23 Dec 2022

Missing out on B Corp: How to avoid an unsuccessful submission

By Olivia Jennings
Official B Corp Certification plaque


Submitting your B Corp assessmenet is an incredibly proud moment for any business, and rightly so. Reaching 80 points on the B Impact Assessment (BIA) takes significant evidence gathering work in the short term and, most importantly, long term effort to improve your business practices for positive impact. Being a B Corp and submitting your B Corp assessment is a huge step for businesses, to read more about why these are so important, check out our insight here.

Nevertheless, more than half of businesses won’t certify after submitting their application for the first time. Read on to learn what the challenges are and how to mitigate them.

Firstly, what is the certification process?

The B Corp certification process kicks off after you hit submit. Your application enters a queue, then B Lab review your assessment to decide whether you can officially become a B Corp!

The certification process is challenging, albeit rewarding. Currently, from the point of submission, it takes on average 12 months to certify. This varies based on your company size & complexity.

There are two key reasons 52% of applications don’t succeed:

  1. The BIA is set up incorrectly
  2. The score drops below 80

1) How to set up your BIA correctly

Typical reasons that your B Impact Assessment will be set up incorrectly include:

  • Incorrect Impact Business Model (IBM) selection 
  • Lack of transparency around organisational complexity, meaning that the wrong Track & Approach have been selected

There are two types of points in the BIA, operational points and IBM points. IBM points recognise businesses whose business model is set up specifically to create positive impact, they are rare and hard to obtain. IBMs are nuanced, tricky to get right, and one of the first areas that B Lab will review once you submit. At Seismic, we recommend aiming for 80 operational points so you do not rely on IBMs. We can also confirm which IBMs are relevant to your business, help you achieve your IBM goals, and how to evidence IBM points with B Lab.

The BIA is adaptive, which means that based on your organisational structure and sector you will see a bespoke set of questions relative to you. If you have multiple entities in your business, there are rules about your approach to certifying each entity and in which order. At Seismic, we can help confirm that you have chosen the correct track and approach for your BIA, so you’re answering the correct questions and for the right scope. This is something we have helped many clients with, click here to read our client stories.


2) How to ensure your score stays above 80

If your score drops below 80 points during the verification stage, then the process halts while you implement improvements that bring your score back above 80 points. If you do not manage this in time you go back to the start (eek!) which means that all your hard work comes to a halt. 

Typical reasons that submitted B Corp scores reduce include:

  • Misinterpretation of the nuances and criteria for the questions
  • Incorrect or insufficient evidence can be provided in the timeframe to support your answers
  • Double counting of positive practices across questions

It’s crucial to read the questions carefully first time around, understand the thresholds and be confident you can provide evidence if asked before you submit. The time you have waiting in the queue is a good opportunity to collate any evidence you may need for certification.  Once you submit, we recommend planning for focused time to work on improvement areas during the certification process, so you can bring your score back up if you need to.

B Corp FAQs

We get asked a lot of questions about B Corp. As one of Europe’s leading B Corp advisories, we like to think we have most of the answers. Check out some of the most frequently asked questions we get about B Corp on our B Corp FAQs page.

How Seismic can help you get B Corp certified

At Seismic 100% of our clients have achieved certification on their first application. If you would like support from Seismic, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch with us today.