Government Contracting for Women-Owned Small Businesses


Contracting opportunities with the world’s largest consumer of goods and services offer tremendous potential for financial growth to women-owned small businesses.

As part of the Federal Government Resources Streamlining Act of 1994, the U.S. government set a goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to small businesses owned by women. To help reach this goal, in 2011, the Small Business Administration (SBA) instituted the Women-Owned Small Business Program. This allows federal government contracting officers to set aside contracts for competition exclusively among women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) or among economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) in industries in which WOSBs and EDWOSBs, respectively, are deemed underrepresented. (Note: only industries on these lists can qualify for such set asides; but these are not the only contracts for which women-owned businesses can compete and win.)

To put the 5% goal in context, the U.S. federal government spends an estimated $500 billion annually on goods and services and of this about $260 billion are contracts on which small businesses can be prime contractors. That means about $25 billion should be going to WOSBs and EDWOSBs with close to $13 billion eligible to them as primes.  The Small Business Dashboard shows federal agencies’ spending on contracts awarded to small businesses.

These opportunities mean that  WOSBs and EDWOSBs should know what steps to take to get started in government contracting and then take them when they see an opportunity! 2015 was the first year in which the 5% goal was met and there are still plenty of opportunities for WOSBs and EDWOSBs to capitalize on sales to the government. SBA and its partners – PTAC, SBDC and SCORE – have advisors who can help small businesses, including WOSBs and EDWOSBs, get started in government contracting.

The first step for eligible businesses is getting certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB. The second is competing for  contracts.

Eligibility for WOSB

Size: To be eligible to qualify as a WOSB for the purpose of federal government contracting, a business must, of course, be a small business according federal standards. This is determined, on an industry by industry basis, differentiated by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. (Read more about NAICS.) The limit will pertain either to the annual gross revenues (e.g., only $750K for strawberry farming – NAICS 111333 – but $36.5 M for commercial and institutional building construction – NAICS 236220) or to number of employees (e.g., only 250 employees for solar electric power generation- NAICS 221114 – but 1,250 employees for manufacturing chocolate and confections made from cocoa beans – NAICS 311351). When bidding on a contract, additionally, the business must be a small business according to the NAICS code for the job if more than one NAICS code applies to the business. This tool from the SBA can be used to determine size-eligibility. (Note: WOSB and EDWOSB have separate NAICS codes for determination of industry-specific underrepresentation for set aside contracts.)

Women-ownership: One or more women must have ownership with at least 51% of the business owned and controlled by a woman or women; and these women must be U.S. citizens. This means that up to 49% of the company’s ownership can be men.

Women-management: Women must not only manage daily operations of the business but also be responsible for making long-term decisions affecting the business. This means that the 51% women owners cannot be uninvolved owners or even play just a minor role in the company.

Eligibility for EDWOSB 

In addition to meeting the requirements for WOSB, EDWOSB are subject to the following economic restrictions.

Annual Income: The women who own and control the business must each have an adjusted gross income  (averaged over 3 years) of less than $350K.

Personal Net Worth: The women who own and control the business must each have personal net worth (i.e., worth of assets minus liabilities) of less than $750K.

Personal Assets: The women who own and control the business must each have personal assets  (regardless of liabilities) of $6M or less.

Getting Certified

Before starting the process, a business should have a profile in the System for Award Management (SAM). It is important to set this up correctly. Businesses that have been in existence for at least one year can receive assistance with the process from an advisor at their local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). PTAC can also assist with steps such as getting a Dun & Bradstreet Number (DUNS), a Commercial And Government Entity Code (CAGE) and a notarized letter listing ownership of the company.

Self-Certification: For now, women-owned small businesses can still self-certify at The process involves answering questions and uploading documents. It is a good idea to review the preparation checklist before starting. (Due to potential abuse of the self-certification system, the ability to self-certify may change in the future and so it is a good idea for certified businesses to stay current on changes in certification requirements.)

