You've decided that Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) or Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification is right for your business, and you're ready to take the plunge. But have you done your homework? Is your business ready to compete with other certified companies?
WBE certification can be tremendously beneficial for your company, if it's the right move for you. Here are a few things you can do to determine whether WBE or WOSB certification is right for your business and whether you're fully equipped to begin the application process:
- Take the Quiz. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers a short online quiz to help entrepreneurs decide whether WBE certification is right for them.
- Get educated. Three national organizations have been approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to act as Third Party Certifiers under the WOSB program. In addition to WBENC, the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) and the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce also offers certification. Read up on the certification process at these organizations’ websites and know what you're getting into.
- Talk to your people. Consult with your business partners, if you have them, and set up a conversation with your accountant. WBE certification is an involved process and it will require support from multiple levels inside your organization.
- Ask questions. Make an appointment to talk to a representative of your local WBENC affiliate . Not only can you get the full rundown of the certification process directly from a WBENC representative, you'll be establishing a relationship with the local rep who may be evaluating your application.
Applying to become a WBE is no small task, although the rewards can be significant, particularly for companies that want to seek major corporate and government contacts. Be sure you're prepared for the undertaking - before you get started.
Before you begin the WBE application process, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Why should I get certified? What benefits do you hope to gain? How will WBE certification help you grow your business? Identify goals before you get started. That will help you keep your eyes on the prize during the application process.
- How have other businesses benefited from WBE certification? Talk to other entrepreneurs who have gone through certification. They'll have insider information about the application process as well as the ways in which certification has helped their ventures.
- What do I need to know about my business? Familiarize yourself with the WBE certification requirements, including the documents and information you'll need to gather for your application.
- How much help will I need? Your company may require the assistance of an accountant or other professional; on the other hand, your operation may be small enough that you can do the work yourself.
- How can I make the process easier next time? Remember, WBE certification has to be renewed regularly. Think about how you can streamline the process in the future so you don't have to worry about it this time next year.
- Am I really ready? WBE will open up contract opportunities for your company, some of which may be larger than you're used to handling. Make sure your business is going to be ready to handle the volume of business you'll need to be able to do in order to be, and stay competitive among WBE-certified enterprises.
Doing your homework before becoming a WBE can help make the entire process easier and much more effective.