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5 Things You Need to Know Before Getting Certified

In all honesty, becoming a certified veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprise (VOBE/SDVOBE) is no walk in the park. There is documentation to submit and research to be completed. The process can seem overwhelming to any business owner; however, earning this certification can be immensely helpful to your business.

If you have been considering certification but want to be prepared, here are some things you should know before taking the leap:

Certification Opens Doors

Becoming a certified business owner is more than just a label; it’s one of the best ways to grow your business. As a VOBE or an SDVOBE, you’ll be given business opportunities that are exclusive to certified businesses. Not only will your distinguishment allow you to bid on contracts and funding opportunities, but you’ll be able to connect with other veterans, form partnerships with other small business owners and be given access to resources, seminars and workshops that will help you grow your business. 

Types of Certifications

While all certifications will provide you with funding opportunities, mentorship and resources that will aid your business growth, the certification that best serves your business will depend on your specific goals. Three different certifications can benefit your business: federal, state and private sector. The type of business partnerships you hope to form will determine which of the three is best for you.

Federal Contracts: Federal contracts certification is the best option if you want to work with the Department of Defense or other government entities. You can apply through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
State/Local Contracts: These contracts are similar to federal contracts but with state or local governments. While many states have certification opportunities for veterans, it’s important to remember that not all states provide these partnerships. Check with your state’s government website to see what options are available.
Private Sector Contracts: These contracts are best for businesses looking to work in private industries. You can obtain certification for these opportunities through veteran advocacy groups like the National Veterans Business Development Council. These organizations often require an application fee.

Organize Your Paperwork

Depending on your certifying agency, business type and veteran status, many documents may be required during the application process. Before you apply for certification, you’ll want to check your certifying agency’s checklist—a list of the documents needed to complete the application process. This list will vary for different businesses but often requires proof of citizenship, your business license, payroll documents, proof of veteran status, business plans, mission statements and much more.

List all of the documents you need and gather them before you sit down to apply. Assistance for your application can be sought through your certifying agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

One-Stop Shop for Federal Contracts

Before this year, you had two options for federal contracts. You could work with the SBA or the VA. As of January 2023, all of your federal contracting resources can be found through the SBA, which partnered with the VA to simplify the federal certifying process. More information on federal contracts can be found at 

Don’t Limit Yourself

Other federal and private organizations offer certifications for underrepresented business owners, but just because you’re certified with one agency doesn’t mean you can’t be certified with another. If you become a VOBE or SDVOBE, you can additionally seek certification to become a minority-, woman-, disability- and LGBTQ+-owned business owner if you meet the qualifications.

Earning several certifications further distinguishes your business and provides more opportunities for funding, partnership, mentorship and resources.

Discover more articles for the veteran community here.

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