4 Certifications Your Small Business Should Acquire This Year
To make your business stand out from the competition, you should seek expertise others don’t have. Acquiring business certifications shows you took the extra initiative to ensure you’re proficient in a specific area.
There are two broad categories of business certifications: government-backed and the private sector. If you want to land federal contracts, you may need federal credentials. However, there are also many private sector possibilities at the national, state, and local levels. These help you stand out as an expert in your field and grab the attention of customers.
Out of the hundreds of different certifications you can seek, how do you know which ones to go for? We’re going to look at four options to help your business grow and improve your revenue.
Is your company one that prides itself on reducing energy consumption? One thing you can do to make your brand stand out is embracing a cause. However, you should prepare to do more than just say you’re a green company. Prove it by getting your LEED certification.
What is LEED certification? LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.” You can qualify for tax credits and grants by obtaining it.
There are four levels of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. The categories are based on points a business earns by seeking green buildings and operations, energy savings, water conservation, and more.
Getting LEED-certified can lead to significant tax breaks. You’ll also show how committed you are to running a green business. However, it is a grueling process. Either hire someone to help or prepare to invest your time in working toward certification.
What does ISO 9001 mean? It is an international standard for quality. It can vary depending on your industry, but you must meet customers’ and stakeholders’ needs within regulations and standards.
Seeking ISO 9001 certification shows you meet some basic standards for your industry. The board that grants ISO 9001 has people from over 160 countries who regulate quality. The unique thing about ISO 9001 is that it isn’t just for one type of industry. Any small business can implement these standards and improve its bottom line.
If your small business is in growth mode, ISO 9001 drives forward your processes and ensures success in the future. It requires a full accounting of what you do now, plus ongoing reviews.
Some of the benefits of getting your ISO 9001 certification include improving internal operations, reducing waste, becoming more productive and profitable, and meeting a standard recognized globally.
Some of the problems you may run into during your quest for certification include management who don’t have the time or motivation to achieve the goals. Finances may also hinder your process. You really must hire consultants to guide you through the process and shore up knowledge in areas where you’re lacking. Plan for the costs so you don’t run out of funds before completing the process.
It’s well worth the effort to get your ISO 9001 certification. Your business will run like a well-oiled machine upon completion. However, you need guidance and commitment to make it through the process.
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several certifications you can seek. You can self-certify for many of these areas. Getting certified allows you to work with mentors or apply for specialty contracts.
There are three certifications you can seek via the SBA:
- Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB): To qualify as a WOSB, you must be at least 51% female-owned and controlled. Qualifying for WOSB certification allows you to seek out the federal contract program. The government sets aside money to offer contracts to underrepresented groups.
- Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone): Is your business located in an economically disadvantaged area? You may qualify for this certification. You will gain access to federal contracts.
- 8(a) Business Development (BD) Program: For small businesses owned and controlled by a minimum of 51% economically or socially disadvantaged owners, you may qualify for numerous SBA and government programs.
The SBA also offers programs for disabled veterans. You’ll need to provide documentation, but it can help you attract customers and qualify for the help you otherwise wouldn’t receive, including low-interest loans.
If you’re not sure you qualify for one of the programs listed above, contact your local SBA office. They can guide you through the options. They also have volunteers who will talk to you about seeking grants and funding for your company.
HubSpot Inbound Marketing
You can finish your inbound marketing certification through HubSpot and have all employees working with the public complete it as well. The course is 100% free to complete.
Topics in the course include:
- Inbound marketing techniques
- Core tactics
- Best practices for SEO (search engine optimization)
- Attracting new leads
The online course features eight different lessons. Students view 34 videos and take eight quizzes. The certification course takes just over four hours to complete.
There are several advantages to finishing the inbound marketing certification. You’ll have better-trained staff who can drive traffic to your website. If you serve clients, you’ll also be able to add the certification to your list of accomplishments.
You don’t have to run a marketing firm to benefit from HubSpot’s inbound marketing certification. The only drawback is that you and any workers will have to put in the hours viewing the videos to ensure you pass the quizzes and gain certification. The course isn’t difficult, but it’s packed with information.
Certifications in Your Industry
The four certifications above are ones your small business can complete this year. You can seek many other types of accomplishments globally, nationally, and the state and local levels.
These vary depending on what type of small business you own. A contractor may want LEED certification as well as some other building standards. However, a retail shop owner might only need the ones listed above and a local area Chamber of Commerce customer service excellence certification.
Think about what serves your business best and seek out the paperwork that drives you forward. You want to impress customers and increase your knowledge at the same time. If you continuously improve, your business will thrive.