What is the SBA 8(a) Annual Review?

If you are new to the 8(a) program, you have probably heard that there is an annual review which the SBA requires each 8(a) certified firm to submit. The annual review is due within 30 days of the close of each program year.

This may seem daunting for some, who if recently got in to the program, to go through another treacherous process. The annual review is required for the SBA to determine the firm is still within the parameters of the program. This means, that the firm and its owners are within the required financial restrictions. In order for it to be easier on the owners and the firm, it is recommended to prepare the documents before hand.

Beginning in early 2018, the annual review will be completed online, via the www.certify.sba website. This eliminates the tedious printing and e-mailing of documents to the proper authorities. The SBA has created this system to streamline the process and make it easier for both the client and the review team.

Questions to ask when hiring a company for the 8(a) Certification program?

When you do finally decide that applying for the 8(a) certification is something your company can benefit from, there are some important questions to ask the company you plan on hiring. Below are a few things to consider and questions to ask.

1. What is the process your firm uses to help us become certified?
2. What accolade or accomplishments have you achieved?
3. What is the value you offer above other agencies?
4. What references can you call for verification?
5. Make sure they understand the program themselves by doing your own research on the 8(a) process.
6. Are they within a close proximity from you? (It’s important to hire someone close to you, so you can meet in person if need be).

Being approved for the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program may be the most significant achievement of any firm. It allows the company to be part of an elite group of businesses that are eligible to apply for set-aside contracts that only 8a firms can bid on. To show you how powerful it is, let’s take account SBA’s Los Angeles District Office, whose territories include Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. That is over 20 million people within those three counties. Currently, there are a mere 188 approved 8(a) firms within this region. When taking in to account that over $16 Billion are set aside for 8(a) firms across the country, that is a staggering number.

Contracting with Metro

 

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On October 1st 2015, I wrote an article about a friend of mine, who after three years of convincing, finally saw an opportunity to contract with Metro. To explain to you the diversity of contracts available with Metro, my friend is a videographer, and this particular contract was to be for a three year contracting opportunity to video and edit various Metro commercials. In the article, I explained how we were able to get my friend approved within a two week time frame. We did this by opting in to the expedited application process which Metro allows if there is a specific bid available which they need the certification for. During the waiting period for approval, we had to work diligently to prepare the Request For Proposal (RFP), so that once he was approved for Metros Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE), we can submit his bid on time.

 

We received the notification of his DBE approval just in time for us to be eligible for the bid. About a month later, my friend called me with great excitement notifying me of the contract he was awarded for three years at nearly $15,000 a video. For a Small Business, getting any type of customer is crucial, but receiving an award to work on projects for a Government entity opens up new doors which will not only bring legitimacy to his company but also open doors to work with other agencies due to the resume he has started to build with Metro.

 

Paul Mazbanian CEO Small Business Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com (818)551-9400
Paul Mazbanian
CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com
(818)551-9400

Be careful who you hire to assist with your Certifications

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I recently gave a presentation to an organization called, Women’s Presidents Organization. They are a nationwide group consisting of various chapter throughout each state. Each group consists of successful Women entrepreneurs who have monthly meeting and discuss various topics on how to grow their businesses.

A few days ago, I received a phone call from one of the members whom I had the pleasure of meeting during the presentation. She told me that she recently hired a company in Florida prior to her meeting me.  She decided to hire this company and as time went on, she began to notice charges unrelated to the agreement she had signed with them. This prompted her to do some research on the representative she hired.

Unfortunately for her, she was notified that this individual has a prior record of being a sex offender. This information was shocking to her. Had she known of his criminal background, she would have never hired them. It is unclear what she will do, due to the contractual obligation she now has with them.

The moral of this article is to be certain the people you hire, are honest and transparent, therefore resulting in a good business relationship with positive results.

 

Paul Mazbanian CEO Small Business Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com (818)551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com
(818)551-9400

What is SAM and should you pay someone to register you?

 

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System For Award Management also referred to as SAM is a system the Federal Government uses to identify potential contractors. It is also the system which is required to register with do do any type of business with the Federal Government.

As usual, we get calls from clients hiring us for different certifications. Part of the process required for Federal Certifications as noted above, is to register the clients business in to SAM. Recently we received two distinct client calls.

The first client desires to become certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise or WBE. After explaining to her the requirements she told me that she paid a company $1,600 to register them in to SAM. Our services as a whole, including the WBE Certification which includes SAM does not cost $1,600. In addition, after a thorough review of their SAM profile, not only was their business being misrepresented, but their SBA profile was not created which pretty much makes them invisible to Government buyers. In short the $1,600 was put to waste.

The second example was from a call we received from a client hiring us for the WBE and WOSB Certifications. The client had once again paid this firm a ridiculous amount of money greater than what we were charging for both certifications combined which also included SAM. Once again, after a thorough review of their SAM profile, their profile was incorrectly being represented and their SBA profile was nonexistent. This client however, reached out to us just as her SAM profile was due for renewal, and she had been contacted by the same company to renew their profile for $599. I explained to the client that the SAM renewal will take no more than 10 minutes and that I will do it at no charge. The client was extremely happy that I had just saved her almost $600.

