Growing Your Business and Your Bottom Line Through Minority Certification

Are you leaving money on the table? If you are a business owner who is a woman or a member of a minority and you have not become certified as a Minority or Women-Owned Business Enterprise (known as M/WBE), you may be missing out on opportunities.

Reasons to Become Certified

Why do you need certification? Well, maybe you don’t. Certification lets others know that your company is what you say it is-a minority and/or women-owned business. Chances are your average customer is not going to ask you for certification. Certification is required, however, when you want to do business with companies or government agencies that have supplier diversity programs and want to ensure a level playing field for women, minority, or disabled-veteran owned businesses. While you may not have considered this as an avenue for your business, you will want to be ready to seize an opportunity, should one arise.

M/WBE Certification will also give you the ability to expose your business to potential customers that you may not have considered nor had access to before. Many of the qualifying agencies create meet-and-greet opportunities, directories and notify you of upcoming opportunities. This alone makes the sacrifice of time and minimal fees, when going through the certification process, well worth it.

Certification Requirements

In order to be eligible for certification, the basic requirements are:

” The business must be at least 51 percent owned, controlled and actively managed by minority group members (Native American, Black, Hispanic, Asian- Indian, Asian-Pacific, Aleut, Eskimo, or Native Hawaiian)

” In business for at least one year

How long is my certification valid?

Recertification practices, as well as fees, vary according to the certifying agency. For example, the state of New Jersey requires recertification upon your one-year anniversary. However after that first recertification, your status is valid for five years provided you submit your supporting documentation by your anniversary date each year.

Certifying Agencies

Choosing a certifying agency should depend upon your type of business and the opportunities you want to seek. Your city and state government offices have certification processes, help and opportunities. There are a myriad of other agencies as well such as the NY/NJ Supplier Development Council (formerly known as the NY/NJ Purchasing Council). As per their website, “The Council strives to expand business opportunities for minority-owned suppliers by linking them with purchasers in the public and private sector. As an advocate for both its suppliers and corporate members, The Council fosters relationships between corporate decision makers and targeted minority suppliers.”
Are All Certifications Recognized By All Agencies And Companies Seeking M/WBEs?

With all these certifying agencies, you may want to know if all agencies and companies recognize all certifications. The short answer is not necessarily. You must check with the requesting agency or company.

For example, in New York there is an agreement between the NYC Department of Small Business Services and The NY/NJ Minority Supplier Development council called the New York City Fast Track Certification

As posted on their website, “The New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc. (“The Council”) and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) are now promoting “Fast Track certifications” that will enable Council-certified suppliers to increase their contracting opportunities in the public sector. The City and The Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in an effort to increase the certification of minority-owned businesses. Under the agreement, businesses certified by The Council as a Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE) will receive expedited approval of their certification applications with the City… Council-certified suppliers will have greater access to contracting opportunities, better preparation to compete for City contracts, and extra navigation in the public procurement process. “

This partnership is great news for a small business looking to expand its opportunities. Many such opportunities exist, but be sure to ask the certifying agency where the certification will be recognized and question the companies providing opportunities what certifications will be accepted. Be sure to do this before making a commitment to become certified with any agency as many fees, if required, are not refundable.

Getting Help

The process of applying for M/WBE Certification may be daunting for some. It may require more focus and time than you are able to spare, but don’t give up. There is a tremendous amount of assistance available for you on both a free or fee basis. Each agency provides its own sources of assistance. In New York City at the official website, http://www.nyc.gov, you can find applications, help documents, email addresses and contact numbers for assistance. They also provide monthly training seminars where you can get help from trained certification specialists for free.
To get help and information on M/WBE certification in your locale, begin with your city and state government. Check their websites or call for help. Your local libraries will be able to assist as well. The internet is a cornucopia of information. Use any of the various search engines such as Google (www.google.com) and Yahoo (www.yahoo.com). Changing the word phrases as you search, i.e. minority certification, mbe agencies, or minority business opportunities, will pull up different results giving you a wider array of information.
There are also tremendous local organizations that are ready and willing to give you assistance. Begin with the Small Business Administration and their local arms known as SBDCs or Small Business Development Centers, often times located within the city colleges (http://www.sba.gov/localresources/index.html). Your local library is a tremendous resource as well.

There are times when all you need is someone to pull you through the process. An executive, administrative or virtual (remote) assistant can work wonders in this area, from researching the qualifying agencies and fees to helping you to complete each step of the application. Choose someone thorough and detailed because a detained application can cost you time, money and missed opportunity.

