Myth: It’s easy to get SBA 8(a) Certified.
As of July 31, 2020 there are less than 6,000 active 8(a) Program participants and have never been more than 10,000 active 8(a) Program participants at any one time in the SBA 8(a) Program’s history. Fact: The SBA returns over 90% of all 8(a) applications submitted and rejects 70% of all 8(a) applications submitted for review.
Myth: All I need to do is fill out the SBA’s 8(a) electronic application through certify.sba.gov and I will get 8(a) Certified.
The SBA’s 8(a) electronic application is where you formally apply, submit your 8(a) application responses and upload your unique documentation, however in order to even get to the certify.sba.gov process you must do a lot of leg work. You must have a Dun and Bradstreet Profile, SAM.GOV profile and gathered and collected all of the required documents to be submitted to the SBA. Just collecting the required information does not guarantee that you will get 8(a) Certified. There are many requirements that the 8(a) applicant and firm must meet, along with the SBA requirements within your unique documents submitted to the SBA. For example. Just submitting your Bylaws or Operating Agreement may not cut it. There are specific provisions within these documents to ensure the unconditional requirements of the 8(a) Program are met. Fact: The certify.sba.gov 8(a) application does not allow you to move forward to the next question, most of the time, without having uploaded the required documents, in the appropriate format requested. Also, the SBA application will not automatically inform you if you have an eligibility issue.
Myth: Once I submit my 8(a) application through certify.sba.gov I am done and will get 8(a) Certified quickly.
Typically, when you answer all of the questions, upload all of the required documents and hit the submit button, the SBA takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks to assign a reviewer to your case. At this point, they will most likely come back and ask for additional information or clarifications, regardless of how complete and thorough you thought you were when you completed the 8(a) Application. If your SBA reviewer makes a determination that your 8(a) application is not complete, they will return your 8(a) Application and you must go through the 8(a) application submission process again. This results in a minimum of a 15 to 30 day additional delay. Assuming you properly answer, respond to and upload any additional information requested by the SBA reviewer and re-submit your 8(a) Application, your back in the queue again. We call this the endless review cycle at the SBA and this is where most get frustrated and just give up. Fact: It takes anywhere from 90 to 180 days to get formally 8(a) Certified even if all of your information was 100% correct and perfect. The SBA does not even start this 90-180 clock until the deem your 8(a) application complete for processing.
Myth: Once I get 8(a) Certified, I am guaranteed a federal contract.
Getting 8(a) certified does not guarantee that you will receive an 8(a) set aside federal contract. Fact: About 50% of all 8(a) Program participants never receive one contract because they do not know how to market their business to the federal government. Getting 8(a) 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.
Myth: My ASBDC, PTAC and local SBA office told me I qualified to become 8(a) Certified.
There are only two processing offices (King of Prussia, PA and San Francisco, CA) that review all 8(a) applications submitted. Final determination on whether you will become 8(a) certified is made within the Washington, DC office. There are approximately 10-15 SBA 8(a) Application reviewers within the two processing offices. Fact: Anyone who tells you that you qualify for 8(a) certification before reviewing ALL of your 8(a) application paperwork does not know what they are talking about and it will most likely result in your 8(a) Application being returned or denied by the SBA.
Myth: I don’t need any assistance in putting my 8(a) application together.
Unless you understand the SBA 8(a) Program Regulations, you should not attempt to put your 8(a) Application together yourself. The SBA 8(a) Application has many tripwires and potential application “killers” that could cause your 8(a) application to be returned for incompleteness or even rejected. We suggest that you find some assistance to help with some or all areas of your 8(a) application.
At Cloveer, we conduct a detailed free pre-qualification interview with any potential client before we engage or start preparing their 8(a) application.
Our questionnaire asks you the “Killer” questions that will let us, or more importantly you, know if you have an eligibility issue.
Fact: There are ways around a lot of the 8(a) Program eligibility issues but not everyone will be able to qualify.
We advise any potential client on the pros and cons to any eligibility issue and tell them when they have an eligibility issue that has no workarounds. Our feeling is that is it better for you to know now, rather than later.
We want you to know as much information about the SBA 8(a) Program as possible since you 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, call us at 813-333-5800 or schedule a call to have your questions answered.