Here are some of the things we recommend you check and, if necessary, remedy prior to submitting. If you don't and one of the below ends up incorrectly applied (as B Lab would see it) then you are significantly increasing the risk of not making it through or obtaining best value from the process.
Double check your total number of employees - on a Full Time Equivalent basis - matches the track bracket you have been placed on (e.g. 10 - 49 , 50 - 249 people etc).
Check that you have used consistent time frames.
Operations vs Impact Business Models
On your dashboard are three scores:
- Operations - the score applied to operational questions
- N/A - the score applied to not applicable questions (this figure tells you how many points have been reallocated to other questions given they don't apply to you)
- IBMs - the score applied to Impact Business Models.
You need to be aiming for 80+ plus points for your Operations + N/A score, ie. excluding your IBM score. The IBM score you should see as a kind of bonus points that will take you to the 90s/100s plus. The only IBM nearly everyone has at submission is Mission Lock under Governance - the legal pathway. Other than this, IBMs are treated as a rarity.
B Lab will expect you to have a strong foundation. If you are relying too heavily on IBM points to get through, you are likely to be turned down. You should return to the improvement stage and raise your Operations score.
Most B Corps are going through without being awarded multiple IBMs.
Impact Business Models
There are a few sectors - such as investment - that are asked by B Lab to adopt some addenda to the BIA. In practice, these come in the form of Impact Business Models but, being addenda, are not treated in quite the same way as you go through verification.
Given the importance and rarity of IBMs, you should expect B Lab to be exceptionally diligent on them during the verification process. So, make sure you have a good case and that you don't have many of them. Any more than 3 (unless they are an addenda) and you are likely to be over estimating them.
There are a number of questions which offer "Other" as an option. It is easy sometimes (especially in the worker and community sections) to include content under "Other" and earn points for it. But also then be answering other questions in the affirmative that cover the same activities you have just given yourself points for under "Other" elsewhere. B Lab will deduct this double counting.
Make sure that if you have been using the goals section that they match the submission in terms of completion. For example, if you have a 6 month goal to be healthcare insurance but in the BIA itself you are claiming you already offer healthcare insurance then there is a discrepancy between the two.
Make sure that you have sufficient evidence for the questions you answer in the affirmative.
Make sure that you have evidence to back up all of your answers. That may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people make applications where they think they have done more work than they actually have.
Complexity & Eligibility
If you have more than one entity in the organisation, you should have gone through a scoping exercise with B Lab prior to pursuing the B Impact Assessment. It isn't too late, but we would recommend circling back to it. You may need to do multiple assessments or provide additional information. You will have to do this at some point regardless, so you might as well do it now before you waste a lot of time.
If you are a subsidiary that shares branding or governance with other subsidiaries/partner organisations then you will also need to go through a scoping exercise. B Corp is an all or nothing certification (generally speaking), so be mindful under these circumstances you are likely to be told you cannot pursue B Corp without the whole organisation doing so.
This is probably the biggest one and isn't even about the BIA. Many companies applying for B Corp only start thinking through how to engage employees with B Corp once they've submitted/certified.
This is a mistake, albeit an easy one to make given the status quo approach is to manage everything - particularly certifications - like a project.
A number B Corps talk about not having done this properly as the main mistake they made and the thing they'd change if they could do it again. Here is Douglas Lamont (CEO, Innocent Drinks) talking about this: Video - Leading The Way - Reflecting On Certification
B Corp isn't a project, it is about adopting a new lens. It is less a change in technique, more a change in worldview.
You are going to have to engage your employees with B Corp at some point - and hopefully you want to - not least because you will have to re-certify in three years and demonstrate application in the interim. This isn't about taking on additional work, it's more about timing and approach.
You will have more fun, more success and more collective commitment going forwards if you explore the B Corp question as an organisation before you submit. If you haven't given employees a chance to talk it through prior to that, the reality is that whatever you say afterwards, it doesn't belong to them: it belongs to the project team. It will take you longer to get people on board than it would otherwise.
As a side issue, it also creates a brand risk for the B Corp movement. If you have managed it like a project and the whole company hasn't started to shift its mindset, then the same style of work in most areas will remain and that may well not be a purpose led one. This is almost certainly the case if you have used B Corp to "up your game". So, unless you're already seen as the Patagonia of your sector, chances are you have work to do on this front and the earlier you do it, the better.
Shoremount can provide an audit of your B Impact Assessment prior to submission. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to succeed if you have employed a B Lab trained B Corp consultant from the start. If you haven't done that, you might find it useful (or perhaps find a peace of mind) if we look through it for you. We would look to making the minimal suggestions required to proceed through certification: we appreciate no-one wants to reach the finish line only be told to retrace their steps. We never guarantee certification.