Curious About B?

BestFORtheWorld

Do you have to abandon profit or sound business practice to provide material benefit to society and the environment? No. Indeed, you have new options for reorienting what works to become something better.

A new era is dawning in business.

A little-known yet significant change is taking hold in the United States – and abroad – to provide legal structure for sustainable, for-profit enterprise. In response to the growing need for integrated solutions to systemic problems, legal and business leaders are creating anew. B is for Benefit.

Leaders of business ventures large and small, start-up and long-standing can now (re)incorporate with an expanded purpose. Leaders for sustainable enterprise have the option of (re)structuring their organization as a B-Corp.

According to B Lab's 2012 B Corporation Annual Report:

...certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economy. Success in the 21st century means achieving high growth and high impact. It means making money and a difference.
BestFORtheWorld

Do you have to abandon profit or sound business practice to provide material benefit to society and the environment? No. Indeed, you have new options for reorienting what works to become something better.

Try this on. You're a business founder or executive. The point of offering what you do is to “make a difference” while also making a living. You are choosing mission-driven business with a conscience. How do you do that and not get swept up in the single-minded focus of optimizing profit or shareholder value? How do you embed your values into your organizational culture so they vibrantly take root and survive you as a legacy? How do you communicate and interact with your people - your co-creators, funders, employees, customers, larger community - so they support your being in business for the good?

A new era is dawning in business.

A little-known yet significant change is taking hold in the United States – and abroad – to provide legal structure for sustainable, for-profit enterprise. In response to the growing need for integrated solutions to systemic problems, legal and business leaders are creating anew. B is for Benefit.

Leaders of business ventures large and small, start-up and long-standing can now (re)incorporate with an expanded purpose. Leaders for sustainable enterprise have the option of (re)structuring their organization as a Benefit Corporation or B-Corp.

According to B Lab's 2012 B Corporation Annual Report:

...certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economy. Success in the 21st century means achieving high growth and high impact. It means making money and a difference.

19Passed

To date, at least 19 U.S. states have passed B-corp legislation. If you are incorporated in California, Nevada or Delaware, for example, you now have the B-corp option. Legislation details vary by state. Essentially, with B-corp status you voluntarily commit to fulfill standards of transparency about the fiscal, social and environmental impact of operating, growing and thriving as a company.

Consider what this sets in motion. The triple bottom line – profit, people and planet – comes of age in the form of “benefit.” These new B-corp laws essentially provide legitimacy and structure for business with conscience. It could change what is possible for your bottom line, too. How could “benefit” position you as a leader in the marketplace, in your organizational culture and as a matter of legacy? You can lead for a better future.

Now, your business doesn't have to be a B-Corp to provide benefit or strive for sustainability and beyond. But something happens when you commit. I'm mindful of a quote from Ari Weinzweig (author of A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Building a Great Business):

To state the nearly obvious, staying in business does suppose that we will be profitable, but that alone isn't really what it means to me to be sustainable. In the old model of business, success looks like a hot poker player who hits it big, sweeps up all his chips, cashes out, and goes home while he's on top. In our case, by contrast, the point is to keep playing, and, in the process, to create wins for all the players at once while the pool gets ever-bigger and ever-more rewarding for all involved. ...inevitably we'll fall short in any number of ways in our efforts to make this happen. But if we don't commit to making it a reality, it's safe to say that we're not even going to get close.

What is your commitment to building your business for greater benefit?

In 2014, I will be exploring questions about this with business leaders. Watch this space! And if you’re already on board about moving towards “benefit” and want support from the perspective of beneficial leadership practices and organizational culture, let's talk soon! Together, we can co-author a future for good - for benefit.

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