8a Certification Advantages

8a certification is a valuable marketing vehicle for socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses to access the federal government marketplace. Initially, contracting under the 8a Program may seem more difficult than other methods. However, it is no more complicated than contracting under full and open competition through the sealed bid procurement process and it presents many advantages for both the government and the 8a contractor.

Advantages to the Government

A big advantage for government procurement personnel in selecting the 8a contracting method is that the agency does not have to solicit bids and may choose a specific 8a contractor to fulfill its requirements. For sole-source requirements under the competitive thresholds, the contracting agency can identify the 8a company to perform a contract by simply naming that company in an offering letter to the SBA. Of course this does not happen by itself. The 8a firm must actively self-market with the contracting agency or be introduced to the contractor through a referral. For competitive 8a requirements, the contracting agency does not have the same ability to choose a contractor, although the competition can be limited to eligible 8a companies within a certain geographic area or participation stage.

Another advantage for the government is that they can often get what they need faster by contracting though the 8a Program. This is because competitive requirements must be synopsized in FedBizOpps and the resulting solicitation must be open on the street for a minimum of 30 days. This process for full and open competition can take several months. 8a contracts have no synopsis requirements (except for competitive 8a contracts) and contracting agencies are not required to allow 8a firms 30 days to respond to the solicitation. Therefore 8a contracts can be finalized much faster.

Advantages to the 8a Contractor

The advantages to an 8a company are great. An 8a company can obtain federal contracts on a sole-source or limited competition basis much faster than in a full and open competition. For many small businesses, the costs of preparing proposals are very prohibitive. If the contract is a sole source, the 8a firm does not have to endure the costs associated with preparing a competitive proposal and participating in subsequent rounds of discussions with the contracting agency’s contracting officer.

Once the buying agencies are aware of the advantages of the 8a process and have a good experience with your 8a firm, they will most likely prefer to extend future contracts to you. The SBA plays a role in the beginning of the contracting process by verifying and approving the requirement for the 8a company. Once the requirement is in place, the 8a company and the federal agency deal directly with each other during negotiation of the contract and during performance of the contract.

Looking for help with Getting 8a Certified?

For clients who are too busy running their businesses to complete the application themselves, we understand you don’t have time to look over the 8a checklist and that you would rather have a group of trusted 8a program experts more involved in your application. Cloveer offers other services including an 8a Application Review, and for those who would like their entire 8a application completed and approved in record time, a full 8a Application Completion Service.

No matter which option you choose, Cloveer guarantees that no other company will work harder or faster to assist you in getting your business SBA 8a certified. We have been assisting clients to obtain their 8a certification and maintain their 8a program eligibility for over 10 years. As such, we know the SBA 8a program regulatory requirements, 8a standard operating procedures and Office of Hearings and Appeal cases that affect the 8a program better than 99.9% of anyone else out there.

At Cloveer, we believe in treating you the way we want to be treated. We go the extra mile to make sure your experience with our company is outstanding. Contact us today to discover what Cloveer can do for you.

2 options to get your 8a application certified in the least amount of time possible

Option 28a Application Review  – $1,750.00

  • For those who wish to complete the application on their own we offer an 8a Application Review service.  Here, one of our 8a program experts will review your entire application, checking it for missing documents and potential eligibility issues.  We will then advise you as to how best to modify your application to ensure it will be approved an SBA reviewer.

Option 38a Application Completion Service – $3,800.00

  • The majority of our clients however, prefer a little more of a hands-on approach.  They recognize the expertise we have accumulated in the over 12 years we’ve been assisting clients obtain 8a certification, and want us to put it to use for them.  If you opt for our 8a Application Completion Service, we will work one-on-one with you to ensure that your 8a Application is 100% complete and compliant so the SBA can review and accept it the first time.

With 14 years and over 2,000 successful applications under our belt, we can assure you that no matter which option you choose, Cloveer will work harder and faster to get your business SBA 8a certified.  Contact us today to discover what Cloveer can do for you.

15 8(a) Application Killers

Spending the time upfront to ensure that your firm meets all of the eligibility requirements for 8(a) Certification can save you countless hours of frustration, the expense of putting the application together incorrectly and the difference between obtaining formal 8(a) Certification or not.

Below are just 15 of the 8(a) Application “Killers”. These will immediately tell you whether you have an issue that may prevent you from qualifying for 8(a) Certification.

1. The applicant (51% of more owner) must be a US Citizen when they apply.

2. The applicant must devote full time to the business concern that is applying for 8(a) Certification when they apply. This means the applicant must work at least 40 hours per week in the business concern without any outside employment.

3. The applicant must hold the highest management position within the business concern. Generally this is the CEO, President or Managing Member.

4. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they are the highest compensated. Generally the SBA will deny your 8a application if you cannot demonstrate the applicant currently is the highest compensated or there is a very good reason why they have elected not to be.

5 The applicant must have an adjusted net worth of less than $250,000 at the time they apply. Adjusted net worth = Personal Assets – Personal liabilities – (Equity in primary residence + value of ownership interest in business concern + IRA/401(k) or Other Retirement Accounts subject to a penalty for early withdrawal). To determine if your adjusted net worth is lower than $250,000 use our adjusted net worth calculator.

6. The applicant’s AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) cannot be more than $250,000 averaged over the last three tax years.

7. The applicant must generally hold all licenses or professional certifications required to operate the business concern. If they do not, another equity owner cannot be the holder of the required licenses.

8. If the applicant has ownership in another business concern, other than the business concern that is applying for 8(a) Certification, the SBA may very well likely determine that you do not devote full time and therefore deny your 8(a) application. The only exception would be for ownership in an LLC for holding, managing and protecting real estate. There are ways to solve this issue and they vary depending on your unique condition.

9. The applicant cannot be on probation or parole. If the applicant has been arrested in the past it does not automatically deny them unless they were convicted of a specific crime. Having an arrest, regardless of how long ago, will severely delay the review of your 8a Application by at least 90 days.

10. The business concern must have been in business for 2 full years with evidence of reasonable revenues on its last two tax returns in the industry it is seeking 8(a) Certification for.  If it has not, you must seek a waiver and meet the 5 conditions set by the SBA to overcome this condition. Click here for detailed information on each of the 5 conditions.

11. The business concern and the applicant cannot have any delinquent tax filings or have any unpaid Federal, State or local obligations at the time of application. This condition can be overcome by filing the proper extension for delinquent taxes or by providing evidence of a current re-payment arrangement for unpaid Federal, State or local obligations.

12. The business concern must be at least 51% directly owned by the applicant and must be defined as a “Small Business” by the Federal Government. Your primary NAICS code, gross sales and sometimes the number of employees define your size standard that the SBA will base its determination on.. The business concern must also be a for-profit business and cannot be classified as a broker or be a subsidiary of another business concern.

13. The business concern’s current financial statements must exhibit positive net income, positive net equity and sufficient working capital at the time of 8(a) application submission.

14. The business concern must not earn more than 70% of its total revenue with one single client, within the last 12 months. This does not apply to a business concern if its direct billing client is a Federal or State Government.

15. The applicant or business concern cannot have previously participated as an 8(a) participant. The applicant cannot have any immediate family members who are current or previous participants in the 8(a) Program that are or were affiliated.

These are just 15 of the “Killers” that can potentially prevent your 8(a) Certification application from being successful. There are additional “Killers” and other areas that you should be concerned with prior to making the decision on whether you fully qualify for 8(a) Certification. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss your specific business situation, please call us at 813-333-5800 or visit www.cloveer.com.

Cloveer, Inc. pre-qualifies all of its full service clients prior to preparing their 8(a Certification Application. With over 2,000 successful clients to date. Read some of our testimonials.

3 SBA HUBZone Application Killers

1. The firm’s Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) profile does not show the correct company name or primary/physical office address.

Your firm’s Dun and Bradstreet profile must show the exact name of your company as it is shown on your Articles of Formation (Organization or Incorporation) documents. If you operate as a sole proprietor, your Dun and Bradstreet profile should show the full name of the individual and not a dba name (Doing Business Name) or fictitious business name used.

 Additionally, your Dun and Bradstreet profile must show the correct primary/physical office address that you defined within your HUBZone application.

2. Payroll reports provided do not contain all of required information. 

Your payroll report must show all employee names, number of hours worked for that pay period, the beginning and ending date of the pay period, wages, taxes and any adjustments.  

Any employee who has been defined as one the 35% required to meet the SBA regulations must have worked a minimum of 40 hours in the month of the payroll report provided to be considered as full-time and they must appear on the payroll report covering the application date.

3. Articles of Formation (Organization or Incorporation) filed with your Secretary of State show a principal office address at some place other than what you defined in your HUBZone Application paperwork.

If you have changed your principal office address after filing your original or amended formation documents you must ensure that all filed documentation with your Secretary of State shows the principal office address that you have defined within your HUBZone Application.

