SBAM Board at Hockey Rink

Big Impact from Small Businesses

This is a challenging time for small business owners. The unpredictable, ever-changing nature of our economy due to the global pandemic causes ambiguity for employers and employees. Many service providers are sending multiple alerts each day, flooding our inboxes with well-intentioned information.

So many of my close friends are other small business owners. We’ve been talking, commiserating, and sharing online about the horrible options in front of us. Some had to close in the early days of the pandemic because of the nature of their business – they are hospitality or salons or gyms. I’ve heard their pain in having to close or severely curtail operations. It’s heartbreaking to watch affected companies and their leaders make difficult decisions about shuttering or temporary layoffs.

Silver linings for small businesses will become more evident with time. A few have already jumped out.

  1. It becomes VERY obvious if a small business is working with the right partner for accounting and insurance. I’ve sent thank you emails to our CPA, Rehmann, and commercial insurance company, BHS. They’ve really killed it with timely information, giving it concisely and intuitively. Our banker at Macatawa Bank has also reached out proactively to ensure we have all the information we need and has calmly and quickly responded to any questions.
  2. Small businesses support other small businesses. This is demonstrated with our purchasing decisions and through information sharing and support. I’m having a weekly virtual happy hour with about a dozen women who own businesses in Michigan (Sheri Welsh, Welsh and Associates; Gina Thorson, Stormy Kromer; Rebecca Cox, Savant Group; Lorri Rishar, EDGE Partnerships; Ginny Sherrow, Fenton Winery and Brewery; Sassa Akervall, Akervall Technologies; Anita Abrol, Lewis Knopf CPAs; Sue LaBonville, Allis Information Management.) It’s therapeutic, and can make us all feel less lonely about the tough decisions.
  3. Standout employees show their stripes. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with my team. They are working tenaciously to support each other, step in where help is needed, and become even more intense. We have coffee mugs that say “No damn whining.” Their actions show these aren’t just words.
  4. Inspiration is EVERWHERE. Two very close friends, Gina Thorson of Stormy Kromer and Sassa Akervall of Akervall Technologies (who are part of my weekly virtual happy hour), retooled their manufacturing operations to make masks, gowns, and face shields. This kept their employees working, and flattened the impact of closures on their revenue streams.
  5. Sharing talent and time matters. Every text I’ve gotten from a business owner friend, I’ve responded quickly and helpfully. They’ve done the same. (Kim Bode, Jennifer Jurgens, Jason Dodge… the list goes ON.)Crisis breeds creativity.

Small business owners are creative as hell.

Women walking in crowd

Women’s History Month – A Reflection on Impactful Organizations

March is Women’s History Month, intended to prompt reflection of the contributions and vital role women have played in history. JetCo Federal is a WBENC-certified woman-owned small business (WOSB), and two organizations that have helped us grow and strengthen our company are worthy of calling out during March.

Women in Defense (WID)

Women in Defense is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). JetCo became involved with NDIA and WID because we serve the military through our role as a Department of Defense contractor. These organizations give our employees a credible source of information and engagement opportunities. Importantly, WID “engages, cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security.”

WID membership is open to both men and women, and JetCo employees are individual members of both NDIA and WID. However, we are not just members – we are involved. We organize events, serve as mentors, and volunteer time to promote the defense industry. Through WID, our employees develop leadership skills, build and retain relationships, and learn. WID’s membership is ridiculously valuable.

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

Women Impacting Public Policy is a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs—strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations. We became an organizational member of WIPP in 2015, and we increased our involvement the following year through the Leadership Advisory Council. Through WIPP, we learn, connect, and advocate.

One of WIPP’s Policy Priorities is to “Create parity for WOSBs in federal contracting.” And these aren’t just words. This priority is achieved through the deliberate development and implementation of strategic tactics. In addition to making a difference in Washington, D.C., WIPP communicates their activities effectively to the membership, allowing us to become an educated extension for the talented Advocacy Team.

Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. WIPP earned their positive reputation for advocacy. It’s evident that decision-makers on the Hill respect WIPP’s opinions and ability to mobilize WOSB contractors.

Women’s History Month celebrates the contributions of women throughout history. Through our involvement with WID and WIPP, we are building relationships with women who will keep making history.

Women Working at Whiteboard

4 Certification Programs for Women-Owned Small Businesses

In one of our most recent blog posts, we highlighted some of the ways to better market your company as a women-owned small business. One of these ways was to know the women-owned small business (WOSB) program inside and out and to look into becoming WOSB certified.

What does it mean to be WOSB certified?

In order to be eligible for the WOSB Contracting Program, in which you compete for federal contracts that are set aside for your diverse status, you need to be a certified WOSB – either through self-certification or through third-party certification. This lets the government verify that you are what you say you are: a women-owned small business. Here are four different certification programs for you to choose from seeking third-party certification.

Certification Programs

1. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

Also known as WBENC, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. Becoming WOSB-certified through WBENC has a variety of benefits, including opportunities to network and pursue business deals, scholarship and award opportunities, and a variety of ways to promote your business. View all the benefits here.

2. The National Women Business Owners Corporation

Also known as NWBOC, the National Women Business Owners Corporation became the first organization to create a national certification program for women-owned businesses more than 20 years ago. The benefits of becoming WOSB-certified through NWBOC include a mentoring program, trainings and webinars, and award opportunities. View all the benefits here.

3. The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Also known as USWCC, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce helps women start and build successful businesses and careers. The organization is an authorized 3rd party certifier for the federal WOSB and EDWOSB programs. The benefits of becoming WOSB-certified through USWCC include access to conferences and summits throughout the year.

