Lately I’ve been talking a lot about a new educational seminar about B Corp certification I’m working on with my friend Mark Scrimenti. It’s been really exciting to 1) see how many people in my network are aligning impact with their values 2) get a sense of how B Corp fits into their goals and 3) hear from corporate purchasing people who recognize how this can help them position diverse suppliers.
I am also hearing people ask me, how did you get into this? Or how does this fit into what you do?
What is B Corp Certification?
B Corp certification is a designation that a business meets global standards of environmental and social sustainability. It quantifies those standards as set forth by the global sustainability community and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their assessment is used by more than 150,000 companies to identify where they are aligning their businesses with impact and where those businesses can improve.
When I put it that way, I can see why people ask questions. My day job is putting businesses owned by the new majority – people with disabilities, women, minorities, veterans and the LGBTQ community – on the right track to making meaningful relationships within supplier diversity networks, have more productive conversations, gain more visibility and win new business.
It makes perfect sense to me that B Corp certification is just that, a certification. There’s a process to become certified – which can certainly be a speed bump for folks- and that’s just the beginning. The same is true for the XBE certifications I deal with every day. I spoke to a business owner who admitted that she hadn’t gotten anything out of the certification but since it was so rigorous, she didn’t want to let it go. That sounds like a familiar problem to me, regardless of the certification’s acronym.
Well, where does it fit in?
But just because it makes sense to me, doesn’t mean it works. With my clients I’m always talking about connecting the dots for people. Just because you can see the complete picture of their problem and how you fit as a solution, doesn’t mean it’s obvious. In fact, they probably need you because the solution you offer is not, in fact, obvious.
In April I talked about building your network into a referral machine and how one of the things that might be holding you back is your pitch. I realized it’s time to take my own medicine and tweak my pitch a bit so it encompasses all that I do to help business owners realize their impact.
What’s your Why?
To do that, I went back to my why,(thanks, Simon Sinek) my purpose. While one of my main roles is connecting business owners with large purchasing organizations who want to buy from them. The connections I make are in service to a larger purpose of helping business owners reach their full potential in the aspects of their business that challenge them most.
- For some of my clients that is business development. One of the first things I realized in my long history with business owners is that initial enthusiasm for a new or exciting idea is difficult to sustain. At the same time, when it comes to building relationships, consistency is key. So I introduced consistency and strategy to their business development programs.
- I also facilitate WPO chapters of multi-million dollar business owners whose challenges are growth and scale over time. It’s one thing to achieve the million dollar mark, it’s another thing to consistently grow over time. So WPO harnesses peer to peer learning, expert speakers, and world class resources to help them achieve their goals.
- Finally, when it comes to where B Corp certification fits in, the challenge business owners have is not getting through the rigorous certification process (which frankly makes the diverse business certifications look like a piece of cake.) The challenge is finding a standard way to evaluate and communicate how well your company aligns its impact with its values.
I tweaked my pitch a bit to encompass how these different pieces interact.
The new pitch
Diverse small business owners have access to tools that will help their companies sustainably grow and scale. But it takes time, money and energy to leverage those tools. 12PointFive is a business development consultancy that brings strategy and consistency to small businesses so that can realize their full potential in the supplier diversity and sustainability space. Our clients quickly and easily make meaningful relationships within their business networks, communicate their value, and win new business.
Another thing I coach people on is to get feedback from a bunch of people. As my Diversity Masterminds® business partner Heather says, “You’ve already drunk the Kool Aid. You need to make sure people who haven’t still get it.” To that end, it’s a work in progress (I’d love your feedback!) and I look forward to seeing how it resonates and changes over time.