In today’s competitive market, we each seek new and innovative strategies for growing and succeeding in the global marketplace.
One vital way to differentiate yourself from the pack is by certifying your woman-, minority- or LGBT-owned company as a business that meets the exact criteria of several key certifying organizations. You can reap many rewards through this certification by contracting or partnering on projects with other certified businesses, and by becoming a potential bidder on corporate and public agency contracts.
Many Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, such as AT&T, Bank of America, Citigroup, Pfizer, and UPS, have annual diversity spending goals through their supplier diversity initiatives. These serve to promote the inclusion of diverse suppliers into their supply chain. They then benefit greatly from utilizing diverse suppliers and the suppliers grow their businesses through lucrative new contracts. These minority businesses often offer an expanded customer base and market share for the corporations who contract with them. Diversity-owned businesses tend to have greater access to emerging markets in urban and global arenas and make outstanding contributions to the economic viability of the communities in which they are located.
State agencies also have diversity initiatives they must satisfy by contracting out to minority businesses. These certified suppliers bid on jobs in construction and related trades, janitorial services and supplies, landscape management services, subscriptions, internet technology and data management, and so many more. Being a certified diverse supplier proffers a competitive advantage because these large organizations can only count their diversity spend with certified suppliers. Therefore, actively seeking out the appropriate certification for your business is a key to winning these contracts.
There are three primary organizations that offer third-party certifications to minority-owned businesses:
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council: WBENC issues a Gold Standard national certification to women-owned businesses to ensure a qualified database of WBENC Certified Women Business Enterprises (WBEs).
The National Minority Supplier Development Council: NMSDC’s rigorous certification process is considered to be the superior avenue for certifying minority-owned businesses by corporate America
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce: NGLCC is new to the diversity certification world, but it is making a great impact through its certification of GLBT-owned businesses.
The application process for each of these is arduous, time-consuming. It ensures that the business is truly minority‐owned, -controlled, and ‐operated. There is an online application to complete and a list of required documents to submit. Once the paperwork has been received by your regional office its staff completes a desk audit of the application, which is then submitted to the Certification Committee to determine if the application is eligible for a site visit, after which
the application then returns to the Certification Committee for approval or denial.
Certified businesses are able to position themselves for opportunities in corporate supply chains. Although certification is no guarantee of getting the business, it does increase the chances and enables you to compete for these contracts. They will also gain access to a current list of supplier diversity and procurement executives at hundreds of major U.S. corporations and federal, state, and local government entities. They receive national recognition and opportunities to pursue business deals with corporations as well as other M/WBEs.
Partnership opportunities are another huge benefit. Quite often a W/MBE may be able to fulfill most of what an RFP asks for, but cannot do the entire project alone due to its size or capabilities. By partnering with another certified M/WBE, the corporation still gets the full value of its expenditure and two M/WBEs have business.
Another important aspect of the diversity world are the other tens of thousands of other certified suppliers. Many businesses have their eyes on the Fortune 1000 companies and overlook a large pool of potential clients and customers. Once certified, you can do business with your fellow certified diverse businesses. They need office supplies, janitorial services, promotional products, legal services, construction, etc. If small businesses don’t buy from each other, how can you expect majority owned firms to procure your services? Through certification minority businesses can be sustainable within themselves.
And remember, the actual packaging of the application is rigorous and extremely detailed; the information sought by these agencies can also feel intrusive to some business owners. Tax returns, W2’s, revenues, and start-up information are only part of the long list, and many business owners find that the time and energy it takes to run a successful business leaves them little bandwidth for a meticulous application that demands absolute accuracy. With a process as important and complicated as certification, but ultimately so rewarding, don’t leave anything to chance. Do use the assistance of a company that specializes.
Certify My Company is one such consulting company. Based in the tri-state area, but with nationwide clients, what started as a simple idea in 2008 has grown into a firm dedicated to the supplier diversity community as a whole by working with companies and corporations to raise the bar on supplier diversity. In addition to certification resources, they also assist larger minority companies in developing their own supplier diversity program and increasing their own diversity spend, as well as developing innovative solutions for large Corporations to get their classified suppliers certified.
If you are a minority, woman owned, or LBGT business, it makes good business sense to take advantage of certification. Certifying your business creates a partnership with supplier diversity departments and a powerful path to building revenues, expanding your customer base, and improving your bottom line.
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