Certification Programs for Women Owned Small Businesses That Make a Difference

For women, minorities and veterans, there are some terrific resources available that can help boost your sales efforts.

Many small businesses are not aware of different certification programs that they can participate in that will provide credibility and access to become a vendor for a large corporation. Once you apply and are approved for being  a certified woman owned business, you can use this status to your advantage to sell to corporations and government agencies that want to do business with women, minorities and veterans.

A lot of small businesses don’t know when they start their company that these programs exist or that corporations and the government have mandates to work with women, minorities or veterans. Most Fortune 500 corporations have Supplier Diversity programs with very specific goals and want to work with small businesses to achieve these goals.

The Federal Government is focused on their newest program, Give Me Five, which is to have all levels of Government award at least 5% of their contracts to women. The Government is a multi-billion dollar entity that many small businesses don’t typically target to sell to. It’s a lot of work to make in-roads, but if you are successful securing a contract, they are usually multi-year and having a foot in the door leads to other opportunities.

 I have been to meetings that Target, Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, Cargill and Best have all had  panelists discussing their Supplier Diversity programs. I can tell you first hand these corporations want to work with you-if they know you exist.

If you haven’t done so already, when you are on a company’s web-site, take a look at their Supplier Diversity portal. This is where you need to register your business with the company and they will ask if you are a certified woman, minority or veteran owned business. You can still register if you are not, but it will become clear when you look at several companies web-sites that this status is important.

Be patient, it may take months or longer before you hear about an opportunity that fits. Go to events and network and make connections.

Do the work, invest the time and money to consider these certification programs and give you and your company an advantage when you are selling your product or service.

Here are the links to the web-sites to learn more information:

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council:  www.wbenc.org

Minority Business Development Agency: www.mbda.gov

Veterans: www.vetbiz.gov