Whether you’ve never heard of the SBA 8(a) business development program — or if you’re contemplating getting your certification — the application and qualification process can appear daunting.
For many small businesses, however, the challenges of getting an 8(a) certification pale in comparison to the potential benefits.
How Can the 8(a) Program Benefit Your Small Business?
If your business qualifies as a minority-owned business or a woman-owned business, the 8(a) program provides a variety of development opportunities to help you grow your company and improve profitability.
This program was specifically launched to help small, disadvantaged firms overcome social and economic challenges and provide access to sole-sourced and set-aside contracts issued by the government.
Obtaining 8(a) certification helps you avoid some of the more laborious challenges of obtaining government contracts. Once your company wins its first government contracts, you will be able to leverage this experience to grow your business more quickly.
How Does Your MOB/WOB Qualify for the SBA 8(a) Program?
To qualify for SBA certification under the 8(a) program, your business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who is considered both economically and socially disadvantaged under the SBA definitions. Your company must also meet the SBA requirements of a small business.
To obtain certification, you must complete the SBA application and submit a host of documents that typically include:
Company organizational documents
Business income statements
Personal income statements
Key personnel resumes
You must also demonstrate that your company has the direct experience and the capacity to complete government projects in your area of specialty.
The application process is lengthy and somewhat laborious, but the potential benefits make it worthwhile for many firms. You must undertake the certification process carefully, however, because you cannot reapply for one full year if the SBA declines your application, even if it was due to a documentation error or incomplete paperwork.
What’s Next After Obtaining 8(a) Certification?
Some business owners believe that obtaining 8(a) certification will lead to a sudden windfall of new work. The truth is, qualifying for this program is just the first step.
The first four years of participation are known as the Developmental Stage. You must be prepared to hit the ground running once you get your certification, so you can take full advantage of this four-year period.
Once you will begin receiving notification of set-aside contracting opportunities, you must conduct a bid/no-bid analysis on each to determine whether it fits your company's capabilities. If you choose to bid on a given project, you must be ready to generate a high-quality proposal that gives you the best chance of winning the contract.
A professional proposal management firm — such as Meridian West Consultants — can provide the guidance and expertise you need to help you land sole-sourced and set-aside contracts under the SBA 8(a) program. We can assist you in tracking opportunities and performing bid/no-bid analyses. We will guide the proposal preparation process, helping you demonstrate value and expertise and improving quality and accuracy. We tailor our services to your needs, providing the most responsive suite of services for your business.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make the most of the SBA 8(a) program.