What is a B Corp?

What is a B Corp?

March is B Corp month, but what does that mean, and what exactly is a B Corp? We’ve broken it down so you can find out all about a new breed of companies working for more than profit – Simply Business included.

What is a B Corporation?

B Corp certification is a way to demonstrate that you value society and the environment as a business. This not only helps you with attracting more customers, recruitment and retaining staff, research shows it can also boost performance and help your businesses grow.

With customers increasingly looking for sustainable, ethical brands – online supermarkets like Ocado and Waitrose have even introduced ‘virtual aisles’ dedicated to B Corp groceries – now might be an excellent time to learn more about B Corp and if it relates to your business goals.

Since the first set of businesses achieved B Corp certification in 2007, there are now over 8,000 B Corps worldwide. This represents around 765,000 employees in 96 countries and more than 160 industries.

B Corp meaning – explained

The B in B Corp is open to interpretation. It was originally derived from “benefit corporation”, a type of US corporate structure, but B Corp means many things to many people.

We spoke to Kate Sandle, Community Manager for B Corp UK, whose favourite interpretation of B Corp comes from Ghandi – “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

She also likes that the B can mean “better” – so “better corporation” – which is what companies with B Corp status are aiming to be.

So what does that mean in practice? Well, B Corp companies strive not only for profits, but for the betterment of the world around them. This includes their employees and their customers, as well as society at large and the environment – both locally and globally.

B Corps are transparent about their operating practices and are held to a high standard of legal accountability. Companies have to be recertified every three years, and if they fail to meet the set criteria, they lose their B Corp status. Not only that, but the criteria are dynamic, making sure that B Corps are always moving with the times and are on the cutting edge of what “good” looks like in the current world.

Flower shop owner writing in notebook


How do you become a B Corp?

To get your B Corp certification, you have to be assessed by B Lab and meet the required standards. There are three steps to the process:

  1. Complete the B Corp Impact Assessment. You’ll need to score at least 80 out of a maximum 200
  2. Make sure you meet the legal requirements and work on what amendments you can make if you don’t currently
  3. Sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence and Term Sheet, making your status official

The B Corp accreditation is broken down in five key sections:

  • workers
  • governance
  • environment
  • community
  • customer

Businesses that apply need to answer over 200 questions that are tailored to their size, industry, and location.

Who can become a B Corp?

Any for-profit business can become a B Corp, no matter its size, so long as it’s been operating for at least 12 months.

If you’re a new startup or smaller business, but you want to demonstrate your commitment to society and the environment, you can earn B Corp Pending status.

The B Impact Assessment requires data from the last 12 months, so you’ll have to wait until you’re a year old for full status. In the meantime, you can demonstrate your commitment to being a socially responsible business.

Sole traders aren’t eligible for pending status though, so you’ll need to wait until you have 12 months of business to apply for full B Corp certification.

With more and more consumers looking for businesses that are doing their bit for the planet, becoming a B Corp can be another way to show your vision and values as a business and also be used as part of your marketing strategy.

B Corp certification – how much is it?

You have to pay an initial fee of £250 (plus VAT) when submitting your business for certification or applying for pending B Corp status. This covers you for the 12 months while you get your impact assessment ready. To become a pending B Corp, there’s a one-off fee of £500 (plus VAT).

To maintain your certification, you need to update your impact assessment every three years. The price to recertify is dependent on your business’s annual sales (or turnover), with fees starting at £1,000 (plus VAT). For a full list of fees, visit B Corp’s pricing page.

What are the benefits of being a B Corp?

Inc. called B Corp status “the highest standard for socially responsible businesses”. It is to businesses what Fair Trade is to coffee.

It demonstrates to the world around you – your stakeholders, your employees, your customers, and everyone else – that you’re committed to being a force for good in the world.

It can also form part of a wider ESG strategy to support your community and the environment.

But as well as demonstrating your commitment, you also get access to a whole wealth of information and new opportunities. B Corps are put in touch with one another and are able to share knowledge and build on each others’ successes.

Kate says the best opportunity for B Corps to meet, share ideas and best practice, and to learn from fellow innovators is at the annual UK retreat. As well as incredible conversations, recent retreats have involved wild swimming, running, yoga, and meditation – great ways to bond.

With March as B Corp month, it gives B Corps the opportunity to talk about what makes them a certified B Corp, and the incredible and innovative policies and practices that they have, but often don’t get to shout about.

If sustainability is something you’re passionate about, review our guide on how to refresh a brand and think about how you can spotlight this in your marketing.

Simply Business as a B Corp

Simply Business received its B Corp accreditation in 2017 and has continuted to recertify every three years to maintain B Corp status.

The accreditation recognises our strong track record of having a positive impact on people, society, and the environment – and our commitment to do more in future.

Whether it’s giving back to the community through charity fundraising, or our dedicated team of people working out how we can minimise our impact on the environment, we’re driven to find new ways to support our workers, help others, and help preserve our world.

You can read more about our efforts over at our social impact page.

Kate shared: “Simply Business was a great company to work with – and for such a large organisation we expected the process to take longer than three months”.

“It just shows that if you are already measuring your impact on your people and the planet, then the certification process doesn’t have to take that long!

“We’re pleased to have such a committed business join our community, and they’re already great ambassadors of the B Corp movement.”

Meet our B Corp customers

Celebrating small business owners and the contribution they make to our communities is a mission close to our values at Simply Business.

Y.O.U underwear is a small retail business that’s now gained B Corp status, demonstrating how sustainability is at the heart of what they do.

The sustainable underwear shop won £25,000 through our annual Business Boost competition in 2022.


Social impact and sustainability is also a key part of Fair-Well, a wholefoods store that won our grant in 2023. While not a B Corp business currently, it’s inspiring to see the focus that small businesses and startups are putting on sustainability.

Cost can be a barrier to sustainability for small businesses

When it comes to setting sustainability goals as a small business, well over half (50 per cent) say that financial costs are a key barrier to making progresss.

Sarah, owner of Y.O.U underwear, shares how it’s tough being a small business with a focus on sustainability and still remaining profitable. But ultimately, it’s rewarding too.

She shares: “It’s certainly a tough space to be in. It is, however, also a very motivating one when we get great feedback from customers and see the difference we’re making.”

Interested in entering small business awards? Read our guide.

Are you a certified B Corp or thinking of becoming one? Great! Tell us about your journey so far in the comments section below.

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Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

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