SBA (8)a & Other Federal Certification
5 Federal Certifications for Small Business Owners to Ace the Competition
4. SBA 8(a) Business Development
The SBA 8(a) Business Development Program was created to assist socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. According to the SBA, this program is broken up into two parts: first, the development process covers the first four years, followed by the five-year transition stage. Once certified, you can receive specialized contracts and form partnerships with fellow 8(a) organizations. Some small business groups require formal certifications in order to receive the benefits of their specific small business program for purpose of federal procurement. Some groups merely self-represent their business status when completing the solicitation representations and certifications clauses.
Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, authorizes SBA to contract for goods and services with federal agencies. SBA then subcontracts actual performance of the work to socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, which have been certified by SBA as eligible to receive these contracts. The major advantage of this program is that it allows the government to contract, on a noncompetitive basis, with socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. SBA also offers managerial, technical, and financial support to participating firms.
DOT gives special emphasis to identifying procurement requirements for matching with the capabilities and potential of approved 8(a) firms. DOT has obtained special authority to negotiate directly with 8(a) firms on the behalf of SBA.
Program participation is divided into two stages.
- The developmental stage is designed to help 8(a) certified firms overcome their economic disadvantage by providing personalized business assistance in expanding their business and fostering meaningful business relationships.
- The transitional stage is designed to help program participants become more effective in both the large business and government sector market in dealing with complex business deals and to prepare them for post 8(a) program expansion and development. Formal certification is required by the SBA.
5. Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Certification
As a veteran-owned small business, certification can provide access to prime federal government contracts and subcontracts through set-asides. Federal regulations help ensure small businesses get a fair share of work in the federal market, and federal agencies must set aside a percentage of their contracts for veteran-owned small businesses each year.
Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Certifications require a series of steps, which can get a bit complicated, as there is no single government body or third party that manages the certifications. Start by getting certified as a veteran-owned business by registering with VetBiz Registry, a veteran business database. If you are service-disabled, you’ll need a disability status letter from the VA during the application process.
Once you’ve obtained VOSB or SDVOSB Certification, your company is eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veteran’s First Contracting Program, which provides access to set-aside contracts with the VA. After registering with the VA, you’ll also need to register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) to become eligible for government contracts. Lastly, if you’re interested in seeking larger contracts with the federal government, you’ll also want to register with the General Services Administration (GSA).
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Equipped with a solid business plan, an efficient team and right networking efforts will definitely result in success for your business. However, federal certifications can surely help you ace the competition like a seasoned business owner. These certifications are aimed at facilitating businesses to realize their full potential by giving access to scholarships and funding. In addition to these, certifications help businesses compete for various contracts while facilitating customer acquisition.
List of 5 federal certifications for Small business owners:
- WOSB and WBE Certifications
As a women business owner, you can opt for two SBA certifications – WOSB and WBE. The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification is meant to provide complete access to competitive federal contracts. You can qualify for this certification if you own at least 51%, and at least one woman manages the business.
Women business owners can also opt for the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification, which gives businesses permission to bid and work on both private and government contracts. You need similar qualifications as that for WOSB Certification. However, you must ensure that a woman holds the highest position in the company and should also play an active part in the day to day functioning of the organization. This SBA certification will certainly help your business achieve its development goals quickly by providing access to education and training programs, networking opportunities, and new contracts.
You can either opt for a self-certification through SBA or also take the help of a 3rd party certifier approved by SBA. .
- Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification
Minority-owned businesses could make huge gains by opting for a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification. This federal certification will give exclusive access to corporate contracts, specialized financing, supplier databases, and networking events. In order to qualify, 51% of the stake must be owned by a minority and comply with other criteria.
- B Corp Certification
B Corps come under a special section of for-profit companies, which must comply with the strict standards of environmental and social performance, transparency, and accountability. Thus, B Corp certification helps you to establish that your company is environmentally and socially responsible.
This certification is aimed at helping companies stand out from their competitors and show their special commitment to accountability, sustainability, and social responsibility. Consumers across the globe support B Corp certified companies. Thus, you’ll be able to use the B Corp certification as an effective marketing asset to attract new customers, potential investors and even network with the other B Corp members.
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