It's the age of the entrepreneur, and perhaps even more significantly, the time is ripe for the rise of the woman entrepreneur.
Internet businesses, cloud computing and DIY business tools have created a world in which the barriers that once existed to starting a small or micro business have all but crumbled. There's no need for a physical office, a large support staff or much (if any) overhead.
And this is good for female entrepreneurs in particular. While women have been creating small businesses at a faster rate than men for the past 20 years, the majority of them have been at-home micro businesses (5 employees or fewer). Yet estimates suggest that women-owned businesses will be responsible for more than half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018.
The trend is clear: It's a good time to be a woman starting a business, and the rise of DIY business tools is an important factor.
No corner office necessary
Many Gen-Y and Millennial women are burning out early on corporate life or forgoing the corporate ladder completely in favor of creating their own business. The Guardian Life Index, a survey used to help understand American small business owners, cites "office politics" as one of the main factors women leave the corporate rat race for their own business. They often find that corporate values don't mirror their own.
And women don't necessarily hold out that corner office or C-level position as the ultimate metrics of success. Our version of success might be staying home with the family -- or traveling the world, not tied to a single office location.
Enter DIY business tools.
Because it's now possible to run your entire business from your laptop, and most of the software is in the cloud, you can literally run a business from anywhere with an Internet connection. Your scheduling assistant, graphics program, even your word processor and databases are all living in the cloud.
That sort of flexibility and location independence used to be reserved for larger corporations but these trends are affecting work-at-home mums and globe-trotting solopreneurs as well. It means that women no longer have to choose between the work they love and the life they want to live.
These DIY digital tools are changing the way business is done, and breaking down many of the barriers that have traditionally existed for women who wanted to start a business.
Take start-up costs as just one example.
Women are statistically less likely to seek or receive outside funding to start a business, and are much more likely to support their small business with personal funding like personal savings or even credit cards.
But with the advent of DIY digital business tools, the cost of starting a business has reduced dramatically. For the cost of a domain name and web hosting, a woman can hang out her digital "shingle" and start a business.
The knowledge barrier has also crumbled. No longer do you have to be fluent in code to create a professional looking website for your business. Or build an app. Or create a forum for your clients to interact. These tasks, once the domain of only specially trained coders and developers, are now DIY-ready.
It's reported that 59 percent of small business owners who have a website built it themselves, and of those, 80 percent are their own webmaster.
This has broken down so many barriers to starting a business, you literally just need a laptop, something to sell, and your imagination.
Employees picnics via Skype
Because starting a web-based business like this is so easy and inexpensive, there's a true movement growing of Internet entrepreneurs redefining the way success and work look. And that, too, is good news for women business owners.
You're no longer limited by location to find the best help. Because other workers are turning the the world wide web for their businesses and careers, it's increasingly simple to assemble an entire virtual team. No need for a physical office; they too are happy to work from home.
My life is physically based in Australia, yet many of my coaching clients come from the U.S., the UK, Canada, and other countries around the world. I work with freelancers in several different countries, who I may never meet face-to-face. Yet they are an integral part of my business.
This movement is of special import for women business owners, because support communities and tribes are growing up around this particular way of life. In the same way that traditional corporations have been "old boys clubs," women are making their own new girls' clubs online to support one another in business. And it's a network and support system that has been sorely lacking for women in the traditional business world.
Now more than ever, the world really is our oyster, and women are leaping on these opportunities. It's a leveling of the playing field that has been a long time coming, and a trend that shows no signs of dying out.
Cat LeBlanc is a Business Strategist & Venture Catalyst. Which means she has an uncanny talent for turning your brilliance into a profitable (& liberating) business. When Cat's not guiding emerging entrepreneurs to their new business breakthrough, she's in the spa with her partner, sipping cider, surrounded by ferns, soaking in the sweet freedom she's created for herself (and wants for you). Find out more at catleblanc.com and pick up your FREE Business Idea Starter Kit here.