A Guide to Getting Your Business

First off, what is a certified minority-owned business? Who is eligible?

A certified minority-owned business is a business that is supported by the government economically and socially. It is designed to aid minority groups in the United States by providing business solutions for those eligible and assist in distinguishing its brand identity. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 25% Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, or Native American heritage, and have proof of your minority through documentation. In addition, 51% of the company’s stock must also either be owned by its owners, managers, or operators to be considered.

What’s the big fuss, why get certified?

For one, people want to do business with minority owned companies, including the federal government, corporations, and state agencies. The reason being, departments, corporations, and companies must fulfill a certain funding percentage to minorities. Not only must a quo be met, many large companies seek to buy from minority-owned suppliers. By getting certified, you are making your business more marketable.

Secondly, having this business certification will guide you to more public and private sector programs and opportunities. Public and private firms search for minority-owned suppliers. By not getting your business certified, you are limiting your business to fewer marketing and business development resources and opportunities.

Thirdly, these businesses are important to its customers. See if you qualify and build up your support base. Be one of the businesses that contracts with the government and receive tax dollars to help your business thrive.

How can I get my small business certified? Are there more programs and perks?

If your business wants to connect with private-sector buyers, simply contact NMSDC’s (National Minority Supplier Development Council) 37 regional councils. NMSDC will provide you with a standard application process along with requested verified documents. The council has many corporate members, including Marriot and Microsoft, and connects to over 17,000 minority-owned suppliers. If you pass the certification regulations, your business may participate in an advanced training program, the Business Consortium Fund’s Working on Capital Loan Program, and many NMSDC business opportunity fairs.

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Business Development Program helps minority-owned businesses win contracts in the public sector. In order to be approved, the business must be at least two years old and demonstrate its potential for succeed through its tax returns for proof of revenue. Simply register with the Central Contractor Registration database, then follow the SBA’s instructions, and you may be eligible for free one-on-one counseling, specialized business training, and marketing assistance through the local district office. The 2008 training even included programs on developing cost proposals, government contract negotiations, and contract law and the legal aspects of owning a firm.