Summary of Size Standards


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. 

There is an SBA small business size standard for every private sector industry 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 it is not greater than the size standard indicated. 


Industry Group
Size Standard
Manufacturing 500 employees
Wholesale Trade 100 employees
Agriculture $750,000
Retail Trade $6.5 million
General & Heavy Construction (except Dredging) $31 million
Dredging $18.5 million
Special Trade Contractors $13 million
Travel Agencies $3.5 million (commissions & other income)
Business and Personal Services
$6.5 million

Architectural, Engineering, Surveying, and Mapping Services

$4.5 million

Dry Cleaning and Carpet Cleaning Services

$4.5 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.  SBA has a Table of Size Standards on its web site.

Don't know the NAICS code?  Search for NAICS industries on the U.S.  Bureau of the Census web site. 

For Federal contracting, a small business must not exceed the size standard stated in the solicitation.  The contracting officer designates the size standard of the procurement by selecting the size standards 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 or our "Guide to SBA's Definitions of Size Standards. "

For further information, you may write or call the Office of Size Standards. 

Office of Size Standards
U.S.  Small Business Administration
409 3rd St.  , SW, Washington, DC 20416

Phone: (202) 205-6618
Fax: (202) 205-6390