Women own 29 percent of all businesses and are opening companies at a rate 50 percent faster than the overall growth rate. But overall, women-owned businesses only account for about 4 percent of the country’s total business revenues—reflecting exactly zero growth since 1997, according to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses report.
A recent change to government contracting rules aims to break that stalemate.
It used to be that women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) only had an advantage in winning federal contracts for bids up to $4 million ($6.5 million for manufacturing bids).
Under the recent enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, that ceiling no longer exists. The caps have been removed, which means that WOSBs and EDWOSBs can now compete for contracts of any award size, as long as other requirements are met.
“Now agencies have greater flexibility in setting contracts aside for women-owned small businesses,” says Denise Rodriguez-Lopez, a former small business advocate within the U.S. Department of Transportation who now runs the KMJ Company, a contracting consulting firm.
But don’t get too excited. “It’s still difficult to get a contract,” says Rodriguez-Lopez. “There are a lot of people looking for contract opportunities.”
If you’re a small business owner who is looking to penetrate the government market and compete against the slew of other companies, it’s important to have a plan in place. Here’s how to narrow the scope of possibilities to a target you can likely hit.
The removal of the contract cap is an exciting opportunity for WOSBs. With some planning and research, you may be able to compete with the other companies looking to win government contracts.
Joanne Cleaver doesn’t just write about entrepreneurship and finance for national publications and websites. As a longtime freelance writer and editorial project manager, she lives it. Her most recent book is “The Career Lattice“ (McGraw Professional, 2012), which shows how lateral moves power career growth.
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