8(a) certification…It’s all about gaining a significant competitive edge in doing business, especially with the Federal government.  What is a competitive advantage?  Simply stated, it’s what differentiates your company from any or all of your competitors in a way that’s important to a prospective customer’s decision to buy your product or service versus that of your competitors.

How do other companies differentiate themselves?  There are six fundamental strategies that can be used, alone or in combination with one another.  They are:

  • Price – That is how Wal-Mart, as the low-price provider distinguishes itself.
  • Quality – This is Mercedes, BMW’s and Rolex’s claim to fame, whether real or perceived.
  • Ease of Use – Human friendliness and ergonomic design are what Microsoft software/Windows and AOL have depended upon to become national leaders.
  • Speed of Service – Next Day Blinds, and even Dominos Pizza have used this ploy in the commodity markets of window blinds and fast-food.
  • Customer Perceived Value – Such brands as Nordstrom and Publix Grocery stores are known for their “well above-average” level of service and customer relationship maintenance.
  • Different – Being unlike others is a fundamental technique used by Apple Computer, the Satellite based radio providers, HBO, BET and Univision.

How does being 8(a) certified provide you with an opportunity to differentiate you and your company?  Here are but a few of the ways:

  • Price – Being certified can mean that your prospective customer need not buy from the lowest bidder, if you demonstrate other important values to them to contract with you.
  • Quality – Being 8(a) certified can mean that your prospective customer can buy from you, if you can convince them that you are better, even though smaller than your competitors.
  • Ease of Use – Being 8(a) certified can mean that your prospective customer can avoid developing detailed procurement specifications and having to organize and conduct complex and lengthy competitive procurements, subject to “sore-loser” protests.
  • Speed of Service – Simpler procurements are faster procurements, and that means that your prospective customer can get your products or access to your services in a fraction of the time as that which is available through competitive bidding.
  • Customer Perceived Value – Being 8(a) certified can mean that you are available quicker, easier, simpler and on more personally accommodating terms to your prospective customer than most of your competitors.
  • Different – Being 8(a) certified can mean that you are unlike the remaining 99.9% of all other small businesses in the U.S. that are not certified, just because of the fact that you have this important procurement assistance tool that you can share with your prospective customer.

8(a) Certification …What Is It?

The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Program was created in 1974 to help minority and other disadvantaged businesses to grow through a program of federal contracting preferences and set-asides. Through the program, eligible firms can be awarded federal government contracts on a sole-source or non-competitive basis. Contracts up to $6.5M for manufacturing and up to $4M for just about everything else are available to certified firms under these non-competition bases. In addition to this, 8(a) contractors will also be eligible for participation in limited competitions where their competitors will be other companies like their own and not the “big guys.”

The Federal government set aside billions in contracts for 8(a) certified firms in its fiscal year 2012. But in spite of this, many eligible minority, women and Service-Disabled Veteran-owned businesses fail to take advantage of this lucrative program because they are put off by the difficulty of the application process. Until now that was true. Cloveer’s software and services accelerate and simplify the process of small business applying and being accepted for the SBA’s 8(a) program.

Today’s 8(a) Business Development Program is strengthened and improved to be a truly effective business development vehicle. New regulations permit 8(a) companies to form beneficial teaming partnerships and allow Federal agencies to streamline the contracting process. New rules make it easier for non-minority firms to participate by proving their social disadvantage. The SBA has also implemented the new Mentor-Protégé Program to allow starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from experienced businesses.

The new and improved 8(a) Program has become an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. Participation is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.

You see, applying for the SBA 8(a) Certification and gaining the above competitive advantages is well within your sights, need not be a waste of your time nor will it take forever either. It won’t be a waste of your money either, since Cloveer pre qualifies all clients upfront.  Visit our website at www.cloveer.com or call us at 813-333-5800 to discuss your particular situation.

The 10 Fundementals of Success for 8(a) Companies and their Presidents

1.  Keep the End in Mind, First!

2.  Develop a System for “Out-Managing” Your Competition

3.  Know Yourself, Your Company and Your Team, Intimately

4.  Be a Mentor, as Well as a Protégé

5.  Understand Your Competition, and “Out Differentiate” Them

6.  Be a Player – Join in the “Big-Guy” Games

7.  Data, Information, and Knowledge – Know the Difference, and Use These to Power Your Leadership

8.  Find and Win More Business – But First of All, “Be Picky”

9.  Problem Solve, Without Creating Losers, and Scapegoats

10.  Remember, You Get What You Pay For –Do You?

7 out of every 10 businesses 8(a) Applications are denied by the SBA

Don’t get denied. Make sure you fully qualify for the 8(a) Program before first!

Unfortunately, many businesses try to prepare their own 8(a) application, without some sort of outside assistance, when a quick call to Cloveer could have saved them countless hours of of wasted time they spent putting together their application and the hassle of being denied by the SBA, causing a 1 year delay for re-application.

Here are just a few of issues we see on a daily basis that applicants are not aware of:

1. The applicant firm is earning more than 70% of its revenue with one single client causing economic dependence by the SBA.

2. The applicant has ownership in another business, resulting in a less than full-time devotion to the applicant business determination by the SBA.

3. The applicant firm has a potential affiliation with another firm resulting in the SBA requiring a size determination analysis, possible resulting in the business losing their small business size status.

At Cloveer, we conduct a free detailed pre-qualification interview with all of our clients.  We ask our clients the “Killer” questions that will let them know if they have an eligibility issue, unknown to them. The fact is that there are ways around a lot of the 8(a) eligibility issues.  We advise our clients on the pros and cons to any potential 8(a) eligibility issue and tell them when there is one that has no workarounds.

As you can see from our blog and website, www.cloveer.com, we provide more information about the 8(a) Program that all of our competitors. We want you every client to learn as much information about the SBA 8(a) Program as possible since they will be the one participating and using it as one of the tools to becoming a success. The more you know, the better decisions you can make before you apply and while you are in the 8(a) Program.

For more information on the 8(a) Program, please visit us at www.cloveer.com or call us at 813-333-5800.