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Which Small Business Certification is Right For You?

Private Small Business Certification vs. Government Certification

When looking at small business certification options, the question asked most frequently is, “Is there really a difference between which business certification I receive?” The very honest answer to this question is yes. It makes a large impact which agency you choose to certify your business through.

There are Generally Four Different Levels of Business Certifications

  1. Local – This small business certification can be obtained by a local government certifying offices, such as a city or a county.  You would want to obtain a local certification if you want to increase your chances of getting business from that particular local agency (such as the city or county in which your business is located).
  2. State – This small business certification can be obtained in most (not all states have a designated program) states through a state certifying office.  You would want to obtain a state certification if you want to increase your chances of getting business from one or more state government agencies.
  3. Federal – These are self-certifying, and allow you to sell to the U.S. federal government.  So if you want to sell to the federal government, then you can self-certify that you are a business enterprise.
  4. National – This is the type of small business certification you would consider 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.

If you are more interested in doing work in the private sector, particularly with publicly traded and privately owned companies, business certification by a private entity is going to be the recommended option. Third-party certification (national agency) is geared to the private sector. Such agencies as the WBENC,  NWBOC, and the MSDC are third-party certifiers.

This indicates that these agencies are an independent entity other than the small business owner or the corporate purchasing entity. If your small business is focused on gaining contracts with a government entity, in most cases each city, county, state and federal agency has their own type of certification program which details an individual and distinct process for that city, county, or state. Read The Basics Of Business Certification Programs

Now you are probably saying to yourself, “Do I really need to get multiple certifications for different purposes?” The key, if you find yourself in this situation, is to certify with your home county or city first. By doing this, most other city and county small business certification programs will reciprocate your home city certification.

For more information on how to apply for state, city and federal small business certifications contact us today!

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