Government Contracting and Certification – What’s It All Really Mean?

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Government Contracting and Certification – What’s It All Really Mean?

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: January 21, 2014 Updated: August 10, 2014

“Government contracting.” “Small business certification.” You’ve heard the phrases before, but what do they really mean? And does it really matter for your small business? Maybe – and maybe not. Let’s cut through all the noise and define these phrases in a meaningful way for your entrepreneurial endeavors.

What is government contracting?

Government contracting is the process that lets you sell your goods or services to the government and its various agencies. The government has a contract, or agreement, with you whereby it purchases what you do or make. And U.S. government agencies buy a lot from small businesses – nearly $100 billion worth of goods and services each year! From market research to janitorial services, if you want to make the government your customer, there’s a good chance there’s a need for what you offer.

So, what does it mean to be certified as a “small business”?

Being certified as a “small business” is only significant if you’re interested in government contracting. Why? Because there are certain set-asides that the government must adhere to when they’re looking to buy goods or services – there’s a percentage of business set aside for different kinds of companies, including small businesses. (Others include women-owned, veteran-owned, etc.) So if you want to be a contender in the federal marketplace, your small business has to meet official criteria to be eligible for government contracts.

How do I certify my business as small?

First, make sure you do, in fact, have a small business. For most industries, SBA defines a "small business" either in terms of the average number of employees over the past 12 months, or average annual receipts over the past three years.

Then, when you know you adhere to the size standards, you register for government contracting. This process also serves the purpose of “certifying” your business as small.

Where can I get some help?

Starting out in government contracting can be overwhelming, but SBA has resources to help:

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About the Author:

Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at!


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Excellent article. I only wish that I'd found it sooner. Nonetheless, I'm glad to see that the information is explained clearly for others who might benefit from it, or have questions about the process.
National Supply Network is now Hubzone Certified!
every time I am completing a minority vender form on line for a company I am trying to do business with, they continual to ask me for my SBA Certification number. but the SBA has say they do not provide an certification number. so is or is there not an certification number I need from SBA?
One of the major resources you are leaving out is third party registration firms like US Federal Contractor Registration. US Federal Contractor Registration is federal recognized by departments like the USDA, DOD, Navy, Army, etc for helping businesses conduct their government registration and network with procurement officers. With over 65,000 clients in their support and being featured in publications like the Washington Post and FOX News, businesses choose to use their service. Even PTAC officials from Louisiana, Texas and Florida support their business practices. If interested businesses can call 877-252-2700 Ext 1 to learn more.
A contract is fine for small business, but we have to make sure these companies provide a 100% top quality service for all. I hope we have checks in place to be able to keep a eye on all companies that work for any Government Department
National Supply Network moved to a Hubzone Qualified Tract and has applied for Hubzone certification! We are looking forward to providing contracts under the SBA Hubzone program
I always appreciate to SBA team. They always write on different business needs in detail. As this post will be very useful for those who are new in business. Because U.S government has made tight rules & regulation on certificates. So every businessman compulsory to show there certificates. Otherwise they will get punishment for that. So who want to live far from these types of problems? They can directly take help from SBA team for certificates or they can take consult with business owners who already have all documents.
A very informative and useful post. This could serve as a new line of clients for certain Small Businesses and could provide assured revenue. It may be treated as a bread-and -butter client but the govt would be a welcome client. All you business owners out there, check out the criterion for classification and then get set to enroll yourself. It will be a win-win situation for all.
Great info and govt. contracting is a great avenue to pursue with lots of dollars to spread around to certified small businesses. Govt. contracting aside, I will have to disagree with the statement..... "Being certified as a “small business” is only significant if you’re interested in government contracting." As a national purchasing manager and supplier diversity officer, I see more and more state and local municipalities and even commercial clients with supplier diversity requirements in contract RFPs. I encourage all of my small businesses to certify if they qualify and assist them in any way I can. It makes good business sense for them within and outside of govt. contracting. Example: A recent State RFP required 20% of awarded contract dollars be spent with certified small businesses (certified by a National organization or that particular States diversity process).


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