Federal Classifications for Small Businesses

The federal government has numerous programs for small businesses.  But, before you can compete for opportunities you need to know the classifications.

1. Small Business – According to Small Business Administration (SBA), to be considered a small business, the company must meet the SBA size standards based upon the North American Industrial Classification Standard (NAICS). Look up your code.

2.Woman Owned Small Business – Must be a small business with 51% or more of its operations owned and controlled by a woman.

     2a.Women-owned small businesses (WOSBs)

     2b. Economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs)

3. Small Disadvantaged Business 8(a) – Must be a small business with 51% or more of its operations owned and controlled by a woman or socially and economically disadvantaged individual.

4. Historically Underutilized Business Zone – This certification helps businesses in urban and rural communities. You might be surprised as to which areas are considered HUB Zones. To qualify, the principal office must be located in a HUB Zone and 35% of its employees must reside in a HUB Zone. The business must be operated, owned and controlled by a US citizen or US citizen has to hold at least 51% ownership. View HUB Zone maps.

5. Veteran Owned Small Business – Must be a small business with 51% or more operated, owned and controlled by a veteran.

6. Serviced Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business – Must be a small business with 51% or more operated, owned and controlled by a serviced-disabled veteran.

A small business that meets the eligibility requirements for items 1, 2, 5, and 6 is automatically self-certified in those categories.  Items 3 and 4 are certified by the SBA.  The process for completing the application for both 8(a) and HUB Zone is located at www.sba.gov

Register to participate
To qualify for any of the certification programs mentioned above, you need to register with the federal government. Effective July 29, 2012, a business must register in the System for Award Management (SAM) at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. Registering in SAM is mandatory to do business with the federal government.  According to the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) all prospective vendors must be registered in SAM prior to the award of a contract.

Still have questions? For additional information about federal programs, visit www.sba.gov or make a no-cost consulting appointment with the SBDC’s procurement specialist by calling 813.905.5800. You can also attending a government contacting course at a location near you.