Perhaps you’ve heard about “supplier diversity”, or becoming “certified” as a minority-owned or women-owned business. Maybe you’re curious to learn more.
A certified minority-owned business (MBE) is a designation for businesses that are 51% owned, operated and/or managed by a minority.
A certified woman-owned business (WBE) is a designation for businesses that are 51% owned, operated and/or managed by a woman or a
Organizations such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offer access to opportunities for small businesses that are exclusive to minorities and women.
This can include lucrative contracts with Fortune 500 companies and government entities, and opportunities for grants, resources and engagement only available for minority or women suppliers.
We certified our company as an MBE and a WBE five years ago. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering getting your small business certified:
- The certification itself does not win you business. What it does give you is ACCESS. Access to people, opportunities, training
andresources that you will never learn about without it. Access, plus advanced preparation, strong networking skills and a defined sales process (which you must have no matter how you market your business), will help you win new corporate customers.
- The process to get certified can be cumbersome and time-consuming. That said, you don’t have to do it yourself. I tried to do it myself for two years and couldn’t pull it together. Once we hired a consultant, we were certified within in a couple of months. (I’m happy to put you in touch with her if you like.) Looking back, the time and energy I wasted trying to navigate the certification process by myself
wasworth far more than the consulting and application fees. I should have hired the consultant in the first place.
- I realized that at first glance the fees seem expensive. I used to think that too. But don’t think of them as fees. Think of how you are investing in future opportunities. For example, the certification to be a minority-owned business is $350 (same for certifying as a WBE). However, getting certified as an MBE gave me the opportunity to make a connection with a mentor who introduced me to a senior executive at Google. That introduction led to our first TINY contract with Google which was $2,500. That contract led to four years of work with Google and actually opened the door to us doing a significant amount of work with Facebook, as well as other clients. Had I still been hung up on the $350 certification fee, our business would NOT be where it is today.
- You’re guaranteed to spend time and to spend money to develop the relationships you need to grow your business. Think of certification as a shortcut to help you speed up the process and maximize your time. I am 100% confident your time is worth far more than the fees to get certified.
- We had our business for seven years before we ever heard of certification, so we totally understand the hesitation with making the investment. Getting certified as a minority-owned and woman-owned business was one of the best business decisions we ever made. In 2017, year we doubled our 2016 revenue. This year we have doubled our 2017 numbers. That wouldn’t have happened without us selling to corporate and leveraging the opportunities that have been opened to us because of supplier diversity.
Before 2013, we didn’t even know the world of supplier diversity existed. Since then, we’ve doubled our business three times, won two prestigious awards and developed a client list that includes the largest technology companies in the world. We’ve compiled our best tips for how to leverage the power of supplier diversity in one handy checklist. Text the word DIVERSE to 33444 and we’ll email you a copy.