The U.S. Government has created a number of entrepreneurship programs that benefits certain individuals and groups. Whether you are a woman-owned business, a veteran-owned business or a small disadvantaged business, knowing the right label can help you develop your business, increase your bottom line, and get more customers. It can help you get government contracts, receive training and mentoring, and even get access to funding.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, below are some of the important ownership labels that you can use to market your business:
1. Small Business.
The law as stated in the Small Business Act defines a small business as a “one that is independently owned and operated and which is not dominant in its field of operation.” However, the actual determination of a small business varies by industries and depends on a number of economic factors. The SBA looks at the following structure of an industry to define whether the business can be classified as a small business: degree of competition, average firm size, start-up costs and entry barriers, distribution of firms by size, number of employees, technological changes, and others.
For information on how the government defines a small business, visit SBA’s table of small business size standards
2. Woman-Owned Business.
Your business must be 51% or more owned and controlled by a woman for it to qualify as a woman-owned business. A woman-owned business benefits from the government’s goal of providing 5% of government contracts to women-owned small businesses. Women-owned businesses can qualify for government contracts or grants accorded to women simply by checking the appropriate box in the questionnaire/application form. There is no formal certification required.
3. Veteran-Owned Business.
Your business must be 51% or more owned and controlled by a veteran. There is no formal certification required; simply check the appropriate box in the federal contract application form.
As a veteran business owner, you may qualify to participate in any of the SBA-run programs geared towards helping veteran business owners to start, run and manage a business. These programs include the Veterans Business Development Officers http://www.sba.gov/vets/reps.html in the SBA District Offices and the Veterans Business Outreach Program (VBOP) http://www.sba.gov/vets/vbop.html. Through these programs, you can avail of business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals.
4. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business.
Your business must be 51% or more owned and controlled by a service-disabled veteran. You will need to get certification from the Veterans Administration to confirm disability.
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 provides for set-aside and sole source procurement authority for service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) concerns. For information on how a service-disabled veteran-owned business owner can sell to the federal government, get funding to jump start a business, and management help, visit the following resources:
- General Services Administration website
- SBA Office of Veterans Development
- Veterans Lending Corporation
5. Small disadvantaged business.
The SBA defines a small disadvantaged business as “a firm that is 51% or more owned, controlled, and operated by a person(s) who is socially and economically disadvantaged.” This group includes African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian Americans, Native Americans, and others as may be designated by the SBA. The SBA also considers your average two-year income, fair market value of all assets, access to credit and capital, and the financial condition in evaluating economic disadvantage.
To qualify as a disadvantaged business enterprise, you need to get certification from the SBA and your business needs to be up and running. In addition to the application forms, you need to submit 2 years personal tax returns (including W2 forms and Schedules), 3 years business tax returns (includes Schedules) and business financials. A SDB certification provides benefits in the federal procurement program. For information on the SBA Small Business Disadvantaged, visit http://www.sba.gov/sdb/
A broader program available to small disadvantaged businesses is called the 8(a) Business Development Program. Under this program, you can receive technical and management assistance, financial assistance in the form of equity investments and/or loans, subcontract support, and assistance in performing prime contracts through joint venture arrangements with 8(a) firms. For more information on the 8(a) Program, visit http://www.sba.gov/8abd/
6. HUBZone Business.
If you operate in a distressed area classified as a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone”, you may qualify for the HUBZone Program and get easier access to federal contracting opportunities. You can obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff that live in a HUBZone. For information on the HUBZone Program and to determine if your area qualifies as an underutilized business zone, visit http://www.sba.gov/hubzone/