Top Ten Resolutions for Minority/Women Business Owners

Janet Christy

As 2009 begins Minority and Women Business Owners are making plans to keep their businesses alive, and hopefully even grow them, during a precarious economic time.

  1. Watch government announcements very closely. The government announcements about stimulus packages, incentives and other money related actions can provide information about where they will spend their money and may include clues about if and how Minority and Woman Owned (M/WBE) Businesses can be involved.
  2. Determine if Subcontracting is a good option for my business. Many M/WBEs are missing revenue because they do not pursue opportunities to be a sub-contractor. Very often government and large business contracts require that the Prime Contractor use M/WBEs as subcontractors. The Prime Contractors have trouble finding qualified M/WBE subcontractors.
  3. Look for outsourcing opportunities. As businesses and government agencies reduce staff and struggle to maintain services and functions they may outsource functions. You could be their outsource. For additional information on outsourcing, read my article here.
  4. Stop looking for grants and no-strings attached money. According to the SBA (Small Business Administration) and many other small business organizations, grants are typically used to fund centers or projects for the development of M/WBEs and not for supporting businesses just because they are owned by a minority or female. There are loans, but not grants. Time spent looking for grants would be better spent identifying and qualifying prospects.
  5. Take the time to actually identify and qualify your prospects. In tough economic and slow revenue times it is scary to spend time and money on marketing. But the best antidote for fear and depression is action. Use this time to identify potential customers/clients and conduct research to actually make sure they qualify as prospects for your business. If you do this, you will not only feel more in control of your business future, you will have a bonafide list of people to market to.
  6. Do the Certification paperwork! Because the opportunities for M/WBEs is increasing there are more and more "pretenders" trying to take advantage of the situation. Because of this most Government Agencies, Education Institutions and Prime Contractors are requiring that M/WBEs be certified to qualify for opportunities. There is not usually a reason to be certified if your customers/clients are individuals. However, if you are trying to sell to government, schools or corporations, then a certification has become more of a necessity than a differentiator.
  7. Consider new direction of packaging of your business. The economic sands are shifting and that may mean you need to shift your direction of the way you package/market your business. I was told in a personalities class I once attended that everyone has an alternate personality - the one that shows itself when you are under stress or backed in a corner. Many businesses and government agencies have been backed into a corner, or at least stressed, by the economic situation. That means they are operating in their alternate personality. You must, therefore, meet their altered or new needs. Always remember that you are not selling your products or services, you are meeting the needs or solving the problems of your clients/customer.
  8. Make your networking pay off. If your networking activities have not paid off or you have limited amount of time for networking, then be sure you network with identified, qualified prospects. Attend the luncheons, meetings, and conferences that your prospects attend. Do not restrict your networking to groups of other businesswomen or your profession. Participating in the organizations and meetings that your prospects participate in provides the best (maybe only) access to the people who actually use your products/services. Also, take advantage of the Groups on the social networking sites, this is the next best thing to being in a meeting with your prospects.
  9. Find partners. Government agencies, education institutions and commerical businesses do not always separate projects or purchases into small enough parts for most M/WBEs to participate. This is done to save money. The economic situation will likely increase this trend. Partnering can provide a solution for this obstacle and will likely save you money and time.
  10. Take advantage of the trend, wisely. The focus on the use of M/WBEs continues to grow, but its notoriety causes businesses that are not truly Minority or Woman Owned to pretend that they are. It also brings out people who want to separate you from your money by offering "fail-proof" means of getting governement and corporate contracts. Use your advantage, but be careful of those who promise you grants, qualified bid opportunities and magic formulas. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Janet Christy is found and President of Leverage & Development, LLC and author of Capitalizing on Being Woman Owned: Expert Advice for Women Who Have or Are Starting Their Own Business.
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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