Certification: How it can help any business

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Steven Garibell is vice president of LGBTQ2+ Business Development at TD Bank.
TD Bank

Building Dreams | Navigating your business Ambitions

Business owners face frequent challenges building and growing their enterprises, and in entrepreneurial hotspots like NYC, they need any competitive edge available.

One possibility: Pursuing certification as one or more business designations — Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or LGBTBE® by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Why? Certification can provide access to a broader network, educational programming, and information about financial and other resources.

A business certification offers connections to bid for city, state, federal and corporate contracts. Public offices must meet quotas for working with diverse businesses, and an official designation could offer an advantage. In addition, companies like TD Bank have supplier diversity programs that seek out diverse product and service contractors of all sizes.

Preparing for certification

To start, research the official certifying organization(s), such as the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC), Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and NGLCC. While all have different criteria, generally business certification requires that:

  • Businesses are at least 51% diverse owned, managed and controlled.
  • Diverse ownership member(s) must oversee management and daily operations.

Business owners also should gather documentation including:

  • Business license
  • Any legal formation documents such as articles of incorporation, if applicable
  • Five-year business plan
  • Lease or bill(s) showing that the same person owns and operates the business
  • A three- to five-year financial forecast for newer businesses

After certification

Getting certified is just the beginning. Begin looking for contract bids and networking opportunities through the certifying organization. These contacts will help you compete, identify business opportunities, and expand the business.

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