If you are qualified for certification and you don’t get this done you’ve left money on the table, possibly thousands of dollars or more. Can you afford not to become M/WBE Certified?

How To Raise Money to Start Business and Where to Get Money for Business

The common questions for anyone who want to start business are: How to raise money to start business, and where to get money for my business?

To raise money to start business is not as difficult as most people seem to think. This is especially true when you have an idea that can make you and your backers rich. Actually, there’s more money available for new business ventures than there are good business ideas. We will help you for where you can get money for business.

A very important rule of the game to learn: Any time you want to raise money, your first move should be to put together a proper prospectus.

This prospectus should include a resume of your background, your education, training, experience and any other personal qualities that might be counted as an asset to your potential success. It’s also a good idea to list the various loans you’ve had in the past, what they were for, and your history in paying them off.

You’ll have to explain in detail how the money you want is going to be used. If it’s for an existing business, you’ll need a profit and loss record for at least the preceding six months, and a plan showing how this additional money will produce greater profits. If it’s a new business, you’ll have to show your proposed business plan, your marketing research and projected costs, as well as anticipated income figures, with a summary for each year, over at least a three year period.

It’ll be advantageous to you to base your cost estimates high, and your income projections on minimal returns. This will enable you to “ride through” those extreme “ups and downs” inherent in any beginning business. You should also describe what makes your business unique—how it differs form your competition and the opportunities for expansion or secondary products.

This prospectus will have to state precisely what you’re offering the investor in return for the use of his money. He’ll want to know the percentage of interest you’re willing to pay, and whether monthly, quarterly or on an annual basis. Are you offering a certain percentage of the profits? A percentage of the business? A seat on your board of directories?

An investor uses his money to make more money. He wants to make as much as he can, regardless whether it’s short term or long term deal. In order to attract him, interest him, and persuade him to “put up” the money you need, you’ll not only have to offer him an opportunity for big profits, but you’ll have to spell it out in detail, and further, back up your claims with proof from your marketing research.

Venture investors are usually quite familiar with “high risk” proposals, yet they all want to minimize that risk as much as possible. Therefore, your prospectus should include a listing of your business and personal assets with documentation—usually copies of your tax returns for the past three years or more. Your prospective investor may not know anything about you or your business, but if he wants to know, he can pick up his telephone and know everything there is to know within 24 hours. The point here is, don’t ever try to “con” a potential investor. Be honest with him. Lay all the facts on the table for him. In most cases, if you’ve got a good idea and you’ve done your homework properly, and “interested investor” will understand your position and offer more help than you dared to ask.

When you have your prospectus prepared, know how much money you want, exactly how it will be used, and how you intend to repay it, you’re ready to start looking for investors.

As simple as it seems, one of the easiest ways of raising money is by advertising in a newspaper or a national publication featuring such ads. Your ad should state the amount of money you want–always ask for more money than you have room for negotiating. Your ad should also state the type of business involved ( to separate the curious from the truly interested), and the kind of return you’re promising on the investment.

Take a page from the party plan merchandisers. Set up a party and invite your friends over. Explain your business plan, the profit potential, and how much you need. Give them each a copy of your prospectus and ask that they pledge a thousand dollars as a non-participating partner in your business. Check with the current tax regulations. You may be allowed up to 25 partners in Sub Chapter S enterprises, opening the door for anyone to gather a group of friends around himself with something to offer them in return for their assistance in capitalizing his business.

You can also issue and sell up to $300,000 worth of stock in your company without going through the Federal Trade Commission. You’ll need the help of an attorney to do this, however, and of course a good tax accountant as well wouldn’t hurt.

It’s always a good idea to have an attorney and an accountant help you make up your business prospectus. As you explain your plan to them, and ask for their advice, casually ask them if they’d mind letting you know of, or steer your way any potential investors they might happen to meet. Do the same with your banker. Give him a copy of your prospectus and ask him if he’d look it over and offer any suggestions for improving it, and of course, let you know of any potential investors. In either case, it’s always a good idea to let them know you’re willing to pay a “finder’s fee” if you can be directed to the right investor.

Professional people such as doctors and dentists are known to have a tendency to join occupational investment groups. The next time you talk with your doctor or dentist, give him a prospectus and explain your plan. He may want to invest on his own or perhaps set up an appointment for you to talk with the manager of his investment group. Either way, you win because when you’re looking for money, it’s essential that you get the word out as many potential investors as possible.

Don’t overlook the possibilities of the Small Business Investment Companies in your area. Look them up in your telephone book under “Investment Services.” These companies exist for the sole purpose of lending money to businesses which they feel have a good chance of making money. In many instances, they trade their help for a small interest in your company.

