6 Small Business Certifications to Give Your Company an Edge

Share
Share
Share
Email

One of the best ways to differentiate your company is to apply for small business certifications. They can increase your visibility and offer opportunities to help you better compete with larger companies.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) considers a business “small” depending on its number of employees or annual receipts, with standards varying by industry. If you meet the criteria, you can self-certify as a small business. Many small business enterprise certifications come with perks like access to mentors and the opportunity to apply for special contracts.

Here are six small business certifications to consider:

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)

The SBA offers a Women-Owned Small Business Certification that provides exclusive access to compete for federal contracts, networking events and mentoring programs.

To qualify, your small business must:

  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions

Economically Disadvantaged WOSB

The SBA offers an Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business Certification. The benefits are the same as the WOSB certification, with eligibility to compete for additional contracts reserved for economically disadvantaged small businesses.

To qualify, your small business must meet WOSB criteria and be:

  • Owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000
  • Owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income in the previous three years
  • Owned and controlled by one or more women, each with personal assets of $6 million or less

Minority Business Enterprise

Organized by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the Minority Business Enterprise Certification is open to minority-owned businesses and provides access to special private sector and corporate contracts. For this certification, the NMSDC defines a minority as an individual who’s at least 25% Asian, black, Hispanic or Native American. Benefits include networking events and supplier database listings.

To qualify, your business must:

  • Be at least 51% minority-owned, operated and managed
  • Be a profit enterprise located in the U.S.
  • Pay an application fee, which varies depending on location

Two women business owners work on a project together around a table

Veteran-Owned Small Business

The SBA offers a Veteran-Owned Small Business Certification for disabled veterans. Certified companies can compete for contracts reserved for veterans. Owners can also access business training, counseling and financial assistance.

To qualify, your small business must:

  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans
  • Have day-to-day operations and long-term decisions made by one or more service-disabled veterans

8(a) Business Development

The SBA offers a one-time 8(a) Business Development Certification, which allows socially or economically disadvantaged business owners to compete for special contracts, receive training and technical assistance, and collaborate with other businesses for nine years.

To qualify, your small business must be:

  • At least 51% owned, controlled and managed by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged
  • Owned by someone with a personal net worth of $250,000 or less
  • Owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less
  • Owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets
  • Owned by principals who demonstrate good character and potential

HUBZone

The SBA offers a HUBZone Certification that gives owners of businesses in historically underutilized business zones access to reserved contracts. It also gives certified businesses a 10% price evaluation preference in open contract competitions.

To qualify, your small business must:

  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization or an American Indian tribe
  • Have its principal office located in a HUBZone
  • Have at least 35% of employees living in a HUBZone

Consider small business certifications a yearly budget item by dedicating time to applying and renewing the certificates. You can also hire an approved third-party certifier to complete the process for you. Small business enterprise certifications are worth the work, as it can help attract customers who want to support small business owners like you.

Tags: