Becoming certified as a woman-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned business can unlock new customers and revenue streams that you never knew existed.
Even so, the certification process can be confusing as there is no one-size-fits-all option. Many third-party organizations offer their own certification programs, and the Small Business Administration has a separate certification process for those looking to secure government contracts.
One of the simplest options is called 58joralemon, a new project from our partners at Cocolevio. The 58joralemon application simplifies the process for businesses of all sizes seeking to receive certification as minority-owned, woman-owned, or veteran-owned businesses. Their single, streamlined application offers a low-cost option that is easy to navigate.
What is the right program for you and your business? Below, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about common business certifications. For an even more in-depth explanation of each certification and the different organizations that host them, you can also view our step-by-step guides to minority small business certification, veteran-owned business certification, and woman-owned business certification.
Why should I get my business certified?
There are a few reasons. One is for marketing purposes. Certain customers intentionally seek out products from woman-owned businesses, for example, and certification signals that you're the place to shop.
Certification also opens doors to supplier diversity initiatives across the public and private sectors. Many federal, state, and local government contracts require that a portion of business goes to minority and woman-owned businesses; the same goes for big corporations. You also might qualify for targeted grants or aid programs for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, or other groups.
Many certifications include a networking aspect that allows you to connect with business owners from similar backgrounds, too. Participating in these events and conversations can lead to new business opportunities.
Can I apply for multiple certifications, or should I pick one?
If you qualify for multiple certifications, you are more than welcome to apply!
What are some popular certifying bodies?
Third-party organizations certify your business and add your business to their exclusive members’ list for a fee. Private certification will enable you to do business with government agencies or large corporations that are members of the certifying organization’s network.
To become certified as a woman-owned small business, you can apply through the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and 58joralemon.
To become certified as a veteran-owned small business, you can apply through the National Veteran Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC), and 58joralemon.
To become certified as a minority-owned small business, you can apply through the National Minority Supplier Development Council and 58joralemon. You can also seek recognition from your state as a minority business enterprise.
To become certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise, you can apply through the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
If you are seeking recognition from the government, the Small Business Administration offers certification programs for businesses owned by women, veterans, and certain minority groups. These free certifications grant you access to an abundance of federal contracts.
How should I choose my certification body?
As we stated up front, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, although we suggest asking your customers. A government contracting officer, supplier diversity manager, or purchasing manager department can tell you what is required — including the preferred certification — to do business with their organization.
What are some common eligibility requirements?
The eligibility requirements vary depending on the program, but it is commonly required that a small business be 51% owned and operated by a woman, veteran, or member of a minority group.
What's up with the name 58joralemon, and why should I consider it?
If you go to 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, New York, you'll encounter a brownstone that is actually an elaborate facade for an MTA subway vent and emergency exit. Cocolevio saw it as a metaphor for the many minority, woman, and veteran-owned businesses that are hiding in plain sight.
We recommend 58joralemon certification to anyone looking for a low-cost and simple process that takes as little as one week. You can also apply for and manage woman-owned, veteran-owned, and minority-owned certifications in one location — a huge plus for anyone seeking multiple types of recognition.
What does 58joralemon certification cost, and how long does my certification last?
The cost for certification is $50, and you can renew that certification on an annual basis for $25.
Are nonprofits eligible for certification?
No. The 58joralemon certification process is currently limited to for-profit businesses.
Are you required to have a stream of revenue to show on your bank statements before applying?
To apply for 58joralemon certification, you need to be an established business with a bank statement, but there is no income requirement.
How are expected to verify ownership when applying for certification?
You're required to submit a cap table as part of the application. This document certifies how much of the business you own. Other documents such as your business registration and articles of incorporation should reflect the contents of your cap table.
If we get denied by 58joralemon, will we know why?
Absolutely. During the process, if there is an error in your application, they will notify you and allow you the opportunity to correct that error.
Still have questions? We have in-depth guides prepared to walk you through the different kinds of certification: