Applying for SDMWVBE certification can become an overwhelming exercise for a small business owner. Most of us start a business with a passion for what we do … rarely with a burning desire to complete regulatory compliance forms. Because certification programs are governed by state and federal laws, the language used in the directions and on the forms themselves can be confusing and stress inducing. Last time we promised to talk about some simple steps you can take to reduce this certification induced stress.
One approach might be to collect and organize the required supporting documents before filling out the certification application. If you have these materials available, it will be easier to answer specific questions. For example:
- financial documents for calculating sales averages;
- contract samples providing start date, type of work, work location, etc.;
- equipment lists to describe what is owned or leased (make and model), when and at what cost; or
- deeds and leases to complete office or storage facility answers.
Gathering owner resumes, which must be submitted anyway, may be helpful in answering many critical questions about who does what, like:
- Marketing and sales;
- Contract negotiations;
- Estimating, or;
- Office management.
Certifying agencies care about collecting the information they need in their format … not about making it easy for you. Rather than be overwhelmed by complex and intimidating questions such as: “Has your firm (under any name) or any of its owners, Board of Directors, officers or management personnel, ever withdrawn an application for any of the programs listed above, or ever been denied certification, decertified, or debarred or suspended or otherwise had bidding privileges denied or restricted by any state or local agency, or Federal entity?” Think about this question in its parts, and preparing a list of questions for the owners and directors of the business. For example:
- Has this business operated under another name? If yes, when and what was the name?
- Has this business been denied certification? If yes, by whom and when?
- Has this business had a certification canceled by a certifier? If yes, by whom and when?
- Has this business had its bidding privileges taken away (aka debarred or suspended) by a government agency at the local, state or federal level? If yes, by whom and when?
Now, ask these questions again, but about the individual owners, directors, officers or key managers. Once you have all the answers, you can decide whether to answer with yes or no, and you’ll have the necessary details to add if the answer was yes.
Breaking down complex questions and making sure you have easy access to all required information will make it easier to complete your application form. In my mind, easier equals less stress!