How to write an Executive Summary for your 8a Business Plan

The Executive Summary is the most important section of your 8a business plan. It provides a concise overview of the entire plan along with a history of your company. This section describes the fundamental elements of your business, as well as what business you are in, why you are in it, and what you hope to accomplish. For example, describe your business in terms of where it has come from, where it is now, where you want it to go, and how you plan to get it there.  This section is important because it explains why you think your business idea will be successful.  This is a complete summary of your 8a business plan and should be the last section you write. After you’ve completed all the other details of your plan, you’ll be better able to summarize it.  1 to 2 pages is an appropriate length for the executive summary.

Here are some important elements to include in your Executive Summary:

  • The Mission Statement – The mission statement briefly explains the thrust of your business. It could be two words, two sentences, a paragraph, or even a single image. It should be as direct and focused as possible, and it should leave the reader with a clear picture of what your business is all about.
  • Date business began
  • Names of founders and the functions they perform
  • Number of employees
  • Location of business including branches or subsidiaries
  • Description of plant or facilities
  • Primary industry and NAICS code
  • Products manufactured/services rendered
  • Summary of company growth since the beginning, including financial or market highlights
  • Summary of future plans

With the exception of the mission statement, all of the information in the Executive Summary should be brief since the details will be provided further along in the plan.

For newly certified 8a companies, Cloveer provides professional assistance in preparing SBA acceptable 8a Business Plans.

What meeting minutes must be submitted with your 8a Application and who is required to submit them?

What meeting minutes are required?

At a minimum, you must submit a copy of the business concerns initial or organizational meeting minutes and at least the last two immediate years of annual meeting minutes.

Typically the initial or organizational meeting minutes are prepared at the time you formally organize your business concern. The initial meeting minutes will usually contain the following information:

  • A listing of all business concern shareholders, owners or members
  • Elections of the initial Board of Directors, Managing Member or General/Limited Partners
  • Election of all business concern officers such as the President/CEO, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer
  • Resolutions acknowledging the  filing of the Articles of Incorporation, Organization or Partnership filing
  • Resolutions accepting the original Bylaws, Operating Agreement or Partnership Agreement
  • Any other general business topics discussed such as opening business bank accounts, officer salaries, etc.

Your Bylaws, Operating Agreement or Partnership Agreement will generally outline the requirements for holding meetings.  Typically each year a meeting is held with the purpose of electing or re-electing the Board of Directors, Managing Members or General/Limited Partners and all officers.

Who is required to submit them?

All business concerns that are formed as a Corporation, Limited Liability Company or Partnership must submit the meeting minutes as part of their 8a Application. If you operate as a Sole Proprietorship, you are not required to be submit meeting minutes.


What financial statements are required to be submitted for an 8a application?

All firms applying for 8a Certification must submit the following financial statements:

Year to date Balance sheet and income statements, no older than 90 days, including a detailed A/P and A/R aging statement if you are operating on an accrual basis.

The last three years of Balance sheet and income statements (e.g. 2021, 2020, & 2019)

You should ensure that all financials provided are prepared on generally accepted accounting principles.

Your current year to date financials must exhibit the following:

  • Positive net income
  • Positive working capital
  • Positive equity

The 8a Business Development Program?

The SBA 8a Business Development program was formed in 1968. The Small Business Administration is responsible for administrating the program. It got the 8(a) name from Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act. It is designed to assist small disadvantaged businesses compete within the US Economy.

A major benefit for 8a participants is access to competitive and sole source federal contracts. Each year billions of dollars of contracts are awarded to 8a Certified firms.

The 8a Business Development program focuses on providing the following:

  • Business Development support such as;
    • mentoring
    • procurement assistance
    • business counseling
    • training
    • financial assistance
    • bonding
    • management and technical assistance

Firms becoming certified by the SBA begin a nine year program term. On their annual certification day each year they must file an 8a annual update which the SBA reviews to determine if they still meet all of the 8a program requirements.

Certified firms may be awarded up to $100 million in 8a contracts throughout their nine year program participation.

The nine year program is divided into the developmental and transitional stage.

The developmental stage is the first four years of participation and helps participants overcome the economic disadvantage by providing business development support.

The transitional stage comprises the final 5 years and prepares the participants for leaving the program and competing outside of the 8a program.

