Register as a Small, Women-Owned, Minority-Owned or Veteran-Owned Business
Have you heard that federal procurement is an opportunity for your small, women-owned, minority-owned or disabled veteran-owned business, but don't understand the advantages or how to register? This overview serves as a starting point for small business owners interested in learning more.
How do I register as a small, women-owned, disadvantaged minority-owned or disabled veteran-owned business at the federal level?
The SBA has a great resource that walks you through the process.
- The SBA has a great resource that walks you through the process.
Who can help?
- The SBA has many online resources to help small businesses register for doing business with the government.
- With over 300 locations, Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTACs) are a great, free way to get detailed help in registering and marketing to the Federal, State and local government.
- By law, each Federal agency must have an Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSBDU) which assists small disadvantaged businesses with getting contracts.
- The GSA is a government agency that delivers high-quality, cost effective services for customers across Federal Government through a pre-approved list that serves as a contracting vehicle. GSA has local branches that help small businesses get on the list.
Benefits for small businesses:
The government procurement space is one of the few places where there are advantages to being a women-owned, disadvantaged minority owned, veteran owned or HUBZone business. The advantages listed below are for the Federal government, but work with your local PTAP to find if there are advantages at your state or locality.
What is a set-aside?
A set aside is a contract that can be performed by a small business. Rather than going through the larger, and much more rigorous Request for Proposal process, the contract is “set aside” for small businesses. With few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.
- Competitive set-aside:
- When two or more small business compete for a contract
- Small business compete only with other small businesses - not larger corporations
- Sole-source contracts:
- When a contract is issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens where only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a contract.
Women-owned small business (WOSB)
- The Federal Government tries to set aside 5% of all its contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses
- Some are further restricted to economically disadvantaged women-owned businesses
- To be eligible for the women’s contracting program, your business must:
- Be a small business
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
- Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
- To qualify as an economically disadvantaged business your business must also:
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $350,000 or less
- Have $6 million or less in business assets
Service-disabled veteran-owned small business
- The Federal Government tries to set aside 3% of all its contracting dollars to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses each year.
- To qualify for the disabled veterans’ business program, your business must:
- Be a small business
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans
- Have one or more service-disabled veterans manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
- Eligible veterans must have a service-connected disability
HUBZone certified small business
- A HUBZone is a geographic area that is a Historically Underutilized Business Zones
- A map of HUBZones can help you figure out if you are located in one.
- The federal government tries to award at least three percent of all federal contracting dollars to HUBZone-certified small businesses each year.
- Compete in HUBZone set-asides
- HUBZones can change every 10 years with a new census
- To qualify for the HUBZone program, your business must:
- Be a small business
- Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe
- Have its principal office located in a HUBZone
- Have at least 35 percent of its employees live in a HUBZone
8(a) Business Development Program - small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities
- The federal government tries to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses each year.
- Compete in 8(a) set-asides
- A Business Opportunity Specialist to help navigate federal contracting
- Form joint ventures with established businesses through a mentor-protege program
- Receive management and technical assistance, including business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development
- 9 year limit to the program
- Strategize when to get 8(a) certification
- Strategize on how to compete once graduated from program
Ok, but how do I really start?
- Start small - remember you have to build to capacity and past performance history
- Start local - your county, city and state have lots of contracting opportunities
- Subcontracting - sometimes even sub-sub -subcontracting
- Large contracts also have small business requirements
- Search for areas of your expertise using NAICS codes.
- The SBA has put together a database to find subcontracting opportunities
- Network! Find opportunities to attend local events where procurement is being discussed.