What You Need to Know About the SBA 8(a) Certification

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What You Need to Know About the SBA 8(a) Certification

If you are looking to scale your business through contracting with the U.S. federal government then you’ll want to get your business certified. There

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If you are looking to scale your business through contracting with the U.S. federal government then you’ll want to get your business certified. There are many certifications available but we’ll be discussing the SBA 8(a) certification for small businesses. We also want you to know that no matter where you are in your business, you can prioritize getting your certifications.

Remember the United States of America federal government is the largest procurer of goods and services in the entire world. Therefore, putting yourself in a position to do business with the government can make a world of difference in your business. 

Here’s what you need to know about the SBA 8(a) certification for small businesses. 


What is the SBA 8(a) Certification?

According to the SBA, “The 8(a) program is a robust nine-year program created to help firms owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.” 

The first four years are the development stage and the remaining years are referred to as the transitional stage.

This program, which is a business development program, will provide small businesses with receive training and technical assistance so that they can compete in the American economy. 

The next step is finding out whether or not you’re eligible. According to the SBA, the eligibility criteria include:

  • Have to be a small business
  • A first-time participant in the program
  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged
  • Have a personal net worth of $850 thousand or less
  • Adjusted gross income of $400 thousand or less
  • Assets totaling $6.5 million or less
  • The ability to demonstrate good character
  • The ability to demonstrate the potential for success

Benefits of Getting the 8(a) Certification  

There are tons of benefits to getting your 8(a) certification. If you’ve been in business for at least two years and are socially or economically disadvantaged, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be taking part in this amazing opportunity. Here are some of the benefits. 

Set Aside and Sole Source Contracts

There are special government contracts exclusively available to businesses that are 8A certified. You’ll be so qualified and prestigious that the government will happily put you at the front of the line for certain contracts. That’s great news because that makes it easier for your business to get a government contract and scale. 

The SBA says, “The government authorizes sole-source contracts to 8(a) participants for up to $7 million for acquisitions assigned manufacturing North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and $4.5 million for all other acquisitions.”

Please be aware that completing the program does not guarantee contract awards. However, it sets you up to better compete for the contracts. 

Limited Competition

Who doesn’t want to limit the competition? Competition is huge in the federal space you have some big contractors that dominate. 

However, as alluded to in the previous section, there are set aside and sole source contracts that you can benefit from that help to limit your competition. 

Right now there are upwards of 30 million small businesses in the United States. However, only about seven thousand of them completed the 8(a) certification. That means there is a huge opportunity for all of us to become certified to complete the process and access these federal dollars that these few companies have access to. 

Access to Large Contracts

The government contracts you’ll have access to are considered large from a small business standpoint. These contracts can be accomplished by teaming up with other businesses. Yes, that’s right! 8(a) firms are allowed to partner with other companies to fullfill contracts. 

As a matter of fact, this opens you up to contracts that you would not have had access to before. 

That’s why it’s so important to have a community. Imagine being able to team up with another small business owner and get a massive payout from a government contract or have someone in your network reach out to you. 

Spend Less Time Hunting Down Clients 

By the third year in the program, many firms or businesses do not even respond to government contracts anymore. Do you want to know why? It’s because they have already developed relationships that lead to enough source contracts to keep them busy. 

Don’t we all want contracts to keep us busy? Don’t we all want to spend less time hunting down clients? We sure, do! The 8(a) certification program for small businesses can help you with that!

Cuts Through the Federal Bureaucracy 

If you’ve worked with the federal government before you’ll know there is often a lot of bureaucracy. 

The SBA will act as a liaison to help you get federal contracts. This will be a great benefit to you because it reduces the time it will take you to get your first federal sale. 

For most 8(a) firms the SBA will send out letters of introduction to make initial contact. 

One-on-one Business Development Assistance

If you participate in this program, you’ll get one-on-one business development assistance for the whole 9 years. That’s invaluable! You’ll be assigned Business Opportunity Specialists whose purpose is to help you achieve your business goals and help you grow. 

So in other words, these Specialists are going to help you be better at business and sharpen your skills as a business owner. 

Accelerated Growth

If you’re in the 8a certification program, you’re more likely to grow faster than your peers. 

That’s not surprising since the program gives you access to business development and the ability to pursue mentorship opportunities. 


Mentorship is an important part of having a successful business and being in the 8(a) program can provide that. 

According to the SBA, certified firms in the 8(a) program can “Pursue opportunity for mentorship from experienced and technically capable firms through the SBA Mentor-Protégé program

Better Pricing

Due to the limited amount of 8a businesses, these businesses receive better pricing than their non-8a peers. 

Usually what can happen you bid for government contracts is that businesses underbid to get the contract but it doesn’t work out for them. You won’t have to worry about that because you’ll get better pricing.

Next Steps 

The 8(a) certification is a great opportunity for small business owners who are socially or economically disadvantaged.

There are a number of things we recommend before you pursue the 8(a) certification. Here are some resources you should check out: 


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