Which certification is right for me? You might ask yourself this question when looking for a competitive advantage and it can be confusing, so in this post we’ll go over a few basics to help you make an informed decision.

You’ve probably heard of the 8(a) Business Development Program which no doubt is a great program but it’s not for everyone. Acceptance is limited to businesses considered small as per the SBA requirements. Also you have to prove 51% or higher economic AND social disadvantage. If you don’t belong to any socially disadvantaged groups it will be hard to prove you are eligible for certification.

The Women-Owned Small Business Program is available to small business where a woman owns and controls 51% or more of the company. The word control is key here, and there are documents you will need to prove that you “control” a certain percentage of the business.

Third-party certifiers like WBEC-West empower women business owners to get the certifications needed to apply for procurement opportunities in the public and private sector. Major corporations align themselves with many third-party certifying organizations in their endeavor to expand their procurement efforts. If you are a WBE meeting the requirements for certification, getting certified can be a great way of getting your foot in the door for competing and winning federal and corporate contracts and making strong business connections with other certified WBEs.

Similar to the requirements for WBEs, Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Programs also exist. The 51% or better criteria applies here as well and it is imperative that over half the business is owned and controlled by a Veteran or service disabled Veteran. There are many third-party organizations that also certify veterans and if you meet the criteria, this certification might be right for you.

Now, let’s get back to the question – which certification is right for me?

If you are a fairly new company getting WBE or VOSB certified with a third-party certifying agency can be a good step to meet like-minded businesses and build business connections leading to partnerships and joint ventures. It’ll also help you build experience in the commercial sector with large corporations.

Also if you’ve never applied for a Federal contract, you might not need to dive into 8(a) right away until you’ve gained some experience.

If you’ve worked as a Sub for a Prime Contractor or want to partner with a Prime looking for a Minority/Veteran and Women-owned business to partner with getting certified can be a great idea.

See  how we can help you get WBE certified or learn more about the benefits of certification.