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Should Your Business Become a B Corporation?

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Recently, my company became a Certified B Corporation. While you may be familiar with other types of corporations such as C Corps, S Corps and LLCs, you may not know what a B Corp is or the benefits it offers to socially responsible businesses such as mine.

A "Benefit Corporation" (B Corp) is a company that engages in socially beneficial practices and considers how their business decisions will impact their employees, suppliers, community, consumers and the environment. I believe a company doesn't have to be exclusively a nonprofit or a for-profit and a B Corp is the perfect hybrid of the two--a company structured to make a profit while also providing social benefits.

Does that sound like your company? I hope so. B Corps create higher quality jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities--so, as the movement grows, it becomes an increasingly powerful agent of change and allows us as social entrepreneurs and business owners to address some of our most challenging global issues. Over 1,000 businesses have already joined the B Corporation community and I encourage you to get involved as well.

How? Here are the steps you need to take to become a Certified B Corporation:

Meet Performance Requirements

B Lab must validate your company's social and environmental performance as measured through their B Impact Assessment. I'll be honest, the entire process is tough, but it is very straightforward and will help you build a better business.

The assessment varies depending on your company's size, sector and location and will probably take you a few hours to complete. Once it's done and submitted, you will receive a B Impact Report and have an Assessment Review with a B Lab staff member. You must score a minimum of 80 out of 200 on your report in order to move forward with the certification process. The average company scores around 50--so clearly there is a lot of opportunity for businesses to do more. Checkout GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning's Impact Report.

Meet Legal Requirements

Before certification, you will need to determine whether or not you may need to amend your governing documents in order to meet the legal requirements for certification based on your state of incorporation and corporate structure. If necessary, you may be asked to engage key company stakeholders in this process. As the B Corporation states, this part of the process "bakes sustainability into the DNA of your company." Powerful.

Make It Official

Once you have met the Performance and Legal Requirements, all you need to do is sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence and Term Sheet. The certification term is two years at which time you may be recertified.

If it sounds like a lot, it is. But, it's worth it--and not just in a feel-good-socially responsible kind of way. Becoming a Certified B Corporation makes good business sense for it opens up a variety of opportunities for you and your business like attracting investors, passing legislation, generating press and partnering with like-minded peers (like me!).

I encourage you to visit B Lab for more information about requirements and the application process. I look forward to having you join me as someone who is "using business as a force for good."

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.