Taking the Initial Steps to Certification
By Natalie Rodgers
If you’re a business owner, then you may already be aware of the basics of Veteran-Owned (VOBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOBE) business certifications. But going through the process to actually obtain the certification can be daunting, especially when considering the paperwork and fees that often go into the process. However, even if your business is thriving by your standards, earning your certification can take your business to new heights. Some of the benefits that certification can bring to your business include:
Money is helpful no matter what kind of business you run, and certification opens the doors to funding opportunities that other businesses can’t access. Every year the government puts aside 23 percent of all of their contracts for small businesses, with 3 percent of that total going specifically towards VOBE and SDVOBE businesses. However, to be eligible to compete for these funds, you have to be a VOBE or SDVOBE certified business. Depending on the network you use to earn your certification, you may also become eligible for other funding opportunities through your certifier.
Businesses work with other companies all the time, but what a lot of people don’t know is that big name, Fortune 500 companies are often looking to work with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses to increase their supplier diversity efforts. To find these small businesses, these companies go directly to small business certifiers like NAVOBA, the SBA and the VA. When you become VOBE or SDVOBE certified, you will be given access to networking opportunities that could gain you a deal with some of the biggest businesses in the country. These kinds of partnerships can lead to an increase of sales and publicity. Some of the top corporations who have dedicated their efforts to work with veteran-owned businesses include USAA, JPMorgan, FedEx, Lowe’s, T-Mobile, Hilton, Ford and many more.
Even if you aren’t looking for government funding or corporate partnerships, certification can still benefit your business in tremendous ways. By becoming certified, you gain access to courses, classes, conferences and networking opportunities that can help you grow your business in every aspect. Through whichever certifier you choose, you can learn the best methods of filing your business taxes, handling payroll, marketing your brands, working with social media and so much more.
Being certified not only allows you to connect with big-name companies but to other veteran-owned businesses and the customers that support them. When you become certified, you have the perfect platform for connecting with other veterans on their entrepreneurial journey. This can lead to potential business partnerships, mentoring opportunities or even just friendships with other veterans.
So How Do I Get Started?
If the benefits of becoming certified are enticing, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by what may be required of you, remember that you are not alone. If hundreds of veteran-owned businesses across the country can become certified, then you can too. To simplify the process, start with our preparation guide.
- Choose the certification that’s right for you. This will depend on your business and your needs.
For those interested in federal contracts, try:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs: vetbiz.va.gov/vip
For those interested in private contracts, try:
- National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA): apps.adaptone.com/navoba
- National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC): nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page
- Gather your documents. The kinds of documents you need will depend on your specific program, but just about any certifier you choose will need the following:
- Government issued ID
- Your resume
- Past tax returns
- Articles of organization or incorporation
- Operating agreement
- Your DD214
- Payroll information
- VA Disability Documentation (SDVOSB certification)
- Utilize your certifying organization’s contacts. If you run into any trouble during the application process or just need clarity on what to do next, feel free to reach out to your organization via the email or telephone number provided on their website. They are willing to assist and want to help you get your certification.
Sources: NaVOBA, US Chamber, Fulton Bank, Veteran Owned Business Round Table, Indeed