In the bustling world of government contracts, it’s easy for small businesses to get lost amidst the competition from huge corporate entities. The sheer size and influence of power players in various industries put small businesses at a real disadvantage. That’s where the SBA 8(a) Certification can help.

What Is an SBA 8(a) Certification?

The SBA, or Small Business Administration, goes to bat for small businesses that are struggling to get traction and grow. An SBA 8(a) Certification is designed to help boost small and disadvantaged businesses to make them more competitive with the larger players in the government contract market.

How Does an SBA 8(a) Certification Work?

Once your business is approved for an SBA 8(a) Certification, a world of opportunity will be open to you. You’ll be able to take part in highly specialized business training, marketing assistance, counseling, and executive development programs provided through the SBA and their partners. The 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program is one offering that allows organizations to receive guidance from experienced, well-established businesses.

The SBA also helps organizations build their institutional chops and encourages participating firms to take part in competitive acquisitions, as well as form joint ventures with other 8(a) organizations in order to bid on large contracts.

In addition to this, you may be eligible for various types of financial assistance. SBA 8(a)-certified organizations may receive assistance in obtaining surplus government supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans, as well as bonding assistance. You’ll also be eligible to receive sole-source contracts that run up to $4 million for goods and services and as high as $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts. An organization can receive a total of $100 million (or five times the value of your primary NAICS code) in sole-source contracts while part of the program.

The SBA 8(a) Certification is a long-term program that takes part over nine years. The first four-year period is a developmental phase, while the final five years are a transition stage. The SBA’s goal is to groom businesses into strong, well-developed entities that can be individually competitive in the business market.

How Can My Organization Apply for an SBA 8(a) Certification?

First and foremost, in order to be eligible for an SBA 8(a) Certification, your organization must be a small business that can demonstrate a proven potential for success. As a business owner, you must be an American citizen (either by birth or naturalization) who owns 51 percent or more of your business. In addition to this, the company must be controlled or managed by individuals who are economically and socially disadvantaged. Finally, you must show good character in order to be eligible for the program.

If you are a business owner who is an American Indian, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, or if you own a Certified Development Company, there are separate eligibility requirements for you.

What Potential Pitfalls Should I Be Aware Of?

From understanding the various eligibility requirements to navigating the application process, securing an SBA 8(a) Certification can be a tricky endeavor. There is a lengthy checklist of items that must be submitted, and each document will be subject to intense scrutiny. Submitting an erroneous application or documentation that gets rejected will result in a tougher approval process should you try again in the future.

It’s also key to ensure that your business stays within all of the governing rules and regulations during the period of certification. Being knowledgeable about and thoroughly understanding those regulations is the key to compliance over that nine-year period.

How Government Contract Services Can Help

As consultants for all manners of government contracts, the experienced team at Government Contract Services has been helping clients through the process since 1990. We’ll answer questions, as well as handle paperwork and negotiations. We handle all of the contract terminologies and confusing government language so you can focus on running your business. We help save you time while ensuring that your application is handled correctly — greatly improving your chances of approval.

Do you have questions about the SBA 8(a) Certification process? Are you ready to get started with your application? If so, contact us today.

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Cristi helps you understand the government market place. She specializes in assisting our marketing, advertising and staffing clients achieve government sales success. Her advanced knowledge of training and human-resource related functions as well as her Bachelor’s in Marketing gives her the ability to manage your important business partnerships.