Small Business Tips

What are the benefits of woman-owned business certification?

Lisa Steinmann

Unique opportunities exist for businesses with a women-owned small business (WOSB) certification. Women who own small businesses should investigate this certification. It may help their businesses grow.

What is a women-owned small business (WOSB) certification?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) certifies women-owned small businesses. To gain this certification, you must fill out and submit SBA Form 2413.

A small business qualifies as women-owned if:

  • The business meets the SBA’s definition of a small business. Find a test to determine if your business qualifies here.
  • It is 51 percent owned and controlled by women who are US citizens.
  • Women manage day-to-day operations.
  • Women are responsible for making long-term decisions for the business

Once a business meets the standards for WOSB certification, it may also qualify as an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business (EDWOSB). This second certification includes criteria related to earnings and assets owned.

EDWOSBs aren’t economically disadvantaged in the traditional sense. It doesn’t mean the business owner comes from poverty. It relates to their business’ size versus the size of typical government contractors.

EDWOSBs may have successful businesses and healthy revenues. However, their larger competitors may have gross revenues in the billions. EDWOSBs are at a disadvantage in comparison.

What industries qualify for WOSB certification?

A list of included industries, sorted by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), is available for your review on the SBA site.

Why should I apply for WOSB certification?

Traditional gender roles limit women’s opportunities to thrive in some industries.

The U.S. government hopes to expand opportunities for female business owners. They plan to award five percent of all government contracts to WOSBs or EDWOSBs.

To achieve this goal, the government sets contracts aside. Only WOSBs can bid for them. A similar program of set-aside contracts exists for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

Competing for contracts with companies with experience and extensive resources is challenging. Imagine competing for contracts with companies like Boeing, McKesson, and yes, Microsoft.

Set-aside contracts allow smaller businesses to bid for contracts with their peers. The U.S. government, in turn, gets a chance to meet new and innovative partners.

Some of those intimidating big companies are generous with their resources. They take part in the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program (13 CFR 124.520). With a WOSB certification, you qualify for this program. Big businesses want to meet you too.

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Why should I bid for government contracts?

Some businesses aren’t aware that they can bid on government contracts. If you don’t have a government or military background, you may be unfamiliar with the concept.

Large companies know better. Government contracts are often a large part of their annual revenue.

You should explore government contracts because:

1) They are a huge potential customer with large budgets for products and services. They sometimes award contracts for multiple years.

2) They buy all kinds of goods and services. Some government purchases may be mundane, others exotic. Current search results include requests for janitorial services and underwater bicycle ergometer systems (used for physical therapy).

3) It is your money. The government pays for most contracts with tax revenue. Why not benefit from a system you contribute to?

4) It is patriotic. If you’re proud of what you do and how you do it, why not help our government? When you deliver exceptional goods or services, you contribute to the greater good. Have you ever been disappointed with government services? You can improve them.

5) The government wants to work with women-owned small businesses. They are serious about meeting and exceeding their annual goals for the WOSB program. Government departments are eager for women to increase their contribution to their programs.

6) Dependable payment. Government contracts pay reliably. Long-term government contracts increase your company’s value with banks, investors, and potential buyers.

7) Awarded government contracts improve a vendor’s reputation. You’ll impress potential customers and clients. Winning and maintaining government contracts is a sign of legitimacy and stability.

How do I find contracting opportunities with the government?

SAM.gov lists federal business opportunities. Government agencies must advertise all contracts with a value greater than $25, 000.

If you’re ready to win government contracts, visit the SBA website. The SBA also has local resources in many cities you can meet with in person.

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