Becoming certified as either a minority or woman-owned business can open doors to business opportunities that may remain closed to uncertified businesses. However, the application process is not without its challenges. It can be easy for business owners to get discouraged. The following information could be helpful when deciding whether minority or woman-owned business certification is beneficial for your organization.

Why is it important?

Several government agencies and large organizations want to do business with certified woman and minority-owned businesses. In fact, many corporations, state agencies and the federal government have policies to do so. Not being certified can cause businesses to miss out on valuable opportunities. According to Eileen Rodriguez of the Tampa Bay Business Journal, being a certified woman or minority-owned business allows for easier access to potential clients.

“Government agencies and large corporations have dedicated small business liaison officers and supplier diversity managers to assist small and minority-owned businesses in selling their products and services,” writes Rodriguez. “Once you are certified, you can contact these representatives to have them help you navigate their organization.”

It is not uncommon for many of these agencies and corporations set goals for their organization to do business with certified minority-owned businesses.

Who is eligible?

Eligibility for both minority and woman-owned business certification primarily comes down to one thing – majority control. An article on by Sarah Kessler Schweitzer outlines requirements for minority-owned business certification. Specific requirements vary from local to state to national levels. For the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Certification, a U.S. citizen of at least 25 percent Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, African American, Hispanic, or Native American heritage must own a business by at least 51 percent to be considered for certification. Requirements for certification as a woman-owned business are similar.

In an article by Tamera Schweitzer, reports that the National Women Business Owners Corporation requires a woman to own at least 51 percent of a business to qualify for a woman-owned business certification. However, the corporation requires that “ownership” go beyond majority control. A woman must also hold the highest position available in the company, and be actively involved in management and the strategic direction of the company.

How to apply

One of the most daunting aspects of certification is the long list of documents it requires. Organization will be the key to staying on top of important business documents and financial statements. Once a business is ready to apply, Kessler suggests that minority-owned businesses contact one of the NMSDC’s local councils. She writes, “Your council will provide you with a standardized application and request documents to support your minority status claim.”

For woman-owned businesses, Tamara Schweitzer suggests checking out the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s website for a list of required documents. This non-profit organization helps woman-owned businesses through the certification process. “Often women don’t know anything about the certification process until they have decided to apply, and it can feel very overwhelming…just being familiar with what’s required can make the process a lot less stressful,” Schweitzer writes. The council has also put together a certification kit that serves as a guided tour through every step of the application process.

This look into the application process and benefits of minority and woman-owned business certification is just scratching the surface. With the positives tending to outweigh the negatives, certification just makes good business sense.