Applying to become a B Corp may seem daunting at first if you are a small business. However, many small businesses have undergone the certification process. To decide if applying is right for you, consider the messaging, timeline, costs and benefits of becoming a certified B Corp.
To Start, What is a B Corp?
B Corp stands for “benefit corporation” and is a type of legal identity for a company certified by B Lab as voluntarily meeting specific standards of environmental and social performance, transparency, and accountability. According to B Corp’s website;
“B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.”B Lab’s website
Becoming a B Corp is completely voluntary, so you should determine if this process is right for your company. Because B Corporations demonstrate high social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency your business will be required to uphold similar standards. B Lab’s messaging is centered around the desire to assist in the creation of an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. Decide first if your company believes in B Lab’s messaging and seeks to uphold ethical and sustainable standards. This could include employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices and input materials. If all of this aligns with your company’s values then this may be the right fit for you. You can start by checking if the application process is available in your state.
The B Corp certification timeline varies for every business depending on target deadlines, marketing factors, how many resources you put into the process and many other objectives. Overall, certification can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months. You can also choose to expedite the process and apply as soon as you pass the 80-point minimum for the impact assessment. Or, you may choose to delay the certification to maximize your company’s impact assessment score. First, look over a guide of the B Corp certification process for small businesses and determine a timeline best suited for you and your company. This guide includes detailed information regarding the requirements of becoming a B Corp in terms of transparency, performance and legal aspects. Additionally, it goes over timing, what you will need for each area within the B impact assessment, an overview of the 11-step process for certification and frequently asked questions.
Although the application process begins with completing the free and confidential B Impact Assessment, certified B Corporations pay annual certification fees scaled according to revenue. These fees license companies to use intellectual property, such as the B Corp logo. In addition to annual fees, B Corps are required to renew their certification either every three years or after experiencing a change of control or initial public offering. As fees vary by region and are subject to additional costs, visit your local B Lab website for more detailed information.
Becoming a B Corp ultimately encourages social responsibility. Since consumers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental impacts, many seek to buy from companies that are sustainable and make positive social efforts. As a certified B Corp, your business is held accountable for social and environmental responsibility. By adhering to B Corp standards, your company’s practices are transparent, allowing consumers to see the operation of companies they support. Likewise, the certification process can help your company identify and resolve wasteful spending.
Your company may also save money in the long run as a B Corp. Once certified, a business has access to B Corp community data. This provides access to the most cost-effective means of production in order to be sustainable. Overall, B Corp certification aids in attracting like-minded customers and potentially saving costs.
There are various small businesses out there that have undergone the process of becoming a B Corporation. Let’s take a look at a few.
Greyston Bakery is a B Corporation founded in Riverdale, New York best known for its brownies. They utilize quality ingredients without preservatives as they uphold the belief that “purity and freshness of food marks the highest standard.”
Klean Kanteen is a family-owned B Corp operating out of Chico, CA. This company focuses on inspiring others to lead healthy and happy lives. They combat single-use culture through the sale of reusable, durable and BPA-free products including cups, tumblers, lunch boxes and more.
Many small businesses like these have completed the B Corp certification process and operate by upholding ethical and sustainable practices.
If you decide that becoming a B Corp is not right for you or you simply want to be a part of more sustainability programs, you can find other programs helping sustainability and social justice efforts. 1% for the Planet is a program representing a global network of businesses, individuals and organizations dedicated to tackling environmental issues. American Forests is works with governments, business leaders and people on the ground to implement solutions to combat climate change-related issues. If you’re looking to have an impact and make your business more sustainable, there are various programs for your small business to participate in. Whether you decide that becoming a B Corp is the direction you want, you can start now to reduce your waste, water and carbon footprint with small steps that make a big change.