What small businesses can learn from our B-Corp journey

B-Corp, B Corporation

Embarking on our journey to become a B-Corp felt like a natural thing to do because we believe in the concept of the triple bottom line: financial, people and sustainability. We want to be a part of creating a new economy and redefine the way people perceive success. We believe purpose and profit go hand in hand.

We started preparing for B-Corp a month after calculating our carbon emissions for the entire business, so we better understood the impact of our business and to find pathways to reduce our emissions. We chose to offset those emissions using Gold Standard carbon credits – which are as good as their name entails today – via Climate Partner, the consultancy that verified our emissions. Going through this process helped us answer questions on the B-Corp Impact Assessment questionnaires.

But B-Corp is also focused on social impact as well as environmental sustainability. The Impact Assessment can be daunting at first because it covers so much ground and asks about so many policies, which you may or may not have already. We had thought about some of these policies in the past but in the day-to-day running of the business, we had not had time to progress all of them. Going through B-Corp created the opportunity we needed to move them forward.

And so, we did. We worked through the list of all the policies, prioritising the low hanging fruit before tackling the chunkier ones. To help us through this process we hired the help of a young sustainability consultancy, called Ecofye, whose team helped us navigate the complexities, draft policies, and ensure we were doing things right. Hiring a consultancy is definitely something that helped us and is something we would recommend to other small businesses going through this process. Our Articles of Association (rules for running the company) were also changed, committing the directors to consider the interests of employees, suppliers, customers, the community and the environment alongside the best interests of the members.

We worked on B-Corp for about two months. It was at the peak of the first wave of lockdown, when things went completely mad for us. We completed our application on 30 June 2020. It used to take 6 months from start to finish. It now takes 6 months to get assigned an analyst to review your application. We’re 10 months in and still in the process to get certified.

Despite the delays, it’s great to see other businesses are also completing the process of becoming B-Corp certified. The B assessment questionnaire helps small businesses improve their practices in areas such as hiring, choosing suppliers, HR and sustainability. B-Corp also positions businesses as ones for the future, and especially with younger consumers that spend more time looking into whether brands walk the walk.

We think it is important for small business to get their B Corp certification as B-Corp supports companies’ commitments to building their businesses as a force for good, as well as for profit. It communicates a companies’ values which helps recruit people with aligned values, so as the business grows, its values can be maintained.

Our only advice for other small businesses would be to file your application as soon as possible! The route to becoming certified is now twice as long as it was a year ago. Start working on it now and submit as soon as you can to enter the BLab pipeline. It could take a year or more. If you’re short on time, outsource. Get support from consultancies to help you navigate the whole process and get you ready to submit sooner than later. Communicate internally about what B-Corp means so your team can rally behind it and feel proud