Third-Party Certification: In the future, some sort of third-party certification may be needed for eligibility for federal contracting and it is already required by some smaller government agencies and private companies. There are currently four organizations that have SBA approval to do certifications which can be found toward the bottom of the SBA webpage on WOSB.

Competing for Contracts

The main place to look for opportunities is FedBizOpps.Gov . This is the website where government contracts for $25,001 –  $150K are posted. The website has a FAQs page and training videos for using the site. Use this to search for potential contracts. Respond to sources sought notices for jobs that you are capable of performing. If two or more women-owned businesses respond, the contract might be set aside for WOSBs or EDWOSBs; but if there are not responses from WOSBS/EDWOSBs to sources sought notices, or if the responding firms are not capable of performing the jobs, the contracts cannot be set aside.

Contracts of $5,001 – $25K do not need to be publicized but must receive at least three bids. For this reason, it is a good idea to attend government contracting events, such as contracting open houses, to make connections for learning about opportunities.

It is important that bids submitted be reasonable, i.e., you need the ability to perform the contract, perform it at a reasonable price and still be able to make a profit. It is also important to understand the mission and goals of the federal agency and of the project for which it is soliciting bids.  Proposals should reflect familiarity with this background. Further tips can be found on the SBA blog.

If this sounds promising, the SBA has a 30-minute online course that small businesses can take on preparing proposals for bidding on government contracts. The SBA and its partner organizations also offer in person workshops on government contracting.

Bid contracts, however, are not the only avenue for selling to the federal government. Jobs for $5K and under do not have to go through the bidding process but may be filled on the open market. Even for these, certification as a WOSB or EDWOSB can be advantageous because even jobs under $5K, when filled by certified businesses, help fulfill the government’s 5% goal and there are a lot of jobs that fall into this category.

Federal government contracting can be complicated; but, because of the vast array of opportunities and the potential value they hold for small businesses, there are resources for assistance available through the SBA and its local partners:

Wichita SBA Office Phone: 316-269-6616

Kansas City SBA Office Phone: 816-426-4840

Wichita State University PTAC Office Phone: (316) 978-6788

GO Topeka PTAC Office Phone: (785) 234-2644

Johnson County Community College PTAC Office Phone: (913) 469-8500 x. 2313

Kansas SBDC Locations and Contact Information

SCORE Chapters in Kansas

Small businesses interested in government contracting are encouraged to make use of assistance available from the resources!

Links to further information:


Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Kansas SBDC at Washburn University

America’s SBDC Kansas

SBA PoweredBy with statement  kansaslogoWUKSBDC Logo

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Uncorked Inspiration


Owned by Neal and Andrea Wollenberg, Uncorked Inspiration is a creative arts venue, offering “paint and sip” classes and more.  It opened doors in downtown Manhattan on May 1st. 

Neal Wollenberg describes himself as having an entrepreneurial spirit. He says that he has always felt the urge to be his own boss and had the hope that someday he could turn his artistic interests into a business. His wife Andrea, who describes herself as the more business-like of the two, did not share that desire initially. The Wollenbergs, however, started an “entrepreneurship journey” together during the summer of 2015 when they conceived of the idea for Uncorked Inspiration. They considered the possibility on and off as Neal showed his paintings at regional craft fairs, meanwhile working at his full-time job. By chance, a local business owner spotted Neal’s work at one of these shows and, after talking with him about the Wollenbergs’ idea, invited Neal to teach paint and sip classes at her winery, Liquid Art.


(photo courtesy of Neal Wollenberg)

Neal taught classes once a month at the country venue for half a year and then the Wollenbergs made the decision to set-up business at Iron Clad, a local co-working space. The downtown location provided them with a visible venue where they were able to host events more regularly – setting up and tearing down materials for each. Of equal importance, utilizing the co-working space helped the Wollenbergs to minimize the fixed costs of the business while they built up capital and assessed the market.

