What Are Some Certifications That Can Help Your Small Business?

What Are Some Certifications That Can Help Your Small Business?

When getting started in business, odds are you are going to have something of a tough road ahead. Getting the company up and running, finding reliable employees, perhaps even finding a suitable space in which to work. Also, there is the question of funding and working capital. Some business owners may actually encounter roadblocks to this end due to their gender, location and/or economic status. In light of this, we thought we'd discuss some of the certification programs out there—particularly through the SBA—that can help your company get that extra boost it may need.

The Benefits of SBA Certifications

The Small Business Administration (SBA/) was set up to help small businesses in a variety of ways: from counseling services to financial help, to assist with government based contracts. In fact, as far as government contracts go, the SBA is responsible for disbursing over 20% of these contracts. You do however have to have an SBA certification to qualify.

By becoming small business certified you gain a much more competitive edge—allowing you to perhaps win such contracts over even larger companies. Not only that, but SBA certification increases opportunities for your company as some contracts may require the government to hire only SBA certified parties.

Requirements for SBA Certifications

There are a number of different types of certification under the umbrella "SBA certification" and depending on the specific program requirements can vary. That said there are a few general criteria to keep in mind: you must fall under the SBA definition of ‘small' business. In some instances, the owners (holding 51% or more of the company/) must be economically and/or socially disadvantaged. Operations must be in the hands of a disadvantaged person residing in the US.

Certification Types: Promoting Diversity

Those underrepresented business owners do have help available through the SBA certification programs. There are programs dedicated to fostering minority business growth as well as those that give business owners access to certain grant money.

8(a/) Business Development

This program basically says that the government will disburse 5% of federal contract funds to disadvantaged businesses. Plus, those that do get this, receive nine years of help with business development. Acquiring this particular certification allows a small business to take part in a number of programs, to include: mentorship, business training, and counseling services.


This certification targets those areas in the country that have been underutilized. With a HUBZone certification, the small business receives competitive contracting benefits as well as a 10% price evaluation preference. In order to qualify the applicant's business must be located in a HUBZone and at least 35% of employees must live there as well.

Below are a couple of certification programs you might explore if, in fact, you are a veteran-owned business:

Certifications for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

Overwhelmingly, Americans like to do business with veterans. By getting a veteran business certification you can officially label your company as veteran owned and operated. For the federal government's part, they award 3% of contracting dollars per years to disabled veteran businesses.

Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB/)

This is a great way to get in on VA contracts and participate in the Veterans First Contracting Program. Each year over 3 billion in VA based contracts and subcontracts are allotted—this certification helps you become far more competitive.

Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB/)

SDVOSB-certified companies are not only eligible for the 3% of set-aside contracts, but you also can apply to participate in counseling services, business training programs and financial help under certain circumstances. You must have a service-related disability to apply.

Women-Owned Certification

With women-owned certifications comes the ability to access 5% of all federal contracting dollars that go to a woman-owned business annually.

Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB/)

The WOSB certification increases your company's visibility while giving you some major advantages. You do not only get benefits as far as federal contracting goes, but you also can opt to participate in networking events and mentorship opportunities as well—invaluable experiences especially if yours is a fairly new small business.

Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB/)

For EDWOSB certification, the requirements are much the same as what you will find for the WOSB except you also have to fall under certain economic categories.

Sustainability Certification

You don't necessarily have to be a minority or economically disadvantaged to apply for certifications. There are a number of programs that certify those companies who take sustainability seriously, who institute green initiatives and thus benefit the environment.


Perhaps the most widely recognized sustainability certification, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design/) is used globally in terms of green rating standards.

The LEED program will grant buildings various levels of certifications depending on what criteria they achieve. You can make changes to your building and retrofit the space in order to meet LEED standards—this then may result in tax breaks as well as other financial incentives.


This particular certification is for those companies who are working to achieve sustainability goals, to include reducing their carbon footprint, moving toward zero waste and benefiting the public health and well being.

Which Small Business Certification Should You Choose?

This list is by no means exhaustive when it comes to small business certifications available. You may need to do a little research, but odds are you will find something that is suited to your industry and company.

For some though, keep in mind the entire application process can be a bit lengthy and some do have costs attached, sometimes high costs. So do your homework beforehand.

Also, take the time to learn exactly how a certain certification can, in fact, benefit your small business. You may discover that you qualify for multiple programs and yet one may hold greater benefits for you than another. Remember too that you generally must renew your certification so pay attention to how long a program is good for and then stay on top of reapplying. If you would like more information, please call today!

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