Is Your Business Ready For Certification?
By Vanessa Pennoyer, President, Go 2 Girl LLC
There has never been a time when corporations had a greater interest in outsourcing important projects to
minority-owned small businesses. However, one hurdle in the way of many of these businesses is the matter of
receiving the certification necessary to get on the radar and capture the attention of the big corporations.
“Federal government, state, local and national classification is what tells companies that you are owned,
operated, and controlled by a minority group (women, minority, veteran and LGBTQ businesses). That’s what
gets you a seat at the table,” says Vanessa. “Without certification, you won’t hear about important bids and
solicitations. It’s a complicated process, but completely necessary for advancement.” It isn’t instant
gratification but a tool and resource to add value to your business and the clients and industries that need to
meet the compliance of their supplier diversity goals.
For any business, I share these tips to consider:
1. Certification is a tool for B2B growth. If your business primarily serves consumers B2C, it may not make
sense to pursue. EVERY industry has opportunities. Some are more immediate and relevant than others,
so don’t be discouraged with the waiting game.
2. Collect documents. I am always amazed at how difficult it is to find your birth certificate. Develop a
good online filing system for your important business documents regardless of certification.
3. Know your industry codes, it’s FREE! Use the NAICS.com website to enter keywords to identify the codes
for ALL your services. Select a primary code that generates the most revenue, etc.
5. Build your village! I have been extremely blessed to join various networking/chamber/BNI etc. groups
with numerous resources that have become close friends and amazing referral relationships. It is all a
“pay-to-play” marketing expense to get your name out there and ask for business!
6. It takes money to make money. Pay an attorney to review or develop a strong contract. Never begin a
project on a verbal commitment, always have everything in writing. Pay an accountant to setup your
chart of accounts and oversee financial software such as QuickBooks. Pay contractors or outsource
anything that you dislike doing or takes up too much time from you growing your business. Always
check references before hiring or outsourcing anything! I learned the hard way because I did not really
have the funds early in the business and then overpaid to correct things.
7. Noise! Everyone has an opinion and believes they are being helpful. Trust your gut instinct. When in
doubt, throw it out!
8. Hang in there! Easier said than done when most entrepreneurs literally do everything and work
nonstop. It can be lonely. If it were easy, sure, everyone would do it, right. It is hard work to grow and
build a business. I’m approaching the beginning of year four and I still learn something new every day.
Give yourself grace, you’ve got this!
Vanessa Pennoyer is the president and CEO of Go 2 Girl, a business development firm. She offers certification support and diversity procurement compliance support to diverse-owned businesses.