WBEC West Blog

7 Small Business Success Tips for Women Business Owners in 2020

Entrepreneurship can be challenging for any individual, and being a woman in the field could sometimes make the endeavor a notch tougher. However, the underlying benefits of being your own boss, tapping into your creativity, and perhaps even working flexible hours are all well-worth the effort.

In order to make your business venture a success here are 5 simple tips women business owners (or women wanting to start their own business) can use today:

1.      Get Inspired

If you’ve been a homemaker and are now contemplating to start your own business, you could easily draw inspiration from home. Observe all the activities that you juggle at home — partner, children, school obligations, meals, home tasks, and extracurricular activities. All of these tasks require you to manage time and people, both of which are an essential qualities to run a business.

2.      Network

Once you are inspired and motivated, the next step is to put that energy into action. It’s important where to constantly look for new leads, and your current resources and network may not be enough. Always stay on the hunt for new business. This can be achieved by finding relevant groups and associations and joining and meeting them regularly.

3.      Delegate

As you get more business, your responsibilities as well as deliverables increase. It is therefore important to delegate work to trustworthy employees. You could also outsource additional work. In either case, you need to make sure that the employee or outsourced personnel is well-trained to do the job, so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

4.      Continuous Learning

Business today is very dynamic. New technology and innovation can directly impact how customers behave, purchase and utilize services. It is therefore important to never be stagnant, and always be in a constant process of growth and learning to supplement yourself with the latest developments in your industry.

5.      Prepare for Financial Challenges

Cash flow can often be a major hurdle to the smooth functioning of any business. It is important to set a frugal mindset right from the start and avoid undue expenses in setting up an office and employing staff. Also, it’s important to get creative and think of ways to save money on your overheads. Avoid getting into the trap of debt at all costs.

6.      Ask for Help

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from people around you. Support or fresh ideas could be gathered from anywhere including your friends and family, neighboring businesses, your landlord, the bank manager or even from online forums. However, remember that a business consultant or mentor might be the best person to give you the best advice.

7.      Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

You don’t have to spend tons of money on marketing. You just have to be smart about it. Think about where your target market is hanging out and target that area. Marketing could be as simple as creating a Facebook page or marketing via Twitter or Instagram. It could be handing out flyers or going to events. There are also many marketing platforms that automate the process for you so you can run your campaigns on autopilot.

Top 3 reasons why women-owned business owners should attend business networking events

You may think of business networking as an “on the surface” superficial way of meeting new prospects, exchanging business cards, that may not really lead to building new, “genuine” connections, let alone a business relationship.

Yet…being a woman-owned business owner can get lonely. And you do know that getting out there is important, if not critical to your business success. We’re here to tell you that business networking, especially with like-minded people can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone, expand your contact base, build confidence, possibly even find a mentor and most importantly get results.

Here are top 3 reasons to attend business networking events if you are a woman-owned business:

  1. Step out of your comfort zone

Meeting people at networking events forces you to step out of your comfort zone.

There’s something about face-to-face contact that is essential to building your confidence, that you just can’t do by asking a question on a group webinar for instance.

Some people are naturals, but for most networking can be a real challenge. Conferences are a great way to break out and build your self-esteem. Still, if you’re really uncomfortable to go it alone, bring a colleague along!

  1. Meet driven, like-minded individuals

Think you’re the only business owner experiencing certain ups and downs and challenges of running a business?

When you sit in a room full of other like-minded people who are in the same boat as you, it can be a real eye-opener and a great way to learn new tips and techniques to improve your skills and leadership style, that you can bring back to your organization.

There’s also something to be said about people who attend conferences — they paid to get here and be here. There’s no doubt these are driven, determined individuals who want to “better” themselves, and there’s a lot you can learn by just being in that energy.

  1. Share the same space with experts

Conferences often give you the opportunity to be around experts that perhaps there’s no way you could have managed to meet on your own, or have had the time to meet individually.

When you share the same space with an expert, you can learn directly from them, see how they approach obstacles, discover their challenges and their “journey” to get where they are today — which can all be greatly inspiring, especially if your business idol is on stage!

You might even get to ask a question or two, or meet them after a session or workshop.

If you’re still not convinced, remember that you may just find yourself sitting opposite your next big customer at a roundtable session.

6 Management Tips For Woman-Owned Businesses

Are you a woman who has just started out in business? Chances are that you’re going to have to spend a lot more time managing your business along with providing your core services — and managing your new business could get challenging especially when you are busy focusing on marketing  and going about doing your day-to-day tasks.

When you’re trying to juggle a lot of things, sometimes the best tips can be the simplest and most helpful. Here are some practical business tips to boost your workflow:

  1. Maintain Quality Control

This applies to you if you are in the business of selling a product or service. If you are supplying or selling a product ensure that you keep track of your inventory each day and eliminate anything that could leave a customer unsatisfied — by focusing on your best products you can manage inventory better and get increased customer satisfaction. If you are providing a service, it’s best if you get customer feedback after completion of a service which can help you improve your quality.

  1. Build Customer Relations

One major factor in building good customer relationships is to take their feedback seriously. Attempt to do your best to accommodate the customer and make them happy again in case of any dissatisfaction. This is the key to retain customers and acquire new ones through word of mouth publicity.

  1. Use Networking and Referrals to Your Advantage

Once you have impressed your customer with your product ingenuity or outstanding service don’t stop there. It’s now time to go the extra mile. Ask them for referrals or put in a review on your website or on your LinkedIn profile. Also, invite them to networking events where they can introduce you to someonewho could be a prospect for a new customer.

  1. Form a Community or Advisory Group

One of the most beneficial and distinguishing factors for women business owners is that they maintain formal as well as informal advisory groups. Working with other business owners and learning the current trends and strategies that are successful can go a long way in setting your business apart from the competitors. Advisory groups can offer a different perspective in managing finances, marketing strategies, managing vendors and more.

WBEC-West’s CEO Ambassador program is an excellent example of this.

  1. Leverage Technology

Being a women business owner leveraging current technology trends as well as social media will help you increase your customer base dramatically. Software applications for money management and new tools for managing a business can increase both efficiency as well as the productivity of your business. If you are a social media junkie, start using Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to get the word out regarding your business.

  1. Use Contract Workers

Many women business owners think about growth but like most businesses face economic hurdles, health-care insurance issues and related taxes when it comes to hiring full-time staff. Instead of hiring full-time workers you can start off by hiring contract workers. This can give you the benefit of hiring good talented people without a long-term commitment or investment.

5 Strategies to Market Your Woman-Owned Business

Being a woman entrepreneur in itself, is something to be proud of. As you embark on your journey of converting your creative ideas into a profitable business you need to couple your efforts with some strong marketing strategies.

Here are 5 marketing tips that will help boost your business whether you are offering services or selling a product:

1. Communicate your story

Customers will be more engaged with your products and services when they know where you are coming from. This can be achieved by sharing your story on business’ websites or social media channels. Being a woman-owned business, you will be able to have a stronger customer base when you tell your story since the customer can now relate to you and your background. After all, a repeat customer is one who has developed a relationship with your business journey and values the importance of your product or service.

2. Leverage social media

Social media is very effective in targeting like-minded people. By creating sponsored social media posts on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook you can reach a large number of women in your surrounding geographical area. Once your product or service proves its value, word of mouth marketing (even through social media) can greatly help increase your business.

3. Write a regular blog on your business website

Content marketing is the current trend in business marketing. Usually, this starts with posting a regular blog on your business website. By regularly posting content related to your business industry, customers are more likely to frequently visit your website for related information. One good strategy for this is to write articles providing remedies and solutions to people’s problems. This increases viewership, website traffic, and therefore more repeat customers.

4. Provide a free consultation or demo

Customers are generally looking for an expert opinion in order to solve their problem or provide relief with their mundane tasks. One of the best ways to go about this is to provide a free consultation. Potential customers who are impressed by the initial complimentary value you provide will be more likely to believe in the claims of your product and service and there’s a higher chance that they will buy from you.

5. Partner with local business groups

By partnering with other local business (including other woman-owned businesses) you get the opportunity to have a wider customer base and develop strong relationships within the local community as you do this. The partnership should be a win-win situation for both businesses. For instance, you could co-host an event, market on each other’s social media or split advertising costs.

All said and done, marketing is one aspect of a business that needs continuous work. The more people you connect with, whether on a digital platform or in a local gathering, the more publicity your business gets.

Are you a woman-owned business looking for more networking and marketing opportunities?

Buy a ticket to our 15th Annual WBEC-West Procurement Opportunity Conference!

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Top 5 Tips to Create a LinkedIn Profile that Gets Noticed!

Are you a woman business owner looking to expand your business? Well, one important way is to create a dynamic LinkedIn profile as part of your key marketing strategy.

You may be pleasantly surprised how quick online networking can help get you more business.

Here are some of the strategies that will give your business a stellar presence on social media:

  1. Start with your punch line

Readers browsing through a LinkedIn profile are generally skimming for “what’s in it for them.” In order to capture their attention and engage them to read what your business is offering it is a good idea to start with a catchy punch line – make it about your end client and what you can offer them.

  1. Market your brand’s commitment

Corporations, contractors and end users alike are interested in knowing the values your business upholds and organizations that your business supports. Keeping this in mind, when you introduce your brand also talk about the mission and vision of your business.

  1. Showcase Pages

Showcase pages are subpages created to specifically sell your products and services. Use caution not to create a “hard sell” page. Rather make them as a marketing page that lists the benefits and unique highlights of your product and service. To make it more visual and appealing add a product logo and banner for each product description.

  1. Active presence

As with any social media website the more active your presence the more visibility it gets. It is good practice to share not only the reviews and feedback of your product or service  offerings but also relevant content or knowledgeable information related to your services. This prompts the visitor to frequent your site and will also engage the reader to learn more about your product and give you increased conversions.

  1. Boost your connectivity

As your visibility increases it is also important to involve your employees. Firstly, make sure that all your company associates have connected to your LinkedIn company page. Secondly, ensure that the content promoted related to your industry has a call to action that will capture your viewers.

As you put all these tips together remember to also add a “Follow us on LinkedIn button” on your company website. With that, you are well on your way to get a Linked company profile page that gets noticed!

Five Daily Habits of Successful Women in Business

As the old adage goes “humans are creatures of habit,” the same principle also applies in business, and women worldwide have successfully incorporated this to bag huge success in their business endeavors.

Here are 5 habits that successful women in business incorporate almost daily:

  1. Networking

Networking not only helps women entrepreneurs become part of a community but also helps in advancing the business by strategic associations that can greatly benefit in generating new business. Networking gives the necessary boost that helps open doors of opportunity by exposing your business to a wider range of potential customers.

Women business owners know and understand that this habit needs work on a continuous basis in order to maintain relationships and develop new ones. After an initial introduction it is best to e-mail, connect over coffee, via LinkedIn, or attend networking events like WBE2WBE Connections, to keep in touch. Networking is a give and take relationship and needs to be maintained by giving referrals, and regular communication.

  1. Goal setting

As is true for any personal or professional achievement, goal setting is the key for successful women business owners. They maintain their short term as well as long term business goals and work on them on a regular basis. Women business owners ensure that the goals they set are specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time bound. This helps them to take their business to the next level.

  1. Continuous learning

The business world is continuously changing and adapting to the customer’s needs. This makes it inevitable for the women business owner to continuous keep herself updated by taking online courses, brushing up executive skills and obtaining the necessary certifications that are required for the business to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

  1. Time management

One of the top skills of any business owner is how well they manage their time. Women business owners understand this equally well and make sure that they are in total charge of their time.

  1. Creative thinking

The root of great success lies in creative ideas. Women entrepreneurs make time to relax, rejuvenate and work in solitude to generate creative solutions and ideas to enhance their business. They also ensure that they take time to maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit, and meditate, visualize and affirm on their immediate and future decisions and steps to enhance their business.

In order to keep growing, it is important to keep abreast with new technology, latest trends in your business space, and finding creative solutions that will keep women successful in their business endeavors.


With the digital marketing world getting highly competitive there is a vital need to optimize your website in order to keep it visible in search engine searches for your customers.

Here are 3 things that you need to pay attention to for your website to rank higher against your competitors:

  1. Ensure your website is updated

With Google now planning to use the mobile-first algorithm to rank websites it is highly important that your website is mobile friendly.  If mobile users quickly navigate off your website it implies that your website has a higher “bounce rate” and that users are not finding what they are looking for. To ensure that the mobile audience is engaged on your website your site needs to have a higher “site speed”, i.e. it should take less than 3 seconds to load. Avoid large files and flash images on your website. Additionally, it is important that your website is easy to navigate on a mobile device without the user having to click multiple buttons such as ‘see more’ or ‘next’ to get to the required information. Lastly, as obvious as it may seem, make sure your website is free of any loading or 404 errors. Mobile users are fast and savvy and any such errors will be penalized by the search engines.


  1. Post Content Regularly

Google crawlers are hungry for new information; they crawl your website hunting for new material and content. The best way to get higher search engine rankings is by regularly posting fresh content. Start by creating a blog section on your website. In this section, you can start posting weekly blogs about your products and services as it relates to the customer. Also writing informative and knowledgeable content on topics within your related niche or industry encourages readers to visit your website regularly. Both of these factors —fresh content and increased visitors will yield a higher a search engine ranking for your website.


  1. Create Backlinks

Links are of two types, outbound and inbound links. Outbound links are sites that you link to as part of a source or referral for information on your website. Inbound links, on the other hand, are links created when other websites link to your website. Quality and organic inbound links, i.e. links from influencers within your business niche, will greatly boost your search engine rankings. Be prudent in getting backlinks, as low-quality links (such as those bought from link farms), can adversely affect your rankings and your website could even be penalized for such black-hat SEO techniques.

Search engines have come a long way since their inception in the 1990’s and are regularly updating their algorithms to rank websites. Hence it is best to regularly update your website by designing it on a search engine friendly platform, keeping security updates up to date, writing quality content and linking with other key players in your business space.


A certified woman-owned business is not a feat that is achieved overnight! Women-owned businesses undergo a thorough formal documentation and site visit from a third-party certifier (such as WBEC-West) before they are accredited.

The business is highly scrutinized and may take up to 6 months  just to complete the paperwork and receive certification. If that justifies the importance of being a certified woman-owned business, there are more advantages to partner with one. The top reasons are:

  1. Opportunities

This would be the primary and most important reason to partner with a certified woman-owned business.  The federal government sets aside opportunities (contracts) every year for qualifying women owned small businesses.  The number and size of these contracts varies by industry based on how well women are represented.  As you’d expect,  there are more opportunities available in industries  that are underrepresented in women business owners.

  1. Drives Competition

After partnering with a woman-certified business your company has access to other multiple avenues for goods and services. This allows you to compare prices with your existing vendors and service providers and drive them to offer you more competitive prices. This opens up channels to build new supplier alliances.

  1. Taps Women Customers

Apart from women being a growing economic force for the nation and in the world, women themselves have a great buying power. Women customers not only drive sales up by their purchasing power but also market the services and products they like by speaking about it to friends, family and colleagues. This no-cost word of mouth marketing can lead to spiking profits for the partnering company.

  1. Showcases Diversity

Diversity positively impacts the bottom line of any business. Working with woman-owned businesses sends a message to vendors, investors and potential customers that your company supports diversity. This in turn, enhances economic growth in local communities.

  1. Promotes Innovation

Woman-owned businesses, normally being smaller companies, are aware of the tough competition and hence try to bring more innovative and creative solutions to the table. Partnering with a smaller team provides the advantage of getting prompt customer service. They are also able to assist by making quicker course corrections and provide much faster turn-around times than their larger competitors.

As woman-owned businesses grow, it will boost the nation’s economy. Moreover, it will leave a lasting impression on your company profile, by being one which has assisted economic growth by partnering with local, diverse and minority communities.

3 Questions That Keep Women Business Owners Up At Night

What are some of the issues that you are confronted with daily in your business?

There are many dynamics that women business owners need to look into when analyzing their business. Some of these may include time management, work-life balance, marketing strategies, creating a positive impact and more.

Let’s explore the top 3 questions that keep women business owners up at night:

1. Why am I constantly working round the clock?

Do not attempt to be all things to all people.  If you keep working on your weakness, at the end of the day what you will be left with will be a ‘stronger weakness’.  Develop your business model around your weaknesses. If you are creating your small business website, working on client acquisition as well providing service/product, chances are that you are juggling a lot of things at the same time. This is an absolute sure-fire way to burn yourself out even before you get your business running. It is advisable to do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) analysis.  Put your natural talent in the forefront and delegate or automate the other stuff.

2. Do I need to use business systems?

Yes, business systems do sound intimidating to women business owners who are just getting started. But, having automated systems to support your business will free up a lot of time for you to actually do business and not just be a full-time administrator. As you are acquiring business and developing long term customers, you will also be faced with the added responsibility to maintain and educate the customers as well. Business systems technology now allows you to manage customer relationships, automate e-mails and also send weekly newsletters to your customers.  For example, seasonal discounts and marketing flyers could all be incorporated into automated business systems.

3. Am I creating a positive impact to the bottom line?

When women are asked about assets and liabilities they come up with a very detailed list for their business. Often the most important asset that does not make it to the list is ‘YOU’. It is best to invest in educating yourself and keep abreast with everything that is happening in your industry and your supporting business systems. Successful women business owners recognize the need to be guided by a team of good counsel, coaches and consultants. Also, investing in yourself means blocking time on your calendar for self learning, which could be via an online course, an e-book or a mentorship program.

So, to sum it all up, if you do not wish to burn the midnight oil, remember to work on your strengths, develop automated business systems and invest in yourself.

Three Powerful Ways to Deal with Conflict in Your Business

If you’ve been running your business for some time now, there’s one thing that you’ve seen one time or another in your office – conflict.

Conflicts often arise from miscommunication, differing opinions on how something should be done and power struggles.

If not dealt with quickly, hidden conflicts can surface and lead to full on face-to-face confrontations and sabotage relationships and teamwork camaraderie you’ve worked so hard on to foster in your company.

Here are 3 ways to tackle conflict and nip it in the bud before the situation gets out of control:

  1. Keep your composure and don’t take sides

As a leader the last thing you want to do is join the fight or take sides. Act calm and speak in a normal but firm tone. Don’t let your own feelings get in the way. Don’t pass judgment; simply listen and empathize with both parties. Use words such us, “I can understand why you feel that way.”

Placing the blame or accusing someone will only increase the tension and take you further away from resolving the issue at hand. If you are at the receiving end of a confrontation, pause before you speak. This will help dissolve some of the anger and irritation, giving you time to best frame your response.

  1. Listen and be patient

Sometimes all people want is for someone to listen and hear them out. Listen to each side’s story without interrupting. Show that you are genuinely interested by asking questions and clarifying details.

Be patient. At times people are generally a lot calmer (and easier to reason with), once they have vented and had their say. Once you notice the tension easing up a bit you can offer suggestions and feedback to resolve the issue in a civilized manner.

  1. Foster trust and relationship building

Conflict can actually be healthy for your firm, especially when it comes to coming up with new ideas and innovation.

A recent study from Charlan Nemeth at UC Berkeley, and the practices of outstandingly creative firms like Xerox PARC and Pixar, suggest that conflict isn’t something to be reduced. In fact, regular, structured fighting may be one of the single most important ingredients in the ideation process.

The key is to encourage healthy conflict while keeping unhealthy conflict at bay. Encourage team building activities, periodical office parties and occasional lunch meetings to encourage team networking and diffuse the tension.

­By keeping your cool and instilling these steps you can build a culture of cooperation and healthy conflict for continued business success.

How have you dealt with conflict in your business? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to Increase Business Success? Increase the Success of Your People

As the old adage goes, a team is only as strong as the weakest link – if you really want your business to succeed, increase the success of your people.

Some businesses can succeed with a few team members doing just enough to keep things afloat, however if you run a small business you need a strong team of dedicated workers to bring massive change and really push business growth and success.

