The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers many certifications and programs that are best designed to help small businesses survive and thrive against the tough competition of large conglomerate companies. Some of these business certifications are worth getting and easy to apply for if you meet the qualifications. Take the time to read through these certifications to see if any apply to you. Your business can save money and gain resources with the perks that are offered.
Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Certification
The best preference to achieving this business certification is a price evaluation adjustment of up to 10% for SBDs bidding as prime contractors. This means an SDB doesn’t have to be the lowest bidder to win the contract. There is also a system of preferences for large businesses using SBDs as subcontractors.
To qualify for this certification, a business must be at least 51% owned by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual. These individuals must have a net worth of under $750,000, excluding the equity of the business and primary residence, as well as meet other criteria with their business.
Recently, the SBA has made it easier to gain the HUBZone certification by processing applications within 60 days and providing more assistance to best navigate the business certification process. An online application portal will also be introduced in late 2020.
Like the SDB, HUBZone certified businesses also receive a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions. The HUBZone program also sets aside contracts for businesses in historically underutilized business zones. The main qualifications include:
- Be a small business
- Have at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe
- An office located in a HUBZone
- 35% or more of the business’s employees live in a HUBZone
Once you achieve the HUBZone business certification, it is best to recertify once a year so you don’t have to go through the entire application process again. There is no limit to the amount of years that you can participate.
8(a) Business Development Program
The 8(a) Business Development Program is one of the best business certifications for small businesses and has similar qualifications to the SDB certification. It is designed to help out socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. While this certification also sets aside contracts, the main difference is that the program provides hands-on assistance. Your own Business Opportunity Specialist will help you navigate federal contracting. Additional assistance includes business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development. For this certification, your personal net worth must be $250,000 or lower and you must meet the rest of the criteria. You can apply online on the SBA’s website. The certification lasts a maximum of nine years and you must complete annual reviews.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses
To qualify for this SBA program, your small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans, and have one or more service-disabled veterans managing day-to-day operations and making long-term decisions. The government limits competition for certain contracts for businesses with this certification. If you’re a disabled vet, it’s worth getting as you can still compete for contracts with other socio-economic programs. You can also get verified through the Vets First Verification Program to gain access to contracts set aside by The Department of Veterans Affairs. The Vets First Verification Program is not affiliated through the SBA.
While there are many other certifications offered through the SBA, these are some of the best and overlooked small business certifications that are worth getting. Don’t be deterred by application processes, as these certifications can greatly benefit your business in the long run. If you need help, BizCentral USA is an excellent resource that can help you navigate the scene and find the best business certifications that you qualify for. Contact us today!