If you’re a veteran and a business owner, you’ve likely looked into a veteran-owned business certification in the past. You’ve also probably found the whole process confusing. There are a number of ways to get certified, and considering the substantial time commitment, it may not seem worth it to go through the process.
However, becoming a certified veteran-owned company can help you win more business from both government agencies and corporations. It can also be used as a marketing tool to help you reach potential customers that want to support veterans.
Read on for:
- Why you should certify
- What you need to qualify
- A breakdown of the different types of certifications
- How you certify
Why should I register?
The primary reason to register your business as veteran-owned is to win more business. Specifically, both government agencies and many large corporations set aside a certain amount of business each year for veteran-owned businesses (as well as women and minority-owned firms).
To compete for contracts from government agencies, the certification process is pretty time consuming. However, if your small business focuses on selling to government agencies it’s worth the time and effort.
Corporations will also prioritize giving business to veteran-owned companies. For example, nearly 15% of Fortune 1000 companies have set goals to give business to 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.
Additionally, many businesses and consumers like to prioritize purchasing from veteran-owned businesses, so getting your business listed on more consumer-facing sites like buyveteran.com can help you reach a larger group of potential customers. The process of getting listed is pretty simple compared to some of the other certification options.
How do I qualify for a veteran-owned business certification?
To be eligible for most veteran-owned business certifications, your business must be:
- More than majority (51%) owned by a veteran
- Veteran owner must have been honorably discharged from service
- Veteran owner must be involved in management and daily business operations
If you’re looking to qualify for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), you must meet the above criteria. In addition, the veteran business owner will need to prove a service-connected disability (which should be included in your discharge paperwork).
What are the different ways to get certified?
There are a few different levels of certification. To compete for national government agency contracts, you will need to get either veteran-owned small business (VOSB) certified, or SDVOSB certified via the Vets First Verification Program. The verification process includes submitting business ownership-related paperwork, your honorable discharge papers, and a federal review.
If you’re looking to be included on national registers of veteran-owned businesses to attract work from other private businesses, you simply need to register with the National Veteran Owned Business Association as a Certified Veteran’s Business Enterprise (VBE). As mentioned above, you should also consider listing your business on websites like buyveteran.com.
Beyond specific veteran business owner programs, there are also broader contracting assistance programs with the federal government that you are eligible for as a veteran business owner. Check out the SBA website for the full list of programs you may also qualify for.
Are there other resources for veteran-owned businesses?
SCORE, a non-profit organization (and OnDeck partner) that provides resources to help entrepreneurs grow their business, has also pulled together educational articles for veterans – check them out.
Want to learn more about how one of our veteran customers jumped into entrepreneurship after serving? Check out our customer story, “From Summer Worker to Business Owner: Curtis deLagerheim & Grinders 13.”