Let’s take a look at three scenarios below, which are commonplace in the workplace today. Notice how by increasing their own success these employees affected the overall success of the company they worked for.

Scenario #1 – Sandra felt tired, unmotivated and unappreciated. She was unhappy working in a firm that did not value what she brought to the table. In a few weeks she was able to move to a company that valued and respected their employees. This positive work environment encouraged Sandra to do more and give more. She returned home happily from work and was willing to go the extra mile to help her team when needed as she felt like a respected, valued member of the team.

Key Takeaway for employers: Respecting and valuing your people will increase worker motivation and productivity and directly impact your bottom line.

Scenario #2 – Dinesh got hired by a company as soon as he graduated. After the initial excitement wore off Dinesh realized that although he liked what he was doing, he didn’t absolutely love it. His company encouraged open communication and so Dinesh discussed his career goals with his supervising manager. They both agreed to a 6-month plan, after which Dinesh would be able to work in other more advanced areas of his interest and perhaps even get promoted. Dinesh worked hard to make sure his month-to-month goals were met and at the end of 6 months displayed significant growth landing a promotion and team lead position in a project he was passionate about.

Key Takeaway for employers: Identify employee goals and take them seriously. By encouraging and helping your employees get ahead, your company is bound to get ahead as well.

Scenario #3 – Stacy, a senior project manager, brought excellent communication skills to the table but lacked organizational skills. She could push a team to perform when needed, but seemed a bit all over the place when trying to take down client requirements, communicate with team members and follow through on deadlines. Her company invested in a project management software that empowered her to properly plan projects, liaison with those involved and estimate deadlines. This increased both organizational work efficiency and client happiness.

Key Takeaway for employers: Empower your staff with key tools needed to get the job done. This will increase their own individual success, the team’s success and ultimately the success of your company.

Respect, motivation, encouragement and key tools that enable employees to be the best they can be will not only increase the success of your people, but that success multiplied will positively impact your own organizational success.

As a woman business owner, what are you doing to increase the success of your employees? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 4 Things to Consider When Looking for a Potential Business Partner

Want to find the perfect business partner to take your company to the next level? Joint ventures are wonderful when they work, but let’s face it, finding the right business partner is not easy by any means.

When looking for a potential business partner you’ve got to find one that is as motivated as you to get the job done and is willing to do their share of the work to take your company to where you envision it to be. As women business owners, relationship building is one of our key strengths, but when evaluating a potential business partner, you’ve got to keep a few key things in mind.

Here are top 4 things to consider when looking for a potential business partner:

  1. Building Trust

Trust is key in any relationship and the same goes for a business partnership. If you can’t completely trust someone with confidential and critical information about your company then you need to think twice about getting into a business relationship with them. Trust is the first building block for starting a business partnership.

  1. Converting Friendship to Business

A good friendship can often be a great starting point for a successful business relationship. However, you need to evaluate if your friend’s values and goals match your own. Also you need to ensure that the responsibilities you both have agreed to are met and everyone is doing their fair share of work. You also have to agree to disagree and  not let business come in the way of a strong friendship – no matter come what may.

  1. Money Matters

Money is often the main reason for souring a good business relationship. To ensure that your new business partnership venture starts out on the right foot, when it gets down to money, being clear cut and getting everything on paper is key. Key points to discuss include each partner’s contribution, how profits will be distributed and losses will be borne.

  1. Sharing Responsibilities

When one partner ends up doing more than what was agreed to and the other partner seems to slack or not share the load fairly, that is often the root to why a good business partnership eventually falls apart. Again, it is important that all parties involved agree (in writing) to what their responsibilities are going to be, so nothing is taken for granted.

In conclusion, finding a good business partner takes time and is not something you should rush into. The first step is to meet with like-minded business owners who are as passionate and motivated as you are and have varied strengths that compliment your own so they can bring a new perspective to the table.

Getting certified is a great way to network with enthusiastic women business owners just like you. Find out more here.

Top 3 Work-Life Balance Tips for Women in Business

Did you know that work-life balance is now considered to be the second top consideration, after compensation, for procuring and retaining employees?

So it goes without saying that if employees demand work-life balance – as a business owner, maintaining work-life balance is essential to be more effective and feel fulfilled both in your personal and professional life.

In today’s digital world, work does not end at the office. With smart technology you can literally bring the office home and be in constant contact and control. That said, at times you might feel you are working around the clock and that pressure can affect your stress levels, family life and health.

So, as a woman business owner, how do you maintain work-life balance?

  1. Build a strong support structure: Although gender expectations still exist in present society today, dividing duties and gaining support from your partner is key to building your business and taking care of the family. Extended family can also be a tremendous resource when you have conflicting commitments between work and home. Always be appreciative of the help you get and that gift will be there when you need it again.
  1. Plan and prioritize: You would not be late for a meeting with an important client, so don’t be late to pick up your kids from school. Balancing work and life means having to plan and prioritize and giving equal importance to both areas. If you’re a workaholic you’ll need to discipline yourself to perhaps stay unplugged for an hour or two when you get home so you can truly focus on the family, the kids and most importantly, yourself.
  2. Nurture and nourish: Finding work-life balance goes beyond just finding time, it means finding quality time for yourself and indulging in the things you love to do, so when you go back to your business you are ready to tackle the day – no matter what it might bring. Self care is essential in restoring and maintaining your well-being, keeping your energy levels high and leading with clarity and purpose. This means keeping your eating and sleeping habits in check is key. On an emotional level, learn to forgive, forget and let go. Also learning to not take life too seriously can do wonders to reduce stress levels and create a more balanced way of life.

Being a respectable and successful woman business owner and making your mark felt, means believing in yourself and pushing your boundaries. Getting certified can be a great way to climb the ladder of success and still meet both your work and life goals.

3 Ways Women in Business Can Overcome Challenges and Get Ahead

Did you know that more than 9 million firms in the United States are women-owned? In fact women business owners have close to 8 million employees and generate over $1.5 trillion in sales, as per the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Although more and more women are venturing into entrepreneurship the challenges they face are often not the same as their male counterparts entering the business world.

Here are 3 ways women in business can overcome challenges and get ahead:

1.Get over social stigma

When you walk into a crowded networking seminar and you can count the number of women there on your fingertips it can get intimidating. However, you’ve made it this far so being true to who you are and believing in what you have to offer and what you bring to the table can give you the boost of confidence you need to find your voice in situations where you might feel singled out. Also, understanding that if you don’t speak up for your business and make it known, no one else will.

Build a support system.

According to Inc. close to fifty percent of all women entrepreneurs don’t have mentors that can help propel their business growth. When you’re trying to blaze your way in the world of male-dominated businesses, having the advice of a woman mentor who has ‘been there and done that’ can be extremely helpful. But the challenge is in finding a reliable support system. Certifying your business as woman-owned can not only help you get found by procurement officials but also directly enroll you to attend conferences designed to get you networking with other like-minded women owned businesses and find promising mentorship opportunities.

Find work/life balance

Whether you’re a man or a woman, finding work-life balance is no doubt hard, however in the case of women and especially mothers who venture into entrepreneurship most would agree that dealing with the business would get a lot easier if you didn’t have the kids to deal with! The key is to not beat yourself up or sweat the small stuff and come to terms with the fact that you got into this knowing that your responsibilities will be shared between the family and the business.

WBEC-West provides an excellent platform for your business to grow, connect with other businesses in both your local community and nationwide, and be a mentor to other women businesses. Learn more.


Are you a Woman with an Entrepreneurial Spirit? Top 11 Questions to Ask Yourself!

Do you consider yourself to be a successful woman entrepreneur? Today’s women business owners are highly skilled, talented, sharp and technologically savvy.

But more than that, they all share one common denominator – they have an unstoppable entrepreneurial drive and spirit that keeps them going!

There’s no doubt that more women are entering the business world today than ever before – there are those venturing in after years of child-rearing, multi-taskers who are balancing both business and family life and women with a strong entrepreneurial drive ready to take on the world.

It can be said that women are wired for juggling business and family and multi-tasking, but do all women have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

Here are top 10 questions to ask yourself to assess if you make the grade to be a successful entrepreneur:

  1. Have I always wanted to be my own boss?
  2. Do I take direction well from others,­ or have a mind of my own and want to live on my own terms?
  3. Am I ambitious?
  4. Is money a motivating factor for me? Do I want to build wealth?
  5. Can I take calculated risks?
  6. Do I like to be in control?
  7. Can I handle failure? Can I fail and start again?
  8. Am I passionate about what I am doing?
  9. Do I make decisions quickly and can set things in motion?
  10. Do I like to get things done and not procrastinate?
  11. Do I look at the big picture, can plan and start things with the end in mind?

How many did you check off? Even if you picked a few and have the motivation and drive to pursue your dreams, you have an entrepreneurial spirit waiting to emerge.

If you really want to take the step to starting your own business do your research and be prepared. The journey ahead is going to be exciting, but certainly not easy. Talk to women in business. Find a mentor. Join a community.

At WBEC-West we support women business owners to get more business, grow and be successful. Getting certified could be an excellent step to connect with like-minded women,­ discover game-changing mentorship opportunities and join a vibrant WBE community. Learn more.

5 Game Changing Facts You Need to Know About Women in Business Today

Did you know that women entrepreneurs account for owning almost half of all businesses in the USA?

Today more than ever, more and more women are entering the world of business. A recent study showed that one out of every eleven adult women, is a business owner in the USA. It’s not surprising since many women today are simply breaking free from gender-based stereotypes, or are re-entering the workforce or starting their own business after rearing children. Also women are just naturally wired for juggling family and work and multi-tasking.

