As October comes to an end, so does National Women’s Small Business Month. However, this doesn’t mean that we should stop supporting women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) once the first of the month hits. Though the number of WOSBs has grown 114% from 1997 to 2017 according to a PNC Bank and Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) report, WOSBs are still facing many obstacles.
In fact, that same PNC Bank and SBAM report states that in 2016, “only 18 percent of all 7(a) and 504 small business loans approved went to women-owned businesses,” (PNC-SBAM, p. 4). The statistics are similar when looking at WOSBs in the world of government contracting. A recent Government Accountability Office report stated that “98 percent of total dollars obligated for contracts to all women-owned small businesses in the WOSB-program-eligible industries were not awarded under the WOSB program,” (GAO, 2019, p. 27).
Despite the growth in the women-owned business sector, WOSBs still have a long way to go when it comes to being treated equally. So, if you’re a women-owned small business, what can you do now to help your business stand out from the rest? Based on our experience, here are some tips.
1. Lead with your capabilities.
NEVER start your capabilities statement with “a small women-owned business headquartered in Michigan…” That is your small status, not your mad skills. Lead with your most important asset. Need an example? Here’s what we put on our capabilities statement: “JetCo Federal reliably delivers corrugated cartons, sheets, pallets and crating to our government agencies. We are a small business with a large, national reach due to our redundant supply chain of highly qualified small manufacturers…” Need more tips? Check out our recent blog on how to capitalize on your small business status.
2. Know the WOSB program inside and out.
By discovering the differences between the WOSB program and other programs, you’ll have a better understanding of how your company fits into the government contracting space. Our advice? Look into WBENC certification.
3. Focus on your processes.
You can’t always rely on your WOSB status to make you stand out. You need to be good at what you’re doing. Refine your processes, map your workflows, and ensure your product or service is being delivered to your clients efficiently and effectively.
4. Give back.
Have some free time? Support other women-owned small businesses or take the time to mentor someone. You’ll benefit from collaboration and an expanded network all while supporting someone who may need advice. According to the PNC Bank and SBAM report, “as few as three hours of counseling can mean increased revenues and higher employment growth for women-owned businesses,” (PNC-SBAM, p. 4).
In government contracting, or almost any field, your diverse status may provide you with opportunities. However, it’s your capabilities, processes, knowledge, and network that will help you stand out from the rest. By following these four tips, you’ll be on the right track to better market your company as a women-owned small business.