The answer depends on the goals you’ve set for your business and on who you are hoping to sell to.
When I talk with veteran business owners and entrepreneurs, they often wonder if it’s worthwhile to register their business as a “Veteran-Owned Small Business” or “Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business.” Like most things, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on the goals you’ve set for your business and on who you are hoping to sell to.
If you are interested in winning government contracts, these designations are extremely important. These certifications put you in the running for a percentage of federal government contracts that was set up under The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999.
It takes some work, but it can be very worthwhile. Here’s what you need to know:
- You have to meet the qualifications including owning at least 51 percent of the business, prove that you are a veteran and if going for the “Service Disabled” designation, you must prove that you are service-disabled.
- Register with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the only government agency with a formal verification process. Go to the Vetbiz Resource Center for tips and links.
- Even if you register with the VA, you must also register with the Federal Contractor Registry in order to be eligible for government contracts.
- You can also register with the General Services Administration (GSA) to get onto their schedule. This can be a lengthy process, but there are resources available to assist you.
- Consider registering with your state government (in addition to or in lieu of the federal government). Check to see if they offer any special opportunities they set aside for veteran-owed businesses.
And even if you are sticking with business from the private sector, the National Veteran Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) says that 70 percent of Americans would prefer to do business with a veteran-owned business! You don’t need to go through the formal certification process for this, but simply advertise yourself as such.