Certify Your Veteran-Owned Business for Extra BenefitsUpdated November 16, 2021 Veterans Benefits
There are many benefits for veterans who start a small business after serving in the military. Are you a veteran business owner or thinking of starting your own business? You should look into a veteran-owned business certification if you haven’t already.
5 Types of Veteran-Owned Business Certifications
- VA CVE
Each year, around 200,000 service members transition to civilian life, and roughly 20% of them will start their own business. These are very promising statistics for the future in terms of veteran business ownership.
It makes sense that veterans would gravitate toward entrepreneurship since they acquired some of its necessary skills during their service – leadership, self-accountability, discipline, perseverance, and adaptability. In short, veterans are certainly cut out to be skilled small business owners.
A small business owner has a number of concerns to worry about on a daily basis, from marketing their business to finding suppliers, and everything in between. Sometimes, they can overlook opportunities for their organization to join the rank of certified businesses that make up our economy. They may not think that issues like supplier diversity are important to customers and clients.
As it turns out, however, a veteran-owned business certification is worth pursuing. It can win them more government contracts and even more contracts in the private sector. Equally important is the fact that a Veteran small business owner can get additional business from direct consumers who are interested in supporting veteran entrepreneurship.
Just think about your own experience going about your business. It’s likely that in your own city you see plenty of businesses advertising some sort of certification in their window, on the side of their vehicles, or on their marketing materials. A veteran-owned firm or even a sole proprietorship should take advantage of the opportunity to certify their business as such.
What Is a Veteran-Owned Business?
A veteran-owned business is a business owned by a U.S. military veteran. There are several reasons why a veteran who owns a business should get it certified.
One reason is that the federal government and many large businesses have set aside quotas for contractual engagement with specific business types, among them minority-owned, woman-owned, and veteran-owned businesses. If your business is veteran-owned and certified as such, you can win more business when it comes to federal procurement and even the supply chain fueling the private sector.
Roughly 15% of the top 1000 largest companies in America have goals to secure contracts with veteran-owned businesses. If you want a better shot at becoming a federal contractor or doing business with a Fortune 500 company, you’ll need to get that all on paper.
A veteran-owned certificate is also a great marketing tool. Regardless of race, gender, religion, or political affiliation, most Americans are more than willing to support veteran-owned businesses and show their love and support for the men and women who have sacrificed for their country.
How To Qualify for a Veteran-Owned Business Certificate
The requirements for a veteran-owned business certificate are simple. At least 51% of the business must be owned by a veteran. This veteran must have been honorably discharged or have retired. Lastly, the veteran owner must be significantly involved in running the business.
If the veteran has a service-connected disability, they will need to show paper proof of that, which can be located on your discharge papers or downloaded from VA.gov. To qualify for the Vets First Program, you will also need to show that you’re the highest paid person at the company, or that there is a significantly understandable reason for taking a lower amount of pay.
By and large, these requirements are similar for each type of veteran-owned business certification. Some certifications have stricter eligibility requirements. For example, a certification may only be available for service-disabled veterans.
5 Types of Veteran Owned Business Certifications
The following list of veteran-owned business certifications is a good starting point for learning about how to get your business certified. Keep in mind that each one may have its own benefits. For instance, a government certification may assist in getting you more government contracts through a procurement technical assistance center, but the certs issued by private organizations may afford greater opportunities for corporate networking.
It all depends on what type of business you own and what type of clients you want to serve. In many cases, it might benefit you to get all the relevant certifications you can, so you can do business more easily with government and corporate clients.
The Veteran-Owned Small Business is a self-certified award that can be obtained through the SAM.gov website (System for Award Management). You can also get a VOSB cert from the VA or SBA, and these are the certs that count toward a greater possibility of winning federal contracts.
A VOSB certification may also be available for your state, and such a cert may open up additional procurement possibilities for state and local governments. To get a VOSB cert through the VA or SBA, you will need to show your Department of Defense Form 214 (DD214), which is the paperwork you received at the time of your honorable discharge or retirement.
