The Best Business Certifications for Women Business Owners
If you want to expand your business knowledge, consider obtaining a certification that will lend credibility to your endeavors, or provide exciting new opportunities. To get started, check out our list of the best women-owned business certifications!
Five Business Certifications for Women Business Owners
1. Women Owned Small Business (WOSB)
If you want to recruit new customers within the private sector, you may be missing out. Federal and state-level organizations are some of the biggest customers for products and services. And if you are a female-owned business, getting these government contracts is now easier than ever.
In 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced a federal contracting program that will “provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).”
To qualify for these contracts, you must obtain at least one of two women-owned business certifications: the “Women Owned Small Business (WSOB)” for federal contracts, and the “Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE)” for those administered by state and local entities.
There are four third-party organizations authorized to provide the WOSB designation including the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Women Business Owners Corporation, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. You also have the option to self-certify. However, paying for third-party verification may be worth it for more credibility, and access to the organization’s networks.
2. Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE)
Similar to the WOSB certification, the Women’s Business Enterprise certification designates a business as female majority-owned, but for use only in state, local, and private sector purposes.
Both the WSOB and WBE certifications are designed to create more opportunities for women. If your business provides a product or service that may be useful to government agencies, a WOSB or WBE certification may open the door to large contracts that could lead to business growth.
The certification process will require an extensive time commitment, in addition to other resources. However, the benefits go beyond the opportunity for government work, as you’ll also have access to supplier databases, networking opportunities, and WOSB-specific training programs. For the WBE designation, certification includes access to large contracts from large, quasi-governmental private sector agencies in industries such as transportation.
3. Project Management Professional (PMP)
Project management is the process of creating an objective, outlining the steps to achieve it, and executing that plan—a description that fits nearly any enterprise activity. Thus, it is a vital skill for all business owners to attain.
The Project Management Professional designation is a highly regarded, internationally recognized certification. According to test practitioners, the program is intended for the “experienced project manager responsible for all aspects of project delivery, leading and directing cross-functional teams.”
While the certification is advertised for those seeking a career in project management, the skills obtained through the program can be applied to starting and running a small business. Ultimately, this certification gives female business owners the tools to successfully plan and execute business goals.
4. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
Often considered a precursor to the Project Management Professional certification, Certified Associate in Project Management program introduces entrepreneurs to the fundamentals of overseeing big projects—like starting a business—such as evaluating cost and quality, developing effective processes, and managing risk. If you are not ready to commit to the PMP program, or are simply looking to refine your project management techniques, the CAPM may be a viable option for you to gain knowledge and credibility as a project leader.
5. Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate
If you are looking for substantial growth personally and in your business, Stanford University now offers professional certificates and courses for working entrepreneurs. All course requirements are fulfilled online, so it doesn’t matter where your business is located. You can choose the courses best suited for your women-owned business, with options such as “Leading Collaborative Teams” and “Negotiation: How to Get (More of) What You Want.” Certification will cost upwards of $8,000. However, you may also access the course materials a la carte for $995 a class.
Certifications are not the only way to grow as an entrepreneur, but through these structured programs you can attain additional skills, access to professional networks and credibility from a new degree or credential. If you want to grow as an entrepreneur, or are ready to expand your business, it may be worth investing time, energy and resources into pursuing a certification.
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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.