Top 10 Certifications For Small Businesses

To be successful in owning and running a small business you need extensive planning, constant problem solving, and effective networking.

While creating a comprehensive marketing strategy can assist you in defining your brand, sharing your expertise, and standing out on social media, being able to point to a specific differentiator can truly set you apart from the competition.

Certification is one way to distinguish yourself, they can help you gain access to specialized funding and scholarships, compete for set-aside contracts, and serve as a great selling point to potential clients.

In this article, we’ve put down the top 10 small businesses certifications. Carefully read through!

Do I Need A Certification in Small Business Administration?

SBA certifications provide small businesses with access to federal contracts and other benefits based on specific programs.

The certificate itself is either a document or a verified self-representation of business status.

The SBA created certification programs to bolster small business activity for federal contract procurement.

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What Are The Benefits of SBA Certifications?

Small business certifications are aimed at business owners who are underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged. Depending on the program, you may be granted access to:

  • Funding, grants, or scholarships
  • Set aside and sole-source contracts
  • Business mentorship and guidance

Certificates create growth and revenue opportunities for groups that often lack equal access to benefits. This includes socially disadvantaged individuals, women, veterans, and LGBTQ business owners.

Each program has specific eligibility requirements to apply and/or reapply after a certificate’s expiration. You should review items such as the SBA’s small business size standards, business location, and executive team representation before applying.

Why Become A Certified Business?

Business certifications come with various perks and resources that can help your company stand out among competitors and scale your business faster.

1. Access to contracts 

The federal government, as well as certain private-sector corporations, set aside contracts to be awarded to businesses with certain verified certifications.

These contracts are only given to businesses with these certifications in order to ensure equal opportunity.

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2. Ability to form joint ventures

Once you become certified, you often can join other businesses within your certification in order to compete for certain contracts.

3. Additional management and technical assistance

Many of these certification programs also offer management and technical assistance to help their businesses grow and succeed.

Top 10 Certifications for Small Businesses 

Here are the top 10 small business certifications worth getting this 2022:

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1. Minority-owned business certification

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is an organization that is committed to integrating Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) equally in the public and private sectors.

This organization provides MBE certification for minority-owned businesses.

The NMSDC network consists of over 12,000 certified MBEs that are connected to over 1,400 large corporate members.

To qualify for MBE certification, your small business must be 51 percent minority-owned and operated, and the owners must be involved in daily management.

The NMSDC defines a minority as “an individual who is at least 25 percent Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American.” This is established and proven through a combination of screenings, interviews, and site visits.

If your business meets the aforementioned criterion, you can apply to be an MBE through the NMSDC’s website.

Once you’ve submitted all the required documents and paid the application fee, you’ll get an email and letter if you’ve been approved.

If your application was not approved, you may submit a letter of appeal.

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2. Project Management Professional (PMP)

If you bring projects to completion, you can derive value from a PMP certification, whether you have “project manager” in your job title or not.

The PMP involves a certification exam, but even getting to that step is a lot of work. In order to be eligible to earn a certification, certain prerequisites must be met.

Candidates can either complete a secondary degree, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education; or complete a 4-year degree, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education.

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3. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Perhaps you’re not ready for the full PMP exam—you, or your employees, are new to project management.

The CAPM (available through pmi.org—Project Management Institute’s website) is the certification for up and coming project managers.

Much like the PMP certification, there are prerequisites—a secondary degree and 23 hours of project management education.

PMI.org offers an online course that contains this certified information and will fulfill the requirement.

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4. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

Business analysis is a daunting umbrella term that involves identifying and determining solutions to business problems.

Problems can range from issues with software and information systems to understand how to improve processes.

The CBAP certification is geared for workers with experience in business analysis and product management. The eligibility requirements for CBAP are listed on the CBAP website.

If you or your employees aren’t experienced yet in business analysis but are instead looking to gain additional experience, iiba.org offers several levels of certification.

Their certification includes an Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) and a Certificate of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA).

The latter certification demonstrates a mid-level understanding of business analysis with a willingness to learn more.

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5. Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)

Supply chain management involves careful organization and supervision of many moving parts.

Certified professionals in this discipline have unique qualities in maintaining the efficiency of both time and costs.

If your small business deals with a network of suppliers, distributing, creating, or building products that are shipped to your buyers, this certification can help streamline this process on the small-business side.

