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Leveraging Small Business Certifications for Working Capital


Minyang Jiang

Let’s face it: Small businesses are the engines behind our robust economy. Access to capital fuels this engine and helps to build the necessary capacity that businesses need to grow. The objective is to build larger businesses that create jobs and stronger communities.

Organizations like the SBA (Small Business Administration), Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and National Minority Supplier Development Council are just a few of the organizations that certify and serve as advocacy organizations for the success and development of small businesses. They also boast the largest number of certified businesses and offer rigorous certification processes.

Small businesses account for the majority of job growth and foster economic development in some of the most underutilized communities in our country. In order to obtain government and corporate contracts, many small businesses apply for certification from the SBA or other advocacy organizations.

Receiving designation from one of these groups won’t automatically win your company a contract, but it is a ticket to access and empowerment. Utilizing this certification during the quest for capital can be what puts your company over the top. Below are some tips for leveraging your small business certifications for working capital.

Own Your Designation

Small business owners often feel that revealing their “small business” designation is a negative. The thought is “if they think I’m small, I’ll jeopardize an opportunity.” This is not the case. Lenders like small businesses and understand the value they bring to local communities. Your designation can be a signal of growth. The opportunity is in your presentation. Have a plan ready that specifically outlines your growth potential — a business plan, a strategic plan, and financial projections for your business. 

Create Unique Partnerships

Lenders love to see partnerships and strategic alliances. As you create your strategic plan, evaluate suppliers you can partner with to help achieve your goals. Capital is not the only resource that can help build your capacity — partnerships boost your capability to supply bigger businesses in innovate and efficient ways.

As you think about partnerships, there are various arrangements you can try. To start, look to your supply base. There are companies you can form partnerships with that will allow you to purchase goods or services based on volume at a discount. There may also be opportunities for your company to come together with other firms to offer expanded services. These partnerships can give you increased leverage and allow your company to remain competitive and attractive to large corporations. Keep in mind partnerships should add value, boost your capacity, and offer innovation. Lenders will find different partnerships interesting and potentially profitable.

Demonstrate Community Impact

Lenders also love to see that small businesses are involved in community renewal, so consider including in your business plan how your firm will reach out to community-based organizations and businesses. Understanding the link to how your company participates in the local economy is key.

You will find that lenders big and small have this as a key priority for their organization. Lenders want to demonstrate great corporate citizenship and community involvement, and assisting businesses with capital is one of the ways they satisfy this key objective.

What do you think? Have you leveraged professional certifications for working capital? Send an email and tell us about it!