There are a number of third party organizations which will help with granting Minority- or Women-Owned Business certification status. The process for getting this status can be rigorous, and involves meeting a series of stringent requirements to prove your business is truly Minority- or Women-Owned, and not simply a situation where a spouse “owns” the business in name, however has no decision making abilities.
To qualify for Women-Owned Business status, your business simply needs to be at least 51% owned by women. Women also need to be the final decision makers. Once you meet these requirements, you can begin to look at certification. There are many companies which offer certification, some are targeted for private-sector use while others are targeted for government agencies. Further, there are different requirements for certification beyond the ownership status based upon which organization you get your status with. Finally, it is important to consider that these certifications are not universally accepted, so if there is a target company or government agency with which you would like to work, be sure your certification is recognized.
With all of that said, the question becomes: Why? Why go through this process for Women-Owned Business status? And the answer is that it opens up additional business markets for a business. Government agencies are required to meet requirements with working with businesses which are Women-Owned, so it can help in receiving government contracts. By partnering with the correct certifying organization, you can open doors to new government contracts you may never have known existed. Most agencies contract work in a number of fields, including communications, software development, data processing, HR, architecture, marketing, finance, and many others. There is almost no industry for which the government does not have a need.
On the private-sector side, meanwhile, many businesses choose to do business with Women-Owned Businesses. Not only because it helps them meet federal guidelines, but because they themselves could be Women-Owned Businesses. Further, certain certification companies inspect far more than just the ownership status, meaning you are certified as a business worth doing business with.
Applying for and receiving Women-Owned Business status can never hurt a business, however it can certainly open up new doors to new business opportunities. When going through the process, it is important, however, to be sure the organization certifying you is the one most relevant to what you want to do. Do your homework, then get out there and get certified. It just may be the best thing you ever do as a business owner.
Checkout a couple of our services such as Lockout Tagout and Industrial Safety Signs as an example of a strong Women Owned Business.
In the current economic environment, it seems to make more sense than ever for companies to merge with or acquire their competition. This has led to a number of instances where employees become entangled in the complications of a merger or acquisition, without any idea of what their job will look like, or an assurances they will have a job, when the dust settles. This can lead to low morale, reduced productivity, and ultimately to the best talent on your team leaving to go to other firms. And while there is a more negative sentiment among employees of a company being acquired, as there is a likely chance they will be dismissed or forced to change, even employees of the acquiring firm are going to have doubts, reservations, and new needs.
As a leader, it is imperative you quell the flames before they lead to a full-on panic amongst your team. This can be difficult, but if accounted for and if you go into it with your eyes open, you can maintain your staff, maintain productivity, and seamlessly transition to whatever is on the horizon.
The first step to successfully leading a company through a merger is to listen. Listen to your employees, listen to your HR representatives, listen to your client, just listen. Allowing employees and employee representatives to have a voice during the initial conversation and throughout the process will ease fears and tensions. Many of the anxieties employees will have will be groundless – but you won’t be able to clear them up if you aren’t listening to your staff.
You also need to set clear expectations and a process to get there. If a system needs to be replaced, set a reasonable timetable for replacement and put a process in place to cross-train the employees who will be utilizing it. If a team’s hours will change to accommodate a larger geographic region (instead of only covering the east coast, they will now support a national team, for instance), make that expectation clear, then set a process in place for transitioning schedules to account for the additional times.
When setting expectations and creating processes, try to be as quick as possible. Integrating systems, benefits, intranet sites, 401ks, etc. should be done as quickly as possible, and getting people all working under the same roof toward the same goal should, as well. The longer the employees of the acquired company remain under their old 401k, with their old benefits, and their old work tasks, the longer they will fear they will be let go – if you weren’t firing them, wouldn’t it stand to reason they would have been integrated into the new company?
Throughout the process, maintain a clear vision of what the end result will look like. Each time a major project is complete or a unit is integrated, share the successes with the team. This will help strengthen the culture at the company while building confidence in the end results. You want your team – your whole team – to live the culture of change. And that needs to come from the top.
Finally, be prepared for difficult decisions. While there may not have originally been a plan to let go of certain team members, when things are finalized that could change. If layoffs occur, if roles need to be reexamined, or if anything else comes up, be ready to clearly state what the new expectations are, why those expectations are in place, and continue to lead those who remain.
Internal customer service – or the customer service provided by employees to one another – can be quickly forgotten in a customer service plan. For many, customer service is simply the service provided to external customers, and as such how employees treat one another is not accounted for. Unfortunately, this internal customer service can have a huge impact on a business, effecting retention rates of employees, morale, external customer service, and efficiency. And all of that has a big impact on a company’s profits.
So now that the need has been identified, it is important to rectify it. The first step is to set standards. Create a list of expectations for dealing with internal customers, modeling it on your external customer service standards.
After you create your service standards and roll them out to your team, train them on proper customer service skills. Explain the importance of internal customer service to the company and to the employees, and explain the appropriate way to handle various situations. This is also the time to set expectations and set appropriate next steps for employees who fail to act accordingly.
Receive feedback from the employees who are interacting with one another. This can be through formal surveys or informally through dialogue with managers. No matter how you review the progress, it is important to gain feedback and track results.
Once this is rolled out and the employees have been trained on proper customer service, it is time to performance manage those employees who are not adapting. This can be with additional training, one-on-one coaching sessions with management, and may lead to termination. By having a formal performance management plan in place for customer service, which can be monitored by surveys or management review, you can ensure your employees are always giving great customer service.
By following these steps, you can ensure your company will have world class internal customer service.
Anyone who has run a small business can tell you that it is a full-time commitment. There are a lot of moving parts, difficult decisions to be made on a daily basis, and a never-ending list of things which will drain your time and finances, but help improve your business in the long run. So to most small business owners, the idea of running more than one business seems impossible. But for those who do, it can be an extremely lucrative decision, and one which mitigates potential risk and deepens your personal portfolio. So if you are thinking of opening another business, or you already run multiple businesses, here are 4 tips on how to succeed.
1. Ask for Help – We all have things we are good at, then things we are less good at. By understanding where you excel, you can focus on your strengths and hire people to help in other areas. This can include things like proposal writing, SEO, filing taxes, or managing payroll. If there is a cost-effective option out there, it might be worth the money to hire a firm or an individual to handle it for you, so you can focus on running the businesses.
2. Prioritize – Make lists, follow lists, live by lists. By creating to-do lists and sticking with them, you will be sure you get everything critical done today and are setup to have a successful tomorrow. Emergencies come up, whether with network issues, staffing issues, or client issues, there is bound to be a problem at some point. But by being organized and understanding what needs to be done today and what can be done tomorrow, you will be prepared to take on any challenges. You will also be sure you don’t forget to take care of something today that can’t wait until tomorrow.
3. Copy and Paste – If you’ve already got a successful model for invoicing, why change it for the next business? If you have a management structure that works, why re-work it? Look at your existing businesses and find what works that will be needed in the new business. By taking processes and models from one business and instituting them in the other, you are making your life easier and ensuring you will have success, at least in that area of the business.
4. No More Handouts – Most business owners spend time every day on activities which they know will never lead to business. Whether it’s spending an hour talking a friend through an idea, going to meetings that will never lead to business, or taking that prospect out to lunch for the fourth time this month, this is wasted time. Remember, if it isn’t helping you build your business, it is hurting your business.
It is never easy to run a business, let alone multiple businesses, but it can be done. And if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a fighting chance of success.