As I go about my business - meeting people, networking, speaking - I run into several common misconceptions and myths about certifications that’d I’d like to bust wide open. Some of these can really get me on a soapbox so I apologize in advance if I get a little passionate.
The first of these myths is that certifications are an entitlement program. Nothing can be further from the truth! I say to people ALL THE TIME that certifications provide Opportunities and NOT Guarantees. What’s the difference, you ask? The difference is you get NO benefit by just “being certified”. Having a certification does NOT mean that manna will rain down from heaven. You have to research the agencies who buy what you sell, you have to find who the contracting officers are in those agencies, you have to learn how to market your business to those individuals and you have to be pleasantly persistent about letting them know how your business solves their problems. Long story short, you still have to do the work.
Another misconception I hear often from prospects is that certifications are a selling point. This is partially correct but only in the right context. Ten years of experience in your field is a selling point; a track record of on time/on budget delivery is a selling point; past performance with clients/projects of similar size and scope are a selling point; certifications, however, are not a selling point. Certifications are the icing on the cake or the cherry on top; it’s what folks from Louisiana call a “Lagniappe” or a little something extra.
One of the other really common misconceptions out there is that you should get every possible certification you can. Although I’ve helped clients with multiple certifications, that isn’t the right choice for every business. It’s back to the old, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I always talk with my prospective clients about their goals with the certifications. I get to the root of who they are trying to serve and let that determine the certifications that can offer a competitive advantage for that prospective client.
As an example, if you are a minority owned bottling equipment company your goal is to sell your bottling equipment to Coca Cola, then an MBE certification would be better than an 8(a) certification. If you are both a minority and woman owned large animal veterinarian and you want to sell your services to the Department of Interior, then WOSB certification would be a better option than MBE certification. In both scenarios above, the businesses would qualify for each of the certification, but having both may not provide additional benefits.
These are not all of the myths and misconceptions that are circulating about certifications, but they are the ones I hear most often. Let’s recap the realities:
- 1. Certifications provide opportunities, NOT guarantees.
- 2. Certifications are just a piece of paper until you put them to work.
- 3. Certifications are not the selling point; but they are the icing on the cake.
- 4. Just because you can get a certification doesn’t mean you should get it.