Pretend that you’re an aspiring rap producer making beats in your garage. Your business should still be certified as a minority business. Why, you ask? If the city needs music for a PSA commercial, they can’t hire you without it. No matter what line of business you’re in, without MBE certification lots of money is potentially being left on the table. It may sound overwhelming but the fact remains that the only way to access contracting opportunities from the government and other private companies seeking to diversify their business is to be minority certified.
Many companies have diversity spending targets and government agencies certainly do. Failing to spend a certain amount of money with minority owned businesses can sometimes be a serious matter and Black entrepreneurs can take advantage of this, if they’re prepared. Every Black business needs to be MBE certified. Every. Single. One. The caterer making sandwiches can do so for the large factory across town, if they’re certified. Your landscaping company could pick up a number of contracts with larger companies, if you have your MBE certification. An entire new world of opportunities opens up in the private sector and with the government, provided you have that one little piece of paper.
MBE certification signals to companies and government agencies that your business is viable. It says to the world that you have a bank account, file taxes and in general, have a level of competency. Even if a business is sincerely interested in contracting with a minority-owned company, they still require a degree of assurance and the first level of that is MBE certification. MBE certification also helps you gain exposure to potential clients. Companies that seek out minority-owned vendors often reach out to the governing body that does the certification in order to find companies not currently on their radar. If they don’t have you on the list, however, they certainly can’t refer you. You need it, now let’s talk about how you get it.
The best time to get certified is immediately after you start your business. It’s the perfect time because you don’t have anything yet. As a new business, you don’t have tax filings or other ledgers to comb through so it makes the process much easier. So while you’re getting your EIN number and opening your bank account, go ahead and get that certification. In most cases, there’s a certifying body for your city, county or state government. In some cases, there are local nonprofits that do certify businesses. Wherever you go, you want to make sure it’s a “Universal Certifying Agency,” or “UCA”. The UCA certification signals that once you get certified from that entity, you’ll be certified on the local and federal level.
Make sure you know your SIC code. It’s important to know your SIC code to get categorized the correct way. That way, when companies are looking for minority vendors they can find you. You’ll need your EIN (tax identification number), a business bank account and any documentation of income from your business. If you’ve been in business for a while, they’ll want to see your tax documents. Whether you’re just starting your business or have been active for a few decades, go ahead and get MBE certified! It may seem tedious and cumbersome but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your business. If you need assistance, try reaching out to a local nonprofit that offers assistance for free first. One great example is Progeny Place, located in Memphis.
Protect your business: FIND A BLACK INSURANCE AGENT