Today, women are finally being recognized for their power and equality with their male counterparts, and the retail and service world is no exception. In fact, being a woman and owning your own business can actually put you at an advantage. Get certified as a Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and watch your profits soar.
Capitalize on Government Contracts
You have already done a lot to put your enterprise in line with your competitors. Among other things, that may include taking measures such setting up credit card processing for small business, including hardware and software. That’s great, but certification as a WOSB can give you even more of an edge.
Becoming certified on the federal and state level as a WOSB gives you much more than a piece of paper suitable for framing. It opens many doors to lucrative contracts that are set aside specifically for enterprises like yours. During the 2014 fiscal year alone, the U.S. government gave 267,168 contracts to Woman Owned Businesses to the tune of over $2 billion. Add to that the fact that many businesses award five percent of their subcontracting work to WOSBs, and the benefits speak for themselves.
What Certification Provides
The primary benefit that comes from getting certified is that you can gain increased visibility for your business. You should not think of it as charity or as any other form of entitlement. In the end, you will be expected to do the job you promised to do at the expected standard of quality.
There are two types of certifications you can receive. The Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) program is designed to help Woman Owned and Economically Disadvantaged Businesses by increasing their access to federal contracts. Overseen by the Small Business Administration, the Woman Owned Small Business certification requires that the enterprise is 51 percent controlled and managed by one or more women; these women must be U.S. citizens; and the industry must be considered a small business by SBA standards. As long as you can prove that your business meets these criteria and furnish the requested documentation, you can self-certify as a WOSB.
The other certification classification is Woman Business Enterprise. Unlike the WOSB which is strictly federal, the WBE covers state and local governments as well as the private sector. To qualify for WBE, the company must be over 51 percent owned and controlled by women, demonstrate their fiscal responsibility by regularly providing documentation such as tax returns and bank statements that show cash flow, and exhibit a capability to succeed in the market.
Other Advantages of Certification
Going through the process of being recognized as a Woman Owned Business can be time-consuming, particularly if you are trying to get your establishment off the ground. However, gaining access to contracts is just the beginning. Certification also grants you the following:
• The opportunity to network with other WOSBs
• Access to exclusive training and educational programs
• Direct connections to corporations and other entities offering contracts to WOSBs
• Access to sales leads
• Mentoring programs
Of course, certification is only the beginning, and potential customers probably won’t come knocking at your door begging you to bid on their contracts. You need to do your homework and research the steps that will allow you to make the most of your WOSB status. Once you do, however, all of your hard work might very well pay off in the form of increased exposure and higher profits.