Quite often one of the topics of discussion among small business owners is “certification”. To push the thought process a little further, I will usually ask; “What type of certification are you seeking and who are you planning to do business with?”.
For example, if you are seeking to grow your business with federal contracting you should explore certifications with The Small Business Administration (SBA). Yes, you can certify with the SBA as a Women Owned Small Business, Economically Disadvantaged Business and Veteran Owned Small Business. The certification process with the SBA is free and you can do it yourself. Since the federal government has ‘set asides’ for both contract and bid opportunities, certification may be quite beneficial for your small business.
If your goal is to work within the private sector, perhaps with a major corporation, you may want to consider a national certification. However, there are fees associated with third party certification councils including fees for annual renewals.
Your certifications should align with your business strategy. I always stress to business owners that it is important to do their research related to the types of certifications that would best support their business strategy.
Prior to making any investment of your time or money in pursuit of certification, I cannot stress the importance of doing your research. Also, as a contractor or supplier, you should become familiar with the terminology of contracting. If you are pursuing federal contracting, you should become familiar with acronyms. For example, if you are seeking contracts in the private sectors understand the agency’s meaning of terms such as vendor, supplier diversity programs and contracting tiers.
Utilize online information and websites to equip you with vital information related to the company, its goals, its commitment to diversity, and any other strategies that can help you prepare for contract opportunities.
View their “Supplier Diversity” programs specifically targeted toward women and minority owned businesses. Leveraging your status as a women owned small business can have its advantages. The Federal government, corporations, state and local governments have established goals that commit a certain percentage of business for women owned companies. This commitment provides you with the opportunity to leverage yourself as a women owned business.