You just got your approval letter- you’re now a certified WBE!
Now what’s your plan?
So many business owners assume that once they get certified, business will automatically pick up, and that they’ll be entitled to more contract opportunities. This line of thinking could harm your business, and here’s why…
1. Think of the WBE certificate like a college degree…
When you get a college degree, job offers don’t just fall into your lap. You have the degree that validates your qualifications as a college graduate, but now the real work starts. You have to apply, network, interview AND ultimately be the best fit for the job.
Having a diversity certificate is no different. Now starts the hard work of networking, bidding, and marketing. And ultimately you still have to be the best company for the job.
2. Don’t assume your certificate opens every door…
Here’s the first of two hard truths: There is no one diversity certificate that is accepted by every procurement department.
The world of supplier diversity can be difficult to navigate because of this. Every single procurement department in every corporation, state, agency, city, etc. makes their own goals and rules as to what certificates they accept (or if they even accept any).
Some organizations make it easy and accept WBENC as a national certifier. Others, like PennDOT, have their own separate certificate program (the PAUCP), and they do not accept any outside diversity certificate, even the WBENC WBE. Vice versa, you can’t take that PAUCP certificate to any other corporations besides PennDOT, Septa, or the other PA transportation agencies. You need to do your research and be strategic about which certificates and clients you pursue.
Here’s the second hard truth: There is no universal list of contract opportunities for WBEs, or even corporate and government procurement departments that accept your WBE certificate.
Again, you need to do your research, and you need to be strategic. There are hundreds and hundreds of corporations and government agencies out there. Nail down a short list of your target clients for this year, ask and confirm which certificates they accept, and then start the hard work of networking, applying, marketing, and building business relationships.
3. Consider Your Competition…
First of all, being a certified women-owned business never guarantees you the contract over a male-owned business. What it does is help to open the door to opportunities. Many corporate and government procurement offices realize that it’s hard for a small, women-owned business to get that foot in the door. Supplier diversity encourages these procurement departments to share contract opportunities with our network of certified WBEs, and helps these buyers meet their diversity goals. BUT even though the opportunity has been shared with you, you’re still competing with both certified and non-certified businesses.
Plus, there are over 18,000 certified women-owned businesses in the US, 15,000 certified minority-owned businesses, and thousands of LGBT-owned, veteran-owned, and disability-owned businesses. You’ve still got tons of competition, which is why you need a plan to come out on top.
So Where Do You Start?
Start working on that strategic plan. If you have one, incorporate supplier diversity into it. We always like to recommend that new WBEs attend our monthly “Maximizing Your Certification” webinar to learn more about the network.
Need more tips? Read on…