These are just 3 of many HUBZone Application killers that will get your application denied. A denial of your HUBZone Application results in a minimum of 90 days day’s until you can reapply again. Submitting incorrect or inconsistent information can cause your application to be severely delayed.

If you are looking for assistance in preparing a complete and compliant HUBZone Application so it is submitted correctly and results in a successful HUBZone Certification in 90 days or less, please call us at 813-333-5800 or visit http://www.cloveer.com/hubzoneapplication.html.

We have a 100% success rate for all HUBZone Applications prepared and submitted.

Where to find information on 8(a), HUBZone and Women-Owned Small Business Contracts

The most comprehensive source for information on awarded 8(a), HUBZone and Women-Owned Small Business Contracts is the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).

The FPDS contains historical information on contracts whose estimated value is $3,000 or more.

To gain access to this system you must register. Registration is free.

The FPDS allows you to drill down deep within the data inputted into the system and can provide you valuable information to help in your Federal Marketing efforts.

For example, you can perform the following searches within the system.

1. How much did a specific federal agency spend in the most recently government fiscal year or past years using 8(a), HUBZone or Women-Owned Small Business as the set-aside method.
2. How many 8(a) actions or contracts were awarded within a specific agency. You can also drill down to a specific department, office or region within the agency.
3. Detailed information on the awarded contract such as:

  • The solicitation number
  • Date signed or completed
  • Type of contract
  • NAICS code
  • Product or Service Description
  • Place of Performance (City, State or Zip Code)
  • Competition Information (8(a), HUBZone, Women-Owned, etc.)
  • Name of Contractor

These are just a few of the parameters that you can search on within the FPDS. All of this information can give you a leg up on your competition by allowing you to narrow your marketing efforts to ferderal clients who have purchased your products and services.

Download a report (PDF) that shows the amount spent and the number of contracts awarded with each federal agency in FY 2011.

Here is a summary:
8(a):
Number of Contracts: 117,343
Total Dollars Spent: $16,633,899,024.15

Women-Owned:
Number of Contracts: 318,937
Total Dollars Spent: $16,839,376,300.17

HUBZone:
Number of Contracts: 91,717
Total Dollars Spent: $10,001,960,445.11

For more information on 8(a) Certification, HUBzone Certification or Women-Owned Small Business Certification please call us at 813-333-5800 or visit www.cloveer.com.

 

How to Determine your Primary NAICS Code

What is a NAICS code?

A NAICS code is a series of numbers (up to six digits) that establishes a specific business activity by the Federal Government.

Your primary NAICS code is the six digit code that represents the largest segment of your business’s revenues earned within its most recently completed fiscal year.

How can I determine what my primary NAICS Code is?

You can use the search feature at www.census.gov/naics. Within the “2007 NAICS Search” box, enter a keyword that describes the services provided by your business. A list of primary business activities containing that keyword and the corresponding NAICS codes will appear. Choose the one that most closely corresponds to your primary business activity, or refine your search to obtain other choices.

The following are two examples:

1. If you are a business in which your largest segment of revenue earned in its most recently completed fiscal year was as a software developer, your primary six digit NAICS code would be 541511.

2. If you are a business in which your largest segment of revenue earned in its most recently completed fiscal year was in commercial construction, your primary six digit NAICS code would be 236220.

What is the purpose of establishing a primary NAICS within my 8(a) Application?

1. It represents to the SBA what your primary business activity is (e.g. what your business does). It is important to note, that your supporting documentation such as the copies of contracts/invoices showing the scope of work performed will backup your establishment of your primary NAICS code.

2. Once you establish your primary NAICS code, the SBA will review your last two years of contracts and taxes to determine if you have earned the largest segment of your revenues within this NAICS code and if the revenues are deemed to be sufficient to meet the two years in business requirement. If you have not earned the largest segment of revenues within your primary NAICS code for two consecutive years, you will not meet the potential for success criteria established by the SBA unless you seek a two year waiver.

3. Finally, it establishes your SBA size standard limit. You must be classified as a small business concern to participate within the 8(a) Program. You can view more information on size standards at www.sba.gov/content/guide-size-standards

Can you have more than one primary NAICS code?

No. You can only have one primary NAICS code. However, you can multiple secondary NAICS codes listed within your SAM (System for Award Management) or DSBS (Dynamic Small Business Search) profile.

For more information on the SBA 8(a) Program, visit cloveer.com

5 common misconceptions about getting 8a Certified

1. It’s easy to get SBA 8a Certified.

There are less than 10,000 active 8a program participants currently. There has never been more than 10,000 active 8a Program Participants at any one time in the 8a program’s history. The SBA returns over 90% of all 8a applications submitted and rejects 70% of all applications.

