Measuring Business Beyond the Basics

I’m excited to share that Watershed Coaching was just B Corp certified! “What’s that?” you might wonder. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, a B (Benefit) Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corp status requires meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

It’s an external, measured validation of my commitment to social responsibility through my work. What I really appreciated about the process was that it got me focused in a concrete way on how my business reflects my values and what the metrics are which demonstrate actual actions bringing those values to life.

“What gets measured gets done.”

This is a favorite quotation of mine when I work with leadership teams and coaching clients. Typically, businesses measure the output- hours billed, number of items sold, profit, expenses, etc. Yet business is about so much more than that. The B Corp certification process offers a concrete way for companies to assess their actions and deepen impact in service of using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

For me, this was a great learning process about how to quantify what I already do and to consider ways to further my positive impact. For example, I knew that I was committed to deep community engagement and volunteering. The certification process gave me a better way to measure my contributions because it “counted things that count”, as Einstein would say, in addition to profit— e.g., financial donations to charity, purchases made locally, recycling efforts, number of hours volunteered, and use of preferred suppliers (e.g., local, women-owned, minority). I also knew that I had a lot of systems in place to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but through the B Corp process I created a statement of my commitment to this value. It was helpful for me to evaluate my business by looking not just at the bottom line, but more holistically at the business as a manifestation of my values.

There were also areas that I hadn’t given much thought to. For example, for most of my life I’ve used standard commercial banks, but through the B Corp process I realized that I really wanted to bring my business to our local community bank, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, because their values and commitment to cultivating strong community were more in alignment with my values. I had thought about it before, but to be honest, it felt like changing our accounts was just an extra pain-in-the-neck thing to do. The B Corp process caused me to move into action on this. What about you? In what ways to you want to broaden how you define success for your work beyond profit?

water-shed (watr'shed') Noun: a critical point that marks a division or change of course; a turning point — © 2014 WatershedCoaching. All rights reserved.