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Margarita Howard, CEO Of HX5, On How Women Entrepreneurs Can Win In Business

The United States Small Business Administration reports a rise in women-owned businesses, with approximately 13 million such enterprises contributing significantly to the U.S. economy. This growth highlights the increasing impact of women entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries, including the competitive field of government contracting.

Author:Emmanuella Shea
Reviewer:Dexter Cooke
May 27, 2024
The United States Small Business Administration reportsa rise in women-owned businesses, with approximately 13 million such enterprises contributing significantly to the U.S. economy. This growth highlights the increasing impact of women entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries, including the competitive field of government contracting. As these businesses grow, they bolster the national bottom line and enhance the country's defense capabilities.
In government contracting, standing out requires a solid grasp of the industry's complexities and a strategic approach to leadership and operational management. Margarita Howard, the sole owner and CEO/president of HX5, a women-owned small business that’s carved a significant niche in this sector, has navigated these challenges, focusing on calculated positioning and a deep understanding of government needs. Her experience offers actionable insights for women entrepreneurs aiming to make their mark in government contracting or any competitive industry.
One of the federal government's objectivesis to award at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars annually to WOSBs such as HX5. Achieving this goal diversifies the government's supplier base and encourages the growth of women-led businesses in the economy. The company epitomizes the potential of meeting and exceeding these objectives, with Howard's leadership steering the company toward new opportunities and success.
Howard says, “As more women-owned businesses enter the government contracting market, competition for contracts is intensifying. Accordingly, with an increase in the number of businesses that may be 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.”
In that regard, HX5's path to success under Margarita Howard’s guidanceincluded aligning the company's offerings closely with the missions and objectives of government clients. This alignment is vital, leveraging Howard’s professional experience and leadership skills to build a company that speaks the language of its clients and understands and anticipates their needs.
Howard emphasizes the importance of differentiation in the government contracting market, noting the critical role unique capabilities, past performance, and value propositions play in standing out among competitors. As the number of women-owned businesses entering this space increases, so does the competition for contracts.
However, this also opens up new avenues for collaboration and teaming, allowing WOSBs to partner with other firms, including large prime contractors or other small businesses, to pursue larger contracts requiring diverse expertise.
Traversing the path to building a successful WOSB in the government contracting sector is fraught with challenges, from intense competition to the complexities of regulatory compliance. Yet Howard views these challenges as opportunities for growth and differentiation.
“There is an increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion initiatives with government agencies increasingly prioritizing diversity and inclusion in their contracting practices,” says Margarita Howard. “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.”
The rise in women-owned businesses is widely seen as advantageous, creating more opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. “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,” she says.
Recently, the government has embraced a significant trend toward allowing much of the work traditionally conducted 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,” Howard says.
There's been a growing trend where government agencies emphasize 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,” says Margarita Howard.
“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.”
As a women-owned business, HX5 recognizes that these trends and others present both opportunities and risks. “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,” says Howard.
“Since each company is different, each company 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.”

Margarita Howard: ‘Success Is Never Guaranteed’

The HX5 team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to support operations for the federal government, focusing mainly on the Department of Defense and NASA. Howard and her enterprise are involved in diverse projects, including research and development, engineering, information technology, and support for mission operations, showcasing versatility and commitment to advancing government initiatives.
Due to the nature of the work, being a women-owned business has neither positively nor negatively affected its competitiveness for prime government contracts. “Success is never guaranteed, and regardless of the fact HX5is 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,” says Margarita Howard.
The firm has operations across 34 states and 90 government locations. Headquartered in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, HX5 is powered by a robust workforce of over 1,000 employees, underlining its capacity to undertake and excel in significant projects. A testament to its prowess and strategic insight, the company has successfully secured and performed on multiple prime contracts (and subcontracts) supporting both the Department of Defence and NASA.
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Emmanuella Shea

Emmanuella Shea

Emmanuella Shea is a distinguished finance and economics expert with over a decade of experience. She holds a Master's degree in Finance and Economics from Harvard University, specializing in financial analysis, investment management, and economic forecasting. Her authoritative insights and trustworthy advice have made her a highly sought-after advisor in the business world. Outside of her professional life, she enjoys exploring diverse cuisines, reading non-fiction literature, and embarking on invigorating hikes. Her passion for insightful analysis and reliable guidance is matched by her dedication to continuous learning and personal growth.
Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
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