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Within small to medium sized businesses, Heather Cox is an accomplished sales and operations executive with over a decade of experience. Currently, she is Co-founder and COO of Certify My Company, a diversity consultancy. Heather, along with her co-founder, wanted to be able to help women, minority and LGBT business owners, that qualify; certify their businesses to become part of the ranks and privileges that certification brings. To those ends, Certify My Company was born with the goal of inspiring and helping diverse businesses grow while having more fun and time doing it.
Certify My Company, Inc. provides certification assistance, certification training, database evaluation, multi-tier programming, multi-tier program development, training solutions, diverse supplier training, webinars, workshops, diversity consulting, strategy and business development for diverse suppliers . We work with corporations, WBEs, MBEs, VOSBs, SBEs, DBEs and the supplier diversity community as a whole.
MO: How did you come up with the idea for Certify My Company?
Heather: Once I decided that corporate America would not allow me the balance I needed as a working wife and mother, I began to attend networking events. I met many successful women business owners who were complaining about a certification that would be very beneficial for their companies but they couldn’t get the application completed. I was shocked. How could the owner of a $10, $20, $100 million business not be able to complete an application? Then I researched and discovered the reasons. It is arduous, time consuming and full of private information that you do not want your assistant to have. I offered to complete the process for a few of these business owners, and Certify My Company was born.
MO: What were some of the practical challenges of creating a company that needs to hold expertise in so many different areas?
Heather: Regardless of the business, the entrepreneurial challenges remain the same. Initially, there is providing the business case and generating sufficient revenue to support the concept. Then, comes expanding your deliverables in a unique & value added way to meet market needs while doing all the above. The resources are out there to attain the expertise needed. Certifying your business & taking FULL advantage of all that it offers is key. Certified companies succeed at a much higher rate than those that are not. That is why I am so committed to this process.
MO: What are some of the main reasons companies want to become certified? Do you have a target audience?
Heather: A differentiated marketing strategy is key. Consumers have a plethora of choices. What makes one florist different from another, one printer, one painter, one IT company? Service, cost? It all sounds the same.
If you are a Women owned, minority or GLBT Business, differentiating yourself by certifying your company as such will separate you from the pack.
Minority Businesses are looking for additional opportunities to do business with Fortune 500 companies and Federal Government agencies. That is terrific, because many of the Fortune 500 companies through their supplier diversity initiatives have annual diversity spend goals. These goals serve to promote the inclusion of diverse suppliers into their supply chain. Certification is key to winning those contracts!! These large organizations can ONLY count spend with CERTIFIED suppliers. Therefore, being a certified diverse supplier is a competitive advantage. By actively seeking out Certification is key to winning these contracts!!
MO: Why do you advise clients to, “Outsource to experts whenever possible?”
Heather: So many of my clients have come to me after spending thousands and thousands of dollars on an attorney to complete their certification application only to still not have it complete or worse, be denied certification. By not doing it right the first time, they lose valuable time and their application fee. Smart business people use a CPA for taxes, an attorney for contracts and a dentist for their teeth!
MO: Have you noticed any specific trends in your industry over the past few years?
Heather: Gone are the days when you can just say you are a woman or minority owned business. You need to prove it. Having a third party diversity certification proves that you are beyond a shadow of a doubt who you say you are! Decision makers are very busy and appreciate and gravitate to using resources that have been vetted.
MO: Can you talk a bit about your new service offerings to the diversity community as a whole and what that means for the company?
Heather: Our growth & success comes from listening to our clients needs & developing quality products to meet them. After the Scrub Now What?TM :Transitioning Classified Vendors to Certified Vendors, Vendor Registration, Educational and Developmental Programming Supplier Sourcing, Vendor Capacity Building are examples of just that. All of our services are designed to spotlight diverse companies in the eyes of their potential customers and drive revenue.