There is one other organization aside from the SBA and VA that also offers eligible veterans the ability to get their business certified. The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is a non-profit organization that can certify your veteran-owned business with a little paperwork and a nominal fee ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000, depending on the size of your organization.
The NVBDC certification lasts for one year and is issued within 60 days of applying. Some businesses will find that the cost is offset by the accelerated time frame, since the Department of Veterans Affairs may have slower turnaround times.
The Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business certificate (SBA 8a SDVOSB) is administered by the Small Business Administration. The SBA has its own application process and only awards this cert to veterans who have a disability connected to their service. Around 3% of government contracting dollars are awarded to SDVOSB businesses, or at least that is the goal.
An SDVOSB business can become eligible for set-aside contracts, which are either competitive set-aside contracts, with multiple eligible parties bidding, or sole-source set-aside contracts, where only one party can fulfill the contractual need. A veteran can also award the SDVOSB designation to themselves over the SAM.gov website (System for Award Management) but this self-elected designation does not make the business eligible for the aforementioned set-aside contracts.
3. VA CVE
The Department of Veterans Affairs can award your business a Certified Veteran Enterprise. This type of certification has tighter requirements and is mainly for businesses that want to contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
For example, in addition to the aforementioned requirements, a qualifying veteran must be actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business and demonstrate the requisite managerial business experience for doing so. This is quite a specific niche, though many veteran-owned businesses have found a substantial path to profit through building a steady stream of government contracts with specific branches within the federal government.
The National Veteran Business Development Council is the only third-party organization that can provide VOSB or SDVOSB certs, aside from the SBA and VA. The NVBDC is a nonprofit organization formed by veterans for helping veteran-owned businesses get into the supply chain.
Its corporate partners include the likes of Ford, Excelon, Honda, IBM, and Johnson and Johnson. There are frequent events and roundtables dedicated to fostering the connection between these corporate clients and veteran-owned businesses that can serve as their suppliers.
The National Veteran-Owned Business Association provides a certification that is good for two years and is honored by a large and increasingly larger number of Fortune 1000 Companies. There are also non-profits, state governments, and local governments that honor this certification. NAVOBA itself is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is dedicated to providing veteran-owned businesses with the opportunity to participate in the supply chain.
This certification not only affords a veteran entrepreneur the ability to win more business through certification, but it accelerates that possibility by providing networking opportunities with its 135 corporate allies.
What Is the Verification Process for Certifying as a Veteran Owned Business?
The process of certifying your business through the VA starts with an intake, which includes validating your status as a veteran, collecting required information about the business, and a welcome phone call.
A case analyst will then review the material, giving the veteran a chance to respond to any issues before forwarding it to a federal review team. This team will conduct a quality check of the case analyst’s report before submitting it to the CVE director, who will make the final decision.
In 2023, the application process will move to the SBA. Note that the self-selecting process on the SAM.gov website will be significantly streamlined, but in order to obtain an SDVOSB, disabled veterans will still need to show proof of their condition’s service-related nature from their discharge papers.
The process for getting your business certified as a Veteran-Owned Business or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business through the NVBDC or NAVOBA will also differ as well, so if either of those certifications appeals to you, you might want to check their websites for the specifics of the process.
Do I need a VOSB Cert to get a Business Loan?
In most cases, you will need a VOSB or SDVOSB to get one of the many VA small business loans that are available to assist Veteran business owners with operational capital. So in addition to the contractual and marketing benefits of these certs, it’s also easier to get affordable funding geared toward veteran-owned businesses.
Benefits of Being a Veteran-Owned Business
Veteran-owned businesses can benefit from getting their business certified. In addition to winning more contracts with government entities and other businesses, they can boost their consumer engagement because Americans love veteran-owned businesses.
Like any type of government paperwork, the process for getting officially certified by the SBA or VA can seem a little intimidating, but since it’s free, it’s well worth the time. Veteran-owned business certifications are just one of the many veterans benefits that the government offers service members transitioning to civilian life.