Small Business Certification Options

Small business certification as marketing

Certification can assist all your marketing efforts…if used as a component of a broad, effective marketing program.

There are a number of certifications available for small and medium businesses. Being certified can help you get “your foot in the door”. In addition, if you or your business development team position your company well and conduct effective business development and marketing activities with applicable government or large corporation personnel, being certified can lead to much more business.

Below are some of the certifications available, along with a brief synopsis of their requirements:

Certification programs administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA):

      • 8(a)
        • Company must be minority-owned or show evidence of severe social disadvantage;
        • Firm must have been in business for >= 2years, meet applicable size standards, and display reasonable potential for success.
        • Non-manufacturing contract awards granted under 8(a) do not exceed $3 Million.
      • HUBZone – Historically Underutilized Business zone
        • Small business must be located in a qualified census tract with median household income of <80% of the statewide median and an unemployment rate of >=140% of state average.
        • 35% of business employees must also reside within a HUBZone.
      • SDB Small Disadvantaged Business – must be pre-certified by SBA. 8(a) participants are automatically considered SDBs as long as they are small enough. SDBs are awarded contracts through the Dept. of Defense (DoD)
        1. Evaluation credits available to prime contractors boost the subcontracting opportunities for SDBs.
        2. The program is intended to help federal agencies achieve the government-wide goal of 5 percent SDB participation in prime contracting.
        3. SDB-certified companies may benefit in one of two ways.
          1. First, an SDB can qualify for a price evaluation adjustment when bidding as a prime contractor.
          2. Second, all prime contractors are encouraged to use certified SDBs as subcontractors through mandated evaluation factors and optional monetary incentives.
        4. Requirements:
          1. For the SDB Certification Program, net worth must be less than $750,000 after taking into account certain exclusions applicable by law. In determining such net worth, SBA will exclude the ownership interest in the applicant or Participant and the equity in the primary personal residence
          2. Must be small as defined in section 121: 500 employees or less for most manufacturers but 1,000 employees or less for some others

            Administered by the Georgia Dept. of Transportation (GDOT):

            • DBEDisadvantage Business Enterprise – a firm must be a small business that is owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Certifiers make the determinations based upon on-site visits, personal interviews, reviews of licenses, stock ownership, equipment, bonding capacity, work completed, resume of principal owners and financial capacity.
            • Requirements:
              1. 51%-owned by a minority (or socially & economically disadvantaged individual) who also controls the firm
              2. Owner is a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted permanent U.S. resident
              3. Small business by SBA size standards AND <=$17.42 Mn
    • Other state programs:

      • MBE – Minority Business Enterprise – >
        • 51% owned, controlled, and operated by designated minority group member(s);
        • Small business as defined by NAICSC;
        • No undue dependence on or association with majority-owned firm;
        • Minority capital contribution commensurate with ownership interest
Certification provides the proverbial stamp, which acts as a marketing tool.

Women Certification Programs:

      • NAWBO – WBE (Women Business Enterprise) certification – similar to MBE requirements but must be 51% owned, controlled, and operated by women

Private corporations 

    • Georgia Minority Supplier Diversity Council (GMBDC) – check website at

      1. NOTE: Most states have the same group, just change the state name i.e., New Jersey Minority Supplier Diversity Council
      2. Administers the MBE Certification program, recognized nationally
      3. Over 400 corporations use MBE certification
    • Some large corporations have their own special minority supplier approval processes.


Additional contact information regarding these organizations is contained on their websites. The SBDCs can help you identify which government and/or state certifications are best for you, what the requirements for these are, and how to put together a package to submit for certification. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) counselors can then review those packages prior to submittal to make sure you show your company in the best light and do not erroneously omit anything.

If you need additional assistance, The Resourceful CEO can also assist. Please contact us via our Contact Us page.