Gain A Competitive Advantage: Three Strategies For Women Who Own Small Businesses

This has been a challenging year for small businesses, but there are always opportunities to network, learn, and reach new customers. Here are three ways to connect to communities that are ready help!

Get Certified As a Minority-Owned and/or Woman-Owned Business

Certification as a Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) is a tool that can help increase your competitiveness for contracts. The state of Kentucky offers a free certification program that is open to businesses that have been registered for at least one full year. Details of the benefits are available on the program’s website.

Why get certified? The cities of Lexington and Louisville have set up supplier diversity programs with the goal of working with more women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Most universities also have supplier diversity goals. The state of Kentucky has diversity goals for state procurement specifically for Finance and Administration Cabinet construction projects. In addition, getting certified can be a step toward competing for contracts with out-of-state supplier diversity programs. The program also offers marketing in the form of a database that helps potential customers connect with certified suppliers.

Program staff are available to help you with the process of applying. For questions about eligibility and document requirements, contact Paula M. Weglarz (, on staff with the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Office of EEO/Contract Compliance.

Third-party certifications like the one offered by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) are more expensive, but may help you connect with a different client market.

Get a Fresh Perspective – Work With A Career Coach

If your current approach isn’t getting the results you want, gain a fresh perspective. A great coach can help you identify limiting beliefs and habits. More importantly, they can help you create systems to help you consistently take action toward your goals. Look for someone who offers a structure that will work for you and who is able to articulate what their clients get from their coaching.

Evaluate a coach as you would any potential business partner:

  • Ask for personal recommendations from your network
  • Follow coaches on social media to evaluate whether you align with their values
  • Read their client testimonials
  • Be a little nosy – ask if they have worked with people in your specific situation before

You might have to pivot this year, but you don’t have to figure it out alone.

Get Connected With Professional Organizations

A lot of women feel that forming supportive social networks is one of their strengths. This is a business advantage as well!

Connect with other people who own businesses. Explore the list of women-owned businesses in WLK’s Business Directory, join professional associations, or connect to local professionals through your Chamber of Commerce. Active organizations can offer structured networking opportunities, leadership training, and opportunities for recognition like annual awards.

Other business owners working in your industry or region will understand your daily challenges and know your market. Even a quick get-to-know-you chat with them can be helpful if you ask thoughtful questions.


About the Author: Adrielle Stapleton is the Office Coordinator at Women Leading Kentucky. 






Feature photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash