hanges to SBA's 8(a) Program are a Boon to Small Business Owners

Today, the Small Business Association’s (SBA) revisions to its rules governing the 8(a) Business Development program go into effect. These new changes will enable more small businesses to qualify for the program and access a variety of business development services, including the opportunity to receive federal contracts on a sole-source or limited competition basis. The changes also strengthen the overall program for existing 8(a) firms so that the benefits go to deserving small businesses.

To help business owners get a leg up on the billions of dollars worth of contracts that are set aside for only 8(a) firms, Lourdes offers the following tips:

  • Explore the 8(a) program to see if you qualify: The 8(a) program is for small firms that are socially and economically disadvantaged. To qualify, a firm can’t exceed a certain size limit, which varies by industry; has to be able to meet certain economic criteria; and show that it is socially disadvantaged, meaning minority-owned or disadvantaged. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/programs/index.html
  • If you qualify, make sure that your financial house is in order: The SBA requires a huge quantity of documentation on every aspect of the business and its owners. They want to see everything, so make sure that your business is being run very cleanly.
  • If you don’t qualify, explore other SBA certifications that give you a competitive edge: The government recognizes a number of small business certifications including Small Business, Small Disadvantaged Business, Service-disabled Veteran-Owned Business and HUBZone Business.
  • If your business is women-owned, familiarize yourself with the SBA’s newly created Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program. A checklist to determine your business’ eligibility can be found on OPEN Forum.
  • Team to help win government contracts: If you are new to government contracting, teaming can help you gain the experience and credibility you need to be awarded more government contracts. With various set-aside contracting programs for small businesses, partnering with an 8(a) or women-owned firm can help increase your chances of winning contracts.
  • For more resources and tips on how to sell to the government: Visit OPEN Insight Guides on www.OPENForum.com/governmentcontracting.

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