What Is the SBA 8(A) Business Development Program?

Posted on: 7 October 2019

If you are a small business owner and you want to get government contracts, you need to know about the 8(a) Business Development Program. This federal program helps smaller and more economically disadvantaged business owners have a better chance of getting more lucrative contracts. Here are some things you should know:

Who Can Apply?

You have to meet certain requirements to apply for this SBA program. First, you have to demonstrate you are an economically or socially disadvantaged owner of a business seeking to create a for-profit venture. You also have to show that your experiences have impacted your capability to operate a successful business. You cannot be a non-profit, a broker, or owned by another disadvantaged business. If you have already gone through this program, you cannot do so again.

How Old Is Your Business?

The SBA uses the two-year rule to gauge success in a business. This simply means you have to prove you have had a measure of success for at least two years to qualify for this program. The position of the SBA is that many businesses do not succeed within the first two years. To satisfy the two-year rule, you have to provide two year's worth of your business tax returns to show you have been in operation at that time.

What Training Do You Need?

The SBA requires you to complete some training before you can apply. This training and self-evaluation is completed online and will determine if your business is ready for these types of contracts. You can also complete the training at your local SBA office.

How Are You Certified?

You need to submit an electronic application for 8(a) business certifications. You may also have to send documents through the mail. Once you submit your application and supplemental documents, you then wait for a decision, which can take up to several months to finalize.  

What Happens After Certification?

Once you are certified, you have to provide the SBA with a copy of your business plan. The business plan must be approved by the SBA prior to your use of benefits of the program. Your business plan will include your market analysis, a self-evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses within the program, the goals of your business, your management plan, and the estimates of your potential contract awards.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact your local SBA loan office for assistance.