During this timeframe, Andrea and Neal contacted the Kansas SBDC. As a start-up business, they had lots of questions (e.g., about sales tax) and needed assistance getting answers. Also, as their paint and sip classes were becoming more popular, Neal and Andrea felt the desire to pursue the additional things that they could offer if Uncorked Inspiration had its own space. The Wollenbergs had a vision for the business but not yet a fully developed plan for how to get there. While working on this with their SBDC advisor, as Neal describes it, “there was one moment – almost cathartic – when Laurie asked us, If the perfect space became available for you to open your business out on your own, would you do it? And honestly, that scared us to death.”

As scary as the question was, it also prompted the Wollenbergs to assess what they really wanted and what it would take for them to get it. The question opened their eyes to the possibility that what they wanted might be within their reach much sooner than they had realized. A few months later, Neal and Andrea found an ideal space at 121 South 4th Street and couldn’t stop thinking about that question, If the perfect space became available… would you do it?  The answer: they signed the lease and stepped out into their own space.


The step wasn’t a leap of faith, though. After having worked on a business plan, created a budget for the cost of expanding into a brick-and-mortar location and produced a cash flow projection, the Wollenbergs felt comfortable that the change in business model was feasible.

“We have been incredibly careful in how we’ve built our business,” says Neal. Nevertheless, committing to the step from utilizing a shared space to renting their own location felt like a big deal. “Well, leasing a space is pretty scary, so that was a challenge. When you decide to make a leap from a co-working space where you pay a relatively small amount to leasing your own space where you’re not only paying a larger amount per month, but you’re also contracted for a year… that definitely can be a challenge. However, we felt that with the paint and sip as our anchor, we could manage this financial transition.”


The Wollenbergs had ideas for offering more than paint and sip classes. They envisioned an art gallery featuring local artists, a crafting space for make and take items, and the possibility of more workshops and art classes. As much as they loved Iron Clad, they needed their own space in order to realize these goals.

Asked how they are feeling about the step, the Wolenbergs say, “We’re excited. Scared. Worried. Optimistic. We love our space!” The Wollenbergs find it rewarding when people have fun in their classes and get to relax and enjoy themselves. It is a “therapeutic outlet” for patrons and business owners alike. Neal and Andrea are also taking pleasure in being able to hang works by local artists on the walls of Uncorked Inspiration and have already started seeing sales from the gallery.


(photo courtesy of Neal and Andrea Wollenberg)

As for what is coming up, the Wollenbergs say that they are very excited about introducing their new offerings: a BYOB DIY Bar (i.e., “bring your own beverage/booze” “do it yourself” arts and crafts space), Succulent Saturdays (workshops for potting succulent plants), varied art workshops, and private art lessons. “We have so many things planned! We’re truly looking forward to all of the amazing things we’ll be able to offer to the Manhattan community.”

Best wishes to Neal and Andrea and thank you for sharing your creative inspirations!

To find Uncorked Inspiration on social media:

Instagram  @uncorkedinspiration
Twitter: @totallyuncorked
Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.
Business Advisor
Kansas SBDCD at Washburn University
America’s SBDC Kansas
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Understanding Business Insurances


In the general context of business planning, and also in the specific contexts of business continuity planning and succession planning, one of the topics that we at the Kansas SBDC frequently discuss with clients is the importance of having necessary and appropriate insurances.  Often, we recommend business owners confer with several members of their BAIL team about insurances. (BAIL is the acronym for Banker, Accountant, Insurance agent and Lawyer; but a BAIL team is a business’s group of  key advisors  which often will extend beyond these four individuals. It may include, e.g., a marketing consultant, a manufacturing consultant, and/or a freight forwarder – and, of course, in the case of our clients, their SBDC Business Advisors!)

