Opportunities to build your business are everywhere, so it's important to focus on those that are right for your business, its size, and growth potential. While you want to be prepared to jump at opportunities as they arise, you don't want to waste time and energy going after projects that are not a good fit.
If your business is considering pursuing large government and corporate contracts, there are ways to improve your chances of accessing these opportunities. According to the National Women Business Owners Corporation, most government purchasing agencies and many corporations have programs for doing business specifically with women business owners. Certification as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) verifies for the purchasing agents for these companies and agencies that a business is, in fact, woman-owned.
The certification offers numerous growth-building benefits to women-owned businesses. According to the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which is the “largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States,” the benefits of certification include peer recognition, networking opportunities, and access to information that can help you expand your business, not to mention access to valuable contracts designated for WBEs. An important resource WBENC provides may be access to procurement executives at hundreds of major U.S. corporations and other entities that accept WBE certification. Although WBE Certification is a powerful marketing tool, it only makes your business eligible to bid on these contracts--it does not automatically entitle you to them.
As a first step to landing these contracts, take time to determine whether your business is a good candidate for certification, and that you are prepared to spend time and energy developing the necessary relationships with procurement officers. While there are many benefits to being certified, it's not the best use of resources for every business.
The WBENC advise businesses to seriously consider these issues:
- Are you willing to do ongoing, detailed research to find bidding opportunities? Good opportunities are about the ones that properly fit your business. Take the time to seek out the right ones, and identify how you can solve a problem for another business or government agency.
- Are you willing to invest in targeted marketing campaigns? You will need to convince the corporation or government agency that you are the right company for the job, and that requires responding with finesse and creativity.
- Is your business equipped to handle larger contracts? Since these contracts are usually more extensive, you must be able to prove that your company can deliver on a larger scale. Reliability is key; you must be able to meet your commitments to these large businesses or repeat business will be hard to come by.
- Can your business financially support the execution of a government contract that involves delayed payments? Make sure you are liquid enough to run your business until you receive payment.
As you consider getting certified, you may discover that the benefits of certification are not presently worth your effort. Going for the big government and corporate contracts may be out of your league for now. It all comes down to thinking realistically about your business, it's current status and the direction in which you want to see it grow. Doing thorough research now will put you in a good position when you are ready to take this step.
There are a multitude of resources available to lead you through the bureaucracy including U.S. Small Business Association: Office of Government and General Contracting. If you are ready to prepare your business for bidding on those big contracts, certification is a solid step forward