A Little History: In the past, SDMWVBEs (Small, Disadvantaged/Disabled, Minority, Women, or Veteran Business Enterprises) were certified on faith that owners provided truthful information on application forms and that they really, actually owned and operated their own businesses. Unfortunately, in the early days there was a fair amount of fraud, so the certification process itself has become more stringent and site visits are now the norm. This way, it is well documented that the business owner is, in fact, eligible for certification. Unfortunately, it also means that business owners often wonder what’s going to happen at the site visit. So, based on our 20+ certifications that came with site visits (in person or by phone), we thought we’d share a list about what to expect:
Have your ID handy, to prove you are you!
The visitor will probably note or ask:
- Is your business name publicly displayed (sign on building, etc?)
- Is the firm home based or in an office?
- Do you share space with any other firms? (If so, who with & what is the primary business of all firms sharing space & are you doing business with any of the firms sharing space?)
Like conversational essay questions, you’ll likely be asked to talk about the history and ownership of your business:
- What are the business’s primary goods and services (matching your NAICS codes)?
- How long in business?
- How did you get involved in the business?
- When did you get involved in the business?
- Why did you start/buy your own business?
- Why do you want to certify?
- What is your ownership percent?
- When did you take majority control?
- Who are the other owners and what percent do they own/vote?
- How did you become qualified to run the business?
- When you started up, what financial or other resources did you contribute? Did others make contributions?
And you will probably be asked to talk about current business issues:
- Whether the owners owe the business money or vice versa?
- The typical daily operations of your business.
- Your duties and responsibilities as owner.
- How decisions are made if you’re not around?
- Who makes final decisions, especially related to governance, control and financial issues?
- How do you acquire new business?
- Who are your top three customers?
- How much time do you work in/on your business? On what kind of schedule?
- Do you work for, own or manage another business?
- Number of employees and what type of hiring/firing processes you have.
- Is the primary owner the most highly paid, and if not, why?
- The plans you have for your business’s future.
Your site visitor will likely want to tour your business facility. The visitor is likely interested to know:
- Is the facility of the sort that can deliver your business’s goods or services?
- Are you knowledgeable about the facility and any major equipment/department areas?
See, not so tough after all!