Sam’s Club is making it easier for small businesses to lower their costs by simplifying the requirements for its business membership by eliminating more than a dozen required documents, including permits and licenses formerly needed to join.

Under the new guidelines, small-business owners can obtain a Sam’s Club business membership simply by providing a current business card, letterhead or other documents they may use to promote or manage their businesses.

“Sam’s Club has always been an inclusive club, and we’re making it easier than ever for small businesses to benefit from the value and convenience we have to offer,” says Catherine Corley, vice president, Small Business Insights, Sam’s Club.

“We believe our new guidelines will particularly appeal to those with home-based businesses, independent direct sales professionals and women- and minority-owned small businesses.” Corley announced the changes at the Small Business Administration’s Annual Champion Awards Luncheon in Washington, D.C., an organization that also celebrates National Small Business Week.

U.S. women-owned small businesses continue to grow faster than all other groups, despite the challenging economy.

From 2002 to 2008, majority women-owned businesses grew at a rate of 11 percent, versus majority men-owned firms at nine percent—according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. According to the Kauffman Foundation, Americans 45 to 54 years of age form small businesses at an above average rate, and Americans aged 55 to 64 form small businesses at the highest rate of any age group—28 percent higher than the adult average.

“These membership simplifications are especially helpful to service-based businesses, which comprise 56 percent of all women-owned firms,” says Gwen Martin, interim executive director & director of research at the Center for Women’s Business Research.