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GET 8(a) OR SDB CERTIFIED IN RECORD TIME I'm sure that you've heard that getting 8(a) or SDB certified can take up to a year or more. You may have even heard that 70% of all applications are rejected, and almost every application is challenged, at least once in the process.

Why does it take so long, and why are so few applications accepted? The answer is multifold:

First, the SBA is severely understaffed and overworked, and the backlog of applications has grown significantly, with the closure of one of the three regional application evaluation centers.

Second, the guidance provided by the SBA is incomplete and flawed. By this, we mean that if you follow the instructions "to the letter", you shall certainly have your application challenged, or they will ask you for additional information, not previously disclosed to you as necessary, or you will be rejected.

Third, unlike Federal government RFP's, which demand a standard structure for organizing a proposal, the SBA currently accepts applications for evaluation, that are organized in myriad random orders, and therefore, the evaluators spend an inordinate amount of time determining whether "all of the pieces" have been provided, only because it is difficult for them to locate required data, in what amounts to a 3-4 inch stack of paper, the likely size of a typical application package.

Fourth, most challenges to your application will occur as a result of the SBA's examination of the information contained within the many enclosures (e.g., company and personal financial statements, taxes, economic/social disadvantage narratives, resumes, etc.) that you must provide as part of your application. However, the SBA doesn't provide applicants with a "clue" as to what they are looking for, within these enclosures that will jeopardize your chances for certification.

Fifth, and certainly not the least important, the SBA does not provide adequate, detailed, and timely personal, or one-on-one guidance to applicants, as they struggle to understand and complete the application process. "Just send your application to us, and we'll tell you if it's OK", or "You apply and we evaluate", are representative of the SBA's attitude to providing the informed, professional and "nitty-gritty" type of guidance needed to complete an application that will be accepted, without major issues.