The U.S. government offers a wide variety of opportunities for businesses to sell their products and services. One way businesses can participate in government contracting is through set-aside contracts. Set-aside contracts are specific types of government contracts that are reserved for small businesses, veteran-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, HUBZone small businesses, or women-owned small businesses.
If your business falls into one of these categories, you may be eligible to compete for set-aside contracts. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the different types of set-aside contracts and how to qualify for them.
What Is a Set-Aside Contract?
A set-aside contract is a government contract that is set aside for specific types of businesses. The U.S. government has set aside certain contracts for small businesses, veteran-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, HUBZone small businesses, or women-owned small businesses.
Set-aside contracts are a great way for small businesses to get started in government contracting. They provide an opportunity for small businesses to compete for contracts that they might not otherwise have access to.
There are two main types of set-aside contracts:
1. Small Business Set-Asides
Small business set-asides are government contracts that are set aside specifically for small businesses. To be eligible for a small business set-aside contract, your business must be classified as a small business according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
The SBA has different size standards for different industries. To see if your business qualifies as a small business, you can use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool.
2. Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Set-Asides
HUBZone set-asides are government contracts that are set aside specifically for businesses located in historically underutilized business zones. To be eligible for a HUBZone set-aside contract, your business must be located in a HUBZone and meet the other eligibility requirements.
To see if your business is located in a HUBZone, you can use the SBA’s HUBZone Map.
Steps to Qualifying for Government Set-Aside Contracts
1. Determine If You Meet the Qualifications
The first step to qualifying for government set-aside contracts is to ensure that your business meets the eligibility requirements. In order to qualify, your business must:
Be a small business according to SBA size standards
Be owned and operated by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
Have a proven record of success in performing similar contracts
If you meet all of the above qualifications, you can move on to the next step.
2. Register as a Small Business Concern
The next step is to register as a small business concern with the federal government. This can be done through the System for Award Management (SAM) website. In order to register, you will need to provide:
Your business name and address
A list of your products and services
Your Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)
Your tax identification number
After you have registered, you will be given a confirmation number that you can use to access your registration information.
3. Get Certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
The next step is to get your business certified as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE). To do this, you will need to submit an application to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA will review your application and determine whether or not your business qualifies as a DBE. If you are approved, you will be given a DBE certification number that you can use to access your certification information.
4. Find Out If There Are Set-Asides for Your Industry
The next step is to find out if there are any set-asides for your industry. A set-aside is a contract that is set aside for small businesses, including DBEs. You can search for set-asides on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
5. Bid on Set-Aside Contracts
Once you have found a set-aside contract that you are interested in, the next step is to bid on the contract. To do this, you will need to submit a proposal to the government agency that is responsible for the contract. The agency will review your proposal and determine whether or not you are the best-qualified bidder for the contract.
6. Be Prepared to Meet Specific Contract Requirements
If you are awarded a set-aside contract, you will need to be prepared to meet specific contract requirements. These requirements may include:
Completing the work within a certain timeframe
Meeting certain quality standards
Providing progress reports to the government agency
Failure to meet these requirements can result in the termination of your contract.
7. Get Paid for Your Work
Once you have completed the work required under your set-aside contract, the next step is to get paid for your work. You will need to submit an invoice to the government agency that awarded you the contract. The agency will review your invoice and determine the amount that you are owed. The agency will then issue a payment to you for the work that you have completed.
8. Renew Your Certification
If you want to continue doing business with the government, you will need to renew your certification as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE). To do this, you will need to submit an application to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA will review your application and determine whether or not your business still qualifies as a DBE. If you are approved, you will be given a new DBE certification number that you can use to access your certification information.
9. Repeat Steps 4-8
The final step is to repeat steps 4 through 8 until your contract expires or is terminated. Once your contract expires, you will need to find a new set-aside contract to bid on. If your contract is terminated, you may be able to appeal the decision or reapply for the contract.
By following these steps, you can qualify for government set-aside contracts and get paid for your work.
If you're looking for more strategies to help you get into government contracting or start making more money in this area, we can help! Contact us today.