The journey to certification looks different for each small business owner, but there are inherent benefits for everyone. Whether it is certification as a woman, minority, disabled, veteran, LGBTQ+ or other underrepresented business owner, it helps to not only create equitable opportunities in the marketplace but also reach a variety of consumers and clients with different needs and identities. When you can be wholly and holistically seen and respected, it makes it easier for others too. It was our pleasure at Professional WOMAN’s Magazine to speak with a certified woman and minority business owner doing her part to educate and inspire other women entrepreneurs to build their best business and achieve their dreams.
Professional WOMAN’s Magazine (PWM): How did you learn about small business certifications for women and minorities? Why did you decide to pursue certification?
CEO Amanda Ma (Ma): I first learned about certification through Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council (SCMSDC). There is an advantage to becoming certified. As a woman- and minority-owned certified business it has increased our access to opportunity. It is also helpful because many companies want to work with woman- and minority-owned businesses; that certification makes us visible.
PWM: What were your trials and tribulations on the road to certification? How has certification helped your business?
Ma: Being certified has provided access to new opportunities. We had several successful opportunities that turned into actual contracts. However, the opportunities were nourished over time. With the cultivated relationships, certification becomes door opening opportunities and another differentiator. However, it’s important to understand just because you are certified it does not mean you get contracts right away. Getting certified is step one then you need to understand the needs of the corporation and communicate what problems you help solve (even better).
PWM: What perks have you embraced from being certified, for example have you used any of the mentors, peer-to-peer resources, financial advice, attended conferences or conventions, etc.?
Ma: As a matter of fact, I am currently going through the Amgen mentoring program, organized by SCMSDC. In addition to that, other benefits included matchmaking opportunities, resources guidance, pitch feedback and networking opportunities.
PWM: If you could offer one piece of advice for women business owners thinking about certification, what would you say?
Ma: Find your champion within supplier diversity. Engage with them and find out what problems they are trying to solve. Be a resource and value add to them. Be frank about your product or service; what is your company’s actual core competence. It’s okay to let them know if an opportunity is not within your core competence but do let them know or remind them what is. And when you get a contract, that is when the real work starts. Make sure to over-deliver every time!
PWM: How did the podcast, EventUp, form? What was the goal and why did you want to focus on other certified women business owners and business leaders? What is your ultimate goal with this podcast?
Ma: EventUp formed out of our desire to help others gain insight into the current happenings within the events industry, but it truly blossomed into having guests from a multitude of industries such as events, public relations, marketing, tech and entertainment. Another purpose is to help highlight other diverse and women top professionals.
As a diverse, woman-owned business it is important to us to spotlight other amazing diverse and women industry leaders and to shine a light on the amazing work they do and their wisdom. We have had women from all industries come on and provide such amazing advice and knowledge to our listeners such as:
- Tomiko Iwata, EVP Creative Services at FOX Entertainment
- Anu Rao, Vice President Communications at LVMH Moët Hennessy North America
- Farzana Nayani, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant, ERG Specialist and Keynote Speaker
The goal for EventUp is always to provide value and to be a place where people enthusiastic about the world of events and beyond can come together to learn something new and be inspired.
PWM: What has been the most interesting episode you’ve had (or the biggest takeaway) and why?
Ma: We had Susan Lindner, CEO of Innovation Storytellers and keynote speaker, as a guest and she provided the most valuable lessons regarding the art of public relations and how everyone can use it to their advantage which is so important because every brand, every industry and every product uses PR in some way to communicate to their audiences. She really emphasized using storytelling as a way of communicating your message. She said, “PR is the act of generating goodwill among the audiences we care about. What you want to do is show the world how you are making other people’s lives better.”