an asset,” says Handy, whose company was mentored for one year by Lockheed Martin. “It’s been very helpful to us with support services, contracting and even legal services.” Handy says the program is one of the easiest routes to developing relationships with large companies. In addition, the SBA proposed new rules last year that would enable 8(a) graduates and companies further along in the program to mentor newer entrants.
To graduate from the 8(a) program, entrepreneurs must look at the big picture and reevaluate their operations. “Once they get a big contract, a lot of companies sit back and exhale, instead of using it as an incentive to go after more,” says Handy. “Keep your eye on the prize and always let the prize be that next contract.”
To apply for participation in the SBA 8(a) program, obtain an application at the SBA Washington District Office at 1110 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 900 (P.O. Box 34500), Washington, D.C. 20043-4500. Or call 202-606-4000, ext. 452.