The Competitive World of Certified Business Enterprise
With the changes in the economy many small businesses looked for alternatives to keep their businesses going and migrated to the world of certified business enterprises. This however presents a new set of challenges and competition.
As a business owner you need to decide why you want to certify your business. Are you looking at increasing your competitive edge with the government? Do you want to be more competitive for your large private section clients? You’ve heard about certified businesses and you are curious?
Let’s take a look at these questions. But first, you must do your research and understand how your target clients make purchasing decisions and what programs they use.
Increasing competitive edge with government – with the downturn in the economy many businesses turned to the government as an opportunity to keep their businesses going. Today we know that even the government has reduced its spending budget. There are different certifications awarded or accepted by government agencies. The options are small business certified, women-owned certified, minority-owned certified or perhaps disable veteran-owned certified. Find out which one is the accepted certification by the government agency you are targeting.
Be more competitive for large private clients – find out which certificates your targeted clients accept and who issues them. You may have to incur in additional spending getting your business certified by a private entity. These private certifying groups do offer other benefits, such as training or conferences that are not offered by certifying government agencies. The certification process could set you back a few hundred dollars and annual payment is needed in order to keep your certification active.
You are just curious – this is completely understandable and you should be. There are many certifications out there and deciding which one to choose requires time and effort. Visit the SBDC website www.sbdctampabay.com for information on upcoming trainings that can help you take the first step in certifying your business.
What is the difference between the certifications?
A certification means that the ownership of the business is at least 51% in the hands of a person that is a minority as identified by the government and/or is a veteran or disabled-veteran. The small business classification is based on the number of employees and annual sales. What certifications have in common is that they certify the owner(s) belongs to one of the groups previously mentioned and it is meant to increase the competitiveness of the business.
Just getting certified is not enough. You must make that certification work for you. Let’s identify simple steps you can take to make the certification work for you.
- Do not miss opportunities like conferences and matchmakers to meet the purchasing agents.
- Know who you want to talk to at these conferences and matchmakers and understand how they make their purchasing decisions.
- Once you’ve made contact, keep the line of communication open.
- It is important that you stay on top of your renewal as some certifications require annual renewals while others give you a two year period.
It is important that you prepare to take these steps by determining which businesses or government agencies you want to talk to and what product or service you offer that they may need. In order to make this determination, you must do your due diligence and research. If you take your time in doing your due diligence, when you meet your targeted purchasing agents the encounter will be much more productive.
We have all read about how government agencies have contract goals however this does not mean that just because you are certified you are their perfect supplier. Throughout the procurement process you have to demonstrate that, not only you know your business and industry, but that you have the experience and capacity to successfully complete the contract and possibly be able to offer the best price. Being certified is no excuse for not demonstrating that you are on top of your game. If you demonstrate that you are a reliable supplier, have the necessary experience, needed capacity, knowledge and good price, then the certificate becomes that last item in your toolkit that could make you the contract winner.
Being certified does not mean you will not face competition. It means that you are now competing with a smaller group of businesses. It means that you have a document that will set you apart when evaluations are done. It means that you have an additional tool in your marketing toolkit. Determine if you are ready to take the next step and get your business certified.
Associate Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa
Specialty: Women/Minority/Veteran Certification
Yanina Rosario, Florida SBDC at USF associate director and certified business consultant, specializes in business certifications, business planning, and marketing. She oversees operations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Rosario’s expertise comes from more than 16 years of guiding pre-venture and well-established business owners through procurement, licensing, planning, marketing and financing, helping clients secure more than $3.2 million in small business loans. Rosario serves on the board of directors for the CareerSource Tampa Bay, is a member of the City of Tampa Equal Business Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) planning committee. She manages the Florida SBDC at USF’s Emergency Bridge Loan Committee. Rosario obtained a bachelor degree in marketing from the University of Central Florida and a masters in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.