Washington Outshines Most States as a Place Where Women Entrepreneurs Can Flourish

Women business owners are taking advantage of the state's supportive environment

March 10, 2020By Bill Conroy


This article appears in print in the March 2020 issue. Click here for a free subscription.

Washington is among the top states for women entrepreneurs thanks to Seattles vibrant business landscape and favorable climate for female empowerment.

A study by small-business platform FitSmallBusiness ranks the state No. 3 in the nation, pointing out that there is often an inverse relationship between the cost of living in a state and other startup friendly economic factors as well as attitudes and support for women-owned businesses. Seattle, however, strikes a good balance, the study concludes, resulting in its high ranking.

As in the similar case of San Francisco, Washington state boasts a start-up powerhouse city in Seattle all within the larger context of a vibrant and thriving Pacific Northwest business landscape, the study says. While the cost of living there is high, its not California or New York-level high.

Other factors in Washingtons favor include no corporate income tax and a plethora of major female-empowerment and funding organizations, including, for example, the Womens Funding Alliance, 100% Talent, Womens Funding Network and the Female Founders Alliance (FFA), a Seattle organization that works to educate and connect women-founded companies with venture capital opportunities. The alliance recently acquired New York-based Monarq Incubator, which makes FFA the largest network of its kind nationally.

Ranking No. 1 in the study is Colorado, followed by California. Trailing Washington at No. 4 is New York, followed by Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, Iowa and Vermont.

Washington as of 2019 had an estimated 215,185 women-owned businesses, up 10% since 2014 and up 3.9% from 2018, American Express ninth annual State of Women-Owned Business Report shows. In the Seattle area, the five-year growth rate was 14.5%. The pace of growth of women-owned firms in the Seattle area and Washington state over the past five years eclipses measures of total new-business growth nationally (9%), the American Express study reveals.

Washingtons women-owned businesses recorded estimated sales of nearly $34 billion in 2019, up 14.5% from five years earlier, the study notes.