Hiring a reputable consultant to assist in the preparation of your 8(a), Hubzone or VetBiz Application can be very important. Here’s a recent fact: Most self prepared 8(a) Applications are rejected outright or sent back multiple times for deficiencies or inconsistencies. In fact “Only 2 out every 10 self prepared 8(a) Applications are approved by the SBA“.
Investing in a reputable consultant can dramatically increase your chances to achieve successful 8(a), Hubzone or VetBiz Certification and decrease the time it takes to get certified. A consultant that does not have the experience or proven track record may hurt your chances. The old adage of “You Get What You Pay For” is important. If you believe that you can pay your consultant a few hundred dollars to prepare a successful Application you will most likely “Get What You Pay For“. It takes anywhere between 40-80 hours’ worth or work typically to properly review and prepare the 8(a), Hubzone or VetBiz Application with work on both sides. Applications can be several hundred to over a thousand pages in length and is not just a bunch of forms to fill out.
A reputable consultant should perform a pre-qualifying interview to determine your current state of Program eligibility before they enter into any agreement with you. As a result of this pre-qualifying interview they should let you know if qualify or not. If you don’t qualify they should let you know why and how to get around these issues without breaking any of the rules.
When you hire any consultant, accountant or attorney to assist with your 8(a) Application they are required to report the SBA that they assisted you and what fees you paid them to assist you. They must also provide a copy of any agreement between the client and them for review by the SBA.
If you choose to enter into an agreement with a consultant you should make sure:
1. The consultant must have extensive experience in preparing 8(a), Hubzone or VetBiz Applications that have resulted in successful Certification
2. They should be able to provide real references for you to speak to directly.
2. The consultant must thoroughly understand the current regulations and Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) cases that might impact your application.
3. The consultant you speak to initially should be the person who will assist in your application and not be passed off to some junior analyst with limited experience.
4. The consultant should also have detailed knowledge of Federal procurement. For example did they previously work for an 8(a) Certified company or work in the federal market space as a contractor.
5. The consultant should provide you with very specific guidance and clear recommendations to you while preparing your application with clear answers to your questions with no double-talk.
6. No consultant should offer a guarantee that your application will accepted, The SBA and VA are the final determiner’s in whether you get certified. It is actually a violation of the SBA rules for any consultant to guarantee that your application will approved by SBA.
7. The consultant agreement should ensure that all of your personal information is protected properly and not shared with anyone other than you and the consultant.
8. The consultant should assist you after the application is submitted should the SBA or VA ask for additional information.