Business owners are constantly looking for ways to make their business stand out. Unless your business is in its twilight and beginning to wind down, you probably are looking to expand, and the only way to do this is to acquire new clients and continue to develop the relationship with existing clients. This can be done through marketing and advertising, expanding product and service offerings, lowering prices, or adding a designation, such as Minority Owned Business.
And while everyone is trying to win business through the first three channels, the fourth is unique in that it is not available to everyone. To qualify as a minority-owned business, the majority ownership (51% or more), must be owned by a qualified minority. This can be African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans, Veterans, or Women. Additionally, Firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, or Community Development Corporations can also qualify as Minority Owned.
As a minority owned business, you gain access to networking and distribution channels through the certifying organization as well as government contracts which are reserved for minority-owned businesses through the state and local level, as well as through the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program. So if you can qualify as a minority-owned business, there is simply no reason not to apply for the status, as it will give you the opportunity to build your business in a unique way.
To actually qualify, you need to prove your ownership status, then find a certifying organization which is appropriate for your business and minority status. For instance, the NWBOC and WBENC are the two leading organization which certify women-owned business status and each offer different benefits to member organizations. So what you are looking to get out of your certification, whether networking for clients or looking for a partner in finding government contracts, you need to be sure the certifying organization you find will be best positioned to assist.
Once you have found an organization which you would like to certify you, then you apply for minority-owned business status with them and follow their procedures. This generally involves filling out an application, an onsite inspection, and a review from a board. After the process is complete, you will either be approved or declined. If approved, you are granted access to all of the tools and resources of the organization, and you can watch your sales soar. If denied, the certifying body will generally give you a detailed reason why so that you can correct and reapply.
Minority-owned status for business owners adds countless benefits in just about any industry. It can be an easy way to jumpstart a new business or to help bring an established business to the next level. Though what you do with your certification is up to you, it can be the easiest and least expensive marketing tool you will ever find.