Becoming a certified women-owned business: Part 3

The advantage

After taking the time to go through the entire process of becoming a certified women-owned business and passed, it’s time for you to realize and take advantage of the opportunities now available to you. This certification gives you a lot of potential to grow, so don’t hold back! Let people know that you have acquired the certificate. Spread the word through social media, blogs, newspapers, and your newsletter.

Now that you are certified, you qualify for Federal money. Contracting officers are now allowed to set aside certain government contract opportunities exclusively for qualifying women-owned businesses. This is for contracts in any of 83 different industries where women are under represented and awards can go up to $5 million. Make sure you get on those lists and outshine your competitors for the free money.

The certification also brings about awareness of your business. Most Fortune 1000 companies are aware that it is good to contract with women-owned businesses. Many of them have set aside goals aimed towards working with women-owned businesses as well as setting aside a percentage of their contracts that will be given to these certified companies. Thus, with the certification you can gain access to these contracts and money.

Finally, make sure that you renew your certification every year. It expires at the first of the year, so don’t get too caught up in the holidays that you forget. Renewing is much easier than applying, so you don’t want to have to apply again.

Take advantage of your role as a women-owned business. The resources available will help you scale and grow your business to make an even greater impact in your field. Good luck!

How to become a certified women-owned business: Part 2

Here in part 2 of our series on becoming a certified women-owned business we will talk about the application process.

After you have gathered the right documents (see part 1), you will need to submit those papers to the agency for review. If you are really on top of things you can organize the documents in a binder and include different tabs for the sections. This will help speed up the process because the agency will not have to dig through everything you have provided them. Make sure to follow the instructions the agency has given you as to avoid confusion and wasted time.

After you have sent everything in, your application goes up for review. A committee, usually comprised of an attorney, CPA, and other professionals, will look over your application. If anything is missing they will contact you. This part of the process usually takes 4-6 weeks.

Once they have confirmed that your paper application is complete, you need to be prepared for an in-person interview. Someone from the committee reviewing your application will conduct a site visit at your business. This allows them to see in-person how you run things and interact with customers. Don’t worry about changing your routine for the visit, they just want to see how things run on a normal, everyday basis. They meet with the owners to make sure that the business is truly, women-owned and then they fill out a report about their findings. The committee then meets for a final time to review everything and decide if your business qualifies for the certification.







How to become a certified women-owned business: Part 1

This mini-series is to help us understand how to become a women-owned business. The process isn’t short, so we are splitting the series into three parts. This first one explains the preliminary work you will need to do and resources available to help you through the process.

In order to become a women owned business, first ask yourself these three questions: Does a woman own 51% or more of the business? Does a woman hold the highest position in the company? Is that woman a U.S. citizen?

If the answer is yes to all three of these, you are ready and able to become a women owned business!

Now, this process isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes time and dedication, but if you are organized and get going from the beginning, it will make it much easier. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, based in Washington, D.C. has a list of all the requirements on their website. There are several documents you will need to save and make copies of. It is also a good idea to recruit someone to help you with the application process, to allow you time to run your business and apply at the same time.

The National Women Business Owners Corporation has also put together an application kit to help make the process easier. It cost for the kit is about $55, but will save you time and hassle when trying to put your application together.

Besides the WBENC and NWBOC, which are third party certifiers, there are state and local agencies that offer programs for certification. You must decide if you want state certification or national certification. This decision can be based on your client base. If you only work with people in your state, there is no need to get a national certificate. However, if you plan to expand your business, it will be worth going through the national level.