Small Business Certification | Types of SBA Certifications & Programs

Small Business Certification: What Can the SBA Do for Your Revenue?

woman business owner looking into small business certification

Obtaining certifications can open a lot of doors for professionals. But, what about a certification for your business? What kind of benefits come from obtaining a small business certification? What kind of certifications are even out there?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a number of certifications businesses can pursue. If you’re interested in learning more, read on for small business certification requirements.

What is a small business certification?

A business certification is an official document that eligible enterprises can apply for. Applying for a certification could lead to benefits like increased recognition, limited business competition, preferential treatment, set-aside contracts, and increased revenue. In short, an SBA small business certificate encourages business growth.

Not just any company can apply for a federal small business certification. If you want to reap the above benefits, you need to qualify for one type of small business enterprise certification.

The Small Business Administration certification is part of a contracting program that helps small companies compete for federal contracts. The government sets aside some of its contracts (both competitive set-aside and sole-source set-aside contracts) for small businesses each year to limit competition. That way, some government contracts go to small businesses rather than big corporations.

Types of certifications

Again, certifications aren’t handed out to just any business. A business must qualify and prove that it meets the certification requirements.

Take a look at some of the types of SBA certifications that a business can apply for:

  • 8(a) Business Development
  • HUBZone Small Business
  • Women-Owned Small Business
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business

OK, so what do all of these certifications mean? And, how do you know if you qualify? Take a look at the next section to learn more about each small business enterprise certification.

small business certification SBA types

Small business certification requirements

Are you interested in getting certified? Then ask not what your certification can do for you, but what you can do for it.

Here’s a closer look at the types of certifications and how you can apply.

8(a) Business Development

The 8(a) Business Development certification is one of the SBA contracting programs. This SBA small business certification is for small companies that are owned by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.

According to the SBA, socially disadvantaged individuals are those who face discrimination due to race, ethnicity, gender, or physical disability. The SBA defines economically disadvantaged individuals are socially disadvantaged individuals who have impaired capital and credit opportunities.

Eligibility

To receive this type of business certification, your company must be:

  • A small business by SBA standards
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged
  • Owned by someone whose personal net worth is $250,000 or less and has $4 million or less in assets
  • Owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less
  • Managed by an owner who is involved in day-to-day operations and makes long-term decisions
  • Demonstrative of good character
  • Able to show potential for success and ability to conduct business

Benefits

There are a number of benefits of this certification and program. The federal government allocates 5% of its contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses each year. Businesses with the 8(a) certification may be able to receive set-aside contracts.

Another benefit of this certification is that businesses can get access to management and technical assistance. Plus, businesses with the 8(a) certification are assigned a specialist who helps with business growth.

How to apply

If you want to obtain the 8(a) Business Development certification, create a profile at SAM.gov and use the certify.sba.gov website.

If accepted, you’ll receive a one-time certification that’s good for nine years. You cannot apply if you’ve already received the certification and been a part of the program.

To learn more about the program, check out the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development page.

HUBZone Small Business

The HUBZone Small Business certificate is another one of the SBA contracting programs. This certification is for businesses that set up shop in historically underutilized business zones.

Eligibility

To receive this type of SBA certification, your business must be:

  • A small business by SBA standards
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe
  • Located in a HUBZone

Additionally, at least 35% of the business’s employees must live in a HUBZone.

Benefits

The federal government allocates 3% of its contracting dollars to HUBZone certified businesses each year. And, businesses with this certification could be able to receive set-aside contracts.

Another benefit of this type of certification is that businesses receive a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions. And, the business receives preferential consideration.

How to apply

To apply for the HUBZone certification, you need to have both a SAM.gov account as well as a General Login System account. You must then apply through the General Login System.

If accepted, you’ll need to recertify your certification every three years. However, you can renew indefinitely if you continue to qualify.

Keep in mind that the SBA may pop in at your business unexpectedly to examine your program and verify that you still qualify.

For more information, head on over to the SBA’s HUBZone program page.

Women-Owned Small Business

The Women-Owned Business certification is for women entrepreneurs. This SBA certification encourages equal opportunities for women small business owners.

Eligibility

For this type of SBA certification, your business must be:

  • A small business by SBA standards
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
  • Managed by women who are involved in the day-to-day operations and long-term decision-making

Benefits

The federal government allocates 5% of its contracting dollars to Women-Owned certified businesses each year. And, businesses with this certification could be able to receive set-aside contracts.

How to apply

You must either get self-certified or third-party certified. You can apply by creating a profile at SAM.gov and using the certify.SBA.gov website.

The Women-Owned Business certification lasts one year. You can update your certification information the same way you apply.

To learn more, check out the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business page.

Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business

The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned certification is for eligible veteran entrepreneurs with a service-related disability.

Eligibility

If you want to qualify for this certification, your business must be:

  • A small business by SBA standards
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans
  • Managed by one or more service-disabled veterans who handle day-to-day operations and make long-term decisions

Eligible veterans are those who have a service-related disability.

Benefits

The federal government allocates 3% of its contracting dollars to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned certified businesses each year. And, businesses with this certification could compete for set-aside contracts.

How to apply

To apply for this certification, create and update your business profile at SAM.gov.

For more information, you can view the SBA’s Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business page.

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