Celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month

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by AnnaKate Moeller, WIPP Programs Manager

This October we are particularly excited to celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month because of the release of the results of the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) and the SBA issuing the final rule on Sole Source Authority. It has been a big year for women in business to say the least.

The theme for this year’s National Small Business Month is “10 Million Strong” recognizing the 2012 SBO results of the nearly 10 million women-owned businesses currently in the United States. This is a 27.5% increase from 2007 survey results, showing that women-owned businesses are growing and in turn boosting the economy.

We also have cause to celebrate as the Small Business Administration issued the final rule improving access to federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses with Sole Source Authority. This rule is expected to be effective and available for use by federal agencies on October 14, 2015.

As we celebrate 10 Million Strong this October, WIPP will be highlighting women business owners on our boards, throughout our member base and networks. Please check out our twitter, Facebook and blog throughout the month to hear the stories of these female leaders.

Remarkable Advances For Women Business Owners

By Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

Annual Mtg 2014 - #2The U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (SBO) showed impressive expansion for women-owned businesses. The survey’s latest data, released in August, showed nearly 10 million women-owned firms in the United States. This represents a 27% improvement from the survey’s last results in 2007. In the long term, the number of women-owned companies has increased over 50% since the survey showed 6.5 million firms in 2002.

This growth in women-owned firms is an encouraging economic indicator. Just as important, this progress occurred during the largest recession since the Great Depression. It stands as a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of our country’s female business owners.

The SBO is an important tool for assessing the state and growth of businesses, particularly women-owned. The Census Bureau describes this survey as providing “the only source of detailed and comprehensive data on the status, nature, and scope of women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses.” While only the preliminary findings have been released, it provides an important preview of the more comprehensive data that will be made available later this year. The complete dataset will include more specified demographic breakdowns of firm ownership characteristics, including women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses as well as revenues, size, industry-classification data, and geographic information.

It is imperative to use the most complete, comprehensive, and timely data to structure reasoned, directed policy initiatives and make informed decisions, thus, we are looking forward to having the complete survey data later this year. It will be an invaluable tool for guiding our policy direction moving forward, educating government entities and providing useful comparisons for individual firms. We whole-heartedly expect the full dataset to reveal many more successes.

A Scorecard That Matters

WG Blog

By Sydney Ringer, WIPP Government Relations Intern

Earlier this year, Dell released their 2015 Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, a new data-driven diagnostic tool that identifies the impediments to high-impact entrepreneurship. It also introduces steps that can be taken to improve the conditions for high-impact female entrepreneurship development. Countries were rated on five categories: business environment, gendered access, leadership and rights, pipeline for entrepreneurship, and potential entrepreneur leaders. The United States, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, and Canada are at the top of the list.

While the United States was at the top of the rankings system, our rating was still only 71/100 across the categories. Only 13% of start-ups have women on their executive team, and just 3% of start-ups with women CEOs received venture capital funding in 2014.[1] According to Dr. Ruta Aidis, the project director, “if women entrepreneurs were starting growth-oriented businesses at the same rate as men in the United States, we could potentially have 15 million more jobs in the next two years”.[2] The Scored is another reminder of just how challenging it can be for women to succeed even today, and even in countries like the United Sates.

First, female role models in business and government are critically important. In the U.S. only 22% of the female population knows an entrepreneur despite 46% of women believing they have the skills necessary to start a business. Women entrepreneurs can leverage their success to provide real business insights on how to encourage women to start their own businesses. Once Women decide to start their own business they have modest aspirations because access to capital is still a huge barrier. Women-owned companies are 50% less capitalized than their male-owned counterparts.

While this report demonstrates all the growth the United States and other countries still need to do, it also presents some interesting ways to encourage women entrepreneurs. On the international level, the International Trade Centre launched a global initiative to increase the proportion of public procurement contracts being awarded to women owned businesses. The study also suggests corporations diversify their leadership and increase the number of women-owned business vendors in their supply chain.

The media can also play an important role as well. Right now global media only features women as subjects in print, radio and television 25% of the time. Seeing more articles featuring women as the top story on their homepage could inspire women to follow in their footsteps.

Every country in the study, even the top rated, has room for improvement. More than 70% of the countries still rated scored less than 50 out of 100. Despite challenges, women-owned businesses are growing, but they would be growing at an exponentially faster rate if they got some encouragement from their governments, corporations, media, and other entrepreneurs.


[1] CNN Money, “The Best Country For Women Entrepreneurs.” 2015. Available online at http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/30/smallbusiness/women-entrepreneurs-dell/index.html?category=smallbusiness

[2] “Global Women Entrepreneur Scorecard Executive Summary”. 2015. Available online at http://i.dell.com/sites/doccontent/corporate/secure/en/Documents/2015-GWEL-Scorecard-Executive-Summary.pdf

Bonds: An Important Weapon In Any Contractor’s Arsenal

It is vital that construction contractors, regardless of tier or trade, understand the basic principles of contract surety bonds. An understanding of how bonds are used in construction; and, importantly, how the surety company prequalifies the contractor is critical.   Surety Bonds are mandated by various federal, state and local laws, but may also be required by the private sector as well. Recently, as part of WIPP’s Give Me 5 webinar series, bonding specialist Ellen Neylan, along with construction counsel, Jennifer M. Horn and Maria Panichelli, discussed these issues in detail. Below are some highlights of the discussion.

The Performance Bond secures the contractor’s promise to perform the contract in accordance with its terms and conditions, at the agreed upon price, and within the time allowed. The Payment Bond protects certain laborers, material suppliers and subcontractors against nonpayment. Since mechanic’s liens cannot be placed against public property, the payment bond may be the only protection these claimants have if they are not paid for the goods and services they provide to the project.

In order to obtain a bond, the contractor must be prequalified. Sureties should not bond a contractor that does not meet their prequalification standards. The surety company’s pre-qualification process carefully analyzes the contractor’s entire business operation, much like a bank, because the surety is backing the promise that the contractor will perform the contract. The surety determines the contractor’s ability to meet current and future contract and financial obligations.

The parameters of bonding on a project are often dictated by the law. For example, the Federal Miller Act requires surety bonds for the “construction, alteration, or repair of any public building or public work of the United States for an amount greater than $100,000.” When filing surety claims against Miller Act bonds, subcontractors should be aware that timing is critical. Even though no notice is required, first tier subcontractors must wait 90 days from non-payment to give the bond principal a chance to make payments. In addition, all suits must be filed within one year of last work performed or materials supplied. It’s very important that the claim notice clearly state the amount being claimed, the name of the party to whom labor or supplies were provided, and that the subcontractor is making a formal claim against the bond principal.

The Surety will not pay claims without regard to their merits, but it should be expected to respond to claims promptly and, if denying a claim, offer an explanation. Finally, the Surety, with the aid of legal counsel, can assert all defenses of its bond principal, unless precluded by bond or contract language. Examples of defenses might include: breach of contract; recoupment/setoff; and failure to mitigate damages.

For more detailed information about this important topic, tune in to the recent webinar:

Give Me 5 Logo

Give Me 5: Construction Unit – Bonding and Liens 

As a federal contractor in the construction industry, it is imperative that you obtain proper bonding – but this is a highly complicated subject that could end up costing you an incredible amount of money if you don’t fully understand the nuances and ramifications. This webinar unravels the most important aspects of bonding and liens providing you with important guidelines for success.

Course Instructors: Jennifer Horn, Partner, Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC & Maria Panichelli, Associate, Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC and Special Guest: Ellen Neylan, Founder, Surety Bonds Associates

Listen to the Podcast | View the Presentation