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Woman-Owned Small Business Spotlight: Visual Workplace, Inc.

Welcome to the first edition of our woman-owned small business spotlight series. This edition highlights the safety solution company Visual Workplace, Inc. The company’s CEO, Rhonda Kovera, shares her story and advice for other woman-owned small businesses.

What inspired you to start Visual Workplace?

I always had an inspiration for improvement and realized that there were not many product solutions in the marketplace for this [lean and safety solutions]. I tested the ideas with the company I had been currently working with and found there was a tremendous need. Using my industry experience, I built a sales organization to fill this need.

When working for others, it was sometimes difficult to see how others managed. I felt that if I ever had the opportunity to lead a company, I would make sure that I was objective, fair, and would not ask anyone to do something I would not do. Having the opportunity to start this company allowed me to fulfill a market need and run a business differently than I had ever witnessed.

What is your proudest moment for Visual Workplace?

Buying our facility was a very proud moment. It was a tremendous endeavor but provided a great return on our investment. It was similar to buying your first house – it can be very scary, but you adjust to the mortgage payment and begin to build equity.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with your company?

Determining when to take risks and when to hold tight has been my biggest challenge. Financing typically plays a role in risk, but when it does not and you have the opportunity to grow, expand, or invest it can be frightening. You should get the best advice you can and follow your instincts.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Build an advisory board! You need to have a strong team of people you can rely on when you have questions, ideas, or difficulty. It does not necessarily have to be a formal team, but find resources that you trust for advice and honest feedback. Include individuals from sales, human resources, operations, and finance.

Do you have any advice or resource suggestions for woman-owned small businesses?

Always keep your word! Be conservative if you have to and try to under-promise and over-deliver. This is important for your customers, employees, banks, and especially you.

To learn more about Visual Workplace, visit their website at https://www.visualworkplaceinc.com/.

The Benefits of Woman-Owned Small Business Certification

From the stamp of approval for the government contracting industry to the relationships built, becoming certified as a woman-owned small business (WOSB) has benefitted our company in many ways. Though JetCo Federal doesn’t rely on the certification to win new businesses, we know industry partners care that we have the certification. Here are some of the benefits we’ve experienced from getting certified as a woman-owned small business.

Stamp of Approval for Government Contracting

The women-owned small business (WOSB) program began in December of 2000 to help the federal government meet its goal of awarding at least 5% of all contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. As a company that sells to the government, winning bids is an important part of our work, and as a woman-owned small business, we wanted to make sure we had access to these contracting dollars set aside for WOSBs.

Eligibility for these contracting dollars requires getting certified as a WOSB through a certification program. Our organization decided to go with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification and now we have the government’s stamp of approval to bid on those contracts set aside for WOSBs.

Relationships Formed with Other WOSBs

Another benefit of getting certified as a WOSB is that it helps you find and form relationships with other woman-owned small businesses. The network of woman-owned small businesses is tight-knit. We’re thankful for those we’ve connected with and are even starting a quarterly WOSB highlight this month to shed a light on incredible WOSBs throughout the country.

Getting certified as a woman-owned small business may not be for everyone, but we’ve seen the benefits of certification help advance business goals. Here’s what our President, Sue Tellier, had to say about WOSB certification.

“WBENC certification gives a stamp of credibility to woman-owned small businesses, verifying the authenticity of the ‘woman-owned’ claim. This opens doors to new markets and new audiences within existing client relationships. We are proud of our proven capabilities and don’t rely on the WBENC logo to win business, yet we know savvy buyers and supplier diversity professionals care that we have it.”

Interested in learning more about how you can utilize our WOSB status as a supplier? Contact us for more information.

4 Tips to Better Market Your Company as a Women-Owned Small Business

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.