Access_to_Capital_Chicago-58_DSC_9748-MIn effort to help all small business owners compete for government contracts, certification programs exist at both the state and federal level for minority-owned and underutilized businesses. The purpose of these diversification programs is to empower small business owners to procure government contracts, giving them access to the hundreds of billions of dollars the government spends on private contracts each year. Though states have different types of localized certification programs, the application process is similar to those at the federal level.

A great resource for small business owners interested in receiving a diversification certification is the Small Business Administration’s web site. There, small business owners can see all of the types of federally sponsored programs that provide contracting support for small businesses. To get certified at the state level, small business owners should check out their respective state’s website or take advantage of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which provide local contracting assistance including help with certifications.

Whether you’re a veteran small business owner or a small business owner in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, the application process is usually the same. The first step is to determine the size of your small business according to the SBA’s size standards, which rely on the NAICS for industry classification so you’ll need to be familiar with that information too. Determine which diversification programs are applicable to your small business and prepare to provide documentation to prove this information. Ensure your business meets all the stipulations necessary to qualify, for example, in order to be certified as a women-owned business, the company must be 51 percent owned or controlled by one or more women.

Once your small business has been officially granted certification, you still must register as a government contractor on the System for Award Management (SAM) database, which will require a D&B D-U-N-S Number for your business. Search for your business using our CreditSignal* tool to see if your business already has a D-U-N-S Number. If you don’t find your business, then sign up for a FREE D-U-N-S Number today.  Once your business has a D-U-N-S number, is registered on the SAM database and receives its diversification certificate, you are free to research and bid on government opportunities at

And be sure to review our Supplier Connect product.  It’s designed to help ensure your business maintains the minimum scores and ratings to remain eligible for many supplier programs, increase your business’s visibility online, grants access to educational material and guides on the application and bidding process, and more! For more information about Supplier Connect, call 1-855-456-8684.

Photo Credit: Stephen Shirk