Guide: Grow Your Business Bonus

Establishing Certifications and Government Selling

Certifications For Your Business

Are you interested in selling your company’s products or services to the government or large corporations? Many times, local, state and federal governments, as well as some larger corporations, set aside a portion of their purchasing contracts for certain certified small businesses.

Certification is a review process that demonstrates a business is actually at least 51% owned and managed by a woman, minority, veteran, service-disabled veteran, or disadvantaged person(s). There are many different types of certification programs available, and if your business qualifies, becoming certified can help open doors to new sales opportunities.

State of Iowa Small Business Certifications:

  • The Iowa Targeted Small Business (TSB) program offers a certification program and technical and financial assistance for Iowa businesses owned by women, minorities, persons with disabilities and service-disabled veterans. Certified TSB's are eligible for special procurement opportunities when buying from the state government, are listed in a Certified TSB online directory and benefit from educational and networking opportunities for their business.

Federal Small Business Certifications:
The federal government wants to do business with you! If you think your business fits any of the below programs, you may be on your way to winning some federal contracts:

*Certification provided through three national organizations designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration

Other: Some national organizations also offer certification for small business, primarily to help with obtaining contracts with larger corporations. These certifications are generally more expensive to obtain and to renew than those offered through state and federal government programs.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE): A certification for businesses at least 51% owned and managed by an ethnic minority seeking contracting opportunities with large corporations. Certification is offered through the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Women Business Enterprise (WBE): Certification for businesses at least 51% owned and managed by a woman. Certification is provided by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council through a regional partner network. Iowa businesses would be certified through the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago.

National and International Women Business Enterprise (NWBE, IWBE): Certification for businesses looking for contracting opportunities with large corporations. Certification is offered through the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Doing Business with the Government

Federal and state government agencies are huge consumers, regularly buying everything from paper clips to complex equipment. And it’s not just large businesses that win contracts. Both federal and state agencies have goals to reserve a portion of total contracts annually for small businesses.

Doing business with the government is different than selling to other businesses. There is paperwork involved and many steps to take before you make a bid. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you get your foot in the door with one of the largest potential clients your business could have! Here’s some information to get you started down the road to selling to the government:

Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP): If your business is new to government contracting, contacting the PTAP is a great first step. Whether you are interested in federal, state or local government contracting, the program staff can walk you through everything from preparing your initial bid to post-award assistance - all at no, or low cost to your business. 

Federal Resources:

System for Award Management (SAM): SAM is the primary supplier database for the U.S. Federal government, collecting, validating and storing data from suppliers and then making that data available to the various government agencies. Your business must be registered in SAM to do business with the federal government, as this provides buyers with a profile of the types of products or services your business can provide. There is no cost to register and PTAP staff can assist you through the registration process at no cost. 

Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) database: The DSBS is maintained by the Small Business Administration and is another tool that government contracting officers use to identify potential small business contractors for upcoming contracting opportunities. During the registration process in the SAM, your business will have the opportunity to fill out a small business profile which will then populate the information in the DSBS.

FedBizOpps: Federal Business Opportunities: For contracts valued over $25,000, federal agencies are required to use this website to post available contracting opportunities and vendor requirements to the public and interested vendors.

Small Business Administration Office of Government Contracting provides resources and information on bidding opportunities for small businesses, including the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program, Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program, and others.

State of Iowa Resources:
Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS) is home to Iowa’s state agency bid opportunities and has several useful links and resources for small businesses wanting to sell to state government, including:

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