By Bruce Weber, President/Founder of QMS Global Group
A common response from “small businesses” when it comes to ISO 9001 certification is: “We’re too small.”
But keep in mind that the definition of a small business is anything but small. The Small Business Administration reports that any enterprise with fewer than 500 employees falls into this group. If you’re in that category, welcome to a growing, dynamic, and very competitive sector. Just in the United States there are more than 28 million small businesses employing in excess of 22 million workers.
The same trends are apparent when looking at the international landscape where 90 percent of the world’s businesses are considered “small” to “medium” sized. The good news is that as a small business you are in good company. The bad news is that as this entrepreneurial sector grows there is more competition and small businesses must distinguish themselves as they pursue new opportunities, both domestically and globally. This dynamic is clearly evident with 58 percent of small businesses already reporting international clients and 72 percent with plans to increase their global customer base in 2017 and 2018.
The world is getting smaller and enlightened organizations are looking in every corner of the world for business. While we may not speak the same language, it is becoming increasingly obvious that ISO certification provide cross-border and operations standards that are recognized by all businesses.
The bottom line is that companies know what to expect when purchasing product or retaining the services of an ISO certified organization. The certification is important for companies in all sectors, including manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, government contractors, financial institutions, hotels, and many others.
These companies follow guidelines for quality and environmental issues, IT security, corporate responsibility, supply chain management, integrated management systems, and health and safety practices and medical devices, to name a few. It’s clear that potential clients and vendors get an extremely accurate snap shot of a company certified by ISO. This familiarity leads to confidence, trust, substantial business relationships, and a strong competitive edge.
It reflects a commitment to a broad set of operational standards that give customers and suppliers peace of mind that they are dealing with a focused and quality conscious organization. Just as important is that it gives small businesses the opportunity to successfully compete in the marketplace with companies of all sizes. It levels the playing field. In addition, it opens up new markets simply because many businesses won’t even accept bids from companies that don’t have ISO certification.
As international business becomes more the rule than the exception, small organizations should consider this affordable process an investment in their future.
While securing ISO certification requires a commitment of time and effort, it is worthwhile since it reflects a commitment by company owners and upper management to a wide range of criteria that ensures operational standards that impact all aspects of the company. It is a logical and general approach to improving operations and growing businesses by using consistent and reliable standards.
The potential benefits to an organization of implementing a quality management system based on this International Standard are:
- the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements;
- facilitating opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction;
- addressing risks and opportunities associated with its context and objectives;
- the ability to demonstrate conformity to specified quality management systems
These standards are critical for all businesses because they can result in direction and accountability, reduced operational expenses and inefficiencies and improved customer service. All of these translate into being able to effectively compete for business locally and worldwide. And it’s clear that many small businesses are missing opportunities if they don’t continually seek new markets.
This direction was recently supported by a survey implement by USForex, a currency exchange company:
“Going global is no longer an option for successful small- and medium-sized businesses – it’s a strategic imperative,” said Karin Visnick, head of North America for USForex. “Facing domestic uncertainly, small businesses are feeling the pinch here at home. New technology and tools are putting global talent, suppliers and markets within reach of businesses that just a few years ago would have never thought to look beyond U.S. borders.”
The small businesses that don’t take every opportunity to expand are missing opportunities. ISO certifications are among the first steps these organizations should take with the recognition that small business today is big business.
Bruce Weber is President/Founder of QMS Global Group, an accredited worldwide ISO certification body headquartered in Florida with regional offices in the Dominican Republic servicing the Latin American market and Dubai servicing Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 1996, QMS Global Group has a diverse portfolio of companies that have achieved a wide range of ISO certifications under the direction of the firm’s auditors and trainers. For more information, visit www.qms.net.