Becoming 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 certification.

To start, what is a B Corporation? B Corp stands for “benefit corporation”. This 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.

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Messaging

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B Corp status could help you attract more value-driven customers

Becoming a B Corporation is completely voluntary. So, it is important to 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 centers around the desire to assist in the creation of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. First, decide if your company believes in B Lab’s messaging and seeks to uphold ethical and sustainable standards. This could include standards like employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices and input materials. If all of this aligns with your company’s values then becoming a B Corporation may be right for you. You can start by checking if the application process is available in your state.

Timeline

The B Corp certification timeline varies for every business depending on target deadlines, marketing factors, how many resources are put into the process alone and many other objectives. Overall, certification can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months. Some businesses may choose to expedite the process and apply as soon as they pass the 80-point minimum for the impact assessment. Others may choose to delay the certification to maximize their company’s impact assessment score.

It is best to first look over a guide of the B Corp certification process for small businesses. You’ll be able to determine a timeline best suited for you and your company. This guide includes detailed information regarding the requirements of becoming a B Corporation such as transparency, performance and legal aspects. It also goes over timing, what you will need for each area within the assessment, an overview of the 11-step process and frequently asked questions.B Corp Cost

Although the application process begins by completing the free and confidential B Impact Assessment, certified B Corporations pay annual scaled certification fees. These fees license companies to use intellectual property, such as the B Corp logo. In addition to annual fees, B Corps must renew their certification either every three years or after experiencing a change of control or initial public offering. Fees vary by region and are subject to additional costs. Be sure to visit your local B Lab website for more detailed information.

Benefits

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What are some ways your small business could work towards sustainability?

Becoming a B Corporation 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 their standards, you make your company’s practices transparent. This enables consumers to see the operation of companies they support. Likewise, the certification process’ 80-point minimum 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.

Small Business B Corps in Action

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

Greyston Bakery is a B Corporation founded in Riverdale, New York best known for their brownies. They utilize quality ingredients without preservatives. Greyston upholds the belief that “purity and freshness of food mark the highest standard.”

Klean Kanteen

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 and much more. Many small businesses like these have completed the B Corp certification process and operate by upholding ethical and sustainable practices.

Additional Programs

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Is becoming a B Corp right for you?

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 select other programs dedicated to helping sustainability and social justice efforts. 1% for the Planet is a program representing a global network of businesses, individuals and organizations. They are dedicated to tackling environmental issues. American Forests is another program working with governments, business leaders and people on the ground. They work 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 to try. Whether you decide that becoming a B Corp is what you want, you can start now with a few simple tips. Your efforts to reduce your waste, water and carbon footprint are small steps that make a big change.