It is an important time in our history to do everything possible to help forge a more gender-balanced world. Women have come a long way, yet there’s still much more to be achieved.
Many larger corporations, as well as local government agencies have diversity programs to work with women-owned companies in order to foster this balance. Some may require a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification in order to apply for certain diversity programs.
At Artisan Creative, we decided to apply and be recognized as a certified Women Business Enterprise a few years ago. I was fortunate that a friend and fellow member from the Entrepreneurs‘ Organization had recently gone through the process and shared her wisdom with me.
In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019 on March 8th, I wanted to share some of the steps we took to de-mystify this process.
In order to qualify as WBE, a company must be a majority women-owned enterprise with at least a 51% ownership. As the female owner you must be the majority owner and you must also hold the highest role in the organization, set the strategic direction of the organization and be active in the company’s daily management, and be a US citizen.
As part of the certification process, ensure you have the proven documentation needed to establish ownership, and the decision making power such as having signatory responsibilities as well as hiring and terminating staff. Having these key documents ready will help facilitate the process.You can apply for WBE certification after 6 months of being in business.
Even if you decide not to go through the certification process, it is a best practice to have your incorporation papers, licenses, leases, resumes, stocks etc. in order and easy to access. It’s also a good idea to have all your information in one place, and make copies for future needs.
The certification process is lengthy and requires time and energy to complete. Most business owners are too busy running their business to be able to devote the time needed to gather all the necessary information, and complete the application process so it’s a good idea to rely on a trusted team member or accountant to help with the procedure.
If you are a solopreneur or a small company without any available internal support you can hire an outside consultant to guide you.
The National Women Business Owner’s Council has created a certification kit, to serve as a step-by-step tool for the application process.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), also provides a list of required documentation.
If you work with national and/or the federal government, your needs will differ from someone who works with local municipalities, or provides localized services. For example, the Los Angeles World Airports, and the Metropolitan Water District have their own criteria to abide by. Many cities and municipalities also have quotas for working with minority, disabled, veteran- or women-owned businesses, so having a local certification may be beneficial if your company is focused on working with the local government.
National certifications such as WBENC are great for those who work primarily with the private sector, or as sub-contractors for the larger entities who work with government entities.
It’s important to note that having a certification or being women-owned is not a guarantee for winning more business. As a firm, you must excel in your field, and have stellar products and services.
Once you’ve completed the application process and paid the necessary submission fees, you will be contacted within 90 days for an interview and an office visit.
Ideally it’s up to you whether or not to seek certification, or what kind is best for you. The services you provide, and who your ideal client is will help you determine what kind of certification you need.
At Artisan Creative, we have found this certification to be valuable. Please connect if we can be of any help.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 511th issue of our a.blog.