This is one of the most important times for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs). As women are now one of the fastest-growing and most prolific economic forces in the nation, more women-owned small businesses need to look towards the federal government as a viable customer.
The government did its part by implementing the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Set-Aside Program in 2011. More recently, it removed the $4 million and $6.5 million caps on federal contract awards that had hampered the program’s impact.
The removal of the $4 million and $6.5 million caps on WOSB set-asides is good news not just for WOSBs, but also for government agencies aiming to boost their WOSB procurement. The caps made it tough for agencies to find contracts small enough to comply. Now, agencies have a better shot at reaching and exceeding the government-wide goal of awarding five percent of federal contracts to WOSBs.
Now, women entrepreneurs need to do everything possible to seize this opportunity, especially by teaming with other WOSBs to go after larger government contracts. What’s encouraging is that participation by women business owners in federal contracting can be a lucrative revenue booster and can help women entrepreneurs become a high-growth business owner. According to a recent, American Express OPEN government contracting survey, 42 percent of WOSB contractors generate revenues in excess of $1 million, far exceeding the 5 percent of all small businesses and 1.8% of women-owned firms that have achieved that level of success!
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The improvements to the WOSB program open up opportunities, making it an ideal time for women to consider the federal government as a prospective customer. Here are some tips for women entrepreneurs to get started:
- Register your business with SAM, the federal government’s central contractor registration website. This helps your business get noticed by government agencies. Registration is free, but requires specific company data such as a DUNS number or NAICS code.
- Get your business certified by visiting www.sba.gov to determine if your firm qualifies for the WOSB certification (as well as others).
- Learn which government agencies buy your type of products and services before responding to any solicitation. Successful government contractors visit USAspending.gov, where they can find out who the federal government buys from and for how much.
- Use all available resources to find information that will save you time and money. For example, you can find how-to articles, guides, videos and tips on how to do business with the government on the American Express OPEN Forum. You’ll find free monthly webinars at Give Me 5, a website for women-owned businesses seeking federal contracts created by Women Impacting Public Policy and American Express OPEN.