Why Certify Pt. 1

What Certification IS and What it IS NOT

In my previous post, I introduced the “Why Certify” series and outlined key topics that will be discussed in depth. Part One of this series will discuss some common misconceptions surrounding certification (what it isn’t), as well as how you, as a small business owner, can expect to benefit from it (what it is).

What Certification IS NOT

Before we begin exploring what certification IS, it’s important to explain what certification IS NOT.

❌Certification IS NOT a guarantee of contracts

Certification, at all levels, is not a passive tool. If you choose to certify your business, you must understand that it will NOT guarantee contracts from private or government vendors. Before you explore certification, ask yourself the following questions: 1) What are my expectations surrounding certification? 2) Are these expectations realistic? And 3) Do they fit in with my long-term business strategy?

❌Certification IS NOT a requirement for success.

Some readers may be surprised to learn that certification is not a requirement for your business to succeed. In fact, many small and diverse firms successfully grow and scale without ever becoming certified at all. Your best strategy with certification is one that allows you to serve your customers most effectively.

❌Certification IS NOT the same for every business.

“How should I certify my small business?” “What certifications are even out there?” “Where do I go to get my certification?” Our team frequently fields these questions and more from small business owners. As with many things, the answer largely depends on you. Does your business do work with government entities, or do you mostly contract in the private sector? Perhaps you’re a woman or minority-owned firm, a veteran-owned firm, or some combination of all three. You should consider all these factors as you develop your certification strategy.

What Certification IS

Now that we have a better understanding of what certification IS NOT, we can discuss the ways in which certification IS both a useful and effective tool for growing and scaling your small business.

✔️Certification IS a useful tool if leveraged correctly.

While certification is not a guarantee of contracts and awards, it can still be leveraged to gain your small business access to opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. Whether you’re working with the Department of Transportation or Fortune 500 companies, the appropriate certification can put you ahead of your competition.

✔️Certification IS largely dependent on your customers.

Small business owners would do well to consider their customer base as they look to become certified. If you want to do business with the Georgia Department of Transportation, look at becoming DBE certified. Likewise, if you want to grow your business regionally, look at becoming certified with a national council such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), or the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

✔️Certification IS worth exploring to grow considerably over the long term.

While certification is largely customer-dependent, it is worth consideration if you are looking to take on more substantial contracts from large public or private purchasers. If you are procurement-ready and seeking to graduate from $500,000 jobs to multimillion dollar contracts, then certification can give you an advantage when preparing to bid with large corporate suppliers, such as Fortune 1000 firms, or with federal agencies.

In summary: certification is not a requirement for you, as a small business owner, to succeed. However, it IS a tool, and like any tool, how you use it determines what you get from it.