Small Business Certifications Made Easy
If you are a small business owner, it is important you understand that a small business certification can allow you to compete for government contracts. Many business owners are unaware of the various certifications and assistance programs that exist to help underprivileged businesses. These certifications are aimed specifically at overcoming the effects of discrimination, which can be hard for disadvantaged and minority owned businesses to conquer.
It is important to increase awareness of these opportunities, as well as to assist small businesses in obtaining the credentials necessary to equal the playing field when it comes to competing for contracts with larger entities.
As a business owner, you could be missing out on significant revenue opportunities, “set-aside” contracts. Government agencies, along with corporations who do business with the government, are obligated by law or corporate policy to spend approximately one fifth of their budget with small disadvantaged companies.
Many federal, state and city “set-aside” contracts go unclaimed as businesses do not know how to be recognized as a certified business. A business certification is a review process designed by certifying agencies to ensure that a business is actually owned, controlled, and operated by applicant(s) that demonstrate they are under served group such as women, minorities, or veterans.
In order to prove control of a business, owner seeking the certification must meet specific criteria such as being the majority owner (51% or more of the business), having the highest title, being the highest paid, working full time for the business to mention a few.
Common Small Business Certification Types Include:
State/ City/ County Certifications
This small business certification can be obtained by a local government certifying office, such as a state, city or a county. You would want to obtain this certification if you’d like to increase your chances of getting business from local agencies (such as the city or county in which your business is located) or from one or more state government agencies. Most common certifications include:
- Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)
- Women Business Enterprise (WBE)
- Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)
This type of certification provides special treatment when bidding on contracts with federal agencies reviewed by the Small Business Administration. The most common include:
- 8(a) Business Development
- Women Owned Small Business (WOSB)
- Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)
This is the type of small business certification you would seek if you want to have large corporations (both privately and publicly owned) as clients. Some large corporations will accept either a National Certification or a State Certification, so before you rush out and get a National Certification, you would first want to see what the requirements are specific to that corporation.
Small business certifications reviewed by non-government networks that are beneficial to receiving special treatment when bidding on contracts with large commercial businesses. Examples include:
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
- National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC)
Business certification programs are designed to help disadvantaged and minority owned businesses compete through business development. Through sole-source contracts, businesses are given the change to enter the government competing arena.
Before applying for a small business certification it is important to decide who your target customer is to see which certification is best for you. While the requirements vary for each certification, the basics remain, in order to apply for a certification; your small business must be owned, controlled and operated by one or more individuals considered economically or socially disadvantaged.