Is Your Business Ready to Become a Certified B Corp? Ask These 3 Questions

Questions for a Certified B Corp

Recently, nonprofit organization B Lab shared a quick note about B Corporation Certification Requirements on their website. The note mentions that B Lab is currently experiencing “overwhelming interest” in B Corp Certification. The review process for Certified B Corps is now expected to take anywhere between 6 to 10 months to complete.

Certified B Corporations are rising in popularity with entrepreneurs—and for good reason. Forming a Certified B Corp means starting a new kind of business. It’s an entity that balances purpose and profit. B Corporations are legally obligated to consider the impact their decisions have on all stakeholders. This includes customers, suppliers, community, workers, and the environment. Being a B Corp means using business as a force for good. There are several famous B Corps, like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia, that are paving the way forward to B the Change.

However, committing to a B Corp Certification is a big decision. It may or may not be a fit for your business, depending on your offerings and services. Are you trying to figure out if your business is ready for a Certified B Corp? Find out by asking these questions.

1. Am I committed to a social mission?

A B Corporation is a business that strives to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The business will earn a profit, but it will also be publicly transparent, accountable in its balance for profit and purpose, and work to solve the most challenging problems in society.

The social mission you choose to pursue is ultimately going to be one that speaks to you, your business, and its values. This can mean anything from creating more diverse teams to committing to sustainable practices and creating an authentic brand experience that make customers feel good. If you can clearly define your “why” for B Corp Certification, run with it. If not, look to your mission and values statement as a guide to figuring out or refining the social mission your B Corp will work towards.

2. Are all members/owners of the business in favor of a B Corporation?

Let’s say you have already incorporated your business as a different entity like a corporation or LLC. An LLC’s owners are referred to as members while a corporation’s are referred to as owners.

You would not be able to obtain Certification simply by suggesting that the entity pivot to it. In a corporation, the board of directors and investors would first need to discuss certifying as a B Corp. The same is true of the members in an LLC. Plans to obtain B Corp Certification would need to be discussed in advance because it would mean changes for the business. The owners/members would also need to vote on the decision. The majority in favor would allow the business to pursue B Corporation Certification. However, if enough owners/members vote against the decision then the company would remain at its present entity.

3. Will my business be able to pass the B Impact Assessment?

The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free, credible tool. A business may use it to measure its impact on its workers, community, environment, and customers.

In order to certify as a B Corporation, a business must take the full impact report. This assessment takes 2-3 hours to complete and consists of 200 questions.

What kinds of questions can businesses anticipate answering? According to B Lab, questions are split into two categories.

  • Operations. This covers the company’s daily activities.
  • Impact Business Models. This awards additional points for business models that are designed to create positive impact.

Additionally, BIA asks questions about a company’s governance structure and accountability. Passing the BIA requires a verified total score of 80 across all impact areas.

Feel a little worried you might not initially pass the BIA? The good news is that BIA also offers a shorter version of the assessment. You may take the quick snapshot, which is 30 minutes long. Afterwards, you may be able to compare your answers to the results of thousands of other businesses. This allows you to discover what your business excels at and examine the practices it may be able to improve on.

Once you’ve taken the quick snapshot and are able to make the necessary improvements, you’ll feel all the more ready to take the full impact report—and pass the BIA for a chance to “B the Change” as a Certified B Corp.

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.