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Section 4: The Quick Start Guide

View section summary, discussion prompts, activities and resources and more for Section 4: The Quick Start Guide of The B Corp Handbook Instructor's Guide.


Approximately 30 minutes reading time

The Handbook provides a Quick Start Guide that is equally ideal for businesses that want to become Certified B Corporations as it is for those that are unsure about pursuing certification but want a straightforward, step-by-step road map to help them measure, compare, and improve their social and environmental impact.

Step 1: Get a Baseline (page 163)

  • Understand a company’s current baseline using the Quick Impact Assessment and a first pass at the full BIA.

Step 2: Engage Your Team (page 166)

  • Determine who within a company should be involved with the B Corp certification process, and who are the different people that will be able to help answer questions.
  • Understand the motivators for each of the company’s potential stakeholders.

Step 3: Create a Plan (page 168)

  • Identify short, medium, and long term goals and the steps that the team will need to take to achieve these goals; prioritize the ‘quick wins’ over more involved initiatives.

Step 4: Implement (page 170)

  • Conduct the necessary work to achieve the goals set in the plan.

Step 5: Fine Tune (page 171)

  • Update the BIA as new/more data becomes available to the team.

Step 6: Celebrate, and Next Steps (page 172)

  • Publicize the achievement; engage with the broader B Corp community and seek to continuously improve upon the work already done.

About The UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Companies will have the ability consider each of the 17 SGDs during the B Corp certification process.

UN 17 SDGs

Discussion Prompts

  • Identify the key stakeholders within a company to engage in the impact improvement process.
  • What do the authors identify as some areas where the B Corp movement could be better? Does their discussion resonate with you? Why or why not?
  • What ideas do you have for potentially making the B Corp movement stronger and more impactful?
  • What would “success” for the B Corp movement look like in your mind?
  • Some people criticize B Corp saying it is just another form of greenwashing. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not?
  • Researchers have also identified a penalty in the short-term growth rates of certifying firms which is more pronounced for the smallest and youngest firms. Why do you think that can be the case? What would you advise to a new company wanting to get certified? (See The Impact of B Lab Certification on Firm Growth, Parker, Gamble, Moroz, Branzei, Academy of Management, 2018)
  • B Corps like TOMS Shoes are not immune to the standard criticisms of social entrepreneurship (white guilt, poverty porn, band-aid, externalities, impact on local industries, dependency building, etc). After reviewing the resources related to TOMS and the Business Insider article, discuss whether these criticisms are merited and how TOMS is working to address them.

“I love that [The B Corp Handbook Instructor’s Guide] exists! What a great framework and philosophy to build curriculum around, and so needed.” – Liz Parrott Radzicki, Participate

B Impact Teams

Developed by B Lab, B Impact Teams are self-organized teams of college students that assist businesses to measure and manage their impact. These student-led consulting teams serve their local community by assessing social and environmental metrics of community businesses using the B Impact Assessment. In addition to aiding local community businesses in their B Corp certification process, these teams provide an opportunity for the students to learn about the B Corp movement and empower them on their path in becoming the next generation of business leaders committed to upholding socially and environmentally responsible business practices. Schools around the country have formed B Impact Teams on their campuses to serve their local business community.

Go Further…

Case Discussions

Transcend Coffee: Local Sustainability Challenges in a Global Industry, Joel Gehman, Nicole Neufeld, Dasha Smirnow, Siddharth Agrawal, Danielle Sandberg, Manav Deol, Ivey Publishing, July 20, 2016.

Poppy Barley: Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Sustainability Certification, Joel Gehman, Greg Dobbelsteyn, Peter Loginov, Aimee Van Dam, Brittnay Verstraete, Leanne Hedberg, Ivey Publishing, July 20, 2018.

Better World Books, Michael L. Norton, Fiona Wilson, Jill Avery, Thomas Steenburgh, Harvard Business Publishing Education, September 22, 2010; Revision: April 20, 2012.

Team Charter

Create a sample team charter than includes objectives, accountability expectations, etc.

