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Congratulations on your acceptance into the 8(a) Business Development set-aside program.  That can be quite a feat but is well worth the wait.  Now that you are 8(a) certified it is time to educate you on the program. Remember the more you know the better prepared you are to make the best educated decisions for your business.  Think of this article as a brief overview of just one small segment of the set-aside 8(a) program, the 8(a) Orientation.

What is an 8(a) Orientation?

An 8(a) Orientation is a meeting between a newly certified set-aside 8(a) firm and SBA.  This meeting can be held one on one, by telephone or in a group setting.  The purpose is to welcome you into the program and go over program requirements.  Also, it is a chance for you to meet your assigned Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS) who will be your main point of contact with SBA.

Each SBA District Office will have their own way of performing the orientation, but the information covered is the same.  Be prepared to take lots of notes and ask questions.  You should have received three letters from SBA prior to your first meeting.  The first letter is a welcome letter from the local district office.  Second letter has tons of marketing information for you.  The last letter will contain the program requirements.  Remember to return your Participation Agreement as soon as possible.

The BOS will provide you will a brief overview of the program.  They will go into detail on the program requirements, expectations and assistance available to you.  Topics typically discussed during the Orientation are:

1.    Business Plan

Before receiving your first SBA must approve your business plan.  During this meeting you should ask for an electronic copy of SBA’s business plan template.  You will have 30 days from this meeting to turn in your business plan.  So don’t wait start on this immediately.

2.  Financial Documents.

 Financial Statements to include all notes, attachments and supplements shall be submitted to SBA each year.  Your revenue will determine the type of statement needed.

  1. Total Revenues greater than $10 Million will require audited financial statements prepared by a licensed certified CPA and are due to SBA within 120 days after the end of your fiscal year.
  2. Revenues between $2 Million and $10 Million required a Reviewed Financial Statements prepared by a licensed certified CPA within 90 days after close of your fiscal year.
  3. Total Revenues less than $ 2 Million must submit annual financial statements in a format acceptable by SBA prepared in-house or a licensed independent accountant, verified to the accuracy by an authorized officer, partner, limited liability company member or sole proprietor within 90 days of the end of your fiscal year.

So why does SBA need your financial statements?  In order to accept any requirements on behalf of SBA and your business they need to verify your business size.  Also,  in order to receive an 8(a) set-aside your business must be small for the NAICS code assigned to the requirement.  Remember that SBA has to certify that you still meet all program qualification prior to receiving a set-aside 8(a) contract.  In addition, SBA will run financial ratios on your business.

3.    Business Activity Targets (BAT)

SBA created Business Activity Targets (BATs) due to the number of former 8(a) set-aside firms going out of business after graduating from the program.  Research determined that these firms were overly dependent on 8(a) sole source contracts and in an effort to help these firm’s SBA created Business Activity Targets to force 8(a) set-aside businesses to compete on competitive requirements outside the 8(a) program.  These Business Activity Targets expressed as a percentage of total revenue.  Remember that this is a nine-year program.

SBA has stated that firms must meet these percentages of total revenue in order to be able to receive 8(a) sole source contracts.

Failure to meet these percentages can result in your business being not eligible to receive 8(a) sole source contracts or worse removed from the 8(a) set-aside program.

Year Non-8(a) Revenue
5 15%
6 25%
7 35%
8 45%
9 55%

The businesses that run into problems meeting the business activity targets are ones that don’t continue to seek contracts outside the 8(a) program.  This is something that you have to be diligently working on throughout your tenure in the program. 

4.    Overview of SBA programs.

Your BOS will provide a brief overview of all the SBA assistance that is available to you.  SBA provides a variety of programs available to you and all small businesses.  The programs are:

Counseling – SBA has a wide range of counseling services available to assist your business in growing and expanding.

  1. SCORE – SCORE has helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and education resources.
  2. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – SBDCs aid small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States and its territories.
  3. Women Business Centers (WBCs) – WBCs designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses.

Credit

  1. Loans – SBA works with lenders to provide loans to your business.
  2. Investor – Find an investor for your business.
  3. Surety Bonds – Provides bonding assistance to your business.

Contracting

  1. 8(a) Business Development Program – A nine-year program to help socially and economically disadvantaged businesses compete in the open marketplace.
  2. HUBZone Program – Limits competition to certain businesses in historically underutilized business zone on federal contracts.
  3. Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) – Federal government’s goal is to award at least three percent of all federal contracting dollars.
  4. Woman-Owned Small Business – Government’s goal is to award at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars.

Disaster

  1. Small Business disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans to businesses, renters, and homeowners located in regions affected by declared disasters.

Advocacy

  1. SBA Advocacy department is an independent voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the source of small business statistics. Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, the federal agencies, the federal courts and state policy makers.

5.    Other Resources

  1. Procurement Technical Resource Centers (PTACS)
    Your BOS will explain what PTACS are and how they can help you with marketing, writing proposals, and finding opportunities.
  2. Small Business Specialists (SBS)
    Large Activities will assign Small Business Specialists to help small businesses market to their activities. These individuals can also setup Capability Briefings for you to meet with end users and other specialists.
  3. Contracting Officers (CO)
    A person who can bind the Federal Government of the United States to a contract that is greater than the Micro-Purchase threshold.

I find it easier to prepare for a meeting if I have an ideal of what is going to transpire in the meeting.  Remember the better prepared you are the better your chances are to achieve your goals.

As always, we hope you enjoyed today’s topic and are better prepared when the local SBA official comes to visit. Now stop, subscribe to this podcast and provide a rating.  Your feedback is very important to us.  If you have a topic you would like discussed, please contact me.  My contact information will be in today’s show notes.

To learn more about SBA’s 8(a) program please see today’s show notes for links to our other episode on the 8(a) set-aside BD program. Do you prefer to read a blog?  If so, we will have a link in our show notes to our blog.

Links to our podcast with 8(a) as a topic.  Intro 8a.  

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