Good news. The Federal government wants to help you get a foot in the door to compete for government contracts.
Surprised? You’re not alone.
I would venture a bet that most small business owners think just the opposite. I know from experience that even getting to the point where your business is compliant enough to even submit a well-drafted proposal can seem like an insurmountable task.
But the fact is, the US government has created several programs to help small businesses and micro businesses carve out a path from their comfy spot in the private sector selling to business and individuals to venturing into the public sector to sell to the government.
In this post, I want to provide you with a quick overview of six important small business certifications. These certifications are specific designations the government uses to earmark opportunities just for you.
Small Business Certification
For years, the US government has made consistent efforts toward ensuring small businesses, micro businesses, and solopreneurs get the opportunity to compete for government contracts. Becoming a certified small business can go a long way toward strengthening your position in the market.
If you live in an urban or rural area, you may be familiar with HUBZones. This program is designed to breathe new life into Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) by providing small business owners incentives to open or relocate their businesses to areas that have been declared HUBZones.
Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program
Small businesses that are majority-owned by a woman, or even majority-owned by a woman who is also socially and economically disadvantaged, can apply to be a certified women-owned business and take advantage of opportunities to compete for government contracts, specifically designated for women-owned businesses. The government sets aside some contracts to be fulfilled by women-owned, or economically disadvantaged women-owned, businesses.
Veteran & Service-Disabled Veteran Owned
Small businesses that are majority-owned by a U.S. veteran (or service-disabled veteran) can request certification for the opportunity to compete for specific government contracts. Veteran-owned businesses can qualify for counseling and coaching through the Office of Veterans Business Development.
8(a) Business Development
The 8(a) Business Development program grooms businesses that are majority-owned by someone who is socially or economically disadvantaged to compete for government contracts. The 8(a) Program is a nine-year business development program.
Many tribal communities in the states battle poverty on a very real level. Tribal and Alaskan Native Corporation-owned businesses can request certification for the opportunity to compete for specific government contracts. The government sets aside opportunities in defense contracting to be fulfilled by Tribal and Alaskan Native Corporation-owned businesses under the 8(a) and A-76 programs.
Businesses that are majority-owned by a Native American can contact the Indian Affairs’ Division of Economic Development to be certified as a Native American-owned enterprise. Qualifying businesses may be able to take advantage of coaching and training opportunities to strengthen their ability to compete in the marketplace.