We work with a lot of Women-owned businesses (and we've pasted an article below on some great tips to becoming a certified WBE).
The question that we get most often is how can a WBE differentiate itself in the marketplace?
What we tell someone: move away from price. Yes, that's right, stop focusing solely on price in your bids (but don't ever stop becoming more efficient in your operations). Sometimes, this can be difficult in competitive bid situations (you'll have to do some diligence to figure out if the competitive bid is really all about price or a combination of price and service).
Ok, but what are some tips that our business partners have really enjoyed. Well, here you go:
- Do good quality work. Don't forget this. All the other tips are still secondary to good quality work.
- But do something “extra.” So, if you're working for a big general contractor, try and go the extra mile on something. We prefer things like doughnuts on Fridays, a grill day one a month, cleaning up the job site every day. These things seem small, but it makes it easy for the general to “re-hire” you the next time. It's a super-cheap way to market yourself.
- Provide weekly updates. Yeah, these are a pain. No, you won't get any feedback. But still create a packet and send it to the main contact. You'd be surprised at how few people do this. You'd be doubly surprised as to how rare it is to send an update packet that looks nice (think something with a color graph).
- A quick story: we have an acquaintance that hired a bookkeeper for his business. Each month, he'd get a binder with all his checks (around 20-25) and a bunch of color graphs, etc. that detailed his business. He paid $1,500 a month for this. Finally, he grew so large that he hired a CPA to do his bookkeeping and taxes. The CPA firm took one look at the binder and said it was simply a print job from quickbooks. The lesson: the bookkeeper took something that most people just don't use and instead created a way to keep a very good client for many years.
THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A CERTIFIED WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS
You're a woman and you run a company. In the world of privately-held businesses in this nation, being a women entrepreneur really has several benefits. A lot of public companies – in addition to regional, condition, and federal government acquiring firms – have programs for allotting a specific portion of business to women-owned companies. Getting certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) can easily make the difference in between landing that business or not. But the qualification process is not without its challenges, and frequently owners get frustrated during the process because they do not have the effective assistance or misconstrue exactly how to go through the process. The following is just what you want to know should you choose that accreditation is to your advantage.
Be Certain You Satisfy the Criteria
Prior to beginning the certification process, it is essential for company owners to recognize that it is a major investment of your time. The requirements for submitting an application are very rigorous and have to be fulfilled completely. “A lot of people want to scream when they are going through it, but they always end up happy that they got certified,” says Janet Harris-Lange, president of The National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), which was the first private national certifier of women business enterprises when it formed in 1995.
The most important criterion for attaining qualification as a women-owned venture is majority control. This requirement means that a woman must own 51 percent or more of the business to apply for certification. Unfortunately, ownership is simply a small component of the picture. A female must also hold the highest position at the firm and be engaged in everyday administration as well as set the critical direction of the firm. “Ownership is a very easy thing to do on paper, but if the woman is not the visionary and holds the office manager position, for example, that's the kind of thing that will halt a certification,” says Harris-Lange. So before continuing, make certain that you have a number of ways of proving that you are leading the business, from doing the strategic planning, making hiring decisions and overseeing the business at the highest level.
Along with being a majority owner, a woman needs to also be a US citizen, and it is advised that she be in company for at the very least six months. If you fulfill these three primary demands as a business owner, you can start the process of assembling your application.
Exactly how do you get Certified: Be Organized
There is a lengthy list of documents that you will have to gather for your application. This is possibly the most arduous part of the accreditation procedure, and if you're not organized or have not taken note of crucial business documents, obtaining every little thing with each other can be more time consuming and tough. “A great deal of individuals joke that we request for every little thing except their first born,” points out Harris-Lange.
Try and get organized before you start the application procedure. It is a good idea to place aside the needed documents and documentation as early as feasible if you think that obtaining approved is something that you will at some point desire to do. “The most effective time to start arranging your products is as you do points for the initial time,” points out Harris-Lange. You are more likely to have records such as your incorporation papers and copies of any kind of leases quickly accessible when you are a young company.
Typically, most people have no idea about everything involved with the accreditation process till they have determined to go through it, and it can feel really frustrating looking at the listing for the initial time. Simply recognizing along with exactly what's called for can easily make the process a whole lot much less taxing.
You might likewise prefer to get somebody to assist you out as you begin to get organized. If you are a small firm and do not have readily available personnel to spare, there are other sources to assist you via the process.
The National Women Businessmen's Council created a certification kit, meant to work as a guided tour of all facets of the application process and supply a built-in business method for the application products that it publishes on its website for $39.95.
Where to Get Certified
Determining exactly what degree of qualification you need to get truly depends on exactly what kind of business and consumers you are targeting. You might be looking to do business along with the regional healthcare facility in your city, so the scope of your services would not require that you have a nationwide accreditation. While the rules vary state to state, numerous state agencies call for that women-owned businesses get certification via their program due to the fact that they maintain their own policies.
Some firms discover that they just do not need to acquire a national qualification. Local or regional qualification is most advantageous for companies that are looking to do work in the private sector, and are not intending to land federal government agreements.
The application process.
Once you have actually collected all the required info and paperwork, you'll have to upload it all to the proper review company. It’s a good idea to create some organizational procedure for constructing the info, as that will help the reviewer and also help shorten the process. A binder along with divider panels is a good way to keep every little thing organized.
It will go to a review committee once you've uploaded in your application. The testimonial committee is generally comprised of at the very least one lawyer and one CPA, in addition to other company experts. Expect the evaluation procedure to average 4 to 6 weeks. The process could possibly be as quick as 3 weeks if everything in the application is complete the first time around.
In addition to the paper component of the application, be ready for an in-person meeting, when a committee from the certification firm or company will certainly check out your website and many times go to your workplace for a site check. The function of the site check out is for the committee to note exactly how the business is operated, and confirm that there joins truth a lady at the helm. You do not have to prep anything for this site check; the committee wishes to see business as typical.
If for some reason there is a discrepancy with your application and you are rejected from accreditation, there is typically an appeal period, such as 30-days.
When You're Approved.
Congratulations! You made it with the certification process. According to company owners that have their qualification, there is a lot of possible ways to increase your business with this opportunity, but you can't merely sit back and anticipate the company to come to you. The best method to get word out that you are licensed is to speak to local, state, and national accreditation agencies and ask to put you on their mailing listing.
No additional details is needed for re-certification, unless the structure, possession, or name of your company has actually changed throughout that a long time. The application and affidavit need to after that be declared along with the most recent tax obligation return for the business.
National Association of Women Company Owners (NAWBO).
NAWBO is a nationwide membership-based organization standing for the passions of the more compared to 10 million women-owned businesses in the USA.
Small Business Association's Workplace of Government Contracting.
The SBA's Office of Federal government contracting encourages maximum engagement by little, disadvantaged, and woman-owned companies in federal government agreement honors.
National Female Business Owners Corporation Database.
The NWBOC has an internet procurement industry where shoppers can look the pool of professional WBEs, and where WBEs can make connections and safe procurement leads.
A listing of crucial sources and hyperlinks to internet sites of companies whose interests are lined up along with the requirements of women-owned businesses.