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Why Measure What Matters?

This post was originally published on B Lab's Best for the World publication on Medium.

All our Best for the World honorees have something in common: they’ve all measured their company’s social and environmental impact by taking the B Impact Assessment. The B Impact Assessment covers a company’s impact on its workers, community, environment, and customers — B Corporations like the Best for the World honorees must take the BIA every two years to remain certified. But what’s the point? And how can you make the most of it? Our honorees have some advice for those just getting started — or those who are still on the fence.

Start! Measurement provides sharper focus on what is important and gives a justification booster shot to activities that support impact targets. This holds true whether you are measuring your progress toward running a 6-minute mile or tracking progress toward a business objective. — Beth Gillespie, President, Acorn Sign Graphics, Best for the Environment
You don’t know what you don’t know. The B Corp certification process lets you think outside of the lens you have been looking through while planning and managing your company. Going through the process helps you understand benefits in ways you never thought of before and that can be hugely inspiring and help get your creativity flowing. — Nora Livingstone, CEO & Founder, Animal Experience International, Best for Environment and Overall
For those who are on the fence, why not? At the very least you can get a free assessment that will expose you to the questions you should be asking yourself about how to run your business from an ethical and sustainable standpoint; at the very best you might find out that you are already a social and sustainability superstar. — Andrea Chase, Marketing Director, Falcon Waterfree Technologies, Best for the Environment
Start somewhere. Measuring your impact may seem daunting, but once you have the processes in place to gather metrics, it becomes quite easy. By measuring social and environmental performance, we run the company in a better, more balanced and sustainable way. — Stephanie McLarty, CEO, REfficient, Best for the Environment
Don’t do it alone. Partner up with other people/groups who share your philosophy and can cheer you on. — Sarah Gross, Founder, Rescue Chocolate, Best for Communities
Make sure you have support of all stakeholders and that they understand and believe in the cause. Without support from all levels of the business, it will be hard to scale your impact. — Elaine Chiang, Digital Marketing Director, FIGS, Best for Communities
I think the first step is to get to know the community with whom you are working. I have seen people with good intentions start businesses or product lines in an effort to relieve poverty that end up failing because they didn’t get to know the region or the people first. Getting to know the place you are trying to have an impact is key. One size does not fit all. This helps you develop metrics to track and to understand enough to maximize your impact. — Cameron Crake, Director of International Production, Raven + Lily, Best for Communities
Concentrate on indicators that are both relevant and informative. The idea is not only to measure impact but also to understand what consumers are getting from the products and use the information. — Raffaella Piazzesi, Director International Relations, Echale a tu Casa, Best for Communities and Overall
Don’t go crazy trying to measure everything or trying to be too cute with metrics. Pick a standard that accomplishes 80% of measurement goals with 20% of the effort (like the BIA) so that you can continue to focus on building the business and delivering impact! — Raymond Shih, President, QoC Health, Best for Workers
Think small! Start with achievable, measurable goals. Winning at these will only make you want more. — Jill Pollack, Director, StoryStudio Chicago, Best for Communities
Think of all of your stakeholders. Think about all of the hands that touch your raw materials before they become products. Think about the journey of your product from inception to the end of its life. Anyone and everyone involved in that journey is impacted by your decisions, so make good ones. All products are going to have an impact, but as social entrepreneurs we have the ability to make those impacts a net positive. — Mike Cangi, Vice President, United By Blue, Best for Communities
Just do it! — Andrea Walker, Creative Media Evangelista, Beneficial State Bank, Best for the World Overall
Start out by gathering information and doing your homework as it applies to your industry or sector. Understand why you want to measure your impact and explore this question with key stakeholders. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, get your toes wet by taking the B Impact Assessment to inform next steps. Especially for new businesses, we find that the B Impact Assessment can be very helpful in building capacity in areas that can be challenging, such as financial management and human resources. — Cindy VandenBosch, Founder, Turnstile Tours, Best for Communities
The most important thing about measuring your impact is to act on your findings. It’s not enough to evaluate your company’s energy use and decide that it’s not too bad — if you know it’s not as low as it could be, then you need to figure out how to make it even lower. — Jess Littman, Technology Access Coordinator, Revivn, Best for Communities, the Environment, and Overall
Identify one or two lead folks in your business who will be responsible for understanding and compiling data throughout the year, then completing the assessment. Start a ledger and keep information throughout the year, that applies to your matrix. It is a challenge to pull everything together at the end of the year. — Chris McCurry, Vice President, Highland Craftsmen, Best for Communities, the Environment, and Overall
When it comes to decisions that affect the social and environmental impacts that your business is going to have: question everything, push the envelope and never settle for good enough. — Mike Cangi, Vice President, United By Blue, Best for Communities

Curious? Try the Quick Impact Assessment to get a snapshot of your impact in twenty minutes before diving into the full BIA.

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