You must apply to become an 8a participant and meet specific requirements. Some of the requirements are that the company must be owned and controlled by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Most individuals find the complexity of the rules and regulations for applying so tough they get assistance from a company who the expertise to prepare their 8a application, such as Cloveer.

10 basic requirements that must be met for 8a Certification

1. All applicants must be U.S. Citizens.

2. The applicants must unconditionally own at least 51% of the business that is applying.

3. All applicants must be considered economically and socially disadvantaged.

4. All applicants and the business cannot have any unpaid federal, state or local obligations.

5. Any applicant and business that has previously participated are not eligible.

6. The business that is applying must be considered small by SBA size standards.

7. The top management position in the business must be be held by one of the applicants.

8. The top management applicant must work full-time in the business without any outside employment.

9. The business that is applying must not be classified as a broker, non-profit or be a subsidiary of another business.

10. The business that is applying must exhibit SBA Potential for Success.

If you are looking for more information on 8a Certification, please visit our website at

Reasons why most who try to apply for 8a Certification on their own fail

1. There are no clear instructions detailing what the SBA is really looking for. Applicants are left to guess what information will satisfy all of the SBA’s requirements. We frequently hear from clients who have spoken to or have even met with SCORE, their local SBA district office, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and are given incorrect advice or answers that end up getting there 8a Application returned for deficiencies or worse yet denied.

2. The SBA checklist’s that exist are incomplete. If you follow the SBA checklist precisely, your 8a Application will be questioned or returned as deficient since it does not contain every item that must be provided. Every letter that you receive back from the SBA results in a 30 to 90 day delay. In the event the SBA sends your entire 8a Application back, you will have to start fresh again and hope that you get it right the next time. We call this the endless review cycle at the SBA since they cannot inform you of every wrong problem with your 8a Application the first time, since they did not have everything needed to perform their full review.

3. The SBA does not tell you how they want you to organize and package your 8a Application. Improperly organizing your 8a Application paperwork such as putting it in a notebook with tabs, stapling papers, using binder clips and plastic sleeves, will delay the processing of your 8a Application.

4. The 8a electronic application does let you know if you answer a question that will result in denial. Yes, if you answer some of the SBA’s questions incorrectly you will be denied 8a Program entry without giving you the opportunity to possibly correct a denial situation before submitting. You will have to wait a full 12 months to re-apply if denied.

5. You will have to modify your existing corporate Bylaws, LLC Operating Agreement, or Partnership Agreement and the SBA does not tell you how or why, and only tells you after you submit your 8a Application. Unless you spend the time reading the code of federal regulations that govern the 8a Program, and truly understand them, these documents will be challenged if submitted in their current versions.

6. Your chance of getting the SBA 413 forms, personal financial statements correct the first time, are slim. The SBA 413 form was not developed primarily for the SBA 8a Program. It was developed for a SBA loan program and is used by the SBA for the 8a Program since it asks for some information they need and some they don’t.

7. Every applicant must produce a economic disadvantage narrative that meets the SBA adequate evidence standard but no real advice is given on how to properly prepare the narrative. Did you know that being a member of a SBA designated group and writing the narrative is not everything needed to prove you are economically disadvantaged. There is another area that you must prove to be economically disadvantaged that the SBA does not tell you about in their application paperwork. No longer required by the SBA as of August 24, 2016.

8. Not a member of one of the SBA’s designated groups? Did you know that the level of evidence required to prove social disadvantage requires is called “Preponderance of Evidence”?. This level of evidence is much greater than just writing a narrative.

9. Haven’t been in business for two full years with revenues and taxes to prove it? The required “two-year waiver” needed to convince the SBA that you have “potential for success” only gives you the conditions that you must meet but they do not tell you what to provide to prove how you have met each condition.

10. Only have one client and/or you derive more than 70% of your revenues/sales from them?. You will be denied 8a Program entry due to economic dependence and you will not find this rule in any SBA regulation governing the 8a program. The SBA uses Office of Hearing and Appeals (OHA) cases to set 8a program precedence for this requirement and others not named.

These are just 10 of the reasons why most people fail when they try to apply for 8a Certification themselves.

