More Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need to hire a consultant to prepare my 8(a) application?
No, but you really should. We work with a number of small, minority business certification programs. For some programs we advise that its not necessary to retain a consultant or attorney because taking the time to read the instructions is enough. However, the 8(a) program is different. If you only follow the directions and instructions that the SBA provides, your application will be incomplete. We have received calls from individuals who are in their second year of applying for the 8a program! This is because not only are the instructions provided are incomplete, so are the checklists that SBA provides. If you prepare your application without the benefit of someone who knows and understands the program, you won’t know what information you are missing until after you’ve turned in your application. You will receive a letter from the SBA denying your application and detailing what additional information they require. Even if you provide everything requested in the letter it does not prevent SBA from requesting more information. The cycle of receiving letters from SBA and responding to those letters can add months and sometimes years to your application process.
Why should I hire DBE Direct to prepare my 8(a) Business Development Program Application?
We urge anyone who calls or emails us to shop around. We believe that after you’ve done your research, you will choose us to prepare your 8(a) application. There are 12 good reasons why you should hire us.
We are a law firm. We understand the 8(a) program not only from the perspective of one who prepares applications but also as a firm that individuals turn to when things go wrong. Because we know what can go wrong we can help you avoid those pitfalls in the application process.
Avoid fraud. The 8(a) certification preparation industry is unregulated. There are many reputable companies in the industry. But there are also unscrupulous individuals who are more than willing to take advantage of you. We hear from individuals all of the time who have paid thousands to have their application prepared and who received little or nothing in return. As members of the Florida and D.C. Bar Associations we are regulated and insured. We will not and cannot promise to provide a service that we can’t deliver.
Avoid fraud, part II. The preparation of your 8(a) application requires you to provide confidential information about you and your business. Who has access to that information? How it is stored? What safeguards are in place to safeguard your information? What recourse do you have if your information is lost or stolen? We are first and foremost a law firm. We routinely handle our clients’ most confidential matters every day. We have all of the insurance and other measure utilized by a typical law firm to ensure the safety of your confidential information. Moreover, at DBE Direct, your application is prepared by an attorney. From the moment you speak to us, the attorney-client privilege applies. We cannot divulge any information about your or your company to anyone without your approval. When your application is complete and you have been accepted into the program, all of your information including passwords and copies of documents are either returned to you or destroyed.
If we determine during your application process that additional documents are required, we can prepare them. We don’t supply generic forms that you fill out. We prepare your Bylaws, Operating Agreements, etc. not only to meet your business needs but to meet SBA requirements. A non-lawyer should never prepare these important legal documents for you since they have legal implications beyond the 8(a) program.
Once you’ve obtained your certification, we can continue to help you. We are often retained by clients to assist them in preparation of bid documents, joint venture agreements, teaming agreements, mentor-protégé agreements, business development and other services. Once we know and understand your business we will provide you with leads to government contracts, help you team with other clients and generally help you grow your business. Our goal is always to assist you in developing a successful and profitable business with the hope of continuing to provide you with legal services as your business grows.
Even if you don’t qualify or are not prepared to apply for the 8(a) program, we are familiar with other federal, state, local and private programs for small, minority and women owned business that can help you grow your business.
Unfortunately, things can wrong. We can represent you when they do. After you obtain certification, you may become involved in a bid protest, debarment procedures, or size challenge. You become aware of fraud by a competitor. In all of those instances, we can help.
We can help you no matter what state you live in. Where we can’t assist you because of local bar rules, we have contacts with other lawyers who can assist us in representing you.
We are accessible. When you call or email us, you will speak to an attorney or an attorney will return your call or email within 24 hours or less.
Our prices are competitive. We recognize that there are less expensive options for the preparation of your 8(a) application. In fact, we often urge potential clients to shop around. Other firms often post their rates on the internet which can give you an idea of what it will cost you to prepare your application. We believe that our fees reflect the amount work we perform on your behalf and which fairly compensates us for the value we deliver.
What is your fee for preparing my 8(a) application?
This is usually the first question that we are asked when potential clients reach out to us. (Sometimes it’s the only question!) We don’t publish our rates online for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason is that each client is different and each situation is different. A client who needs a two-year waiver, for example, is going to be billed more than a client who does not. We are available to consult with any potential client via email or telephone to discuss their particular situation. Consultations are usually 15 minutes. If we are asked to give advice about a client’s particular situation or we run over the allotted time we ask for a small fee which is deducted from any fees when you retain us. To get an idea of what the preparation of an 8(a) application can cost you, search the internet. There are many companies who advertise their rates on the web. Just be careful. Often the fees quoted on the internet are not what you actually pay.
What if my 8(a) application is denied?
Your 8(a) application can be denied for countless reasons – - even if you hire a consultant. The letter you receive from the SBA will tell you the reason you were denied, what actions to take or what additional documents you must provide if you disagree with the denial. It is very important at this point to get help. If you prepared the application yourself, it is time to consider retaining someone to assist you. If you retained a consultant to prepare your package they should be able to help you decide what to do next. If they are unable or unwilling to assist you, call or email us. We are often retained at this stage of the process by individuals who self-prepared their application as well as those who hired consultants.
What you do after you receive your denial letter can be the difference between getting admitted into the program or having to wait a year to reapply. As attorneys, we are familiar not only with the rules and regulations but also the case law that governs the 8(a) program. If you ultimately end up appealing the SBA’s decision to deny your application, the administrative judge will limit his or her decision to only the documents in the “record” (the documents you’ve provided to the SBA). At the appellate stage, it is almost impossible to introduce new evidence. Therefore, it is very, very important that you retain someone (like us) who understands the evidence required to meet the standards to help you prepare your response to your denial letter. When we prepare your response, we not only think about what the SBA is asking but also what we need to provide so that you are in a position later on to win your appeal.