Though not exhaustive, below is a lengthy list of types of insurances that small business owners might discuss with members of their BAIL team. Important topics to discuss include exposure to legal liability, exposure to financial risks, business opportunities, business continuity, risk mitigation and recovery, support services, mandatory areas of coverage, recommended areas of coverage, duplication of coverages, unnecessary coverages, recommended amounts of coverages, costs of coverages and how to contain them, deductibles, terms and limitations of coverages and exclusions. It is important for business owners to ask questions, to read and understand their policies, to have access to the document(s), and to keep them up to date.

Business Interruption Insurance (or Contingent Business Insurance) gives the business owner a defined amount of income for a certain period of time if the business is closed due to a catastrophe such fire.

Commercial Automobile Insurance on vehicles owned by or used for the business can include liability, medical, and comprehensive insurances and might also include industry specific coverages, e.g., for construction or for mobile-food- businesses.

Commercial Property Insurance  typically covers buildings and contents (e.g., equipment, inventory, furnishings, documents) and exterior fixtures (e.g., signage, lighting, fencing)  in the case of storms, fire, burst pipes, explosions, theft and vandalism. It is worth understanding the limitations of commercial property insurance. For example, inventory is typically covered only when it is on the insured property (or within so many feet of the property) and not when it is in transit. It should also be noted that home-based businesses may not be covered under their home-owners insurance policy and may additionally require commercial coverage for the business.

Cyber Liability Insurance (or Cyber Risk Insurance) is becoming more important with the devastating effects that cyber attacks can have on small businesses. This type of insurance can cover things such as business losses, the costs of investigations and notifications, and liability.  (Related reading …)

Defalcation, Embezzlement, and Fraud Insurances, Employee Bonds, and Fidelity Bond Insurance are types coverages against employee theft (internally or externally) and criminal or inappropriate behavior.  (Related reading on … defalcation, embezzlement, employee bonds.)

Directors and Officers Liability Insurance (also called D&O Insurance) is available for the Board of Directors/Officers of for-profit as well non-profit businesses to reimburse expenses related to their legal defense against accusations of poor financial management and possibly wrongful acts. (Related reading …)

Employee Non-Owned Auto Insurance. Auto insurance is vehicle specific. This gives a business coverage if one of its employees gets into an accident while driving a personal vehicle for business.

Export Credit Insurance insures exporters who extend credit to foreign buyers against non-payment by those buyers due to commercial or political risk. (Related reading …)

Flood and Earthquake Insurance While property insurance covers structures, inventory and signage in case of events such as break-ins, fires, and storms, losses from wide-spread events such as floods and earthquakes are generally excluded and require separate policies.

Fiduciary Liability Insurance is liability insurance for fiduciaries of employee benefit plans. (Related reading …)

General Liability Insurance offers coverage of expenses related to injuries of non-employees on a business’s property, damages caused by the business to another’s property, and some claims related to intellectual property in advertising. (Related reading …) There are many things that are not covered by general liability insurance and so it is important to understand what other insurances one might need.

Health Insurance can help keep employees, including the owner, healthy and factor in to employee retention. In addition, by offering, or at least making Disability Insurance and Life Insurance availablebusiness owners can show that they care about the financial well-being of their employees and employees’ families.

Inland Marine Insurance (sometimes called Floater Policies) covers inventory or equipment while it is in transit – typically over land – or while it is being held by a bailee or being warehoused at another location. It can also cover moveable property (e.g, artworks, jewelry, computers), moveable equipment (e.g,  photography, medical or construction equipment), and items involved in communications (e.g., radio towers) and transportation (e.g., piers). This insurance generally offers coverage against theft and damages due to collisions, but may also offer coverage for damages due to delays. (Related reading …)

Key Person Insurance (also called Key Employee Insurance) is life or trauma insurance on any individual (e.g., the business owner) without whom the business would struggle to survive in the short-term. This insurance can be a component of the succession and continuity planning of a business. (Related reading …)

Ocean Marine Insurance covers goods while in transit over international or domestic waters by ship or plane. It also offers coverage for businesses such as marinas, marine construction, marine transportation, marine research, commercial fishing and, in some cases, water-related tourism.

