Heather Cox is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. She brings her tireless energy to the cause of making the business world more closely resemble the real world. Heather champions diversity and inclusion through her work as an entrepreneur, giving business leaders the tools to improve their numbers and advance their companies. As president of Certify My Company, Heather assists all businesses, large and small, in increasing their visibility in markets and making creative connections that accelerate growth.
Through her leadership at Certify My Company, Heather has assisted numerous organizations, from household names including Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, California Baby and Zappos to small mom and pop shops. Her work encompasses all aspects of supplier diversity, offering minority-group entrepreneurs assistance on obtaining certification and using it to their best possible advantage, and working with corporate supply chain heads to ensure diversity across their supplier programs. Heather’s company has been featured in Diversity Professional Magazine, CEO CFO Magazine, & Affinity Magazine, among others.
Heather enjoys being a corporate matchmaker, sharing relationships and knowledge through networking events and seminars. She is an accomplished sales and operations executive with over a decade of experience, primarily with small to medium-sized businesses; a natural teacher and thought leader and a motivating presence on any stage. Her passion for supporting entrepreneurs extends beyond CMC to roles with several organizations, including the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Forum Marketing Committee, WBEC-West Regional and National Forums, DisabilityIN Nevada, Women of the Vine & Spirit Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Heather also served on the Advisory Board for Super Bowl XLVIII.
Where did the idea for Certify My Company come from?
I was pregnant with my first baby I was trying to figure out what to do. I knew that corporate america wasn’t very mommy friendly, so I started attending business and networking events with successful women business leaders. During the conversations with some of the entrepreneurs, they would mention this certification that they just couldn’t get done. Now these women were running $1, $10, $40 million companies and I couldn’t understand how they couldn’t get an application done. So I went home, did some research and what I discovered what that the certification process is very detail oriented, and what a document is called in NV, is not what it is called in NJ, and not what it is called in TX. Plus certification is not instant gratification so if client calls that application is back to the bottom of the pile. So I said, I can do that for you, and Certify My Company was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is different which is one of the exciting parts about running your own business. Some days I am on the phone with entrepreneurs about diversity certification and the benefits it can have for them and their company. Other days I am working with Fortune 1000 leaders to ensure they are maximizing the suppliers in their supply chain. Other days I am on stage speaking about the phenomenal business (and company) development tool that is Supplier Diversity and Diversity Certification. Then there are the days when I am in front of my computer ensuring the company is moving forward!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Often times I have to outsource. My time is limited. I have a company, a husband, and 5 children. I am a great at prioritizing! If I know something is going to take me longer than it should, I find someone who is an expert at that task or skill. When we launched Diversity Masterminds, an idea I had dreamed about for years, I knew it wouldn’t be sustainable to do it on my own. I reached out to a few people that I thought would be good partners, and while I had to kiss a few frogs, I ended up with THE best co-mastermind. Together we were able to go to market much quicker than I could have alone.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The Women Owned Logo! I get so excited when I see a product proudly displaying their status as women owned. It is on so many different products now from cleaning solutions to vodka! Women make up over 85% of the consumer decisions and 90% of women would go out of their way to buy a product if they could easily identify it as women owned. That is a lot of money!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have created routines for myself. Having routines for parts of your life frees up the brain power and overall energy needed to develop and implement ideas. I also schedule gym time for myself. Some people call it meditation, some call it self-care…for me those are both part of my gym time. It alleviates stress and elevates endorphins.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I heard someone once say something like: If you were not embarrassed by the first, then you didn’t launch soon enough. It is sooo true! We often wait until we think it is perfect. There will still be tweaks to be made. Just put it out there and then adjust as needed.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Champagne pairs well with every dish!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Outsource! If I am not an expert at something, or if I can hire an administrative person to free up my time to do the parts of the business I enjoy and are therefore better at…I outsource!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I hired a team. So many entrepreneurs try to do everything themselves, usually in an attempt to save money, which means you end up getting less done. I hired a bookkeeper first! Then as I got busier I HAD to hire. Now we hire before we get to the point where it is stressful to bring someone on in time.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was invited to speak at an event. I didn’t know a whole lot about the organization and honestly didn’t do a lot of research because it was very last minute. (really not an excuse) There were two people in the audience that had a lot of emotional bias against what I was saying. They two of them were loud and contemptuous and it really threw me off my game. For weeks I felt like a failure. But then I realized that I now knew how to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I now had the experience to make sure it doesn’t throw me off my game next time. And it turns out it wasn’t a total disaster, I got a call a month later that someone in the audience wanted to hire me to speak for their event!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I travel a lot for work. In my office I use 3 screens, but when I am traveling I only have my laptop. I would LOVE to have a “case” with additional pullout screens!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought each of my employees a gift certificate to a hip restaurant. (it was a little more than $100 each) I need them and their spouses/partners to love that they work for us!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Our CRM (customer relationship management) software is a life saver! We are able to log correspondence, phone calls, tasks and other details about the clients. We often think we will remember something but we are bombarded with information all the time. The CRM helps keep everything organized and easy to find. Plus if someone else has to pick up where we left off they know what has transpired.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One?! That is hard! But I do LOVE Simon Sinek’s Start with Why
What is your favorite quote?
I currently have two:
“You can do anything, but not everything.”
“Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey.”
- Appreciate those that help make you successful!
- Buy from diverse owned businesses! (#buywomenowned)