A Great Time To Be a Woman Business Owner

I have been a business owner since 2001. If you are woman business owner, this is your year, this is your time to get serious about local, state and federal prime and sub-contracting opportunities. If you live near a major urban area, first look into certification within the nearest city.

For example, I live just north of Houston, so because I live in an adjoining county, Montgomery, my business is eligible to apply for certification with the City of Houston. The application did take time, but it was worth it. My company is certified Woman-owned and Disadvantage Business Enterprise. The certification acronym is W/DBE. The City offers certification for women and minority business owners.

The City has agreements with several other municipal-based organizations, so in addition to being able to bid on set-aside contracts at the City, I can also bid on Port Authority of Houston, and METRO. The City has agreements with the Texas Unified Certification Program, so my company is also recognized with the state level - Texas Department of Transportation.

Note: Another perk for women business owners who are TXDOT DBE certified in highway construction codes can qualify for up to $10K in training through the TXDOT Technical Assistance Program (TXDOT TAP). I challenge you to find the local contracting agency and start your application asap.

At the state level, Texas offers a program called Texas HUB - Historically Underutilized Businesses. This is currently available to women and minority business owners, but in 2011 they are considering opening it up to Service Disabled Veterans as well. Check out if your state offers a special certification for women business owners.

And now at the federal level, there are two SBA programs to consider applying to: Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the SBA 8(a) program. If your business is currently certified as a SBA 8(a) business, you will be eligible for the new WOSB certification as well. Check out both of these programs at the SBA government website. Expect to wait about 90 days (at the least) to hear back from the SBA on 8(a) certification, there is a back log ever since all of the new federal programs opened up with the new administration.

As a SBA certified business, you are eligible to bid on big dollar contracts. However you will most likely find a niche to work as a subcontractor to a prime, because you need to build a track record of federal work. And of course, the primes are looking for good subcontractors because they get incentives from the government to include small business participation.
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