The Get 8(a) Certified blog by Government Certification Specialists Inc., the longest running 8(a) blog on the Internet, is 6 years old this month!
Thank you to all of our readers and customers as well as all the nice people we have interacted with at the SBA since 2008 for helping to make this blog a success.
Government Certification Specialists Inc. just edited, updated and improved its kit for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) concerns that wish to self-certify under the SBA’s “Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Procurement Program” and become a verified SDVOSB in the VA’s “Veterans First Contracting Program.”
The kit is longer and better yet available at a lower price than before: $29.95
You can securely order and download the SDVOSB kit entitled “How to Register as an SDVOSB: Federal SDVOSB Certification in Simple Language” from our website:
The kit explains key rules and regulations you should be aware of before you claim to be an SDVOSB; helps you tell the difference between the SBA SDVOSB program and the VA SDVOSB program; lists the documents you need; and provides a simple breakdown of the steps you need to take to become a verified SDVOSB for federal government contracting.
(A note about terminology for those who are concerned: Although the U.S. government does not favor the term “SDVOSB certification,” business owners often use the word “certification” when discussing both the VA and SBA SDVOSB programs, so we apply this word in a colloquial sense in this kit and on our website.)
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) certification program is not for the faint at heart–the ideal 8(a) business owner is patient, confident, yet ready to sell.
Some might claim the classic “Type A” personality–aggressively competitive, constantly compelled by a sense of urgency–is a perfect fit for the 8(a) program, but seemingly contrary traits actually suit an 8(a) business owner better: patience, calm, a strategic and long term outlook.
This is because events in the 8(a) world actually unfold rather slowly: a 105 day application process; a subsequent business plan approval process that can take an additional 30 days; and weeks if not months of business development groundwork to carefully court federal clients. Contracts—even sole source set aside contracts–take weeks of preparation to be executed properly and without error.
The ideal 8(a) owner is driven yet patient; attuned to the value of time yet calm rather than hasty in the face of stress; well prepared and detail oriented, ready to confront reams of federal paperwork (albeit less than with other categories of competitive federal contracts) with an eagle eye for detail.
This patience can be rewarded with great benefits–sole source awards up to $4 million in value, long term relationships with federal buyers who trust you with their future requirements, etc.–but to reap these benefits, the 8(a) business owner must engage in self-marketing.
The ideal 8(a) business owner should be confident, ready to shake hands and network, and able to explain to federal buyers (quickly and articulately) how he or she can help resolve the buyers’ problems or pain points.
Hiding behind a desk all day or hunting for RFPs within a massive database will not readily bring forth 8(a) contracts, so the 8(a) business owner needs to leave the office weekly, attend events and meetings and invest his or her time in self-marketing.
(The introvert 8[a] business owner can vet and hire a “people person,” a sales professional with a proven track record in government sales, to help represent him or her in public if the notion of attending conferences and meetings induces too many shivers, but a sales talent like this will cost the organization $100K per year or more to employ.)
In summary, the successful 8(a) business owner is patient, strategic, unfazed by paperwork and red tape, capable of long term thinking and goal setting, and above all able to sell, sell, sell.
Happy New Year 2014, small business owners!
Now that the calendar year has changed, your 8(a) application will need the following documents updated:
1. Obtain a new Certificate of Good Standing dated 2014.
2. Prepare your year-end 2013 balance sheet, profit and loss statement, aging of accounts receivable, and aging of accounts payable.
3. Refresh your Certificate of Insurance for 2014.
4. If you do not yet possess two consecutive years of federal tax returns for your business, prioritize the completion of your taxes for the year 2013, which are absolutely 100% required for 8(a) certification in 2014. Furthermore, your year 2013 company taxes must show some revenue on them to get 8(a) certified.
5. Be sure to obtain current copies of any lease agreements (e.g., if your office lease renews annually, obtain the most recent addendum or attachment covering 2014.)
The SBA recently updated its list of mandatory 8(a) documents here.
We wish you and your business the best in 2014!