Patent Infringement Insurance can cover the costs of a business’s defending itself against deliberate or accidental patent infringement.

Product Liability Insurance for businesses such as manufacturers, distributors, retailers and contractors insures against claims made for liability due to design, manufacturing or marketing and labeling defects in products. (Related reading …)

Professional Liability Insurance (also known as Errors & Omissions Insurance) offers coverage against a customer who claims losses due to dissatisfaction with the business’s work. This type of insurance is industry-relative.

Speciality Insurances are available for a wide range of specific industries and professions such as agriculture, equine-based businesses, aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles, healthcare, food-services, etc.

• Trade Credit Insurance is available for domestic and international transactions. It can be used, e.g., when a seller wants to extend credit to a buyer in order to allow the buyer time to raise cash to pay for the purchase. It insures against non-payment and is available on a per-transaction basis or over all sales. Export credit insurance, above, is a type of trade credit insurance. (Related reading …)

Workers Compensation Insurance This provides insurance provides coverage to cover costs of medical treatments, disability claims and death benefits in case an employee is injured or killed while working. (Related reading for businesses in Kansas …)

Some of these insurances are quite common and generally recommended (e.g., general liability). Others are not as common as perhaps they should be (e.g., business interruption insurance); and yet others are important only in specific circumstances (e.g., export credit insurance). Before making decisions about what insurance to get or not to get, it is important for business owners to educate themselves, confer with trusted advisors, consider what they have to protect, understand the ways in which insurances can help with risk mitigation and business recovery, investigate whether carrying certain insurance coverages might allow them to expand their business, understand what insurances won’t cover and their limitations, and evaluate how insurances fit into their general business plan, business continuity plan and/or succession plan.


Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University SBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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Cybersecurity Awareness: It’s Not Just for IT Professionals


Many small businesses think of their IT professionals as their cybersecurity superheroes, their ever-vigilant line of defense.  True though this may be, talk to any IT professional  and he or she will tell you that cybersecurity is not just an issue for IT guys/gals. It is an organizational issue. Business ownership/leadership/management needs to be educated about risks and risk mitigation and involved discussions about cybersecurity in order to plan strategically and lead from a position of knowledge and preparedness.

The Kansas SBDC Cybersecurity Forum – coming up on April 25th in Manhattan – is designed to help our extended small business community understand cybersecurity and related issues in order to mitigate the risks and stay strong in today’s ever-changing world.  If you are someone who reasons, “I’m not an IT person so I don’t need to know about cybersecurity,” this event should change your way of thinking. We hope to see you there!

Learn more about the Kansas SBDC Cybersecurity Forum coming up on April 25th.

Register here to attend.

Related Post:

Kansas SBDC Cybersecurity Forum

(Cartoon top, used by permission from Randy Glasbergen.)

Laurie  Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University SBDC

America’s SBDC

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Congratulations to NorthWind Technical Services on Your Exporter of the Year Award!

Congratulations to NorthWind Technical Services LLC on receiving the Kansas SBDC Exporter of the Year Award for the Washburn University SBDC! It is an honor to recognize their accomplishments and their contributions to the region.

Learn more about NorthWind Technical Services LLC in this clip from Harvest Video …

The Exporter of the Year Award is given to a business that has grown sales, added new employees, and successfully entered international markets. NorthWind was started by Mike and Marlene Bosworth in the basement of their home in 1997. Located in Sabetha, Kansas, NorthWind has grown to employ 35 people and to provide services to companies around the world including businesses in Australia, Thailand, China, Turkey and Italy. Marlene Bosworth accepted the Exporter of the Year Award at the Kansas SBDC E3 Awards ceremony held at the state capitol in Topeka on March 12th.

