For Women Entrepreneurs, The West Is the New Promised Land

America’s original Westward Expansion was led by entrepreneurs of the day noticing great economic opportunities out west. A just-released study shows that a new slew of opportunities are appearing in Western states for women entrepreneurs.

For the third year in a row, Colorado tops annual ranking of “The Best States For Women-Led Startups”., which publishes this annual report, is a business product comparison site for business owners. Other western states which made the cut include Arizona, Washington and California.

Interestingly, though, the Northeast, which has traditionally been a strong region for women in business, did not appear in the Top 10 this year. Maryland and Massachusetts both fell out of their coveted spots, and only New York has the region’s strongest showing clocking in at Number 12. This drop can be attributed, at least in part, to disproportionate unemployment in that part of the country.

Key findings:

  • Venture capital funding to female (co-)founded startups fell 15% in 2022. This finding may be misleading, as every statistic from the COVID era will carry an asterisk. 2021 had record high VC funds for women. 2022’s funding was still exceptionally high, and at the second highest year ever.
  • Colorado remains the most female entrepreneur-friendly state for the third year in a row. What makes this especially noteworthy is that the state remains #1 despite a relatively high unemployment rate.
  • The range of unemployment rates between states was less pronounced this year. Another lingering effect of COVID was the impact it had on unemployment rates. During and immediately after the worst of the pandemic, states varied wildly in restrictions on businesses, and consequently employment rates. Now, as that has eased, the difference in unemployment rates among the states has closed significantly.
  • Wyoming and Illinois are this year’s most improved states among the Top 10. Women in Wyoming are starting businesses and overseeing a high percentage of the state’s employees. Illinois appears to be growing due to high levels of venture capital in the Chicago area.
  • The Northeast is absent from the Top 10 this year. New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts fared well, but missed the Top 10, landing at number 12, 13, and 14 respectively.

Researchers at analyzed data from a variety of sources including the Census Bureau’s 2020 Annual Business Survey, PitchBook’s US VC Female Founders Dashboard and the 2021 edition of the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship (to name a few), in order to bring you the “Best States for Women-Led Startups in 2023”.

While these lists below offer a bird’s-eye view, the full report can be found HERE:


#1.  Colorado

#2.  Washington

#3.  California

#4.  Arizona

#5.  Texas

#6.  Virginia

#7.  Wyoming

#8.  Florida

#9.  North Carolina

#10. Illinois


#46.  Oklahoma

#47.  West Virginia

#48.  Tennessee

#49.  Alabama

#50.  Mississippi


To best determine the best states for women-led startups, the researchers selected and weighted the following metrics:

  • Percent of employer firms led by women (15%)
  • Percent of employees at women-led firms (15%)
  • Percent of women self-employed in their own business (15%)
  • Average income of women business owners (15%)
  • Total venture capital invested into women-led startups (15%)
  • Percent of startups still active after one year (10%)
  • State income tax rates (7.5%)
  • Unemployment rates (7.5%)

“There are great opportunities for women who are interested in starting a business all over the country,” says Chris Motola, Special Projects Editor, “Our study shows, though, that the best chance for success is in the West.”


With more than 700,000 page views per month, is an online publication devoted to providing business owners with accurate, unbiased reviews for their businesses. The company’s goal is to provide the most honest, accurate, and useful reviews of business products and services to empower entrepreneurs with businesses of all sizes.

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