In fact, according to research reported by the SBA in May 2016, there are more women entering the business world today, than ever before. Here are some game-changing facts worth noting:

  1. “Women are entering  the  ranks  of  business  ownership  at  record  rates.  Women  are launching a net of more than 1,100 new businesses every single day.”
  2. “Women-owned businesses comprise 36% of the country’s businesses. They employ more than 8  million workers,  7  percent of  the  private-sector workforce.  They  generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenues, contributing 4% of business revenue.”
  3. “In 2002, there  were fewer than  1  million  minority  women-owned  firms.  As  of  2012, there  are  nearly  3.8  million  firms  owned  by  women  of  color.  Between  2002  and  2012, the number of non-minority women-owned businesses grew by just 9 percent, while the number of minority women-owned businesses overall grew by 315 percent.”
  4. “Between 2007 and 2012, the number of female veteran-owned businesses increased by 295 percent. Today there  are  more  than  383,000  female  veteran-owned  businesses  in the U.S.”
  5. In fact 2015 proved to be a historic year in terms of Federal contracting because, “for the first time in history, the Federal Government met the 5 percent women-owned small business (WOSB) goal.  In  FY15, 5.05  percent  or  $17.8  billion of  all  federal  small  business eligible contracting dollars were awarded to WOSBs.”

These facts are exciting news for women entering the world of business and women looking to take their business to new heights. At WBEC-West we help women entrepreneurs everyday get the certification they need to procure essential contracts and grow their business.

This one step alone can be the game-changer you need to get your business noticed and be an increasingly successful women business entrepreneur. Learn how we can help.

Five Proven Ways Women Business Owners Can Promote Their Company

Are you a woman business owner looking for new clients? For any business lead generation is key to ensure a constant flow of clients to fuel business growth.

You may have a great brand, wonderful staff and a passion for what you do, but without promotion you can only grow to a certain point if you don’t get in front of those who want to do business with you.

Here are 5 proven ways women business owners can promote their company:

  1. Have a Responsive Website: This one may seem obvious, but there are still those who don’t have a website. With the world going digital having a responsive website (optimized for mobile phones and smart devices) is essential today. Make sure your web address is included on all printed material such as business cards, catalogs, invoices, packaging and more. Also be sure to include it in online publications, newsletters and social media to drive people to visit you online.
  2. Press Releases – It’s important to shout out and perhaps send out a press release when you have something to announce, such as a new and improved web experience, a new product or service your company has introduced, an important member of staff or perhaps a new technology your firm has adopted. Make your announcement to the media, targeted mailing lists of potential clients and be sure to include all of your current customers and clients.
  3. Business Networking & Social Media – Attending networking events and Business Matchmakers are a great way to meet new business owners and potential clients and build connections. But why stop there? Setting up a company page on some popular Social Media outlets can get you seen globally, not just locally. One thing to note however is that when you’re marketing on social media make sure your messages reflect your brand identity which can take years to build, but often just one mistake to destroy.
  4. Multi-channel Business Marketing – Still handing out business cards at conferences and using direct mail to distribute brochures? Just like everything else, business promotion has also evolved. There are many automated marketing solutions in the market that will send out email, SMS, voice messages and even surveys on auto-pilot for you, so you can focus on your business while the software helps you generate new leads.
  5. Getting Certified – Getting certified is a critical step towards business promotion. Organizations like WBEC-West make sure their WBEs get ample exposure by showcasing them in their quarterly newsletters and sending out an email to their large list of WBEs and Corporate Sponsors. This one step alone can get you the potential eyeballs you need to get your business noticed to procure key contracts.

Do you have more marketing tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Do You Run a Woman-Owned Business? Get Your Share of Available Loans Fairly

According to research by the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, female small business owners will create 5 million to 5.5 million new jobs across the United States by 2018. 

In fact, a recent report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship showed that women-owned businesses now account for nearly 30 percent of all businesses in America

Why should everyone care? For starters, the National Women’s Business Council has released some data on how women business owners are contributing to the U.S. economy:

  • Between 1997 and 2014, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 47 percent, the number of women-owned firms increased by 68 percent — a rate 1.5 times the national average.
  • More than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015.

Those are impressive numbers. However, the news for female entrepreneurs is not all good: Only 4 percent of all small business loans go to women-owned businesses, for instance: That’s just $1 of every $23. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans made to female entrepreneurs have a higher number: 17 percent; however, that’s still much lower than the 30 percent of total businesses actually owned by women.

With SBA loans being the gold standard to fund small businesses, this latter statistic is troubling. SBA loans — and other types of small business loans — help strengthen businesses with funds that fuel growth initiatives like increased marketing, equipment purchases, additional employees or refinancing existing high-interest debt.

It’s important for individual businesses and the overall economy that women-owned businesses have the same access to capital as those owned by men.

So, why are women business owners getting less than their fair share? It’s been reported that women have lower credit scores. However, data from Nav, an online business credit manager, disputes this claim, showing that the business credit scores of male- and female-owned businesses are actually quite similar. 

It’s possible, then, that gender bias — as irrational and unjustifiable as it is — could be one issue keeping women from securing affordable funds. If so, the use of technology in the application, underwriting and processing of loans may eliminate some of that bias. Here at SmartBiz Loans, with our online SBA marketplace and technology platform, we are funding approximately 30 percent of all our loans to women-owned businesses. 

Female entrepreneurs can, should and are getting their fair share of our affordable 6.25 percent-to-7.25 percent-interest-rate and 10-year-term SBA loans. So, in the end, such online lending platforms may be the best option for women seeking business funds.

However, a word of caution: It’s easy to be taken in by a lending website’s bells and whistles, or an aggressive marketing campaign such as, “rates as low as” or loan products that do not even indicate their APR. As the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true…”

Here are some essential best practices for women small business owners seeking funding online:

1. Look for long-terms/low rates

Women-owned businesses need to be on the lookout for well-regarded online lenders who offer solid financial options. That means longer-term loan products with low interest rates that equal the smallest monthly payments. Expensive short-term loans can spell disaster for cash flow and even drive an entrepreneur out of business.

Beware of a new comparison tool called the “total cost of capital” of a loan. This tool makes loans with the shortest terms look the best, when in fact they typically have the highest APRs. Instead, SBA loans have long terms and are a great option if you have good credit and sufficient cash flow to support the low monthly payments.

2. Demand transparency.

It’s important that women demand transparency when working with an online lender. That means that the APR of the loan is disclosed up front, along with all fees. In general, it’s a good idea to examine online lenders closely. Look up reviews from reputable publications as well as customer comments, from sites like TrustPilot.

3. Seek outside advice.

Another great strategy is to work with the Small Business Administration directly. The SBA provides lots of resources, including women’s business centers, to guide small business owners through the borrowing process. A good connection to make is one with a SCORE programmentor who has successfully acquired SBA funding.

4. Prepare.

Joyce M. Rosenberg, an Associated Press business writer, explored the issue of women and small business loans in depth. She spoke with a commercial loan officer for a credit union in South Florida who said this about some women loan seekers: “They don’t take the time to prepare paperwork. They don’t have the proper documents, financial statements.” 

If true, this may well be a strike against women working with an online lender as well as as bricks and mortar one. Those who move swiftly from prequalification to funding will have all of their paperwork in order before they start working with a lender. If you’re one of these borrowers, determine what documents you’ll need to have on hand to prepare for the loan process, by searching the FAQ on your online lenders’ sites.

5. Avoid ‘teaser’ rates and demand to know a loan’s APR.

Attractive “teaser rates” are a popular ploy by unscrupulous lenders to hook borrowers in. Though promising a low rate, teaser rates either expire or are misleading, as most small businesses don’t qualify for them.

There is no magic formula for calculating an APR; it’s made up of the interest rate, fees and term of the loan. Your lender should disclose what your APR is. From a comparison standpoint, even expensive cash-advance providers can calculate an estimated APR. This way, small businesses can compare different loan options.

And if you’re a small business owner, don’t let hard-sell marketing fool you into taking two, three or four cash advances either. Your real APR, if you are pulled into renewing your initial cash advance before it is fully paid off, can skyrocket to well over 100 percent. 

6. Look for great customer service.

Have you ever had a customer-service issue that wasn’t addressed properly? To say it’s frustrating is an understatement. So, when shopping for lenders, put “stellar customer service” on your checklist. Having a dedicated professional explain the loan product and help you through the process is crucial. Having dedicated “relationship managers” is a great first step.

Finally, remember that a loan should meet your company’s needs. Look at your cash flow and business plan to determine the loan amount you should ask for to reach your specific goals. Laura Tabsharani, a founder of Epic Global Talent, in California, says, “As long as you do the right thing with finances, your dreams can turn into reality.”

via Is Yours a Woman-Owned Business? Get Your Fair Share of Available Loans.

Getting a loan is just the beginning. Making sure you use your funds wisely is key. Investing in getting certified can be an excellent step to procuring corporate contracts. See why you need to apply here


Top 5 Tips to Help Women Entrepreneurs Get Ahead

Today, more and more women are opting to go into business on their own. To help them boost their chances of success, this article below has a good list of tips that can help women entrepreneurs get ahead.

Ask For Help Where Necessary

When it comes to starting and running a new business, it is important that you realize how important asking for help where necessary is. New entrepreneurs usually encounter numerous hurdles when starting their new business; this is no different for women entrepreneurs. It is therefore recommended that you look to more seasoned entrepreneurs or mentors for help in solving common business problems especially when it comes to startups.

Keep Learning

The regulations, technology and consumer tastes among others form a constantly changing business environment. This means that you have to conduct comprehensive research before starting a new venture to ensure that your business idea is viable. Even after you get the operation under way, it is recommended that you continue conducting research to identify changes as they occur and take advantage where you can.

Track your Money

One of the main reasons why most startups fail within the first five years of establishment is due to cash constraints. A business that is no longer able to meet its cash requirements due to adopting a poor cash management policy cannot be able to survive. As such it is recommended that you carefully track how cash is generated in the business and subsequently used. It is vital that the cash is used in boosting primary business operations at all times.

This is Business

Business is business; simple and clear. Operating a healthy and well performing business requires you to make some hard decisions. At the end of the day, it is important for women entrepreneurs to realize that they have to make a choice in whether they want their business to survive, and with it make the hard choices that come with it.

Make Use of Technology

In business, technology is your friend. We live in an era where there are so many technological advancements around us that can be used to make our lives easier even when it comes to business. Accounting and reporting, marketing as well as monitoring can be done with the use of technological innovations that include mobile device apps, social media and many more. Using these technological advancements not only simplifies these tasks but also helps cut costs.