  • Group project outside of class
  • 1 – 3 hours


Create sample project timeline from B Corp interest to certification to lifetime improvements

  • Individual or group projects outside of class
  • 3 – 4 hours

BIA Team

Identify the characteristics of an ideal core project team that ensure diversity, equity and inclusion

  • Individual or group projects inside or outside of class
  • 30 minutes – 2 hours



We’re all passengers in a billionaire hijacking’ says the critic who has the world’s richest people buzzing,” Business Insider, Richard Feloni, February 1, 2019.

  • Interview with Anand Giridharadas, author and professor whose book “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.”

Silver Chef and Its Village, Medium, B Lab Australia & New Zealand, November 8, 2017.

  • One of the best places to work in Australia shares why they are a force for good and how they differ from their competitors.

How to Sell Without Selling Out Secure a Successful Exit, Keep Company’s Purpose Secure, B the Change, Jay Coen Gilbert, September 20, 2016.

  • “How can a purpose-driven company have a successful exit without losing commitment to the purpose that defines them or losing the trust of the community that supports them?”

The Surprising Competitive Advantage of the B Corp, Huffington Post, Shane Paul Neil, December 6, 2017.

  • Discusses how becoming a certified B Corp can help a company strengthen their ethics program, provide a marketing vantage, make a company more appealing to investors, and better connect a company with the B Corp community.

Learn From the Best: A Roundup of Best For The World, B the Change, June 11, 2018.

  • Best for the World overall honorees’ share their best practices and advice for other purpose-driven businesses.


Introduction to Better World Books, May 12, 2008 (4:26 mins). Better World Books’ business model to repurpose used books and reinvest profits to improve world literacy.

Ben & Jerry’s Becomes a B Corp, October 22, 2012,  (1:11 mins), Ben & Jerry’s joins the B Corp community to be part of the community that values sustainable business models.


Next Economy Now Podcast, Ep. 10: $20 Million & Change: Phil Graves on Patagonia’s New Venture Capital Fund, (41:08, Feb 13, 2016). Phil and Ryan discuss the motivators behind Patagonia’s decision to start a venture capital fund and how this aligns with Patagonia’s overall mission to use business to help solve the environmental crisis.

Next Economy Now Podcast, Ep. 27: Kate Williams: Global Movement of Companies Investing 1% for the Planet, (36:56, Aug 18, 2016). 1% for the Planet has grown into a global movement of more than 1200 member companies in 48 countries, all donating at least 1% of annual sales to sustainability initiatives. Shawn Berry of LIFT Economy and 1% for the Planet’s CEO Kate Williams discuss the state of the movement and what the future might look like.

Next Economy Now Podcast, Ep. 149: Funmilola Fagbamila: Black Lives Matter, White Allyship, & Emotional Intelligence, (33:07, Mar 5, 2019). Erin Axelrod of the LIFT Economy talks with Funmilola Fagbamila to explore the roots of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the myth of meritocracy in America, how emotional intelligence helps us to hear each other across ideological differences, and suggestions for supportive white allyship.

Next Economy Now Podcast, Ep. 99: Kevin Bayuk: Our Journey to an Economy that Works for the Benefit of All Life, (53:58, Feb 12, 2018). A co-founding member of the LIFT team, Kevin discusses how a shift in his worldview from a proliferation of problems/suffering to one of countless opportunities to solve problems has inspired a movement of solutions. In this discussion with Ryan Honeyman, Kevin also provides LIFT’s long term vision and resources from which the team derives inspiration.

Maximizing the BIA for B Corp Certification Webinar (61 minutes), B Lab. Learn how to make the most of the new B Impact Assessment platform to measure a company’s positive impact and complete the review process. Hear what it takes to go from signing up to completing certification or recertification.

How I Built This Podcast, TOMS Shoes, February 11, 2019, (56 minutes), Guy Raz explores stories behind some of the world’s best known companies.

How I Built This Podcast, Method, November 22, 2018 (17 minutes), Guy Raz explores stories behind some of the world’s best known companies.

How I Built This Podcast, Method, October 8, 2018 (58 minutes), Guy Raz explores stories behind some of the world’s best known companies.

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