By Thamarr Griffith…..

Certified2How often do entrepreneurs like you open their emails to find an abundance of small business flyers for conferences, events, matchmakers and award luncheons galore?  Some of them promise that you will meet large corporations interested in working with small certified firms as an economic growth goodwill opportunity.

Many corporations, government agencies and municipalities encourage minorities, veterans, women and Native American small business owners to apply for local, state and federal certifications.  With all of the options out there, here is what you should research before wasting your time:

1.  How many firms with specific certifications bid on contracts in the past year vs. the number who were  actually awarded?

2.  How many “new” small businesses won contracts?  “New” meaning not the incumbent or existing small business contract or subcontract holder.

3.  For subcontracting or vendor opportunities with large corporations, what hoops do you need to jump through to be certified and how lengthy is the review process?

Currently, there are thousands of small business concerns with certifications that have garnered them no fruits for the labor they endured to become certified.  Some of those businesses did not understand how  to relentlessly market their firms once certified while others mistakenly sat back expecting contracts to automatically come knocking at their doors. Needless to say, these did not materialize.certified3

If you are a minority or fit any of the above minority groups, consider applying for:

– General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule  (extremely burdensome but limits bidding competition which is advantageous). Having a good accountant and detail-oriented auditor are key assets.

-8a Business Development A.K.A. 8a BD Federal certification (lengthy process but worthwhile; you can do it yourself but hiring a consultant may be easier)

-If construction, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or Certified Business Enterprise (CBE)

-If Woman owned, Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) or Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)

-If veteran, Federal Veteran Owned certification or Native American Owned Small Business

These are just a few of the many certifications available.  Remember, upon earning the certification, you still have to Market Market Market your business to the appropriate government agencies or large corporations that will recognize your certification.  Good luck and Get Certified!