The reason I am writing this article today is to let you know that the SAM registration is FREE. The two clients mentioned above told us that the reason they paid those amounts was because they thought they were speaking to a Federal Agency, which leads me to believe that companies posing as a Federal Agency but not actually representing themselves as such on their website are taking advantage of Small Businesses and the limited resources they have. The money spent may have been put to good use if, 1. the SAM registration was done correctly and 2. their SBA profile was completed properly. Regardless, $1,600 and even $600 is too much to pay for registering with SAM.

Things to Consider:

1. When you are being solicited, remember that anything that ends in .GOV is legitimate and anything which ends in .com, .net, .org etc. are solicitors and are not part of the Government. We have NEVER charged separately for registering a client with SAM.

2. If you do hire someone, make certain your profile is correctly representing your business.

3. Make certain your SBA profile has been created successfully in order to have the greatest presence with Government agencies.

Please take a moment to visit our website and learn more about our services: www.sbclending.com

CEO Small Buisness Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com paul@sbclending.com

CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com
paul@sbclending.com

Applying for 8(a) Social Disadvantage Waiver

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In the article published on March 26, 2014, I wrote about the Social Disadvantage Requirements by the SBA to become an 8(a) participant. But what if you are not a member of one of the presumed socially Disadvantaged groups? Can you still apply? The simple answer is YES, but there are a few extra steps which need to be explained to the SBA.

The SBA presumes that African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans are socially disadvantaged. However, other individuals may similarly be found socially disadvantaged and eligible for the program on a case-by-case basis.

An individual who is not a member of one of the presumed groups can be admitted into the 8(a) Business Development program.  To do so, the business must prove to SBA that the individual(s) meeting SBA’s ownership and control requirements is socially disadvantaged. This process includes showing personal experiences where applicable in education, employment, and business history.

The individual must provide evidence to SBA proving one’s individual social disadvantage.

Evidence of individual social disadvantage must include:

  • At least one distinguishing feature such as race, ethnic origin, gender, physical handicap, long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society, or other similar causes not common to individuals who are not socially disadvantaged.
  • Personal experiences of social disadvantage in American society, not in other countries.
  • Negative impact on the individual’s entrance into the business world or advancement in the business world because of the stated disadvantage(s).

* A detailed description of each of the bullet points must be given along with proof of examples and documents such as letters from reputable sources. To prove social disadvantage, the individual(s) owners must ultimately show that such personal experiences had a negative impact on entry into or advancement in the business world.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

Hiring a consultant to help you with your 8(a) application can save you time and money

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We recently received a call from a client requesting details on the SBA 8(a) certification. Clients nature of business was providing Environmental Testing such as Phase 1 reports. Client was intrigued that we had assisted other Environmental Firms in receiving their 8(a) certification. After a very productive conversation, I left the client with plenty of information to digest.

A few days later, the client, who was extremely experienced in his field of work, emailed me and told me  that he spoke to someone and they told him that all first time applicants get rejected, and this is how the SBA controls their capacity issues. He then proceeded to write, “we may attempt the first application ourselves, save the money, get rejected and proceed with you with the 2nd attempt”.

There are plenty of concerns I have with the above statement:

  1.  The application process can take up to 40 hours to complete, thus, the time and energy spent on submitting a package you ultimately know will be declined is counter productive.
  2. The reason why our clients hire us, is because of the experience we bring to the table and the clients we have helped get certified.
  3. Our clients also hire us because not only do they not understand the details of the program, but also because they do not have the time to spend on completing the application, gathering supporting documents, analyzing it for it’s completeness, writing letters to explain inconsistencies etc.

Ultimately, what will happen with this client is, they will begin the process and after spending 20 or so hours getting everything together, they will come to road blocks and wish they hired someone who knows the ins and outs of the program. 20 hours of lost work and man hours later, they will realize that hiring a professional to do the work would have saved them time and money.

Unfortunately, all I can do is explain to him what the process entails by being honest and upfront. Ultimately, the research he has done will allow him to make the best decision for himself and his business.

We encourage all of our clients to due their due diligence in understanding the program, but you must leave it to professionals to get it done.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

Which Goverment Certifications to apply for first

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 Obtaining a Government Certification for your business can a confusing process. Which certifications to apply for and which ones would benefit you most?

You must first identify with whom you would like to do business with? Have you seen more bids with the Federal or State Governments? Your answer may be either one or both., If so, we recommend you apply for all, however this may be time consuming and although will help you in the long run, may not be an immediate priority.

Let’s assume for a moment that you would benefit from both the Federal and State Certifications. We recommend you apply for the easiest ones first, in order to get in to the game now. This will allow you to begin working on marketing your firm as a certified agency.

Below is a list of Certifications and their complexities:

Federal:

1. SBA’s Women Owned Small Business (WOSB): EASY

    The WOSB is one of the easiest certifications to obtain. This is because it is a designation rather than an actual certificate. Obtaining the WOSB Certification will allow you to bid on the 5% set-asides for those businesses designated as WOSB. The process is EASY because there is not physical application process. The requirements are that you register with the various Government sites and upload documents to the repository self-certifying your firm.

2. Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE): MEDIUM

   The WBE is a certification reserved for Women owned businesses only. It mimics the WOSB certification but is verified by one of 5 SBA approved agencies. This certification has a more complex process than the WOSB because it requires a full application and supporting documentation. Your information will go through a process with the agency and you wil be visited by a representative assuring your business indeed is what you represent. I typically advise our clients to obtain this certification if it is being required by a vendor. A physical certificate is issued to the applicant firm.

3. Minority Business Enterprise (MBE): MEDIUM

   The MBE is a national certification given by the National Minority Supplier Development Council. They are one of the nations leading corporate membership organizations. They match a firms goods and services with those of large corporations who intern purchase your product. Think of it as a club where members help each other by purchasing each others product. This certification includes an application and supporting documentation much like the WBE above.

4. SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program: DIFFICULT

   The SBA 8(a) program is the most lucrative and most difficult to achieve. There are approximately 7,000 approved 8(a) firms in the country. 23% of all Federal Contracts MUST go to 8(a) certified firms. Secondly, an 8(a) certified firm is eligible for soul source awards which means that once they have built their reputation in the program they may get contracts without even bidding against other 8(a) certified firms. Thirdly, if certified and bidding against a non-8(a) certified firm, you will get a 5% bidding preference giving you an advantage over your competitive bidder. The process may take anywhere between 3-6 months depending on how much information is requested by the SBA. For those looking for the greatest benefit, the 8(a) certification allows you to grow your business significantly.

STATE:

1. Metro’s Disadvantage Business Enterprise: MEDIUM

   The DBE certification is the States premier certification allowing 25% of all state set-asides to be reserved for certified firms. Most people think Metro is the subway and bus systems, but contracts are given to a variety of industries. We have seen them as diversified as ink jet suppliers and marketing. So to think that if you are a service business and don’t qualify think again. Having this certification is a big deal and if obtained will open new doors for you. The process includes an application and supporting documentation to be mailed to the certifying agency. approval can take up to 3 months.

2. Department of General Services Small Business and Disabled Veterans Certification (SB)/(DVBE): EASY

   The Department of General Services serves as the business manager for the State of California. They offer two certifications, the SB and DVBE. Both are online based certifications. Typical certification time can be within a few hours or weeks depending on the type of industry. For instance, service based businesses can be certified very quickly while manufacturing companies need to upload documentation which then needs to be verified by a DGS officer. The DVBE certification is reserved for veterans who are at least 10% disabled and honorably discharged. Documents such as dd214 and discharge papers need to be uploaded.

3. Supplier Clearinghouse Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification: EASY

   Supported by The  California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), which regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The MBE certification is an online based certification which is fairly easy to do. Certification can take up to 2 weeks depending on the complexity of the applicant.

Click on HERE to view our video testimonials.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

When should you get a Government Certification to grow your business

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When is the right time to become Federally or State approved for a particular Business Certification?

We frequently get calls from businesses asking us to certify them for a specific certification after one of their vendors asks them for it. This poses a few problems. First, depending on the certification being requested, it can take some time getting certified. Recently we received a call from a local business asking us to help them get certified for the Federal WBE certification. One of their vendors was requesting they have the certification so that they can justify giving their contracts to a WBE certified firm. We were then notified that they need to be certified in two weeks. The agency themselves will need up to 90 days to review the application and approve the company, so getting them approved within a two week time frame was impossible. Although the client did hire us to proceed, they did lose that contracting opportunity.

when should you apply for a Certification?

The time to apply is NOW. If you are aggressively seeking Government work, there will come a time when one of your vendors will request for a certification to justify giving you the contract. Your company should always be ready to jump on an opportunity to bid and win a contract. If you wait until the last minute, the opportunity will be lost.

Important things to consider?

1. Do you want to work with the Federal or State Governments?

2. What Certifications do you qualify for?

3. What certifications would benefit you now?

4. Which certifications will benefit you in the future?

Please visit our Video Testimonials page HERE

 

* SBC Consultants, Inc. is a Los Angeles based consulting firm focusing on assisting Small Business obtain their Federal and State Certifications. Our products include but are not limited to: SBA 8a Certification, WOSB, WBE, DBE, MBE and SB Certifications.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

Small Business Enterprise Certification Initiative

 

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On June 2nd, 2014, Metro officially announces their Small Business Set-Aside Program to level the playing field for Small Business Enterprise (SBE) by setting aside contracts that only SBE Certified firms can compete for as prime contractors, suppliers and consultants.

Depending on the type of procurement, contracts will range from $3,000 to $5 million. As long as there are 3 or more SBE certified firms available for a single contract, the set aside will be set for them.

According to Metro, “the set-aside program was developed in response to a recent mandate by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) to improve competition by SBEs on FTA funded procurement.”

The Small Business Set-Aside program offers the following BENEFITS:

  • Enables SBEs to compete as prime contractors, increasing the opportunity to win contracts.
  • Levels the playing field by limiting competition.
  • Notifies of SBEs of eligible contract opportunities.
  • Builds firm capacity, allowing SBEs to take on larger contracts.
Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400