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What Your Certification Can’t Offer You

December 4, 2020

In these challenging times, small businesses are being hit the hardest and those owned by certain demographics are being hit even harder than that. A recent study shows that 85% of women and minority-owned businesses believe they won’t survive the next few months. Every year, a disproportionate number of such businesses in America fail. So, as times grow more challenging for all, times become more challenging than ever for them.

Unbeknownst to many, the U.S. government and corporations offer a range of opportunities to small and minority owned businesses, but for these programs to translate into revenue, many need to transform their organization or at least their approach. While certifications open doors, it takes strategy to walk through them. The never-ending processes may seem longer and harder than ever, but if you can master your communications, you can obtain contracts, and the destination is well worth the journey.

Research drives results.

Start with the end in mind. Know your target audience and what they’re buying or whom they are looking to partner with. Learn the specific requirements, in order to meet your potential client or partner where they are. Explore the website of the agency you wish to work with. As you study what you need, look inward. Find out where your business might need improvement, and where your strengths are. Determine the verbiage that will get your organization the business it needs. While purposeful marketing is universally effective, different agencies require different treatment. When it comes to the specifics of your language, one size does not fit all. Make sure your plan is viable. It takes research-driven strategy and discovery to master your communications.

Expertise fuels experience.

Build the experience that government agencies require or team up with another who has it. Government agencies seek out MWBE’s with industry expertise and a proven track record of success. Seek out the clients and assignments that will build your portfolio. Learn how to showcase your accomplishments. Show that despite your size, you have the teams and tools to achieve your goals. To quickly gain the proper experience, opt to join forces with an organization that has the required credibility, and learn from them, as you work with them. Joint ventures can fuel long term success, especially early on.

Transparency unlocks opportunity.

Be open and honest with the corporation or government agency that you wish to work with. Not only do people  value transparency, but the process demands it. The more forthright you are, the better chance your organization has of being hired. So, answer every question and divulge as much information as you can to prove your worth. Declare your capabilities to the fullest extent and describe your limitations up front.When it comes to government agencies, your level of transparency can make a world of difference.

Clarity propels collaboration.

If your words match your experiences and agencies align with those words, they will be more inclined to work with you. Clearly articulate your mission, vision, and values, unlock their potential, and infuse them into every facet of your organization. An authentic brand foundation is not just a requirement of sustainable growth; it’s also a requirement of corporation collaborations and government contracts. Clearly communicate who you are to engage with others who align with you. While your brand’s purpose does not have to be altruistic, altruism is to your advantage. Government agencies have a tendency to work with small businesses that give back. Focus on your brand and alignment for optimal results.


According to a recent report, New York City had $6.3 billion in total MWBE-eligible spending, but the agencies only spent $911.9 million with MWBE’s in 2019. Amazingly, this is actually an improvement from previous years, but there is still much room for growth.  The challenges don’t end there and they extend well beyond New York. So, if you want to succeed, be sure to check all your boxes. Know what’s needed. Offer experience and expertise. Uncover who you are and how you align. Be strategic and authentic to be eligible. If you can accomplish all that, you can access a grant, partner with a large corporation, or connect with a government agency to unlock new opportunities, capabilities, and capital.

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