technology International offer support, resources, and connections for women in this male-dominated field.
The business of technology is vast, and it’s pretty obviously booming. Coding, web development, engineering, graphic design, system architecture, IT support, information architecture, and UX design are just a few of the career opportunities in this field. Companies can hire these in-demand specialists on freelance or contract bases, and all of these occupations can be carried out remotely. So, if you start your own tech business, you’ll be able to make your own hours and work from home. Plus, tech skills are universally applicable, so you won’t need any special licensing or certification to work country- or worldwide.
Launching a new business is a big but thrilling decision. And once you’ve identified the type of business you want to start, those big decisions just keep coming. It kind of sounds like becoming a mother, doesn’t it?
So, just as you have a support system of friends and family, you don’t have to go the entrepreneurial route alone. Whether you need help figuring out how to incorporate your small business, how to find a business loan as a woman entrepreneur, or identify if you’re eligible for a small business grant for women, there’s a strong community of help for you.
Start with resources for women starting a business, and build from there—because there’s no one who knows better about the tough balance between work and motherhood better than other women.
So, if you have a great idea for a new business venture, don’t stop. There are so many industries that present female entrepreneurs with high-growth opportunities and the flexibility to care for their children. Make it happen.