4. The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Also known as EPHCC, the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offers several Federal small business certifications for any business that would like to become a supplier for the U.S. Government. Business development specialists assess your business and help you with the certification process.

Interested in self-certification? No worries. Check out this preparation checklist from the Small Business Administration to kick-start your self-certification process.

Becoming certified as a WOSB can help you stand out among your competition and can result in federal contracts set aside for your diverse status. Take it from us – JetCo Federal is a WBENC certified company. Though the certification program may require some paperwork, it pays off in the long run by helping further differentiate your company. By using one of these four third-party certification programs, you’ll be on your way better marketing your company as a WOSB.

Woman working on Laptop

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.

People working together on Laptop

The WOSB Program and Other Contracting Assistance Programs

If you’re a diverse company, the federal government has specific programs that allow you to compete for contracts that are set aside for your diverse status. What are these programs? There is a variety, but the ones that we are highlighting in this blog post are the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program; the 8(a) Business Development Program; and the HUBZone Program.

If you’ve been following the recently proposed changes in the WOSB program, you might note that Contracting Officers currently must verify the WOSB documentation during the bid process. Although recently proposed changes may alter this process, it begs the question – are other diverse programs going through this same verification process? And if not, what are the other differences between these contracting assistance programs? We take a look at these differences below.

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Contracting Program

  • Eligibility: Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens and have women manage day-to-day operations and make long-term decisions.
  • Certification Process: You can self-certify or go through third-party certification such as Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
  • Contract Award Process: The contracting officer must verify WOSB documentation. For sole-source authority, the GAO report indicates that “the FAR’s requirement that contracting officers justify, in writing, why they do not expect other WOSBs or EDWOSBs to submit offers on a contract is stricter under the WOSB program,” (GAO, 2019, p.31, para. 2).

The 8(a) Business Development Program

  • Eligibility: Be a small business; not already have participated in the 8(a) program; be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged; be owned by someone whose personal net worth is $250,000 or less; be owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets; have the owner manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions; have all principals demonstrate good characters; and show potential for success and be able to perform successfully on contracts.
  • Certification Process: Use the website.
  • Contract Award Process: The contracting officer does not have to verify 8(a) documentation.

The HUBZone Program

  • Eligibility: Be a small business; be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe; have its principal office located in a HUBZone; and have at least 35% of its employees live in a HUBZone.
  • Certification Process: You must be certified by the SBA. There are six steps outlined on the SBA website.
  • Contract Award Process: The contracting officer does not have to verify HUBZone documentation.

Though these programs are bound to have their differences, the process of awarding contracts for WOSBs is significantly different than the other two programs, as noted above. Programs such as the 8(a) Business Development or HUBZone do not have to go through the same in-depth process before being awarded a contract, and therefore, those programs are often awarded dollars that were supposed to be for WOSBs.

In fact, the oversight on these issues resulted in the U.S. Government Accountability Office conducting a report on what needs to be addressed. In this report, the GAO explains that from fiscal years 2012 through 2017, “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, para. 1).

It’s alarming that federal contracting dollars for women-owned small businesses are not being awarded to that diverse group. However, the proposed changes from the SBA as a result of the GAO report show that many changes will be coming to the WOSB program.

United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) (2019). Women-Owned Small Business Program. Retrieved from

Person sitting at a table writing on paper

The WOSB Program History and 2019 Changes

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program began in December of 2000. Public Law 106-554 established this program to help the federal government meet its goal of awarding at least 5% of all contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. To qualify as a women-owned small business, you must be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women and be considered “small” as defined by the relevant North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

Throughout the years, the WOSB program has gone through several changes, and most recently, there have been proposed changes that could significantly impact the program. Before we dig into those changes, lets take a look at where the WOSB program has been.


  • 2011: In April of 2011, the new Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) implemented the WOSB program and limited the number of eligible industries that can qualify for the women’s contracting program. As a result of this change, 38 industries were eligible for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) and 45 industries for WOSBs.
  • 2014: In December of 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 ended the self-certification program and provided sole source authority.
  • 2015: In October of 2015, the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) implemented the sole source process, meaning sole source authority is allowed in industries in which WOSB and EDWOSB set asides are offered.
  • 2016: In March of 2016, the eligible industries for WOSB and EDWOSB companies were revised and expanded. A Department of Commerce study was released and provided information which led to the revised and expanded industries. 27 industries changed designation between WOSB and EDWOSB, six industries were removed, and 36 industries were added.
  • 2017: In October of 2017, NAICS 2017, a NAICS code update, led to the WOSB and EDWOSB industries being revised to a total of 112. If you would like to see a list of the current NAICS that qualify for the WOSB program, they can be found on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

Proposed Changes for 2019

This leads us to the recent proposed WOSB program changes. In May of 2019, the SBA published a proposed rule outlining the following changes:

  • WOSB certification can be accepted from SBA-approved third parties and certain identified government entities.
  • There will be eligibility under the WOSB program as long as your application is pending.
  • A free electronic application process will be available for companies who want to be WOSB and EDWOSB-certified.
  • The SBA will adjust the economically disadvantaged threshold in the 8(a) Business Development program to make it consistent with EDWOSB thresholds.

Why all the changes?

Currently, SBA has some difficulty processing applications, such as WOSB, 8(a), and HUBZone, due to the sheer number of applicants. The proposed changes will ease administrative burden, increase speed and efficiency, and save money by using an electronic-based platform.

Altogether, the proposed WOSB program changes are targeted toward the goal of increasing the number of WOSBs that win Federal contracts.

JetCo Federal is a WBENC-certified woman-owned small business based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have a robust supply chain of high-quality manufacturers and strong past performance. Interested in becoming a supplier for us? Contact us.