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Criteria for Small Business Classification

A small business is one that:

  1. is organized for profit;
  2. has a place of business in the United States;
  3. makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy by paying taxes or using American products, materials or labor; and,
  4. does not exceed the numerical size standard for its industry.

The business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or any other legal form.

Central Contractor Registration has aligned its classification standard with the official classification from Small Business Administrations guidelines. SBA has a Size Standard for all private sector industries in the U.S. economy. SBA uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to identify the industries.

Size Standards (usually stated in number of employees or average annual receipts) represent the largest size that a business (including its subsidiaries and affiliates) may be to remain classified as a small business for SBA's programs and for Federal contracting programs.

SBA has several general Size Standards. A business in one of the following industry groups is small if its size is not greater than:

Industry Group Size Standard
Manufacturing 500 employees
Wholesale Trade 100 employees
Agriculture $750,000
Retail Trade $6 million
General & Heavy Construction
(Except Dredging)
$28.5 million
Dredging $17.0 million
Special Trade Contractors $12.0 million
Travel Agencies $3 million (Commissions and other income)
Business and Personal Services
Architectural, Engineering,
Surveying, and Mapping

Dry-cleaning and Carpet Cleaning Services
$6.0 million

$4.0 million
$4.0 million

If the size of a business exceeds the size standard for its overall industry group, it may still be a small business for the specific NAICS industry in that group. Some industries have higher size standards than the general one for the industry group. A Table of Size Standards by NAICS industry is on SBA's Size Standards Web Page at www.sba.gov/size.

Don't know the NAICS code? SBA's Size Standards web page contains a key word search routine to assist you, or you may search for NAICS industries on the U.S. Bureau of the Census' web site at http://www.census.gov/naics.

For Federal contracting, a small business must meet the size standard stated in the solicitation. The contracting officer designates the size standard of the procurement by selecting the size standard established for the NAICS industry that best describes the principle purpose of the procurement.

Need more information on size standards? Please read the Small Business Size Regulations (13 CFR Part 121), or our Guide to SBA's Size Standards. These are available at: www.sba.gov/size. Or you may contact the Office of Size Standards at (202) 205-6618 or at sizestandard@sba.gov.