When thinking about the legal structure for your business, you might be familiar with LLCs, Partnerships, Sole Proprietor, C corporations or S corporations. Perhaps recently though you have heard about Certified B-Corps or benefit corporations. Doesn’t ring a bell? How about company names like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and New Belgium Brewing? They are all Certified B Corporations. So, what is a Certified B Corporation?
B Lab is a certifying organization that uses the label Certified B Corporation as their stamp of approval. (This is similar in many ways to getting Fair Trade Certified.) According to B Lab’s website, “Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.”
In November 2017, Wisconsin became the 34th state to enact benefit corporation legislation. While is not the same as B Lab’s certification, it does require the company to have more focus on public impact. Specifically, it requires directors and officers to consider the benefits to the public in addition to the profitability in determining the corporation’s actions.
Why should you care? Well that all depends on your brand and the values your company embodies. You are not just selling products and services. Your company and brand are tied up with certain sets of values, attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyles that your customers want. If your customers desire the values set out by B Lab or by the benefit corporation in general, you may want to evaluate adding this to your company’s ethos.
Entrepreneur Coach, BizStarts
Brent is an Entrepreneur Coach with BizStarts and has started and been part of many businesses, both for profit and non-profit, in his 25 years of professional experience.