Women-owned businesses can leverage financing options and preferred-vendor status with various federal departments by registering as such. Taking advantage of these opportunities, depending on the industry, can open up major perks for women looking to start or grow their own companies.
As seen in the recent post, Small Business Funding By the Numbers: What Every Entrepreneur Should Know, there are many different options to consider for funding and traditional financing has been harder for female entrepreneurs to access. Given those realities, should you register your business as a women-owned business?
Advantages to Registration
When registered as a women-owned small business, companies can take advantage of various programs designed to boost access to funds and opportunities.
The federal contracting program for women-owned businesses aims to create a level playing field and help agencies meet contracting goals. Certified businesses can compete for set-asides provided by such agencies, or be eligible for sole source awards that do not require competitive bidding processes.
Women business owners can also take advantage of SBA loan programs designed to provide funding opportunities via local lenders. These loans are guaranteed by the federal government and provide competitive rates and fees comparable to those offered by commercial lenders, lower down payments, flexible overhead requirements, and, for some loans, no collateral.
Finally, women-owned businesses can access other SBA-provided services. These include women’s business centers located across the country, online training resources, and an annual competition, the InnovateHER Challenge, that highlights products or services that can have a measurable impact on women’s lives and are commercially viable.
Federal Registration Guidelines
The U.S. Small Business Administration has specific guidelines for businesses to meet to qualify as a women-owned business. They include:
- Meeting the Definition of Small. Companies need to meet SBA guidelines related to the industry sector and subsector to be considered a small business. These guidelines are based on either a revenue cap or an employee maximum.
- Ownership. Ownership must be comprised directly and unconditionally controlled by at least 51 percent women who are U.S. citizens.
- Leadership. Women must be in charge of day-to-day operations, hold the highest possible leadership position (and this woman must work full-time normal business hours), and make the long-term strategic decisions about the company.
Other guidelines qualify a company as an economically disadvantaged women-owned business. Personal net worth needs to be $750,000 or less and the average adjusted gross income over three years $350,000 or less.
Small businesses can be certified as women-owned through third parties such as the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce or National Women Business Owners Corporation, or through self-certification (pending possible elimination to the latter option).
For the federal bidding programs, the type of business you have matters. You need to offer a product or service that matters to the agencies with whom you are looking to do business. In general, business-to-consumer companies are not offering the products and services sought by these agencies.
It does not matter which type of business you have to take advantage of certain funding options. Benetrends, for example, has pioneered an innovative approach to business financing.
With Benetrends, you do not need to navigate complex federal or commercial lending processes. Benetrends lets you use existing 401(k) or IRA funds to fuel your business start-up or expansion needs.
With Benetrends, you establish your business as a C corporation and create a retirement plan. You then transfer existing 401(k) or IRA funds, without penalty or tax implications, to the new plan.
After purchasing shares in your new company, you can use your retirement funds within days to purchase needed equipment or supplies or expand into new markets.
To learn more about how Benetrends can help your women-owned business, schedule a consultation today.