This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog.
Government certifications can provide a helpful boost for your small business. Not only do certifications make getting government contracts easier, but if you’re doing business with a larger company that has diversity initiatives, you may receive additional points during an RFP process or more favorable payment terms (net-30 instead of net-60).
Certification is not a process for the faint of heart, though. The qualification process for many certification programs is very thorough and at times can feel invasive — but it’s worth it in the end if you qualify and get more business.
Here are some tips to make things go more smoothly.
Prepare to Pick Up the Phone
Before you dive into this long and arduous process, do some research online and determine if you’re truly eligible for these programs. Eligibility guidelines are listed prominently for each program, but there are some circumstances that may make your qualification process harder. For example, if you’re a woman and formerly shared a business 50-50 with your husband but changed it recently so that you now own 51 percent, you will likely have to wait a bit because in the short term that change will raise some red flags.
Do as much research as you can online, but know that not every question can possibly be answered on a government website. Go ahead and make some calls to the Small Business Administration or Louisiana Economic Development. They expect questions and have people trained to advise you. They can recommend third-party certification consultants, if necessary, and will go out of their way to help.
The SBA even has seminars around the country on a variety of topics. Visit the Events page and see if anything will be in your area soon.