An ideal SBA 8(a) application will contain personal taxes for the years 2012, 2011 and 2010 which meet all of the following requirements:
- Your tax returns must be signed or electronically signed.
- Your tax returns must be complete meaning all pages, all schedules, and all attachments–you cannot take any shortcuts here.
- Your tax returns must be legible; unreadable copies or pages with missing sections will not be accepted.
- You need to include any any all W-2 forms you earned from all sources of employment, not just the applicant firm.
- If married you have to include all of your spouse’s tax documentation including their W-2 forms.
- If you also earned income on 1099 forms as reflected on Line 7 of the tax return, attach copies of the relevant 1099 forms.
- You can remove the state pages.
- If your tax return shows you owed taxes (no refund), then you also need to attach proof of full payment such as a cancelled check from your bank (be sure they copy both sides) or an IRS payment plan with documentation evidence of the 3 most recent payments made under the plan.
- If you include an IRS payment plan it must be all of the pages–typically 5 to 7 pages in length.
- If you don’t have a payment plan yet but you still owe the IRS taxes, don’t apply for 8(a) status until after you have established a formal payment plan with the IRS.
For more help with your 8(a) application feel free to contact our certification specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-350-8381.
SCORE, a national network of business mentors funded by the SBA, has revamped its library of forms and templates to offer business owners free financial statement templates and more.
The SCORE Business Planning & Financial Statements Template Gallery also offers you business plan templates (although we still recommend 8[a] certified companies use the SBA’s Form 1010C instead of other formats.)
For more information about SCORE and its services you can also visit http://www.score.org.
Some prospective clients choke when we tell them our fee, which is (as of October 1, 2013) $3,980.00 for our full service 8(a) application assistance package.
It is understandable that this dollar amount can sound formidable on the surface, as all an 8(a) consultant does is printing and collating documents, right?
Not exactly. In addition to collating documents for your 8(a) application, here is a partial list of activities our consulting service performs to prep your 8(a) application:
1. We ask you a ton of questions probing for potential risk areas and take notes while we do this.
2. We take the time to find and propose solutions for any risk areas we uncover in your application. Sometimes this means hours of Internet research examining federal laws and court case files.
3. We interview each socially and economically disadvantaged owner.
4. We compose narratives for each socially and economically disadvantaged owner.
5. We prepare missing documents for you, such as stock registers, meeting minutes, or whatever else you might be missing that we are legally allowed to do.
6. We send you examples and templates.
7. We take time to answer all of your questions, which sometimes requires research.
8. We prepare personal and company documentation checklists for you and your key employees, then manage and track those checklists.
9. We log in every item you send us in a standardized checklist. This often means more than just marking a check in the box to record the fact that an item was received; we often have to prepare notes to document and explain anomalies in your paperwork.
10. We read and review every sentence of every page of every document you give us.
11. When a client disputes or objects to our advice, we take the time to explain to each client why we advised him or her the way we did and how the law affects the advice we give him or her. Some clients want to debate these topics with us, which takes additional time to resolve. Sometimes we conduct research to prove our points and positions when a client is skeptical.
12. We perform data entry on the electronic application.
13. We print and collate the printed half of the application.
14. We help you respond to SBA letters and questions.
15. We have telecons with our clients to explain SBA letters and questions and gather data to help respond to the SBA.
Again, this is just a partial list of what we do as 8(a) application consultants–many other activities are required along the way, such as helping clients collaborate with System for Award Management (SAM) technical support staff to fix technical glitches in Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) profiles; asking clients to explain and clarify information and documents they gave us that are difficult to interpret or hard to understand; answering client emails and queries; editing files and proofreading; examining financial statements for compliance; and many, many more 8(a) application tasks.
This type of work can sound simple but it takes hours and hours of labor by multiple Government Certification Specialists Inc. staff members, some of whom you know by name and others who work quietly and namelessly on the sidelines (all of us are based in the USA, however–no foreign contractors are ever used because we care about information security).
If our 8(a) application services sound of interest to you, please email us at email@example.com or else peruse our collection of downloadable DIY resources available on our secondary site http://www.8application.com.