If you’re a minority business owner but aren’t certified as such, you may be missing out on opportunities to contract with governments and leading corporate buyers who are seeking business relationships with diverse suppliers. This blog post is meant to help you explore the benefits of minority business certification and provide concrete tips on how you can leverage the certification to grow your business.
What is minority business certification?
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification is a denotation awarded to businesses that are majority-owned, capitalized, operated, and controlled by minorities or other economically disadvantaged segments within the American population. There are certifications that apply to Asian, Hispanic, LGBT, American Indian, Black, disabled, and Veteran owned businesses, among others.
Minority owned business certification, often referred to as Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification, is generally restricted to businesses who are at least 51% controlled by a minority owner. Minority business owners, for the purposes of certification, include African-Americans, Latino, Pacific Islander, Asian, and Native American owners.
There are other criteria, as well, including being a for-profit company based in the United States. Certification is generally done at the local or regional/state level. To learn more about the certification process and criteria, check out our DBE certification resource page.
But why does minority owned business certification exist and how does getting certified help my business?
At this point, many business owners find themselves wondering why becoming certified as a minority owned business is important and why the certification even exists. Can’t people tell you’re a minority business owner without a certification? And does the free market really care what certifications you have?
The rise of minority business certification programs comes from the resounding business benefits that arise from pursuing a supplier diversity strategy. In other words, companies that embrace diversity are more profitable than companies that don’t. But the benefits extend beyond profits. When governments and businesses are fostering more diverse, inclusive supply chains, everyone wins. As a result, there are numerous supplier diversity initiatives found throughout government and private business. These programs are formal, intentional efforts to contract with disadvantaged business owners.
And that’s why minority business certification is important. It authenticates that the business is owned, managed, and controlled by a minority and opens the door to participating in government and corporate supplier diversity initiatives, where new relationships and bid opportunities await.
How do I put my minority business certification to work and grow my business?
Minority business owners who complete the certification process may be disappointed to learn that it is not a one-way ticket to success. It doesn’t result in a flood of contracts landing on your front door. Certification is just the starting point; an invitation to participate and compete in a diverse marketplace.
Yes, all the fundamentals of business and the free market still apply. But as an entrepreneur, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The good news is that there are specific steps you should take to maximize the utility of your certification.
Here are some ways to get started:
Promote Your Business Certification
It may seem obvious, but you need to let people know that you’re certified as a minority owned business. Publish it on your website, put out a press release, and most importantly, seek out vendor registration and diverse supplier database opportunities where you can publish your business profile and put your certification on display. Signing up with ConnXus is a great way to get started.
Find and Respond to Relevant Bid Opportunities
Governments and corporate buyers have an ever increasing demand for diverse suppliers. Many supplier diversity programs require it. As a result, at any given time, there may be countless companies looking to contract with a certified business in your industry. The trick is to find those opportunities and deliver a winning bid. You can sign up for minority business newsletters and regional mailing lists to be alerted to new opportunities, or invest in your success by signing up for a supplier development program like ConnXus Platinum, which includes contract readiness business coaching and accelerated portal registration.
Leverage Networking Opportunities
What’s the best way to benefit from your minority business certification? Fully embracing diversity & inclusion and the newfound network of business owners, corporations, and organizations that want to see you succeed. A quick Google search for minority owned business groups and networking opportunities yields dozens of results. Sign up and get out there.
How to Get Started
Whether you’re new to the process and need to research MBE certification from scratch, or you’re already certified and are looking for ways to meet more buyers, ConnXus is here to help. As a leader in the supplier management space and developer of industry leading supplier diversity software, ConnXus helps connect buyers and suppliers in order to foster sustainable, responsible supply chains. Register your business profile today, at no charge, to begin promoting your business and exploring bid opportunities.