Organizations of every shape and size register their businesses to make bids on the federal marketplace. When you consider the trillions of dollars that the U.S. Federal Government spends contracting out work and awarding grants to certified businesses every year, it doesn’t take a marketplace expert to see why so many business owners are getting registered to access these huge benefits.
For some organizations, like those operated by U.S. veterans, there’s even more to be gained. Businesses helmed by veterans might be eligible for Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Certification. Every year, the government contracts between $150 and $200 billion of work to organizations with these certifications.
However, the Federal Certification process is a complex one to navigate and shouldn’t be approached unequipped or without preparation and research. A single filing error can cause lengthy delays while key federal opportunities are lost, and many eligible veteran business owners aren’t entirely clear on exactly what it takes to complete the VOSB or SDVOSB certification processes. Beyond the application and verification processes, many businesses who have these certifications aren’t aware of how to make full use of their advantages.
SBA Has Taken Over VOSB & SDVOSB Certifications
Before moving into some of the key things you’ll need to know for the certification process, there is a big update around VOSB and SDVOSB statuses. Previously managed by the VA, these certifications for veteran-owned businesses have now been consolidated under the SBA as of the end of 2022. For more information, see our resource that covers everything you need to know about this change and what to expect.
FAMR Takes the Hassle Out of The VOSB and SDVOSB Certification Process
A Quick Overview of Veteran Benefits in the Federal Marketplace
Starting with the basics, any U.S. business owner can register to work alongside the federal government. However, if your organization is a veteran-owned small business (VOSB) or a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB), the federal marketplace opportunities available to you will be much more valuable and easier to access.
Advantages of VOSB or SDVOSB Status
There are many benefits for those with veteran-owned business status. For example, VOSB organizations are given special privileges including:
- Exclusive access to 3% of annual federal contracts
- Additional contracts reserved in the private sector
- Bidding preferences for open-bid contracts
- and other VOSB benefits you can learn about here
Advantages like these have been around since the creation of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003. This was created to provide fair business opportunities for every American who devotes years of service to their country before entering the world of enterprise.
How to Know if You’re Eligible for a VOSB/SDVOSB Certification
So how do you know if you’re able to take advantage of this program and its benefits? The primary eligibility requirements for both VOSB and SDVOSB certifications are that:
- Organizations maintain a 51% majority ownership of full-time veteran managers who handle day-to-day operations
- The company qualifies as a small business
- They successfully navigate the complex application processes to accurately represent their business status.
For SDVOSB certification, all of the above criteria must be met, in addition to the owner’s disability needing to be connected to their military service.
When you’re ready to apply for either VOSB or SDVOSB certification, it’s important to have all the documentation required on hand. These include your:
- Personal resume
- Driver’s license
- Articles of organization
- Certificate of Formation
- Previous year’s tax returns
- Previous year’s payroll distribution ledger summary or W-2s
- Department of Defense Form 214
But this begs the question: Should you take on the application and verification process on your own? Or is it more beneficial to work with a partner to guide you through the process?
Weighing the Options: Self-Registration vs. Professional
Aside from professional services, it’s also true that business owners are able to navigate each application and apply for VOSB/SDVOSB certifications all on their own — and for free — by starting at the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) website.
However, due to the level of complexity that self-registration entails and the heavy costs that come from filing errors and accidental omissions of information, this is not a path recommended for those who aren’t already deeply familiar with how to navigate a lengthy federal certification.
At the end of the day, professional federal registration services are a much safer and more efficient route.
However, even when working alongside expert registration professionals, it’s important to keep in mind that some follow-up action will be required on the business owner’s end before their applications can be sent off.
What to Expect from your Professional VOSB or SDVOSB Certification
If you choose this path to save yourself the headaches of dealing with the government directly, registration services will begin by guiding veterans on the range of documentation they’re going to need to provide. This will demonstrate their veteran and small business statuses, among other things.
Unfortunately, if you’re doing this on your own, this part of the process often isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Because every business in this country operates in its own unique way, every application process is going to have variations in its requirements as well. This makes some professional guidance here an invaluable time-saver. It also means clear and consistent communication between business owners and registration specialists is paramount.
That said, regardless of the differences in each application, every veteran business owner should be prepared to:
- Schedule a preliminary call with their registration specialist
- Send their registration specialist key information and documentation as requested
- Continue coordinating with their registration specialist until certification is completed
- (Optional) Continue working alongside specialists after certification to optimize and improve their federal marketplace opportunities
Tips for Speeding up the VOSB/SDVOSB Application Process
On average, the full VOSB/SDVOSB certification process takes anywhere between 30 to 90 days. How long your own certification takes will largely depend on the volume of the certifying council that’s servicing your area of business, but there are a couple of other factors at play that you do have control over.
Refine your Business Documentation
How professionally you present your business’ documented information directly impacts how quickly it can all be processed. The underwriting stage of an application gets bogged down easily by filing technicalities and clerical misunderstandings, which is why it’s so important for your business information to be cleanly organized in an easily digestible manner.
Stay Responsive and Compliant with your Registration Specialist
It has been mentioned before but can’t be overstated — the speed and efficiency at which business owners cooperate with their registration specialist’s requests will play the largest part in how smoothly a VOSB/SDVOSB application goes in every respect. Do your best to maintain close communication with your specialist whenever action is necessary on your end, just as they should be doing with you.
On that Note: To ensure the registration services you partner with are of the professional quality your business deserves, be sure to find customer testimonials and reviews from trusted sources.
Get your VOSB or SDVOSB Certifications Started
The U.S. Government is contracting out more lucrative work than ever before. Professional federal registration services are available to get you on your way toward a VOSB or SDVOSB certification right away so you can take advantage of this.
FAMR’s team of dedicated specialists have years of experience navigating the federal marketplace and getting work done quickly and efficiently with the government. If you’re interested in getting your own qualified organization certified as a veteran-owned small business, or want to learn more about the other benefits of registering your business to work with the federal government, feel free to look through FAMR’s other resources or reach out to us today.