The U.S. Small Business Administration lists 7 certifications available for eligible small businesses. These certifications provide small and micro enterprises access to government contracting opportunities set aside specifically for fulfillment by a business which qualifies under one or more of the following certifications:
Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone)
Veteran & service-disabled veteran-owned
8(a) business development
Is Small Business Certification Even Necessary?
Is it really all that important for businesses to become certified through the SBA? The answer to that question depends on the needs and goals of the business itself. A company’s choice to pursue certification should be directed by their overall business goals.
For young businesses, I always recommend they operate for at least two years before applying for small business certification. However, the length of time a business has been open is far less important than the abilities, experience, and past performance of the principals and management team itself.
It is possible to get the two-year requirement waived if the business owners or managers are accomplished industry professionals. Consider, however, the ability of your team to fulfill the requirements of a government contract, particularly if your business is actively expanding and readjusting operations to accommodate new growth.
Streamlining the Certification Process
For many of the businesses on the verge of transitioning into the government contracting arena, the application and documentation process associated with minority certifications is intensive and can be intimidating. Getting through the process confidently requires lots of preparation.
Preparation and organization are keys to successfully completing the minority certification process, in part because there is so much documentation required.
If you plan to pursue certification, have all your corporate documents in one place and designate one person in the office to be the certification coordinator. Your certification coordinator will assume responsibility for compiling any and all the needed data. Having one person own all certification-related tasks will help streamline the documentation process. Otherwise, you and your team risk wasting resources when you inevitably duplicate efforts. Once you compile all the documents you need, you can start to prepare your submission.
Most federal contracts have some level of minority participation included in the verbiage as part of its contract compliance. So even if you are not planning to become a primary contractor with the federal government, your company can benefit from certification because it will enable you to participate as a sub-contractor.
Certifications are contract vehicles, a means by which to be eligible for sole source opportunities and subcontract opportunities, often without having to bid.
Any company seeking to do business with a government agency or large corporation as a prime or subcontractor should definitely consider certification. As well, most businesses types - no matter the sector - qualify for certification.