Why Women-Owned Startups Should Get WBENC-Certified
Last month’s issue of Harvard Business Review includes the publication’s annual list of the world’s 100 best CEOs. Predictably, the list only includes two women: Debra Cafaro (43) of Ventas and Marillyn Hewson (51) of Lockheed Martin. HBR’s Editor-in-Chief, Adi Ignatious, spends most of his opening column imploring readers to change the business culture that keeps women from reaching the top spot.
If you want to change the culture, you have to be part of the change. I founded Cogberry Creative, a marketing content strategy firm, in March 2014 after more than 10 years in communications roles at mission-oriented organizations. Although I had the gumption and the experience, the next two years were a crash course in how to work from home (or coffee shop), how to write a proposal and a contract, how to find reliable, affordable talent, and finally, how to not go crazy doing all the work while learning all the how-to.
I needed help, and what could be better than accessing a network of more than 13,000 other women entrepreneurs to ask questions, make contacts, and learn from their mistakes? The key to moving my startup into the next growth stage was WBENC.
WBENC Certification helps you get your ducks in a row.
For startups and small companies like mine, getting WBENC-Certified can seem like a daunting process. When you’re acting as the leadership, the talent, and the financial backer as well as the IT contractor, the business development team, and the facilities management, it is easy to get overwhelmed.
It took a pivotal conversation with Sandra Eberherd, Executive Director of WPEO-DC, to make me understand how significant the process of certification can be for a company just starting out. She spoke to the core message that women business owners must make time to work ON your business instead of IN your business.
With Sandra’s help, I started to approach certification as a business project, and I realized that WBENC Certification helps startups walk through key business foundations, including the following:
- Value Proposition
- Organizational Management
- Growth and Forecasting
As a startup, set realistic expectations. It may take you longer to get your application in. You may not submit everything in the correct order the first time around. But getting WBENC-Certified was an essential part of my professional development as a business owner. The process of becoming a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) helped me set foundations that will serve my business for years to come.
Access to the WBENC network builds your confidence—and your business.
National WBENC events have been a catalyst for my business confidence, even as I started connecting with fellow WBEs online. In March 2015, I started following Cassandra Bailey, President & CEO of WBENC-Certified Slice Communications, on Twitter. When we finally met up in-person at the 2015 National Conference & Business Fair in Austin, I knew I had found a mentor and a friend. A year later, we collaborated on a client project together. Even on this small scale, the WBENC network makes business happen.
Yet part of WBENC Certification also includes the resources the organization provides. Beyond the educational programs and onsite events, WBENC tells success stories from our WBEs. I’m lucky enough to help produce the bi-monthly digital magazine, the WBENC President’s Report. Each issue, we get to tell stories from across the country of fellow WBEs who have hit setbacks, overcome challenges, and still persevered. When you have a bad day as an entrepreneur, these are the stories to keep in mind—and push forward.
Be part of WBENC’s movement to propel women business leaders forward.
Being part of a community, a network with thousands of highly successful, highly sought-after women business leaders, is being part of a movement. When I go to events like Summit & Salute and the National Conference & Business Fair, I am inspired by women who started out just like me and who have grown their businesses into empires.
My WBENC Certification is an entrance ticket to those events, and it is my commitment to changing the business culture. I am saying I am here as a women business owner, and I will be here for a long time.
About Laura Berry
Founder & CEO, Cogberry Creative, LLC
Laura Berry is Founder and CEO of Cogberry Creative, a content strategy firm specializing in building process-oriented workflows for your marketing. Her team loves assessing an organization’s market impact, building brand equity, and developing powerful messaging that will engage your target audiences.