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A toolkit for entrepreneurs pursuing certifications and public sector work

The public sector market is a MASSIVE market that offers tremendous growth opportunities. Many people think government contracting is a black box. They don’t know how exactly it works – where to find opportunities, how to pursue them, or what’s required. They think of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other large government contractors. New entrepreneurs and many small businesses often either shy away from these opportunities or don’t even consider them as opportunities.

Yet there are programs that are specifically designed to help small and/or minority, woman, or veteran-owned businesses. How? A percentage of contracts and grants are set aside for small and/or woman, veteran or minority-owned businesses. These contracts and grants cover THOUSANDS of services and products. Free resources, technical assistance, training, and much more is also available. Explore to learn more.

From Complex to Easy and Understandable

The Story behind Certification Throwdown

Despite graduating with a Masters in Business, I knew nothing about certifications for small, minority, and women-owned businesses. The language of contracting (RFPs, RFQs, Cone of Silence, etc.) was completely foreign. It wasn’t something my business courses taught. Looking back, I don’t remember a single class example where the government was the buyer.

I was first introduced to the power of these certifications while working at an engineering firm that worked for universities, hospital systems, airports, municipalities, and other public sector organizations. I quickly learned that when pursuing a contract for one of these organizations, big companies wanted to invite you to pursue the contract with them. You were essentially the cool kid at the party. Or maybe the nerd who could get them the extra credit is more like it. But the big guys wanted you around. Let’s face it they needed you around. Why? Because many government contracts require a portion of the work to go to support small, minority or women-owned businesses. Proposals get grades and the extra points go to the companies that include the little companies. Some proposals won’t even be accepted if you don’t have the required participation.

One of the best parts about some of these certifications is that some contracts are designated only for a sheltered market. Meaning that now you can go after a contract without even having to consider the big guys as competition.

I saw firsthand how certifications could help a business grow and thrive. It’s still hard work, but doors opened that were previously shut.

Later, I witnessed struggling small businesses that had a product or service that was viable in the public sector. They never thought of pursuing public sector work. When I asked if they knew about certifications, I mostly got blank stares. I get it, government contracting and certifications are technical and intimidating. They have their own language and rules. Despite that, it’s worth understanding. It can help your business grow in ways you never imagined.

After countless encounters with small business owners, I made Certification Throwdown. Our goal is to bring awareness and ease to the process of pursuing certifications and public sector contracts.

We hope it saves you time and opens new opportunities for your business to grow.

Katie White, Certification Throwdown

Our Team

Katie White has a Master’s in Business Management from the University of Florida and over 15 years of professional experience in business development, marketing, and information architecture. She is the founder of KW Consulting & Design, LLC, which focuses on interweaving design, strategy, and technology (like Certification Throwdown) to provide a wide range of services for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Public Sector Contract Highlights

– Lead author and designer for a client’s winning proposal for a $9 million US Army Corps of Engineers contract
Pursued and won 35+ multi-year continuing contracts with over 20 public agencies

Katie currently serves as consultant for universities and national organizations, where she builds and facilitates programs to educate and empower women entrepreneurs, including the Farm2Food Accelerator, WERISE, and EWITS (Empowering Women in Technology Startups). She also provides consulting and design services to individual small businesses. Her prior positions include Marketing Specialist for UF Innovate – The Hub, a technology-based business incubator, and Business Development Director for Tierra South Florida, Inc. an engineering firm.

Development Team

Many of Certification Throwdown’s core tools and features are due to our amazing development team.

On-going Development Team: William Lee and Michaela Isaacs

Past Contributors: Monica Tam, Bryant Wilkins, Jason Puthusseril, , Adam Weizman, Heran Goa, Joseph Marti, John Thurber, John Zorc, and Raymond Li