By Lynn Louis, KY APEX Accelerator Procurement Consultant
This article was originally published in our monthly KY APEX Accelerator Newsletter. If you have any questions about this topic, your KY APEX Accelerator consultant is here to help! Not a client? Sign up here.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Should I certify my business?” If so, you’re not alone! Socioeconomic certifications are a strategic way to help increase your company’s visibility and add another valuable tool to your business toolkit. However, do you know where to begin the process or what steps to take?
Completing the comprehensive certification process can be an intense and stressful endeavor, but preparing for the process is key to ensuring a smooth and successful certification experience. Here are five easy steps that can help:
STEP 1: Review Your Certification Options
There are ten state or federal socioeconomic certification options available. Carefully review each certification’s qualification requirements to determine if you qualify. You may discover that your business qualifies for more than one certification; however, assess your company’s goals and business strategy to determine how many certifications will fit into that strategy and provide the desired benefits.
Reviewing each certification's benefits, requirements and timeline is an essential first step in considering your options and choosing the best path forward. You may apply for multiple certifications, but remember to factor in the time investment necessary to complete all certification processes. Click here to find information regarding the various socioeconomic programs available.
STEP 2: Read the Application and Instructions
Reading the application and instructions before starting the certification process is important to ensure that you understand what the application is asking and have the necessary documentation. You may find that you need additional clarification regarding the information that must be included in the application or what the instructions are asking for. In that case, it is important to gain clarification on those points before starting your application.
STEP 3: Read the Regulations or Guidelines
Federal certifications are governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), whereas guidelines or statutes generally govern state certifications. Reviewing the regulations or guidelines associated with the applicable certification is essential to ensure you fully understand what is required. Reviewing this information before applying can help you avoid mistakes impacting your certification approval. Reading the regulations or guidelines will also ensure you understand how to maintain and renew your certification if approved.
STEP 4: Gather and Review Your Documentation
After selecting the certification best suited for your company, reading the application and instructions, and reading the accompanying regulations and guidelines, it is time to gather all required documents. This time-saving strategy will eliminate the need to stop and search for and/or create the necessary documentation while completing the application. Understanding the acceptable format to submit the documentation (Microsoft Word, Excel or PDF) is key to ensuring that you will not have to resubmit documentation later in the process.
The most crucial action in this step is to review all of your documents (primarily legal and/or financial) before submitting them to confirm whether or not they align with the regulations and guidelines for the chosen certification. If you discover your documents are in need of alignment with a certain regulation or guideline, contact your KY APEX Accelerator procurement consultant to brainstorm potential solutions.
STEP 5: Submit the Application
The ultimate goal of the certification process is to submit a complete and thorough application that contains all required information and documentation at the initial time of submission. Certifying agencies may offer free workshops to review the certification process and allow applicants to ask questions; therefore, take advantage of workshop opportunities if they are available. At any time during this five-step process, your KY APEX Accelerator procurement consultant is also available to assist you. If you need help connecting with your regional consultant, you can request assistance by contacting us at email@example.com or registering as a client on our website.
Now that you know the five easy steps to preparing for a socioeconomic certification, you are prepared to answer the question, “Should I get certified?” By following these steps, you can feel confident in your ability to successfully identify and pursue the certification that best fits your business goals and needs.