The Government is required by Congress to set-aside at least 23 percent of the $400 billion it awards in contracts annually for small businesses (SMBs). In 2017, the Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard found that the Government exceeded the requirements, awarding 23.88 percent in prime contracts to SMBs, for a total of $105 billion. Every procurement the Government puts out for bid between $10,000 and $250,000 is earmarked for small businesses- in other words, getting your set-aside is key! In order to get in on the action, you need to take certain steps. The process is time-consuming, so let’s get started!
Here’s a Step-By-Step Guide for Registering for Set-aside Government Contracts:
Step 1 in obtaining your set-aside: Obtain a NAICS Code for your business
NAICS codes (North American Classification System) are required by some federal Government agencies before you respond to an RFP (Request for Proposal). Most importantly, you can’t proceed to the next step (registering for a set-aside) without one. Search for your type of business by using keywords in the search bar at the above link, or look it up in the 2017 NAICS manual, also linked above.
Step 2: Determine if your small business meets size standards
This is determined by your industry, income, and number of employees. The SBA has a handy Size Standards Tool you can use to see if you qualify for a small business set-aside. You’ll need your NAICS code, as each industry has different size standards.
Step 3: Obtain a DUNs (Data and Universal Number System) number
One may have already been assigned to you, but if you’re not sure, you can look up your business using the above link. Why do you need a DUNs number? Having one allows for businesses to access the Dun and Broadstreet (D&B) database for your company credit scores. Moreover, in most cases, the U.S. Federal Government, state and local Government, and large retailers require a DUNs number in order to do business. The good news? Obtaining a DUNs number is free, so it’s an easy step for a small business obtaining their first set-aside.
Registration is free, and all businesses must register here to do business with the U.S. Government. What you’ll need:
- Your DUNs number
- Tax ID number
- Bank Routing Number
- As of June 11, 2018, a notarized letter appointing an administrator from your organization (usually CEO or president) who can make commitments on your business’s behalf.
- NAICS code(s)
Step 4b: Determine if you qualify for any special certifications
Certain small businesses qualify for special certifications, namely disadvantaged (SDB), women-owned (WOSB), veteran-owned (SDVOB and VOSB), or businesses located in urban or rural areas (HUBZone) set-asides. These classifications aren’t mandatory, but they offer additional opportunities to those businesses that qualify. When you register for SAM, you will be asked certain questions that will determine whether or not you fall into any of these categories.
Step 5: Register with the SBA if you qualify
Registering with SAM would have shed light on whether or not you fall under one of the distinctions in Step 4b. If so, you’ll need to register your business at certify.SBA.gov as part of the continuing eligibility process.
Congratulations! You made it through the process of registering for set-asides! Now it’s time to network.