Identifying what steps can help you get ahead is key. For example, getting certified is a good step towards procuring corporate contacts.

via What women small business owners need to know

Are Some Women Business Owners Receiving Less Than Their Fair Share of City Spending?

Harlem Minority And Women Business Owners Received Less Than Fair Share (Update)


On Sunday, December 8th, 2016, Comptroller Scott Stringer hosted a Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) owned business round table hosted at Cheri Restaurant on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York.

The event was attended by dozens of small business owners from Harlem. The main points of discussion was procurement and city spending with minority and women owned businesses.

Below are some of the alarming statistics for Harlem spending by the city that were reported. When they looked at the Local Law 1 spending City agencies had last year, they found that:

  • Just $32 million – 0.6% of spending – went to African-American Firms;
  • $52 million – 1% of spending – went to Hispanic-Owned Firms;
  • $181 million – 3.6% of spending – went to Women-Owned firms;
  • $195 million – 3.9% of spending – went to Asian Owned Firms;
  • And $4.5 billion – 91% of spending – went to non-MWBE firms.

It seems that Harlem did not get its fair share in FY 2016. Lets look at the numbers, last year, in Harlem Community Board 9:

  • Only $4,300 went to two African-American Owned Firms;
  • $1,500 went to one Hispanic-Owned firm;
  • $600 went to one Woman-Owned firm;
  • Only 4 MWBEs received spending – just 15% of certified firms in CB 9.

And in Harlem Community Board 10:

  • Three African-American owned firms received $9,450;
  • There was no spending with Hispanic-owned firms;
  • $2.9 million went to two Women-Owned Firms.
  • Only 5 MWBEs received spending – less than 9% of the certified firms in CB10.

So, across Harlem, there seems to be inequity in the spending for resident business owners. Why is that the case? Harlem World asked Harlem businesses owner, accountant and HW food writer Lil Nickelson, who said:

When you initially start your business you have to know what steps to take in getting our businesses certified, especially as a minority and/or woman owned business. So that you have your paperwork in order to file for certification.

Certification is KEY to getting procurement contracts. Learn more about how to get WBE certified and get your foot in the door to start applying for corporate contracts.

via Harlem Minority And Women Business Owners Received 9% Of 2016 City Spending – Harlem World Magazine


Top 3 Benefits to Get WBE Certification for your Business with WBEC-West

Thinking of getting your business certified? There are a few third-party certifiers when it comes to getting your WBE certification. But if you reside in any one of the Western States including, Arizona, Colorado, Southern California, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam then WBENC certification through WBEC-West may be right for you.

WBEC-West, a regional partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), implements the certification standards of WBENC all across the western states. WBENC certification is recognized all over America and honored by 10,000+ major corporations.

Here are top 3 benefits of getting your business WBE certified with WBEC-West:

Being a part of the WBEC-West Community

One of the biggest advantages of getting your business certified with WBEC-West is that you automatically become a member of the WBEC-West Community. The community is an indispensable resource empowering you with the ability to communicate with  other certified WBEs to share best practices and to grow WBE to WBE connections and corporate relationships. You also get the opportunity to mentor other WBEs or apply for mentorship through our Ambassador program.

Participating in Business Matchmaking Sessions

WBEC-West hosts corporate workshops around the year! Get the insider information you need to successfully engage corporations and increase your business exposure and opportunities. Participate in informal networking and face-to-face matchmaking sessions with WBEC-West Regional Corporate Members and WBENC Corporate Members in our coveted Annual WBEC-West Procurement Opportunity Conference & Awards Gala.

Procurement Buyers Database Access

As a certified WBE you also get access to a group of supplier diversity and procurement executives at hundreds of major U.S. corporations and federal, state and local government entities that accept WBENC certification. You also get automatic inclusion in WBENCLink, WBENC’s Internet database of certified WBEs, which is accessible by WBENC’s Corporate Members and other certified WBEs across the country.

You can also find out what’s going on with WBEs across the nation by reading our informative blog and get the know-how on how to procure corporate contracts ­and grow your business through our educational webinars.

Now that you know the benefits, click to learn how to qualify for WBEC-West Certification!

Top 3 Tips on How WBEs Can Find Work-Life Balance

If you own and run your own business finding work-life balance can be challenging. Yes sure, a demanding leadership position can be exciting and a great motivator for success, but after a while all those responsibilities at work and in your personal family life can wear you down.

Here are our top 3 tips for finding work-life balance:

Maintain a Schedule

When you have a job, in most cases you follow a set schedule. When you own a business you have some liberty here perhaps, which can either work with you or against you. Especially when you’re trying to grow the business you may find yourself sitting with a cup of coffee at 2am reviewing a proposal or catching up with your company’s social media page. Making a schedule is key to find clarity, achieve better time management, and find time to do the things you really want – like take the kids to the park or have time for a hobby.

Prioritize and Delegate

Are you spending too much time doing things that don’t really help you grow from where you are to where you want to be. As an example, many business owners go from day to day answering emails, tackling customer service to taking care of invoices – this prevents you from working on all the things you need to do to actually grow your business or find time for your personal life – like business networking to find new clients or taking 10 minutes to meditate. Prioritize your tasks – what can you delegate? You might be surprised how relieving it can be to have some things taken off your plate so you can focus on the bigger picture.

Practice Self-Care to Renew and Restore

An important component of work-life balance is to have good health and maintain an optimal sense of well-being. Ask yourself – what are your eating habits like? Do you just grab a quick bite to go or make time for a healthy lunch? Are you sleeping well? How would you describe your energy levels? If you don’t take the time to take care of you, sooner or later it will affect work performance and life at home –  putting everything on the line you worked so hard for. Listen to your intuition and it will nudge you in the direction that’s right for you.

No doubt work-life balance can be hard to achieve, but it’s certainly not impossible.

How do you maintain work-life balance? Do you have a tip that can help other WBEs. Please share in the comments below!

Leading Ladies: Top Women Entrepreneurs of 2016

It’s difficult to narrow down all the leading women entrepreneurs of 2016 to just 15, but this impressive group is worthy of the effort. See all the leading ladies below:

Sarah Kauss, S’Well

A Colorado native and lifelong environmentalist, Kauss founded S’Well to sell a high-end version of an unlikely product: a water bottle, which goes for $45. The company booked $47 million in revenue in 2015.

Lynn Jurich, Sunrun

Jurich is out to bust the myth that solar energy is too expensive, claiming it saves homeowners 20 percent on electricity. This year Sunrun began offering homeowners energy storage facilities to save even more.

Vicki Saunders, SheEO

Saunders’s organization taps independent women investors (at as little as $1,000 a pop) to fund zero-interest loans for women entrepreneurs. SheEO is now doubling its efforts in Canada and rolling out internationally.

Jill Angelo, Genneve

Co-founded by Angelo and her partner, Jacqui Brandwynne, the personal care products maker addresses the “unsexy but real things” that come with aging. Genneve won the Women Founders Network 2016 Annual Fast Pitch Competition.

Meika Hollender, Sustain

Hollander‘s business is built on a simple fact: Women purchase 40 percent of condoms and yet marketing and packaging in the industry has always been largely male-targeted. Plus Sustain Condoms are Fair Trade-certified and nontoxic.

Trish Costello, Portfolia

With her online platform, Costello wants to expand women entrepreneurs’ circles. At this year’s United State of Women Summit at the White House, Costello stated a bold goal: $1 billion in investment in women-run enterprises.

Miki Agrawal, Thinx

With controversial marketing, Agrawal is upending the feminine hygiene market with highly absorbent, antibacterial underwear for women with periods. Ads for Thinx were banned in various U.S. cities in 2016–proving there’s no such thing as bad press.

Christine Hunsicker, Gwynnie Bee

One third of women in the U.S. wear sizes 10 to 32 but, as Hunsicker noticed, there was a gap in the $120 billion women’s apparel market. So she founded a company that rents out everyday, plus-size clothing via a subscription service.

Stephanie Tilenius, Vida Health

Coaches at Vida work one-on-one with people suffering from chronic conditions. This year, the service helped 58 percent of a group of UnitedHealthcare patients with high blood pressure lose weight over a five-month period.

Lisa Skeete Tatum, LandIt

Designed to help women out of a career rut, Landit announced a $2 million seed round in March. It provides job listings and a career playbook because, Tatum says, “the challenges of advancement, the challenges of engagement, are more acute with women.”

Kathryn Finney, Digitalundivided

In addition to serving as an accelerator for black and Latina women founders, Finney’s organization studies “the Real Unicorns of Tech,” or black women founders, who it says have received less than half of 1 percent of venture funding over the past five years.

Natalia Oberti Noguera, Pipeline Angels

Instead of writing a check to charity, Noguera’s organization helps women become angel investors and fund social enterprises run by other women. The number of U.S. cities in which Pipeline offers bootcamps surpassed 30 this year.

Janica Alvarez, Naya Health

The modernized breast pump made by Naya Health is meant to allow women to more comfortably feed their babies breast milk for longer. This year the company raised $3.9 million and received FDA clearance.

Jessica Matthews, Uncharted Play

The small, movement-powered energy systems developed by Uncharted Play are currently in jump ropes and soccer balls; next are strollers and suitcases. That’s why Williams recently closed what she says is the largest Series A round ever raised by a black woman.

Heidi Zak, ThirdLove

Few women would say shopping for a bra is a pleasant experience. That’s why Zak hopes to win customers over with an app that measures women’s bra sizes at home using just a few short questions.

Want to be part of this list? Getting certified can be a great way to procure federal and corporate contracts and take your business to new heights!


Find the Certification That’s Right for Your Business

Which certification is right for me? You might ask yourself this question when looking for a competitive advantage and it can be confusing, so in this post we’ll go over a few basics to help you make an informed decision.

You’ve probably heard of the 8(a) Business Development Program which no doubt is a great program but it’s not for everyone. Acceptance is limited to businesses considered small as per the SBA requirements. Also you have to prove 51% or higher economic AND social disadvantage. If you don’t belong to any socially disadvantaged groups it will be hard to prove you are eligible for certification.

The Women-Owned Small Business Program is available to small business where a woman owns and controls 51% or more of the company. The word control is key here, and there are documents you will need to prove that you “control” a certain percentage of the business.