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The CSCP certification is built on APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society) standards, and the details of this program can be found here.

Much like the other certifications on this list, there is an exam and a pre-requisite eligibility application.

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6. SAP Certified Application Associate—CRM

That’s a lot of acronyms, but in a nutshell, this certification is all about understanding a software program (called SAP—systems, applications, and products) and having basic knowledge of Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Understanding this program will help you and your employees grasp customer engagement and experience in new ways.

If your company doesn’t use SAP, however, you could also get a certification from its biggest competitor, salesforce.

Salesforce is a CRM with several different certification tracks, depending on your job role—administration, developers, and more.

Is this an exhaustive list of all the certifications available? There are tons more.

One that didn’t make the top five that is worth checking out—Google Analytics Certification—is perfect if you’re working to develop your business’ online or social media presence.

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7. HUBZone

The SBA offers a HUBZone Certification that gives owners of businesses in historically underutilized business zones access to reserved contracts.

It also gives certified businesses a 10 percent price evaluation preference in open contract competitions.

To qualify, your small business must:

  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization or an American Indian tribe
  • Have its principal office located in a HUBZone
  • Have at least 35 percent of employees living in a HUBZone

You can also hire an approved third-party certifier to complete the process for you.

Small business enterprise certifications are worth the work, as they can help attract customers who want to support small business owners like you.

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8. B Corp certification 

A B corporation is a for-profit business that is driven by a social mission. These companies use their profits as a means for positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.

They are certified by the SBA and are overseen by the B Lab, a governing body that ensures B corps are meeting their standards for impact.

Becoming a B corp requires your company to have a positive social impact. For a business to certify as a B Corp, its owners must complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA) and meet the legal requirements.

The BIA evaluates the applying company and its impact on their employees, consumers, community, and the environment.

Once you complete the BIA, you’ll pay a fee. Once approved, your certification will last for three years, after which you’ll be subject to a reassessment to determine if your company still meets the criteria.

Certified B corporations, of which there are over 4,000 across 150+ industries, are legally required to consider the effects of their actions on the surrounding public and use their business as a force of positive change.

Many famous industry-leading companies, including Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Grove Collaborative, make up the thousands of B corps.

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9. LEED Certification 

If you operate your small business out of your home or an office building that you’re able to make structural or interior updates to, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification can offer tax credits, fee waivers, and grants.

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One of the most popular green building certification programs, LEED is designed to encourage businesses to adopt sustainable designs. A ranking system assigns points based on building construction, design, operation, and maintenance.

Becoming LEED certified demonstrates a commitment to environmental sustainability and can be a key motivator for clients as they consider your services.

Based on the number of points you receive you can be awarded a Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum LEED Certification.

Your business can also realize financial savings by making changes such as installing fixtures to reduce water consumption or maximizing natural light to cut back on electric bills.

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10. 8(a) Business Development 

The SBA offers a one-time 8(a) Business Development Certification, which allows socially or economically disadvantaged business owners to compete for special contracts, receive training and technical assistance, and collaborate with other businesses for nine years.

To qualify, your small business must be:

  • At least 51 percent owned, controlled and managed by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged
  • Owned by someone with a personal net worth of $250,000 or less
  • Owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less
  • Owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets
  • Owned by principals who demonstrate good character and potential.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How do I get an SBA certification number?

Because SBA certification involves bidding for federal contracts, in order to do so, you must obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number, which is a unique, nine-digit ID number for your business.

In order to apply, you’ll need to supply several pieces of information including:

  •  Legal name
  • Doing business as (DBA) name
  • Physical address (and mailing address if different)
  • Phone/contact number
  • Number of employees
  • Whether you’re a home-based business 

How much does a small business certification cost?

The application and certification process for SBA programs including the 8(a), WOSB, MPP, and HUBZone are typically free of cost. However, obtaining other certifications outside of the SBA may carry an annual or one-time fee.

How do you renew your small business certification?

Many certifications require yearly updates or renewals to maintain your standing. The certify. SBA.gov website shares step-by-step instructions for each program you’re a member of.

Conclusion 

Certifications can be a great way to differentiate your business. Once you’ve obtained your new status, be sure to maintain certification by applying for renewal each year, and let your clients know by advertising on marketing and promotional materials.

Be sure to take advantage of perks that come with certification as well such as attending member events, participating in mentoring programs, or actively applying for new contracts.

References 

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