For the Bosworths, establishing close relationships is an important part of their business – the relationships they have with their employees as well as with their customers. We wish Marlene and Mike – and their extended NorthWind family – all the best as they continue to successfully grow the company and their exports!

Related Story:

Congratulations to Sugar Creek Country Store on Your Emerging Business Award!

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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Celebrating America’s SBDC Day!

We'reOpenAcross the U.S., there are nearly 1,000 America’s SBDC locations proudly serving the small business community – helping people to start, grow and transition their businesses and helping those businesses to compete successfully in the complex of local, regional and global marketplaces.

On America’s SBDC Day, we celebrate our passionate, hardworking small business clients and the knowledgeable, dedicated, people in our network who come together to give small business owners the educational resources, connections and tools that they need to succeed.

In the state of Kansas, we are known as America’s SBDC Kansas or the Kansas SBDC; and our academic host institutions names’ are attached to our centers. We have Kansas SBDCs out of Washburn University, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Johnson County Community College, University of Kansas, Pittsburg State University and Seward County Community College. The Washburn University SBDC is based in Topeka and also has a Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Outreach Center and a Glacial Hills Outreach Center (located in Wetmore).

The core service of the Kansas SBDC is providing confidential business advising at no-cost to existing or aspiring Kansas small business owners. We are able to do this because of  support from our academic hosts, the SBA, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and our local funding partners throughout the state.

Small businesses – which are classified as such according to NAICS code, but as a rule of thumb are 500 or fewer employees – are the backbone of our Kansas communities. Their success is vital for thriving towns and cities. When small businesses succeed, they generate employment and sales tax revenues as well as producing products and services. In 2016, Kansas SBDC clients generated/retained 3,240 jobs as a result of our services, did over $117M in sales, and raised over $79M of capital to invest in their businesses.

Our advising services to the existing or aspiring Kansas business owner include: how to start a business, access to capital,  business planning for new and existing businesses, cash flow projections and financial management, market research, market planning, social media marketing and management, business management, government contracting, international trade, technology commercialization, cybersecurity, continuity planning, succession planning, business transitions and business valuation. In addition to advising, we have several fee-based speciality consulting services available.

Throughout the state, we also offer workshops on a regular basis and put on conferences on select topics of importance to the extended small business community. Our Kansas SBDC Cybersecurity Forum, coming up on April 25, 2018, is an example of our commitment to expertise on issues impacting small businesses.

At the Kansas SBDC, we are proud of our clients and of the work that we do to help them achieve their goals. (Many client success stories are featured on this blog and on the websites and social media of our Kansas SBDC centers.) Thank you to our clients and to our funding partners for enabling us to do the work that we do!

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University Small Business Development Center

America’s SBDC Kansas


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Congratulations to Sugar Creek Country Store on Your Emerging Business Award!

DanHCongratulations to Sugar Creek Country Store on its Kansas SBDC Emerging Business of the Year Award from the WU KSBDC!

Awards are given on the basis of a new business’s being a successful business, having overcome hurdles to get there and being a good community citizen.  Located on H. 24 in St. Mary’s, Kansas, Sugar Creek is a bulk-food retail store with a gourmet deli and ice cream counter, all housed in an exquisitely restored historic building. Owned by Dan and Jen Hohman, Sugar Creek is coming up on its second anniversary in business this summer. Sugar Creek was honored on Monday, March 12th in a ceremony at the state capitol in Topeka along with 16 other emerging, existing or exporting businesses across the state of Kansas. The Hohmans were presented with their award by Rep. Francis Awerkamp.

See photos of the store and read more about Sugar Creek

Congratulations to Dan, Jen and the whole Hohman family. You should feel proud of the award. We at the WU KSBDC have enjoyed working with you and look forward to continued work together. Best wishes for your future successes!

(Photo top: Dan in the Kansas House of Representatives with daughter Philomena and son Henry – both of whom work at the store.)

Related story:

Congratulations, Toto’s Tacoz!

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor


America’s SBDC Kansas

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