How To Become A Certified Veteran-Owned Business
Certain business certifications are seen as reputable and distinguished in the eyes of consumers. In addition to consumer perception, they may also offer business perks.
If you're a Veteran and you own your own business (or are the majority owner of one), you may qualify for certifications and support.
This article will cover the certifications available to Veteran-owned businesses including what it takes to qualify, how to apply, and why it's worth your time.
Veteran-Owned Certification Benefits
A Veteran-owned business certification gives you more tools in your marketing toolbox, such as leverage on competitors and in advertising. Many consumers seek out certified Veteran-owned businesses in order to support vets in their community – they want to see you succeed. Use it as a hashtag to garner social media engagement and tout it proudly on your marketing materials.
Moreover, Veteran business certifications give you the upper hand in contract bidding.
Each year, the federal government is required to make a certain percentage of their purchases from small businesses and those with a presumed disadvantaged status.
Joining the disabled Veterans' business program enables your business to compete for those set-aside contracts. You can compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs you qualify for, as well.
These perks aren't just available in the public sector, private corporations also prioritize giving business to Veteran-owned companies. Nearly 15% of Fortune 1000 companies have set goals to do business with Veteran-owned businesses.
The process of registering as a Veteran-owned supplier for corporations tends to be less time consuming than the process for government agencies, but both can offer huge benefits you may want to take advantage of.
What are my certification options?
The skills you've developed offer a distinct perspective in businesses. As such, the Small Business Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs want to support what's next for you.
You may qualify for the Small Business Administration's Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program. Any Veteran honorably discharged from military service can self-certify as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) at SAM.gov if they meet the following small business conditions:
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled Veterans
- Have one or more service-disabled Veterans manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
- Eligible Veterans must have a service-connected disability
- To qualify for VOSB, the disability must be a service-connected disability and must be shown on the DD214 document issued when discharged from the service
Another option you may qualify for is through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This organization awards a large amount of contracts to Veterans and sets aside contracts through their Veterans First Contracting Program.
This program is not the same as the SBA's. To get access to set-aside Veterans Affairs contracts, your business must be verified through the Vets First Verification Program. They offer webinars, assistance programs, and counselors to help assist you through the verification process.
How do I apply?
To apply for either program listed above, your first step toward certification as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) is to self-certify as the business owner in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) website. Once you've set up your profile there, you can continue the process with each respective organization.
For certifications issued by the SBA or the VA, the requirements are about the same, but must all be supported by documentation to prove ownership and control.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
As stated earlier, step one is to self-represent your business to the federal government as being owned by a service-disabled Veteran through your business profile at SAM.gov. Once your profile update is complete and accepted, you may compete for set-aside government contracts for small businesses as well as participate in the SBA's Small Mentor-Protégé program.
Through this mentoring program, you can gain valuable business development insight from a mentor business that has experience with government contracts. You could also benefit from financial assistance and get guidance on internal business management systems such as:
- Strategic planning
- Federal contract bidding
Vets First Verification Program
Once you've created your SAM.gov profile, applicants move through four stages as part of the verification process:
- Federal review
You have made remarkable sacrifices for our country and deserve our appreciation and assistance. We want you to know that you have educational tools, funding options, and networking groups available to help your small business grow.
Looking to identify new opportunities? Connect with local chambers, Veteran business groups on social media, and tout your "Certified Veteran-Owned" status in all your marketing materials.
The resources are out there, we hope this helps you take advantage of what's available.