If you’re an entrepreneur and a service-disabled veteran, your business may be able to benefit by registering it as service-disabled veteran-owned.
By doing so, you can open up your business to opportunities with government contracts that are specifically earmarked for veteran-owned businesses. And you can also make your business more attractive to potential clients who like the idea of supporting veterans and their businesses.
But to take advantage of those benefits, or at least the first one, you’ll need to register your veteran-owned business with the Department of Veterans Affairs. So how do you do this?
Registering Your Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business With the VA
You’ll need to start by registering with VetBiz and creating a user account for your business in the Vendor Information Pages. To prove your service disabled veteran status, you’ll need your Military Service Records, which you can obtain by requesting a form from the Department of Defense (DD 214). You may also need a disability status letter from the VA stating that you are a service-disabled veteran.
In addition, it is required that a service-disabled veteran own at least 51 percent of the business in order for it to be considered for this certification. So if your business has multiple owners or stakeholders, you’ll need to be able to prove majority ownership.
Once you’ve applied for this certification, the process is far from over. The VA has a whole verification process where they review your documents and various aspects of your business to ensure that it really qualifies as service-disabled veteran owned. But they also look at things like bank statements, tax returns and inventory. Since the purpose of this process is to evaluate businesses looking to compete for government contracts, they look to make sure that each business is actually equipped to handle government contract work.
Other things they might review include the company’s mission statement, Board of Directors, organizational charters and any partnership agreements. They sometimes even schedule site visits to businesses during the selection process.
Registering Your Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business With the GSA
If you’re registering your business as service-disabled veteran-owned simply so that you have an official certification for the purpose of attracting clients or private businesses, then registering with the VA should be enough. But if you do want to go after federal government contracts, you also need to register with the General Services Administration.
To start this process, you’ll need to start by going through the list of GSA schedules and find which most closely fits with your business. You’ll also need to create an account with the GSA’s System for Award Management.
From there, you’ll need to prove your status and ownership of your business, which requires many of the same documents you use to register with the VA. The GSA also offers training to service-disabled veteran business owners as part of its 21 Gun Salute Initiative.
Registering Your Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business With Your State
At the state level, different states have different rules when it comes to awarding contracts to veteran-owned businesses. Some states set aside a portion of contracts specifically for those businesses. Some offer minor advantages to those businesses. And others have no programs to offer advantages to those businesses.
The National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) has a map outlining the current policies in regards to veteran owned businesses across the U.S. From there, you can visit the website of your particular state to see how to specifically register your business to compete for state contracts.
Other Ways to Register Your Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business
However, plenty of veteran and service-disabled veterans choose not to officially register their businesses as such, at least not with official government agencies. It can be a lengthy process and the main benefits come from the ability to get your business higher on the list for certain government contracts. If your business is too small to apply for government contracts or doesn’t supply a product or service that could work in those situations, it might not be worth it to go through the process of registering officially.
However, that doesn’t mean that your business can’t benefit at all from your veteran status. There are plenty of private companies that like to contract or do business with veteran owned businesses whenever possible.
For those situations, proving and making your veteran status known can vary from business to business. But it can be a good idea to have many of the same documents that you would use in the VA and GSA registration processes available for use when going after contracts in the private sector.
You may also choose to register your business with private entities like Buy Veteran. This doesn’t make you officially eligible for government contracts that are set aside for veterans but it can provide a simple way to show your veteran status to people and companies that are looking to support veteran-owned businesses.
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