When looking at the number of new businesses starting out in the United States today, it’s heartening to realize that women-owned businesses account for an ever-increasing amount of the total. With women-owned businesses on the rise across the country, it’s fair to say that they are becoming an economic force to be reckoned with; in fact, the rate at which WOBs are emerging is surpassing that of businesses owned by men. According to womenable.com, there are currently around 9.4 million enterprises owned by women in the U.S., representing 30 percent of all businesses in the United States. Importantly, these businesses employ nearly 7.9 million workers!
Analysis of data about WOBs also shows that the revenue generated by women-owned businesses has grown by 79% since 1997 to reach an estimated total of$1.5 trillion. Despite the fact that the number of new WOBs is increasing and the revenue that women-owned businesses generate is substantial, the rate of growth of these businesses generally is lower than those of businesses owned by men. In the world of government contracting, however, a business’ rate of growth has no bearing on the ability of the business to obtain contracts, so long as the company can provide the goods or services sought by the buying agency.
The Advantages of Being a Woman-Owned Small Business
Women-owned businesses have a few advantages over their competitors: not only do they benefit from automatic eligibility for contracts set aside specifically for WOBs, but are also eligible for small business set-aside contracts as well.
For example, for every government contract that is published for open bidding, 5 percent of the total contract dollars must go to a WOB. This means that if your business can provide the goods or services an agency is soliciting for and can complete the contract by the required date, you will automatically be one of the first vendors looked at by the buying agency. It’s worth noting that working with the government can be very lucrative for a small business; winning a contract can realistically bring in a million dollars in revenue, if not more, depending on the nature of the contract. According to the Small Business Administration, in Washington State alone, women-owned business earned $250 million from government purchases of goods and services in fiscal 2014. By bidding on government contracts as a WOB, not only are you helping your business grow, but you’re making a major contribution to the economy through your work.
A Million Reasons to Bid on Government Contracts
Going through the government bidding process can be daunting, and it‘s not always easy work. But for those who are willing to take the leap, however, the results can be rewarding. Forbes.com notes that women-owned businesses that have bid on and won federal contracts are 23 times more likely to reach $1 million in annual revenue compared with WOBs who don’t bid on federal contracts. Federal, state and local agencies all recognize the importance of working with women-owned businesses and as a result, more and more training programs are being created to help WOBs understand the procurement process and ensure that they have the ability to win contracts.
There are of course certain requirements that a business must meet in order to be considered as women-owned. They are as follows:
- At least 51% of the business must be owned and operated by a woman
- The business must also be primarily managed by one or more women
- The owner must be a U.S. citizen
- The business must be considered small in its primary industry, according to SBA’s size standards
Keep in Mind…
Government bidding is hard work. Be sure that you can meet all of a job’s contractual obligations before submitting a bid, and plan ahead and make sure that you are officially eligible for WOB status. It’s a good idea to take the time to connect with other women-owned businesses that have experience with government bidding, as they can be great mentors for you and your business by providing valuable insights into the procurement process and sharing lessons on how to increase your odds of winning a bid. Most of all don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from taking the plunge into government bidding: any new project or investment by a business in any industry involves risk, but they are often the decisions that turn out to be the most rewarding.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com