Third-party certifiers like WBEC-West empower women business owners to get the certifications needed to apply for procurement opportunities in the public and private sector. Major corporations align themselves with many third-party certifying organizations in their endeavor to expand their procurement efforts. If you are a WBE meeting the requirements for certification, getting certified can be a great way of getting your foot in the door for competing and winning federal and corporate contracts and making strong business connections with other certified WBEs.

Similar to the requirements for WBEs, Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Programs also exist. The 51% or better criteria applies here as well and it is imperative that over half the business is owned and controlled by a Veteran or service disabled Veteran. There are many third-party organizations that also certify veterans and if you meet the criteria, this certification might be right for you.

Now, let’s get back to the question – which certification is right for me?

If you are a fairly new company getting WBE or VOSB certified with a third-party certifying agency can be a good step to meet like-minded businesses and build business connections leading to partnerships and joint ventures. It’ll also help you build experience in the commercial sector with large corporations.

Also if you’ve never applied for a Federal contract, you might not need to dive into 8(a) right away until you’ve gained some experience.

If you’ve worked as a Sub for a Prime Contractor or want to partner with a Prime looking for a Minority/Veteran and Women-owned business to partner with getting certified can be a great idea.

See  how we can help you get WBE certified or learn more about the benefits of certification.

Are You the Next Rising Women Business Owner?

Are you thinking of leaving your full-time job to start your own business? Many women today are considering starting a home-based business, and there are many who started out this way and now run full-fledged companies with employees and revenue in the millions. So, yes if you’re willing to take a risk and work hard, it can be done.

How do we know this? Well, many of the women-owned businesses that attend our WBEC-West annual conferences and even serve as mentors for our Ambassador program started out this way and have never looked back.

If you’re not sure how to start out here are a few business ideas to get your creative juices flowing and get you inspired:

  1. AccountantBookkeeping for small businesses can be a great way to start an accounting business. With some experience behind your back you can move on to higher accounting levels and work up balance sheets, income statements, financial reports and more depending on the needs of the client. With the right licensing, tax accounting is also a huge area that offers a lot of potential. As you bag a few good clients and they’re happy with your work you can look forward to repeat business from them and once you get to the point where you feel the workload is overwhelming it’s time to start hiring help and growing your business.
  2. Consultant 

    To be a consultant, you need to be an expert in an area. Perhaps you did marketing for many years for an apparel company or you were a top project manager for an IT firm, or maybe cooking or photography has been a long-time passion of yours and over the years you’ve garnered a lot of good experience. You could use this expertise to either start your own business or consult and help others do similar things without making the same mistakes that you made along the way.

  1. Event Planner 

    The first step to good event planning are good business relationships. You’ll need to visit every potential location and work with the manager or person in-charge to tour the site and learn what’s available and what’s not available at that location. For example, how many people can the site accommodate, does it have AV equipment. catering options etc. By creating a database of key features you’ll be able to pull up a few locations and recommend the right venue to potential clients. You can start with smaller events like parties and as you gain more experience move up to corporate events and even full-fledged conference event planning by when you’ll have an entire team of staff working with you.

 Some more business ideas you can look deeper into:

• Catering
• Printing and Design
• Cleaning Business
• Freelance Content Writing
• Interior Decoration
• Keynote Speaking
• Property Manager
• Web design and development
• Online Marketing business

The possibilities are endless…

Another major advantage to starting your own business is that federal and corporate entities are looking to do business with companies owned by women. By certifying your business you can qualify for procurement opportunities only available to certified Women Business Enterprises or WBEs. Learn more about the many benefits of getting certified today!

woman business owners

Are Women Better Business Owners? Here are 5 Reasons Why…

Do women make better business owners and managers? If you’re a woman thinking about starting a business and are afraid to take the first step, or if you’re a man contemplating about asking a woman to be your business partner here is some food for thought.

Here are 5 reasons why women are successful in business:

  • Research and due diligence: According to the SBA, “U.S. women have far less business failures than men,” and “The longevity of their businesses surpasses that of men’s.”
    One reason for this is that before taking the plunge into anything women are known to do their research, get all the facts together, investigate and not cut corners. This in one sense allows women to make better business decisions leading to higher business success.
  • Questions, questions, questions:  You may not like it but often women are known to ask lots of questions to get to the bottom of things. Questions help to clear doubt, remove confusion, and zero in on what really needs to be done. Clearing things up on the get-go before any business involvement, can go a long way in doing business transactions, which make women excellent business partners.
  • They listen: This might not come as a surprise but women can often be much better listeners. Although women may ask questions first, they are also careful to listen to the answers they get back. This allows a woman to quickly understand the pain points of her customers and empowers her with the information required to provide the products and services that the customer actually needs.
  • Relationships are key: This is by far one of the biggest strengths a woman has – her ability to form and develop relationships. Business relationships and networking with the right people can often form the backbone of a woman-owned businesses. Strong relationships also fuel lasting loyalty which is why women continue to be successful and profitable and are able to main long-lasting relationships with business partners, customers and employees.
  • Empathy: Some may think that being compassionate can be seen as a sign of weakness, but for many women, it’s the reason for being so successful. Having empathy allows women to build deeper relationships with employees, for example, who stay loyal and will go out of the way to help her succeed. Empathizing with customers shows them that she cares about their problems, which helps to not only build client trust but also helps her to possibly find a better solution to their problems.

    Are you a woman business owner? Which points most struck a chord with you? Let us know in the comments below!

Three Challenges Facing Women Entrepreneurs Today

No doubt, women are crucial to economic growth around the world. Unlike men women entrepreneurs see the world through a different lens. For example, in the case of Coco Chanel, she learned to be a seamstress at a very young age or Oprah Winfrey for instance, whose media business aims to help women reach their full potential.

However the numbers speak a little differently. As per the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 126 million women operating new businesses and another 98 million running established ones. Yet, around the world there is a major gap with only  7 countries where women partake in business at rates equal to men.

Here in the United States women own 3 out of 10 firms, yet only employ 6% of the nation’s workforce and account for only 4% of business revenues.

That’s actually not that surprising since it’s no secret that women in business face many obstacles, from finding work-life balance to securing financing to start or grow their company.

There are three priorities that need to be in place to support women entrepreneurs.

1. Access to capital from financial institutions or micro-finance providers, as small loans can make a big difference.

2. Support from experienced mentors and trusted advisors to share industry insight and provide guidance.

For example, at WBEC-West, we’ve seen firsthand that women entrepreneurs  will often network with other women at our quarterly matchmaking events – it doesn’t matter if one woman runs a printing business and the other is a contractor – most of us face similar challenges and we can all learn from one another.

3. Business Education and entrepreneurial learning is critical to give women the confidence to see large-scale ideas through and learn the skills they need to manage their business and in turn pay it forward by becoming mentors for other women.

To assist women business owners procure more business from corporations and Federal agencies, WBEC-West provides certification for women-owned businesses, helping them get ahead of the game. Want to learn more? Click here.

Top 3 Leadership Secrets for Women Business Leaders

If you manage your own business you know what a rewarding experience it is. You’re not only faced with interesting and challenging work on a daily basis but you’re also making a difference and impacting the lives of your staff and the community at large.

To accelerate your success here are three leadership secrets every woman business leader should know:

Secret #1 – Build your network

You might think you’re pretty busy right now with current clients or that since you don’t have a career or job, business networking is not as important anymore. Think again! Networking is key – not only outside your company to bring in more business, but also internally to understand your staff and corporate culture – this is critical to your business survival. Hosting team building or corporate training workshops in-house or attending business matchmakers can be a great way to build both external and internal allies and have a strong network.

Secret #2 — Master your emotions

Learning to master your emotions is a skill and an important one to develop. Being able to communicate well, listen and effectively handle unpleasant situations or conflict is critical at the leadership level you’re at right now. In fact, your ability to lead and influence is more important than your technical know-how at this point.

Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is now increasingly popular is your ability to  manage your emotions and relate effectively with others.  In a study of over 200 companies by Hunter et al, they found that high performers were 127% more productive than average performers.  Research indicated that 1/3rd of the difference in the two was due to technical and cognitive (IQ) ability, while 2/3rds was due to competence in the area of EI.  This shows that EI competency is an important determinant of being a effective leader.

Secret #3 — Select a mentor

In a study conducted by the authors of  Breaking the Glass Ceiling, they found that only 38% of successful men had mentors, but all of the women executives who procured senior ranks in organizations had them. This means mentorship is critical to growth and if you currently don’t have a mentor you should give this area some serious thought.

A mentor can give you advice on the next steps you could take in any given situation, on how to get visibility and recognition, and how to play the game in your business niche. You can make the setup as formal or informal as you’re comfortable with. A mentor can also be an excellent motivator and can un-tap potential talent you didn’t know you had. Find out more about the WBEC-West Ambassador Program and see if it’s right for you.

Top 10 Productivity Tips for Really Busy Business Women

Have you ever felt this way?  To be super excited at the beginning of a project, only to lose steam to another cycle of busyness, stress and overwhelm?

Most women in business experience this, leading to half-done projects and unreached milestones.

The following 10 Steps to Productivity can help you get moving and flowing in the direction of completion – and in doing so, achieve you goals:

Step 1: Connect to your why

“Because I have to” is never a compelling enough reason to stay motivated and on task.  Ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this?”.  Write it down and post it on your office wall or make it your screensaver.  It will give you a deeper sense of commitment, ‘pull’ you through the project and keep you focused – especially when the next shiny object tries to seduce.

Step 2: Small step your way to completion

Breaking projects down into smaller pieces makes it easier to work with and helps build momentum because of your small wins.  This will contribute not only to your productivity but also to your overall happiness with the entire journey – and that’s what life is about.

Step 3: Schedule it

Just like seeing your yoga class scheduled in iCal is a visual reminder of your goal to get fit, blocking time in your calendar to work on this new project will help you instantly re-focus your attention to your new commitment when it wanders off to ‘what shall I do now’ land.