The 8a Business Plan

The 8a Business Plan

Development of the 8a Business Plan

Each newly certified 8a Participant must develop a comprehensive business plan setting forth its business targets, objectives, and goals. Although the 8a Business Plan is not required to be completed and submitted as part of a Participant’s 8a Application submission, it must be submitted to the SBA servicing office as soon as possible after 8a program admission. Typically the 8a Business Plan must be submitted within 30 days from the date of its 8a program admission or from its attendance at mandatory SBA 8a program orientation. The 8a Participant will not be eligible for 8a program benefits, including 8a contracts, until its 8a business plan is approved.

Failure to provide an 8a Business Plan in a timely manner and receive approval can result in early termination by the SBA.

The 8a business plan must address all 52 of the SBA Form 1010c questions and contain the following information:

(1)    A detailed description of any products currently being produced and any services currently being performed by the concern, as well as any future plans to enter into one or more new markets;

(2)    The applicant’s designation of its primary industry classification, as defined in § 124.3;

(3)    An analysis of market potential, competitive environment, and the concern’s prospects for profitable operations during and after its participation in the 8a BD program;

(4)    An analysis of the concern’s strengths and weaknesses, with particular attention on ways to correct any financial, managerial, technical, or work force conditions which could impede the concern from receiving and performing non-8a contracts;

(5)    Specific targets, objectives, and goals for the business development of the concern during the next two years;

(6)    Estimates of both 8a and non-8a contract awards that will be needed to meet its targets, objectives and goals; and

(7) Such other information as SBA may require.

Updating the 8a Business Plan

Each 8a Participant must annually review its business plan with its assigned Business Opportunity

Specialist (BOS), and modify the plan as appropriate. The 8a Participant must submit a modified plan and updated information to its BOS within thirty 30 days after the close of each program year. It also must submit a capability statement describing its current contract performance capabilities as part of its updated 8a business plan.

As part of the annual review of its 8a business plan, each 8a Participant must annually forecast in writing its needs for contract awards for the next program year.

For companies needing assistance in the development or updating of their 8a Business Plan, please visit

5 Ways to Find 8a Contract Opportunities

1. Visit the SAM.GOV web site. It contains thousands of active federal procurement’s. The web site can be found by visiting

You can narrow down your search for 8a set-aside contract opportunities or set-up an account to automatically receive targeted opportunities via email. We suggest that you specifically look for 8a opportunities that are in the pre-solicitation or sources sought phase as most of the other phases are too far along in the procurement process already.

2. View each Federal agency’s long range acquisition forecast (LRAE). For example Each major federal agency maintains a LRAE which identifies anticipated procurements upcoming that are over $100,000.

3. Contact each Federal agency’s OSDBU (Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization) office. The OSDBU’s ensure that small and disadvantaged businesses are provided maximum practicable opportunity to participate in the agency’s contracting process. The primary responsibility of the OSDBU is to ensure that small businesses are treated fairly and have an opportunity to compete and be selected for a fair amount of the agency’s contracting and subcontracting dollars. You can find the contact information for each OSDBU office by visiting each Federal agency’s web site.

4. Visit the the SAM.GOV databank web site. It contains every federal procurement that has ever taken place. The web site can be found by visiting

You can search and find out which agency is buying your products or services, the names of your competitors who were awarded past contracts, their dollar value, location, NAICS code and more.

5. Finally, narrow down the Federal agencies who you want to do business with, find out who the contracting officers are, setup a face to face meeting, and market your products and services to them.

What are the benefits of 8a Certification?

1. You will have access to sole source/non-competitive contracts with a value of:

– $4M and under for all services related contracts
– $6.5M and under for manufacturing related contracts

2. You will have access to competitive set-aside contracts with a value of:

– $4M and over for all services related contracts
– $6.5M and over for manufacturing related contracts

3. You will severely limit your potential competition.

– There are less than 10,000 active 8a participants in the entire 8a Program
– The big-guys (Lockheed Martin, CSC, EDS, Halliburton, etc.) cannot compete for these contracts

4. It is easier for your federal prospects to buy from you.

– 8a contracts require much less paperwork, time and bureaucracy than most other procurement methods
– 8a contracts cannot be protested

5. It is a much faster contract award process.

– 8a contracts take about 1/10 the amount of time to be awarded compared to most other procurement methods

If you are looking for a company to assist in the process of getting your business 8a Certified, contact today.