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Do 20% of MWBEs Win 80% of the Work?

Jean Kristensen - Contracts - Do 20% of MWBEs Win 80% of the Work?I recently reviewed the results of the New York State Disparity Studyand without surprise—it reveals that doing business with the government can still be a challenge for MWBEs. What I found most interesting was that in a lot of circumstances, the study reported that contracts are awarded to the same, prime contractors and MWBEs—despite their size and industry.

These contracts were repeatedly awarded to the same firms over and over and over again.

This reminded me of a lesson from some years ago. When I was in the real estate industry, I learned about the 80/20 rule. The short version of this concept is that (in real estate terms) about 80% of all the homes sold were going to be sold by 20% of the realtors.

This didn’t reflect that 20% of the realtors had better selling skills than the others, it just meant their habits and behaviors were more conducive to selling homes.

That concept inspired me to explore that idea. After interviewing and working with hundreds of MWBE firms, I’ve created a list of what I think are the most important habits, resources, and behaviors of the most successful MWBEs.

1.Be Clear About Capacity. MWBEs must create a deliberate strategy for acquiring contracts that align with their experience and past performance. Okay, what if you don’t have either of those things? If you lack experience and past performance, your focus should be on getting it through teaming, subcontracting, hiring out, and creating a strategy to get the experience you need.

2.Credit, Credit, Credit. There’s no denying it, we all know that minority- and women-owned businesses face challenges gaining access to capital. However, if you’re meticulous about managing your credit, your outcome will improve. Whether you’re starting from ground zero or working your way up the totem pole, it’s all about gaining access to the capital you need and being deliberate about how you manage your finances—both professionally and personally.

3.Be Selective About Education. The number of education programs specifically for MWBEs grows every day. If you’re newly certified as an MWBE, investing in these courses is a valuable idea. But if you’re at the point where you’re itching to take the next step with your business, align yourself with programs that have defined outcomes. In other words, think about the tangible results. Before you enroll in any particular program, make sure it’s taught by leaders in your industry, so you can gain access to the secrets and tips from people who have already broken the barriers you’re aiming to get through.

4.Collaboration is Key. Think about who you can add to your team to enhance your experience, credit, and past performance. Why go it alone when teaming up with another MWBE or experienced prime contractor can add tremendous value to your business? Form strong collaborations and joint ventures to double the impact of your deliverables.

5.Coaching & Mentorship. Entrepreneurship requires focus, discipline, and resources. Hiring a coach can provide you with expert advice and resources needed to take your business to the next level—quickly. Experienced coaches also provide accountability and help business owners stay on task.

I encourage you to read the disparity study so you can have a better understanding of the challenges that MWBEs are up against.

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