Step 4: Make a progress list

Happiness research shows that more than getting something done, it’s seeing that we are getting things done which contributes to our overall mood.  Write down your steps and checkmark the completed ones as you go along.  Be sure to celebrate and acknowledge yourself too!

Step 5: Create Your Space

Create an environment that you actually WANT to work in.  You can do this by placing fresh flowers on your desk, or having inspirational quotes around you.  Find a way to create a workspace that supports your productivity, creativity, and motivation.

Step 6: Let the music do the work

Speaking of creating your space, listening to your favourite tune before you tackle your list can get your creative juices flowing because it boosts your mood.  Getting into this happy zone will not only feel better, but it will give you a productivity bump. 

Step 7: Use the one in, one out policy

Just like managing your wardrobe, a one in, one out policy for your to-do list is a great way to reduce overwhelm.  If you add one item, take one item off, so that your mental space stays as clutter free as possible.  Hint: Connecting to your ‘why’ from step 1 will help you decide which task can hit the road.

Step 8: Personalize it

Are you someone who loves to work on paper?  Do you like to use colorful sharpies and create mind maps?  Find a way to personalize the process so that it works for you.  If excel spreadsheets put the lid on your creativity, then find another way. 

Step 9: Schedule your breaks

Studies show that taking a lot of mini breaks, even as short as 30 seconds to 5 minutes, reduces mental fatigue and leads to greater productivity.  These micro breaks are most effective when you take them before you actually need it, so do yourself a favor and schedule your breaks! Try this: I’ve started working in 20-minute increments, followed by 10-minute breaks.  It keeps me focused because I know that when that timer goes off, I’ve got full permission to scan the social media scene, call up a friend or take a walk (all guilt-free!).

Step 10: Permission to choose again

Have you ever been halfway through a project when you suddenly realize that it’s not actually going to help you accomplish the outcome you’re after?  Give yourself permission to change your mind halfway through, if it is no longer serving you or supporting your goals.  We are no longer in school, so exercise your right to choose again.  Your goal: guilt-free, flow-filled choices that bring a smile to your face.

Now it’s your turn.

Which step from the list above did you like the most? As a woman business owner what productivity challenges are you facing?

We’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!

via 10 productivity tips for really busy women


Want to be a Successful WBE? Learn How Mentorship can Propel Your Business to New Heights

If you’re a successful business woman you understand the important role a mentor can play in your success. Many people take advice from family and friends and although that is fine, usually what ends up happening is most people will tell you what they think you want to hear, and not what you should hear.

Receiving candid feedback from a third person is key to achieving business success and growth. Getting mentored from someone who’s been where you are now can go a long way in avoiding costly mistakes and making better decisions to achieve your business goals and professional aspirations.

If you’re new to business and lack experience or perhaps you don’t have the knowledge about a certain area of your business like procuring contracts for example, you can leverage the skills and knowledge of a mentor to guide you in the right direction and deter your inexperience from ending up as a liability.

Introducing the WBEC-West CEO Ambassador Program!

The Ambassador Program is a One-2-One, CEO-2-CEO Business Connection program created to empower certified WBEs with one-on-one coaching and mentorship from a seasoned WBE who has been successful in leveraging both their WBENC certification and resources available through WBEC-West and WBENC.

The CEO Ambassador Program is unique to WBEC-West, and Ambassadors are located throughout the WBEC-West territory which spans across Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Guam. If you are a certified WBE in one of the above States you may apply either as an Ambassador or wanting to be assigned an Ambassador.

At WBEC-West our incentive for creating this program is that we believe that our own individual growth is fueled by coming together, collaborating and supporting one another’s growth. Through programs like these, we can build the ideal platform for individual and collective success.

To participate or learn more about the Ambassador Program go to: http://wbec-west.com/ambassador-program/

How Women-Owned Businesses Can Do Business with the US Government

Did you know the US government spends trillions of dollars every year?

They buy everything from multi-million dollar jets to paper clips. So the question to ask yourself is, is the US government buying what I’m selling? The answer is most likely, yes.

If you’re wanting to do business with the Federal government, you may have already gone to websites that display procurement opportunities or taken some procurement courses or attended seminars that teach you how to do business with the government.

What did you find is the common denominator time and time again?

No matter where you go you’ll be told that building a relationship with the procurement opportunity contracting officer is essential. Of course there are other key factors that come into play like your past performance, capability statements and more – but without having any relationship with the contracting officer you may get lucky, but it’s more likely that you’re shooting in the dark and will miss your mark.


So how do you get in contact with contracting officers?

One way is to navigate The Federal Procurement Data System Database which my any means is not a simple system. It will no doubt show you who is buying what you have to sell, but you’ll have to do some digging. There are 60+ Departments in this database and once you drill down the relevant department you can find out the relevant Agency and keep digging until you discover a Contracting Officer and, more importantly, the right Contracting Officer with whom you can start to build a relationship with.


Another way is to attend procurement opportunity business matchmaking events that are attended by Corporate buyers and Procurement Managers. And the usual way to gain entry to these events is to get certified through entities that setup these events to connect Suppliers with Procurement Buyers, like WBEC-West, for instance.


WBENC certification offered specifically to women-owned businesses is one of the most broadly recognized and esteemed certifications in the US. The certification is accepted by hundreds of corporations nationwide including  a large number of federal, state, and local government agencies.


Often there are procurement opportunities reserved for WBEs and getting certified means you get a chance to apply to these contracts not available to you if you were not a WBE. Attending business matchmakers that match Federal Buyers with Suppliers like yourself is a great way to meet the people responsible for making buying decisions, face-to-face in a one-to-one or one-to-many meeting setup, depending on the event.


Getting certified is no doubt one of the best ways to get yourself in front of procurement buyers. To learn more click here.

Top 3 Challenges Faced by Women in Business – And Solutions!

No doubt, both working women and business women battle glass ceilings, unequal pay and stereotypical obstacles in the corporate or business environment. With the growth of the internet, networking and technology, the face of business today has changed and new challenges and solutions have come into play.
Let’s take a look at some of the business challenges facing women today:

Business Challenge 1: Cash Flow Shortage

You might have the best idea out there, but with insufficient funding even the best business plan is doomed to fail. In simple terms cash flow can be defined as income/revenue generated (cash in) and expenses made (cash out).  If this is not in balance a business is bound to fail.  And the harsh reality is that your suppliers, vendors, creditors or staff want to be paid in a timely manner!

Solution: Look closely at your balance sheet and see if you have a lag in the time you need to pay for expenses and get paid from your clients. If you find a gap you can work around this and take the necessary steps to rectify the issue. You can also offer your clients different ways to pay you, including Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or Interac Email Transfers to get funds sooner. Also track all of your expenses – big and small. You might discover that you can save more than you anticipate every month.

Business Challenge 2: Define Your Market

A lot of people jump into a business without doing the market research necessary for success. Finding your niche is critical to business growth and success. The more specific the niche the better. Once you have your niche you can now start to find your ideal clients.

Solution: To find your ideal clients you can do several things. Firstly, start marketing in places where your clients are. So for example, if you offer management coaching, reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce or advertise in online and local business publications. You can also optimize your website with local SEO in your target area so you can be found through specific keywords. Make sure to craft a clear message that speaks directly to your customer.

Business Challenge 3: Network, Network, Network!

Still cold calling potential leads? Today we know that referral marketing and networking, is by far the best way to build trust and a long-term business relationship. It is also the best way to procure new clients and corporate or Federal contracts.

Networking with like-minded women within a community can lead to joint venture partnerships and give you just the break you need to get your foot in the door and take your company to new heights.

Solution: Being part of a vibrant community of business women like WBEC-West is a great way to network, attend business matchmaking events, collaborate, build referrals and find new business.

Top 3 Questions You Need to Answer Before Applying for WBENC Certification

You may have heard of WBEs or WBENC certification, but are not sure what exactly it means to be certified and how certification will help you. This post aims to clear some doubts and will help you determine if you are eligible to apply or qualify to be certified as a WBE.


Q1 – Do I qualify as a WBE?

A1 – A Women’s Business Enterprise, or in short a WBE, is an independent business that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or Legal Resident Aliens; whose business formation and principal place of business are in the U.S. or its territories; and whose management and daily operation is controlled by a woman with industry expertise.  If you said yes to all of the above, you are eligible to apply for certification.  Also note that a WBE is the business, not the individual.


Q2 – What is the purpose of getting WBENC certification?

A2 – WBENC certification offered specifically to women-owned businesses is one of the most broadly recognized and esteemed certifications in the US. The certification is accepted by hundreds of corporations nationwide including  a number of federal, state, and local government agencies.

Often there are procurement opportunities reserved for WBE’s and getting certified means you get a chance to apply to these contracts not available to you if you were not a WBE.

Also by getting certified you can display a badge of certification on your website making it an important marketing tool for expanding your company’s visibility among decision makers in corporate supply chain diversity and procurement organizations.  Getting certified also gives you access to other WBE’s to do business with or partner with for joint ventures.


Q3 – Do I apply to WBEC-West directly and what are the fees?

A3 – If your business is registered in Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming or Guam you can contact us directly to start the certification process. For other States click here to see which territory you fall under and contact that RPO directly.

Fees are determined individually by each RPO so if you fall under the WBEC-West territory please contact us directly for fee details or any other questions you might have about the certification process at: http://wbec-west.com/contact-us/

Flexibility or Higher Pay? See What Women in their 30s Want

Flexibility or higher pay? What would you choose?

“I’m really happy to put career first,” say many women like Betsy Oyler who would like to see women fight for better pay and the jobs they really want.

Business leaders think women change jobs for greater flexibility – but for Betsy Oyler that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“At this point of my life I am happy for career to take the front seat,” she said. “I am not looking to start a family any time soon.”

She changed jobs eight months ago to move ahead in her career, to find bigger challenges and to learn more in her late twenties.

Betsy Oyler changed jobs for a bigger challenge – not greater flexibility.

Researchers have found that while employers believe women around the age of 30 are leaving jobs for flexibility and because of family demands, the women themselves say the main reason is pay.

As a woman business owner, the best (or worst part) of running your own business is most likely the flexibility you get to work on your own terms, be your own boss, work the hours you want to work – meaning you get the flexibility but many emerging WBEs are lead by hardworking women who work well into the night and the weekends trying to manage different aspects of their growing business.

