How to Leverage Women-Owned Status (WOSB) to Win Gov’t Contracts

Theresa Daytner

If you’re new to the idea of women-owned small business ( WOSB ) status, you’ll want to know all about Theresa Daytner. When business was tough during the Great Recession, she turned government contracting into a strategy that helped her business thrive.

Daytner Construction was founded in 2003, and Theresa won her first government contract in 2004. She was lucky enough to have a client refer her to the US Navy, and the contact helped her get a leg up in working with the federal government.

Government work was a good way for Theresa to get contracts for her firm, but it was never a major strategy for Daytner Contracting.

That all changed when business slowed in 2007. Looking for a reliable source of contracts, Theresa and her husband turned to the public sector. Times were tough, but Theresa fought through and turned it into an opportunity. By the end of 2010, Daytner Construction had an annual revenue of $18 million, 90 percent of which came from government contracts.

Since then, Theresa has been a panelist in the White House Women’s Business Summit and has won many awards. She’s met President Obama, and she’s even had her own TED talk. (I don’t know about you, but when I imagine the pinnacle of success, it always involves getting a TED talk.)

What’s Theresa say is the secret to her success? It always comes back to the idea of “What we say are our core values, and how we spend our time.”

What is WOSB, and How Can it Help?

Government Contracting and women-Owned StatusTheresa’s definitely right that it’s important to walk your talk. And she’s done it herself! By making woman-owned small business status into a major source of opportunity and growth, she’s become an advocate for all female entrepreneurs.

So what is WOSB, you ask?

Well, let me put it this way: the government knows very well how difficult things can be for a female entrepreneur. It’s hard to make the contacts, it’s hard to make the bids, and (most of all) it’s hard to compete with the established companies. But you don’t need me to tell you about your own troubles, do you?

I didn’t think so.

So, in the interests of fostering the growth of female-owned businesses, the federal government started the WOSB program. Every year, five percent of the funding set aside for small businesses is specifically allocated to women-owned businesses. That means you can get a leg up on the competition, land the contract, and get back to the meaningful work you love.

Does that sound like something you’d be interested in? I hope so.

The Small Business Administration has a list of requirements for women-owned small businesses. There are some other details, but the main thing you need to know is that A) you have to be a small business, and B) your business must be at least 51% owned by women.

Does that describe you? Great! Now, let’s take a look at some advice from another female entrepreneur who’s made good use of WOSB status.

Lisa Firestone’s Experience

 Lisa Firestone
Lisa Firestone

Lisa Firestone started government contracting in 2005. She’s the owner and president of Managed Care Advisors (MCA), Inc. In her wonderful article for The Washington Post, she admits that working with the government is “a whole new world” from working in the private sector.

When Lisa first started working with the government, she felt uncomfortable with ideas like federal government set-asides, and she didn’t want any special treatment on account of her gender. In her experience with government contracting, Lisa learned “that there really is no ‘special consideration’ but just an opportunity to level the playing field.”

Lisa offers a list of actionable advice for female entrepreneurs considering government work. Some of her advice includes networking with government officials to learn their wants and needs and finding the kinds of projects your firm can best perform for the government.

Most importantly, Lisa talks about the way you should find the “pain points” of the agencies you’d like to work with. She mentions that you should “Focus not on your organization but on the solutions you can deliver. These relationships develop over time.” As long as you focus on solutions and constantly work to find out what you can do for the agencies you hope to work with, you’re making progress.

How Can I Start Government Contracting under WOSB?

Okay, so you’re interested in turning WOSB status into a long-term growth strategy. How can you get started?

Well, before you do, you’re going to need to register your firm as an official government contractor. You’ll want to register with the System for Award Management (SAM). Before you can bid on your government contracts, you’ve got to be registered with SAM.

SAM registration can be a pretty lengthy process. (It is the government, after all, so you’re going to have plenty of paperwork to deal with on the way. But I promise you, it’s worth it!) And it’s not as bad as it could be: they’ve set up Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) to help you along with the process. You can get free help with registration at your local PTAC location.

Once you’re registered, you can start issuing bids and making progress on WOSB status.

I know it can seem overwhelming all at once. One thing you can count on the government for is that they’ll always have plenty of acronyms to send your way. But if you take it step by step, you can turn this into a strategy to help your business survive and thrive.

women owned statusYou can find plenty of information on how to start government contracting online. And if you’re ever looking for government procurements, just remember here at TendersPage we have a worldwide database that’s updated with as many as 50,000 tenders daily!

(We just thought you might want to know that.)

Yes, You Can Make it Through

If you haven’t considered WOSB status before, or if you’re new to the world of government contracting, it can definitely be a little intimidating. But as long as you break it into simple steps, you can handle it.

The WOSB program has had some rocky times in the past. In fact, it wasn’t even until last year that they made their 5 percent quota for the first time in 20 years.

Now, I know that’s probably not the most encouraging thought. But think of it this way: that means there’s plenty of opportunity out there for female entrepreneurs in government contracting right now! They were having trouble in the past, but now they’re coming along just fine.

So what does that mean for you? That means things have turned around. It’s the best time to do government work as a women-owned business in the last 20 years!

So the chance is out there. The contracts are out there. Who’s going to be the next Theresa Daytner or the next Lisa Firestone?

Somebody’s going to take these times and turn them into a great chance to do work they love.
Somebody’s going to take this opportunity and turn challenges into the opportunity for growth.
Somebody’s going to register with SAM and turn WOSB status into a source of growth and vitality for a better future.

That could be you if you decide it’s what you want.

Is it?

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