Karen’s Corner: Women in Government Contracting
Mind Your Business, Inc. founder and CEO Karen Caruso has over 25 years of experience in the industry. She founded the company based upon her goal to provide accurate information to individuals and businesses making hiring decisions.
Her passion and vision has guided MYB, Inc. through the years. Today, it is a thriving business and was listed as one of the top 5000 fastest growing businesses in America by Inc Magazine. Karen’s desire to share knowledge and help others continues today through Karen’s Corner. Join us as we discover why government contracting is an excellent opportunity for women-owned businesses.
Why is it important for woman-owned businesses to look for opportunities within government contracting?
Karen: It is important for women-owned businesses because the federal government understands the importance of supporting women-owned and minority businesses and has dedicated funds to women-owned business contractors. Getting into federal contracting is the fastest way to gain credibility and the fastest way to grow your business.
The federal government must award 25% of all federal contracts to small businesses. Within that small business allotment, 5% must go to women-owned businesses. The federal government only awarded 4.75% of federal contracts to women in the fiscal year of 2018. As businesswomen, we can apply for federal contracts and help ensure the full 5% is being allotted to women-owned businesses.
How did you first learn about opportunities to work for the federal government?
Karen: I unknowingly hired a retired contracting officer. She is the one who introduced me to government contracting. Without her, I would not have known about it. I want to share what I know, because I want other women-owned businesses to take advantage of these opportunities as well.
Women business owners can compete for any type of federal government contracts. However, some contract opportunities are reserved for women-owned businesses. This practice helps create a level playing field as women-owned businesses have been historically under-represented. In addition to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) contracts, there are also contracts set aside for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB).
Learn how you can get your business certified, by visiting the U.S. Small Business Administration online.
What were the initial challenges you faced when you first started federal contracting?
Karen: The biggest hurdle was being taken seriously. It was difficult to convince people that we were a company that deserved a chance. My advice to other small businesses is to not give up. Our persistence and hard work paid off.
What advice would you give to a woman-owned small business that’s looking to get started in federal contracting?
Karen: Do your homework. My first recommendation is to find out what agencies need your services. Also, don’t be afraid to network. Go to Washington D.C. and attend conferences with Federal Agencies as attendees. It is important to have staff members dedicated to writing responses to contracts. I wasn’t prepared for the first response I wrote for a large contract, and I wasn’t able to give it my best. I learned from that experience, moved forward, and was eventually awarded numerous federal contracts. Be prepared to put the work in, and eventually you’ll be noticed.
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