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What resources are available to help disadvantaged business owners grow their companies?

Small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans and other disadvantaged groups face more roadblocks to growth than others. To help overcome these obstacles, successful companies often follow one or more of these strategies:

1. Obtain certification as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).

Many companies and government agencies seek DBEs to participate in their supplier diversity programs. While the requirements, costs and procedures of third-party certification vary, DBE status can help boost your profile. Be sure to include it in your Google or Yelp listing, website and storefront.

2. Take advantage of the DBE-certifying organization’s services.

Certification agencies offer searchable databases for prospects with supplier diversity programs. They also make information about your company available to those looking for your product or service. In addition, many offer networking, educational and training opportunities that teach best practices for selling to larger companies or obtaining government contracts.

3. Seek funding earmarked for your type of DBE.

Certification can also help you obtain loans and other funding from programs aimed at women, minorities, veterans and other groups. For example, the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program specifically awards at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to economically or socially disadvantaged business owners each year. The SBA also recently launched the $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program to strengthen outreach to underserved businesses by partnering with organizations with deep community roots.

4. Look within.

How is your company doing when it comes to empowering from within? Do you foster a diverse and inclusive culture? Kick off conversations about how your business supports various groups in your workplace. A great place to start is evaluating internal policies and practices that frequently and negatively impact your team. Create space for discussion and make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Coaching and mentoring within your business can lead to new opportunities both inside and outside your business.

The Bottom Line: Programs and tools exist to help disadvantaged businesses succeed. The time you spend to learn more is likely to be worth your investment.

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