Many states have Business Development Commissions whose goal is to assist in the establishment and growth of new businesses. Not only do they offer favorable taxes and business expertise, most also offer money or facilities to help a new business get started. Your Chamber of Commerce is the place to check for further information of this idea.

Industrial banks are usually much more amenable to making business loans than regular banks, so be sure to check out these institutions in your area. insurance companies are prime sources of long term business capital, but each company varies its policies regarding the type of business it will consider. Check your local agent for the name and address of the person to contact. It’s also quite possible to get the directories of another company to invest in your business. Look for a company that can benefit from your product or service. Also, be sure to check at your public library for available foundation grants. These can be the final answer to all your money needs if your business is perceived to be related to the objectives and activities of the foundation.

Finally, there’s the Money broker or Finder. These are the people who take your prospectus and circulate it with various known lenders or investors. They always require an up-front or retainer fee, and there’s no way they can guarantee to get you the loan or the money you want.

There are many very good money brokers, and there are some that are not so good. They all take a percentage of the gross amount that’s finally procured for your needs. The important thing is to check them out fully; find out about the successful loans or investment plans they’re arranged, and what kind of investor contacts they have—all of this before you put up any front money or pay any retainer fees.

There are many ways to raise money—from staging garage sales to selling stocks. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the only place you can find the money you need is through the bank or finance company.

Start thinking about the idea of inviting investors to share in your business as silent partners. Think about the idea of obtaining financing for a primary business by arranging financing for another business that will support the start-up, establishment and developing of the primary business. Consider the feasibility of merging with a company that’s already organized, and with facilities that are compatible or related to your needs. Give some thought to the possibilities of getting the people supplying your production equipment to co-sign the loan you need for start-up capital.

Remember, there are thousands upon thousands of ways to obtain business start-up capital. This is truly the age of creative financing.

Disregard the stories you hear of “tight money,” and start making phone calls, talking to people, and making appointments to discuss your plans with the people who have money invest. There’s more money now than there’s ever been for a new business investment. The problem is that most beginning “business builders” don’t know what to believe or which way to turn for help. They tend to believe the stories of “tight money,” and they set aside their plans for a business of their own until a time when start-up money might be easier to find.

The truth is this: Now is the time to make your move. Now is the time to act. the person with a truly viable business plan, and determination to succeed, will make use of every possible idea that can be imagined. And the ideas I’ve suggested here should serve as just a few of the unlimited sources of monetary help available and waiting for you!

Now you should get idea for how to raise money to start business, how to get money for business, and where to get money for my business.

Moving a Business and Making It Successful

Moving a business can be an exciting process and, in some ways, not much different than moving from one home to a new home. The main difference, of course, is that you still have profit and employees that can be affected by the move. Moving a business, then, should involve much more planning. It may also be even more important to utilize the help of paid professionals. This means extra expenses for movers and, possibly, even the expertise of a moving planner. In the long run though, the extra finances can be well worth it. Using paid experts to make moving a business

Plan of Action for Moving a Business

The most important part of making the move may be planning and organizing. The earlier you begin the planning, the better. Proper planning and organizing will not only make the move a success, it will ensure that your business can continue to run without much interruption in flow and finances. It comes down to even having a detailed schedule the time of the move, if possible. While things will come up that deviate from the plan, it means you are less likely to be caught completely off guard and thrown for a loop.

Having a good plan of action also means you may be able to set it up so that your business at one location overlaps the other. Remember even if the business is running but at half speed that is a loss. In other words, instead of having to completely halt the business activity for a day or more, you can have the business running at both places until the move is complete. This can cause you to operate without your customers ever having to know the move happened. But, if you do intend to make customers aware that a move will be taking place, assure them this will have little or no effect on them.

Investing in a Successful Move

When moving a business, you may want to seriously consider investing some funding into making the move go as smoothly as possible. Just as you would hire employees to help run the business or an accountant to help with the numbers, you will want to bring in those who can offer their expertise and services. Depending on the size – and budget – of your company, you may want to hire an outside moving consultant.

Of course, one of the most important aspects to investing for a successful move is hiring professional movers who can take the burden off of your shoulders. Prior to the day of the move, make sure you label everything possible to help it end up in the right area of the new location. Other than that, having pros to pack, transport and unpack will make the move flawless. Also, check into arrangements for where moving trucks can park the day of the move to avoid stress as well as fines or parking tickets. This should all help make moving a business as hassle-free as possible.