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Margarita Howard is the sole owner, president, and CEO of HX5, an innovative government contracting firm known for securing and performing professional service contracts that support various U.S. government agencies, including NASA and the Department of Defense. She offers insightful advice for women entrepreneurs striving to carve out successful careers in highly competitive industries.

“Being a women-owned business has not had a substantive impact, either positive or negative, on our ability to compete for prime government contracts,” says Howard. “Success is never guaranteed, and regardless of the fact HX5 is a women-owned company, we must always prove our ability to meet and exceed contract requirements and deliver value to the customer, just like any other government contractor regardless of size or ownership.”

The National Association of Women Business Owners reports that women in the U.S. own over 11.6 million firms, constituting 39% of all privately held enterprises. These businesses employ close to 9 million individuals and, as of 2021, have generated $1.7 trillion in sales. However, despite these significant contributions, women-owned businesses are less likely to gain access to loan opportunities and venture capital funding than those owned by men.

These statistics underscore women entrepreneurs’ progress and ongoing challenges, emphasizing the importance of resilience and strategic planning, as Margarita Howard advocates. By embracing thorough preparation, strategic networking, continuous learning, and resilience in the face of challenges, women can succeed and become trailblazers in their fields. Howard’s narrative is an inspiring and practical guide for anyone looking to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship in aggressive markets.

HX5 CEO Margarita Howard’s Insights for Women Entrepreneurs in Government Contracting

“First and foremost, I suggest going to the Small Business Administration’s women-owned business resource site and reviewing all the various resources and programs available to women entrepreneurs. This includes filing the paperwork necessary to get the company officially certified with the United States Small Business Administration as a women-owned small business — assuming, of course, the business is, in fact, small and meets all the application criteria for such a designation,” says Howard.

She advises female entrepreneurs to familiarize themselves with all aspects of the government procurement process. “This is essential to understanding how contracts are awarded and managed, and that will help you navigate the process more effectively when the business gets up and running,” says Howard. “A new WOSB must also always ensure that it complies with all legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements throughout the entire contract life cycle process, from proposal to close-out, and always maintain integrity and professionalism in all interactions with government agencies and teaming partners.”

Margarita Howard encourages women entrepreneurs to join support networks. “Learning from others’ experiences can provide very valuable insights and guidance,” she says. “The WOSB entrepreneur should always invest in their own professional development and that of their employees. Continuously investing in one’s professional development and business capabilities helps stay updated on relevant industry trends, regulations, and best practices, which can help the WOSB be competitive in the government contracting landscape.”

Trends in Government Contracting That Could Impact Women-Owned Businesses

“There is an increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion initiatives, with government agencies increasingly prioritizing diversity and inclusion in their contracting practices,” Margarita Howard continues. “While many government agencies have always set some goals for awarding contracts to small businesses and women-owned businesses, this current trend could very well serve to create additional opportunities for women-owned businesses to compete for contracts. Any women-owned business would be wise to pay close attention to this trend and the opportunities that may grow out of it.”

Another trend is the growing number of women-owned businesses entering the government contracting sector. “As more women-owned businesses enter the government contracting market, competition for contracts is intensifying,” Howard observes. “Accordingly, with an increase in the number of businesses competing for work, it continues to be of critical importance for any business, women-owned or otherwise, to differentiate themselves through their unique capabilities, past performance, and value propositions that they can offer to the government.”

Howard adds, “Consequently, with the increase in the number of women-owned businesses comes what many would see as a benefit in the form of having more opportunities for collaboration and teaming. Women-owned businesses can benefit from partnering with other firms, including large primes or other small businesses, to pursue larger contracts or projects requiring diverse expertise.”

Recently, there’s been a significant uptick in the government allowing much of the work traditionally done on-site to be carried out through remote work arrangements and virtual collaboration. “The shift toward remote work and virtual collaboration, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is heavily influencing how government contracts are being performed, and women-owned businesses that develop the skill sets and infrastructure to effectively deliver services remotely may have a competitive advantage in the very near future,” says Howard. 

Another trend that has been increasing recently is that government agencies are increasingly considering sustainability and social responsibility factors when awarding contracts. Women-owned businesses with environmentally friendly practices or social impact initiatives may be more attractive to government buyers based on the particulars of the agency and opportunity.

“Additionally, many companies are now starting to participate in the voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reporting requirements, and being able to show that a company is taking proactive steps to be more environmentally conscious can have a real impact in setting the company apart from others who are not.”

Howard acknowledges that these movements, among others, offer both opportunities and challenges. “Each trend is monitored closely, and the company attempts to adjust its strategies and operations to best accommodate and adapt to the various effects each of these trends presents,” she says.

“Since each company is different, each needs to consider these and other trends from the context of how the particular company operates and where that particular company wants to go, and then take into consideration the various trends and make adjustments as needed to get there.”

The HX5 CEO concludes, “It’s rewarding to see that women have made significant strides in the government contracting industry over the years, breaking barriers and more often assuming leadership roles in this industry and within government agencies that we work with. It’s still somewhat challenging for women in this industry, and while progress has been made, some biases unfortunately remain to be overcome.”

The post Margarita Howard, CEO of HX5, Shares Her Top Tips for Women Entrepreneurs appeared first on Small Business Bonfire.

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