2. All I need to do is fill out the SBA’s 8a electronic application.

The SBA’s 8a electronic application is a very small portion of the overall 8a application. Most 8a applications are several hundred pages in length once you include all of the supporting documents required to be submitted along with it. The SBA does not accept any of these supporting documents electronically and they only provide a list of the supporting documents and do not tell you what requirements each of these supporting documents must meet.

3. Once I get 8a certified, I am guaranteed a federal contract.

Getting 8a certified does not guarantee that you will receive an 8a contract. In fact, about 50% of all 8a program participants never receive one contract because they do not know how to market their business to the federal government. Getting 8a certified will certainly open opportunities at the federal level but you must still spend the time and effort in marketing your business to potential federal clients.

4. My ASBDC, PTAC  and local SBA office told me I qualified to become 8a Certified.

There are two processing offices (King of Prussia, PA and San Francisco, CA) that review all 8a applications submitted. Final determination is made within the Washington, DC office. There are roughly 11 reviewers within the two processing offices and they are the individuals who review your 8a Application paperwork. Anyone who tells you that you qualify for 8a certification before reviewing all of your application paperwork does not know what they are talking about.

5. I don’t need any assistance in putting my 8a Application together.

Unless you understand the SBA Program Regulations, you should not attempt to put your 8a Application together yourself. The SBA 8a Application has many tripwires and potential application “killers” that could cause your 8a application to be returned for incompleteness or even rejected. We suggest that you find some assistance to help in some or all areas of your 8a Application.

The real benefits of getting SBA 8a Certified

By becoming SBA 8a Certified, your business concern will benefit by:

1) Having exclusive access to sole source/non-competitive and competitive set-aside federal contracts.  Sole source/non-competitive contracts will be available to your business concern for federal contracts with a total value up to $4 million for services and up to $6.5 million for manufacturing.  Federal contracts for 8a Certified firms that have a total contract value of more than $4 million for services and more than $6.5 million for manufacturing must be competed but only against other 8a Certified firms.

2) Limiting your potential competition. The big guys (e.g. Lockheed Martin, Turner Construction, etc.) will not have access to these federal contracts. In addition, there are less than 10,000 certified 8a business concerns currently participating in the 8a Program in the entire U.S.

3) Making you attractive to a larger federal government prime contractor. Since a business concern that is not considered small by SBA does not have access set-aside 8a contracts, you will be more attractive for teaming, joint ventures or mentor/protégé relationships.

4) Making it easier for your Federal client to purchase your products or services. 8a set-aside contracts require much less paperwork, time and bureaucracy. 8a contracts cannot be protested, only the size of the 8a participant can be questioned.

5) Getting you the contract/work faster. 8a contracts take much less time to be awarded than most other procurement methods.

Now that you know the primary benefits of becoming 8a Certified, what are waiting for? The key to getting successfully 8a certified is to get it done right the first time. We at Cloveer have assisted more than 2,000 business concerns to get through the tough 8a application process.

Special Licenses Requirements within the SBA 8a Application

If any special licenses are required for the industry in which the business concern operates, such as a General Contractors license, Professional Engineers (PE) license, Plumbing license, etc. has a copy been provided?

Is the license current and in the name of the business concern with the Applicant for 8a Certification as the holder/qualifier?

If the license holder/qualifier is not the Applicant, is the license holder/qualifier an equity owner within the business concern? If so, the SBA will determine that this individual has the ability to impact the control of the business concern, therefore the business concerns 8a Application will most likely be denied.

If the license holder/qualifier is the Applicant, and the license holder/qualifier has NO equity with the business concern, the Applicant and business concern must be able to prove that they have ultimate managerial and supervisory control of this individual.

 

Can 8a Contracts be Protested?

The size status of the apparent successful offeror for competitive 8a procurement may be protested.

The size status of the participant for a sole source 8a procurement may not be protested by another 8a participant or any other business.

The eligibility of a 8a participant for a sole source or competitive 8a procurement cannot be challenged by another 8a participant or any other business.

An 8a participant cannot appeal the SBA’s determination not to award it a specific 8a contract because the concern lacks an element of responsibility or is ineligible for the contract other than to request a formal size determination where SBA cannot verify it to be small.

The NAICS code assigned to a sole source 8a procurement may not be challenged by another 8a participant or any other business. In connection with a competitive 8a procurement, any business concern who has been adversely affected by a NAICS code designation may appeal the designation to the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals.

For more information on the SBA 8a Program, visit cloveer.com