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.