Lauren Noel and Christie Hunter Arscott from the International Consortium for Executive Development Research said they were surprised at the results of their new survey, which challenges assumptions that women want a better work-life balance in preference to higher pay.

The survey of organisational leaders and men and women aged 22 to 35 found that pay, followed by lack of learning and development opportunities and a shortage of meaningful work were the primary reasons women had left jobs.

The research, which features in the Harvard Business Review, found men and women left jobs for similar reasons.

“In fact, women are actually more likely to leave because of compensation [pay] than men,” Ms Hunter Arscott said. “Not only are women’s reasons for leaving misunderstood, differences between women and men are overstated.”

Ms Oyler, who married last November, works for a Sydney advertising agency after leaving a management role at a marketing agency.

“I was looking for a new challenge, a stimulating working environment and exposure to a new set of skills and clients,” she said.

While the pay was slightly higher in her new job, it was not her “number one priority”. But she would not have been happy to settle for a pay cut.

In its survey of 4198 employees and 3793 employers in Australia, the Hudson recruitment company has also found the top three reasons professionals gave for leaving their current job was boredom, followed by lack of career progression, followed by disappointment with salary.

Simon Moylan, head of talent management at Hudson, said only 3 per cent of 706 Generation Y women surveyed said they were changing jobs to work closer to home and 7 per cent were looking for a better work-life balance. But almost a quarter were bored and wanted a new challenge and 21 per cent left jobs because of a lack of career progression. And 15 per cent were disappointed with their salary.

“Generally what we find is women in that demographic are trying to set up their career. Logically you have to get yourself promoted to get to a level where you are senior enough and earning enough before you can get the flexibility you are after.

“It is almost like a race against the biological clock for some to achieve that level of seniority and level of salary.”

Of the 2100 women of all ages surveyed, 4 per cent wanted to work closer to home, 8 per cent wanted a better work life balance and 15 per cent were disappointed with their salary.

Marian Baird, a professor of gender and employment relations at the University of Sydney, said it was not surprising that women ranked pay as important when many were paid less compared to men.

“Why shouldn’t women see pay as important as men do?,” she said.

But pay and flexibility were not mutually exclusive.

“It is possible that many of the women surveyed had not yet faced the real trauma of work, motherhood, inflexible work, no child care and a pay gap in the one hit,” she said.

Barbara Pocock, emeritus professor from the school of business at the University of South Australia, said people often changed jobs for a “basket of reasons”.

“Not a single thing. A mix of pay and conditions like flexibility,” she said.

“Flexibility will trump money by a long shot when you have a young child or a personal health issue or you are caring for a frail parent. But if you are a young engineer setting out at 25 or 30, money may well be the most significant thing.”

Adam Shapley, regional director at Hays Recruitment said the US research was an “oversimplified”.

Hays research from 2013 had found most job seekers were looking at an organisation’s vision, culture and values. Their second priority was work-life balance and salary came fifth.

Professor Lyn Craig, director of the University of NSW social policy research centre said it was not surprising men and women without children in the US would rank pay as their top priority.

American women were also more likely to be working full time because they would not receive health benefits if they worked part time.

Diversity Council chief executive officer Lisa Annese said money was a factor for women because of the gender pay gap.

As a business woman, would you want to sacrifice work-life balance over a challenging contract that promises a hike in your revenue? Let us know in the comments below.

via Women in their 30s want higher pay over flexibility


How Can Women Business Enterprise Certification Benefit Your Business?

Each year state, local and federal agencies award billions of dollars in contracts to private businesses and of those contracts awarded, government agencies set aside a percentage of business opportunities or contacts for certified Women Business Enterprises (WBE). 

These government set-asides are for businesses certified as a WBE and sometimes require additional certification as a small business, as such term is defined under federal or state applicable laws to be a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) and/or industry specific requirements.  

In addition to government work, many large private sector companies seek to have business relationships with women owned businesses.  If a business meets certain requirements, the business could certify as a WBE and reap the benefits of lucrative private sector contract initiatives.  For this reason alone, certification solely as a WBE could greatly benefit your business.

A business can be WBE certified by a state government, the Federal Government, a third party certifier such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, or, on the federal and often private sector level, by self-certification. 

While the WBE certification process may vary slightly depending on the applicable government agency or private company, the requirements are generally similar. 

At least 51% of the business must be owned and controlled by women and the day-to-day operations managed by women.  For certain government contract set-asides, including the Federal Government, an entity must operate in approved industries and not exceed certain size and/or revenue limitations with respect to such industry to qualify as a small business under applicable law.

Certifiers take this process seriously and require, among other things, various organizational, governance and tax documents to vet the applicant.  Certifiers are particularly concerned with the “control” requirement and endeavor to look beyond the applicant’s ownership into the realities of decision-making and management.  

Careful attention is required when there is ownership through other entities or estate planning trusts.  Furthermore, certifiers typically prefer applicants to be in existence and conducting business for at least a year prior to submitting an application for WBE status.  New York, for example, strongly recommends, but does not require, that businesses operate for at least one year prior to applying for WBE certification.  As such, an entity may apply for WBE status prior to operating for one year, but may face issues in collecting the necessary documentation.

While the application process can be scrutinizing in some respects, the benefits of being certified as a WBE can be well worth the process.  As a WBE, businesses are afforded improved access to government and private sector work and set-asides. 

While WBE status does not guarantee more work by virtue of the status itself, WBE status places businesses in favorable positions as they bid for contracts or business relationships with those seeking to work with WBEs.  For a business looking to grow, becoming a WBE could be the key to greater revenues and connecting with new industry contacts.

There are similar certifications available for minority-owned businesses.

via Women Business Enterprise Certification Could Benefit Your Business


Why Women Business Owners Need Mentors Too

After initially reading this post it seems that it only deals with why women need mentors in the workplace, but in all honesty women mentors are important to you as an emerging and leading business woman as well.

There are companies like Accenture who are aiming for 40 per cent of its new hires to be women by next year. They then want to encourage promotion of women by enabling staff to grow with continuous education and training. Establishing leadership growth plans is key to ensuring a pipeline of qualified candidates.

This is true not only in the office environment, as a woman business owner you need to be mentored to encourage growth and empowerment through learning and education, attend workshops and business matchmaking events and meet with a diverse group of people who can facilitate your growth process.

In the workplace, do not just think the job is done once a new hire is recruited; for many firms the critical part is developing female middle management in order to help build a senior management pipeline. It’s also important to be inclusive across the board and encourage men to get involved: most senior executives say they’ve benefited from a diverse group of mentors.

Similarly, even though you may have just got recently certified and your business has seen some growth, do not think this is “good enough” – get your staff involved in how you can grow further and build and develop your team through leadership training.

Getting certified is just the first step. What’s next for you?

This content originally appeared in the South China Morning Post on March 11, 2016. View the original article here

via A push for parity: Put mentoring and promoting women on your agenda – Accenture


Identifying Valuable Events for Women in Business

How to identify worthwhile events for women in business

With so many events for women in business, it’s hard to cut through the clutter and find events that will be worthwhile for your business and valuable in exchange for your time.

These days, most female business events seem to stem around motivation and inspiration.

While these can be great to increase your mood and productivity, sometimes you need more than just the fluffy stuff. You need an event that will provide you with actionable tips and advice that can be implemented into your business.

As a business owner, what can you do to choose an event that will actually provide value for your business?

With the overwhelming influx of female business events at the moment, you should consider the following: What do you want to get out of the event? If you want to learn and be provided with insightful training, find an event that specifies the steps and actions you will be taking to gain knowledge.

Look for events that are interactive and focused on education. Remember, there is a huge difference between value and enjoyment. Keep this in mind when thinking about what you want to get out of an event.

Do you want to network? Think about whether you would like to be networking and building connections with other business owners, or if you would prefer a sit down lecture type of event. Whatever works for you!

Business matchmaking events are a great way to network with likeminded women in business.

Speaker workshops at matchmakers empower women by giving them the knowledge and skills to take what is spoken away with them and implement it into their own businesses.

Speakers share their knowledge and provide attendees with the actions to grow and succeed in their businesses.

So if you’re a female entrepreneur or businesswoman looking to make a real impact in your business, get certified and register for a business matchmaker – it just might be the perfect event for you!

via How to identify ultimate events for women in business   – The Business Woman Media


Benefits of WBE Certification for Business Growth

Although women-owned businesses are growing in numbers nationwide, they still lag behind their male-owned counterparts in terms of revenue and business growth.

In a recent article in The Business Journal it stated that:

According to a report released last year by the National Women’s Business Council, the number of women-owned firms jumped 26 percent between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 numbers are the most recent available and showed more than 9.8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. that year.

The overwhelming majority of the studied firms — 89.5 percent — employed no individuals other than the female owner, however, and reported total receipts of just over $182.2 billion.

There are several organizations established to specifically address the trend of slow growth and help WBEs grow their business footprint. Two Federal entities include the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certifications.

The programs require businesses to demonstrate a minimum of 51 percent ownership by one or more woman and that she be actively involved in the company’s management.

Especially when it comes to EDWOSB the criteria is as follows:

To qualify for the EDWOSB certification, businesses must demonstrate that the owner’s net worth is less than $750,000, her adjusted gross yearly income average from the three years prior to applying did not exceed $350,000 and the fair market value of all her assets does not exceed $6 million.

Stating the importance of WBEs getting certified, Dawn Golik, deputy director and public affairs officer with the SBA’s Fresno District Office stated that, ““It gives them a competitive edge and opens the door to new contracts that might otherwise have been out of reach.”

Benefits of WBENC Certification through WBEC-WEST

Once you are certified through WBEC-West you become a member of the WBEC-West Community, which allows you the ability to communicate with  other certified WBE to share best practices and to grow WBE to WBE connections and corporate relationships.

You will also be able to attend WBEC-West hosted corporate workshops including the coveted Platinum, Supplier Program, watch  videos, broadcasts and podcast that provide insider information on how to  successfully engage corporations and increase your exposure and opportunities.