By Melissa Lowery
Minority business certification can be a power- ful tool when seeking a contract with a large corporation, but for many business owners, the certification process is overwhelming and frustrating. Enter Heather Cox, co-founder and chief operating officer, Certify My Company Inc.
Since 2008, she has been guiding diverse businesses through the process of obtaining certification including identifying the appropriate certification gathering the necessary data, filing the paperwork and leveraging their certified diverse status in a competitive market.
It was while attending networking events that Cox noticed how many owners and CEOs of successful businesses were struggling to complete the certification process. The paperwork involved was overwhelming and without an immediate tangible benefit, the project would end up at the bottom of the task list.
“A CEO’s time is better spent doing other things — not paperwork,” Cox said. “It makes sense to outsource it to an expert.”
An expert is what Cox became. Since launching Certify My Company, she has helped numerous businesses navigate the arduous process of becoming certified as a women business enterprise, minority business enterprise, LGBT business enterprise or disabled/ disadvantaged business enterprise, along with National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program, veteran-owned and state-level certification.
Carole Fakler, owner of NY Image Studio, had been stalled in her application process for six months when she met Cox at an NGLCC networking mixer.
“She introduced herself — ‘Hi, I’m Heather Cox, and I own Certify My Company’ — and I burst out laughing,” Fakler recalled with a chuckle. “I said, ‘That’s the perfect name for a company, and I need your help.’”
Excited to find someone who could help her through the certification process, Fakler set up an appointment to get started immediately. Cox identified that Fakler qualified for NGLCC certification as well as Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and after about a week of working on both applications, they were finished and filed.
“Heather was amazing,” Fakler said. “She walked me through it, told me exactly what I needed to do, and before long, I was certified.
Fakler is now learning how to use her certification to her advantage, as she bids on national projects within the retouching and print production industry. “You have to use it,” Cox insisted.
“You can’t just expect to be certified and say, ‘Great, now my million-dollar contract is going to fall from the sky.’ You have to utilize it as a marketing tool, because it is a tool.”
Cox and her team continue working with their clients after they receive certification to optimize their certification — through additional strategy sessions, registration on different diversity portals and re-certification as needed, so they do not have to repeat the entire process from scratch.
Educating corporations about certification is another main focus for Certify My Company, one that Cox enjoys tremendously.
“We love doing those educational pieces,” she said. “Procurement departments need to have purchasing people who understand the benefits of supplier diversity. It’s not just a PR piece; it’s good for the bottom line. It’s good for the company as a whole, and it brings new, innovative ideas to the organization.”
For more information about Certify My Company Inc., please visit www.certifymycompany.com.
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