The Benefits of Multiple Certifications

"Businesses owned by women of color have the hardest time of all business owners in building a network for doing business. Getting both certifications (WBE and MBE) provides you a head start in building a viable network to grow and improve your business. Why not do both? You will be glad you did!"

Terri Quinton, Chief Executive Officer of Q2 Marketing Group and Alliance of Diversity Printers, LLC, has been a member of WBCS since 2010. She currently serves on our Board of Directors and is a co-chair for the annual Women of Color outreach event. Being active in both WBCS and the DFW Minority Supplier Development Council has helped both her businesses thrive.

How or why did you start your business and how did you learn about certification?

ADP-LLC was started as a partnership between four M/WBEs. Each of us had businesses engaged in the print/mail industry and wanted to target larger contract opportunities. Corporations were talking more about M/WBEs need to build capacity. We decided that the best way to build capacity was to team together and create a nationwide print operation. We did this by each keeping our existing companies and forming an entirely new company – Alliance of Diversity Printers LLC. ADP-LLC. We marketed its nationwide footprint and continued to expand our network through a series of vetted minority and majority print facility “partners.” The model has worked successfully in reaching and working with larger contracts than any of the individual companies could handle themselves and has expanded the reach nationwide.

Each of us was aware of the value of certification for helping to open doors to potential opportunities. Since each of our other companies were certified either as a MBE company and/or WBE company, we decided to seek certification for ADP-LLC. The company, at the time, had two minority male partners and two minority female partners. The company was structured so that the minority female partners had operational control and the majority of the ownership.

How has WBCS membership benefitted your business?

WBCS membership has specifically benefited both my companies in obtaining access to key decision makers for business opportunities. It would have been impossible to have participated in certain RFPs and contract opportunities if we had not had the opportunity to meet key people in various organizations, build relationships, demonstrate our solutions, and describe our model. ADP-LLC went from startup to a preferred vendor for several Fortune 500 companies and public sector agencies. Q2 Marketing Group revenues have grown six times over since getting certified by WBCS.

In addition to growth, the key advantage to being a part of WBCS for my companies and I have been the amazing advisors, friends, and clients we have been able to build. There is no better place for the price (free advice) to network and share ideas and challenges unique to being a WBE. These relationships have helped me become more engaged at the national level and expand our footprint in terms of advisors, customers, and friends. WBCS offers a valuable resource for building my businesses.

How has having both WBE and MBE certification helped your business?

I was very active as a certified MBE for many years before getting certified as a WBE. Both organizations offer an advantage for those who can qualify as M/WBE. First, some organizations are looking to do more business with women and being a WBE helps you access these organizations. Others are interested in increasing their spend with specific ethnic groups. The MBE certification aids in accessing these buying entities. Secondly, the more decision-makers see you, the more they want to know more about what you do. By participating in both organizations and being certified as a M/WBE you have the double advantage of being seen and meeting the right people. It allows you to reinforce your own commitment to diversity, as well. Lastly, it provides you an expanded network of advisors, friends, partners, and customers.

What is the best reason for another M/WBE to get both WBE and MBE certifications?

There is no better way to spend your marketing dollars. Getting both certifications gives you expanded access to decisions makers, M/WBE customers, and advisors. The certifications are very similar, so once you’ve completed the paperwork for one organization, you can use almost the same paperwork for certification in the other. Businesses owned by women of color have the hardest time of all business owners in building a network for doing business. Getting both certifications provides you a head start in building a viable network to grow and improve your business. Why not do both? You will be glad you did!

What is one thing you wish you knew about WBCS before joining?

I believe I knew a lot about WBCS before I joined because many of my friends and acquaintances had been encouraging me to be a part of the organization. I would have liked to have known how thoroughly committed some companies are to encouraging women-owned businesses. I would have certified my companies sooner.

Have you volunteered with WBCS? Which events or committees?

I have been a volunteer in one form or fashion since I first got certified with WBCS. I participated in the Power to Potential committee initially, I co-chaired Harvesting Partnerships, and more recently, I found my true interest in co-chairing the Women of Color initiative. I have attended all the major events year-over-year including the Parade of Stars Gala, Business Works Expo, Power to Potential, and Harvesting Partnerships. I am also on the Board of Directors and attend those sessions.

The value of joining any organization and getting involved is clear. You have a chance to meet more people, develop deeper relationships (not all dependent upon selling and/or business), and feel a part of something good.

What is your favorite WBCS event and why?

Because I am the co-chair of the Women of Color initiative, clearly that is at the top of my list as my favorite event. I think it is so important to encourage and demonstrate to women business owners of color how valuable WBCS can be in helping to grow their business. They often have so many obstacles to overcome to build a network and be successful, this initiative can help them get a head start on being better and bigger.

If I had to choose a second event, I would say the Parade of Stars ranks as my second favorite event. It provides a challenge and goal for me to achieve. It is inspiring to watch these successful women and sustaining members being recognized for their commitment to women-owned businesses. It shows how we CAN come together and make a difference in our businesses, our families, and our communities. It demonstrates the bottom-line results of all we work so hard for and what WBCS is all about.

Terri Quinton