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What SBA nominee Linda McMahon means for women-owned small business

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) co-founder Linda McMahon will head the Small Business Administration, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced Wednesday.

In a statement, Trump hailed her as “one of the country’s top female executives.” The wrestling magnate ran twice for the Senate in 2010 and 2012. Without more time in public office, McMahon’s positions on things like small business setasides are still somewhat unknown. Small women-owned government contractors, who are especially affected by the SBA, will have a lot of questions about what policies McMahon would pursue if confirmed by the Senate.

McMahon has talked about creating regulatory certainty and reducing corporate taxes to promote hiring. She also helped found Women’s Leadership Live, an organization that promotes women entrepreneurs and leaders. McMahon describes herself as “an advocate for small business” who “continually promotes entrepreneurship, particularly among women.”

Will McMahon help women-owned businesses get ahead in the federal sphere? Below, we take an in-depth look at where WOSBs are now, where they want to be, and how they can grow their businesses regardless of SBA policies.

Linda McMahon, SBA Nominee

Linda McMahon was nominated to be SBA Administrator by the Trump transition team on Wednesday, December 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Women-owned small businesses today: Growing, but more work ahead

The White House blog celebrated Small Business Saturday last week by noting that under the Obama Administration women-owned small business (WOSB) contracts increased to nearly $18 billion. The increase is historically significant: after 20 years, the government finally met its goal of awarding 5 percent of contracting dollars to women-owned small business. That’s right: It took 20 years. Even this small success does not address the disparities that women, who own one third of small businesses, face in the contracting world. Not only do women win fewer contracts than men, but all else being equal, the odds that they will win a contract are lower, according a study by the Commerce Department.

As the country transitions towards a new presidential administration, advocates of woman entrepreneurs have lots of questions. EZGovOpps analysts answer some of them below.

Women-Owned Small Business

Small women-owned government contractors have made great strides, including recently winning 5 percent of federal contracting dollars. But despite their success women entrepreneurs still have a ways to go before they reach parity. Photo courtesy of WOCinTech Chat via Flickr.

 

What’s already changed in women-owned small business contracting policy?

Policy-makers have taken steps in recent years towards taking small business contracting in general more seriously. The FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), currently being debated in the Senate, has a series of provisions that could help women-owned small businesses, including:

  • Requiring a report of small business contracting dollars’ share of the federal budget, without the controversial exclusions that some argue inflate SBA’s estimates
  • Increasing funding for the Women’s Business Center (WBC) program, which provides training, mentoring, business development and financing to women entrepreneurs
  • Establishing a program to allow subcontractors to request past performance ratings, which could give smaller and newer women-owned businesses a leg up toward prime contracting

Another upcoming change comes from the FY16 NDAA, but has not yet been implemented: Women-owned businesses will soon no longer be allowed to self-certify under the WOSB program. The SBA’s website states that they are “reviewing how to implement this change.” In the meantime, your business can still self-certify, but expect the system to be phased out soon.

SBA also recently expanded the list of NAICS codes eligible for the WOSB program. To find out if your business qualifies, check out the full list of eligible NAICS codes here.

 

What do WOSBs want from the Trump administration?

While waiting for solid policies, some women’s business advocates have already put forward their requests. The organization Women in Public Policy (WIPP) released a list of things that the Trump administration needs to know about women entrepreneurs to help them thrive, including the challenges they face in representation and the policies that would help them (including federal procurement parity, simplified taxes and regulations, and open access to international markets).

Others have also offered the President-elect advice. On November 1, Dell Entrepreneur-in-Residence Elizabeth Gore released an open letter to both candidates with the hashtag #WhatWeNeedToSucceed, listing policy recommendations to help women entrepreneurs. The letter, signed by more than 80 CEOs in the tech industry, suggested policies like:

  • Expanding access to family-friendly workplace policies like affordable childcare and family leave,
  • Fostering small business lending programs,
  • Incentivizing investment in women-owned companies,
  • Streamlining registration and certification processes,
  • And shortening government payment cycles from 90 to 30 days for women-owned contractors.

Some people argue that supporting small businesses, including those owned by women, is the best way for Trump, who ran on a platform of job creation, to jumpstart the economy. Whether that will translate into policy that will help WOSBs remains to be seen.

 

How can my women-owned business win contracts?

  • Self-certify as a woman-owned small business in the SBA database if you haven’t already. The system will change soon, so make sure you take advantage of the convenience of self-certification ASAP.
  • Set up alerts on WOSB set-asides in your NAICS code using a service like EZGovOpps. There’s a lot of money being spent that your business has a leg up on, but to get it you have to know about it and be the first one at the table.
  • Use market intelligence, such as the EZGovOpps forecasting tool, to look ahead at what contracts will be opening for recompetes soon. To learn more about how our software can help you peek into the future, sign up for a free trial.
  • Don’t forget that agencies have setaside goals; find out what they are and which agencies aren’t meeting those goals, and then reach out to contracting officers before they release recompete solicitations. Remind them that setting aside contracting funds for your highly capable women-owned small business will benefit their agency and their career.
  • Take advantage of all the events and resources available to women-owned small business. Try getting involved in your local Women’s Business Center, taking part in a ChallengeHER contracting workshop for women, or reaching out to SBA’s local Small Business Development Center.

Don’t forget to view our full GovCon News section for more intel.

Posted by Libby Solomon on December 7, 2016

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