When you set out to build a business, there are many, many important milestones. So many that it can all become a bit of a blur.
The first, and possibly most important, is choosing your co-founders. It’s a bit like marriage – you have to be on the same page, or at least know that you can get to the same page, on so many things, including what kind of business you want to build.
Then you give your business a name, define its purpose and mission and values. And while it’s all still completely hypothetical, you use these ideas to start working, and talking, and raising money, and persuading more people to join you. It’s amazing to find people who share your vision, and we’ve ended up with a group of incredibly talented, motivated ‘nousmates’ to go on this journey with. The next thing you know, you’re in your first office, you’ve launched the first version of your first product, and you’re starting to feel like your hypothetical business is becoming reality.
This week, we’re celebrating our new status as a Pending B Corp. And it’s a milestone that goes right back to the start, to the vision we shared as founders as to what kind of business we wanted to build.
When a business is incorporated, you put down in writing something called company articles. Every company in the UK has to go through this process, and many of them say similar things in similar legal language. I’m proud of the fact that few will have included anything like what we said in our ‘Objects of the Company’, specifically that Nous will, “Through its business and operations, [to] have a material positive impact on (a) society and (b) the environment”. Yes, we are still a business that wants to be profitable and economically sustainable, but not at the expense of the world in which we function. This commitment is something we have in common with the B Corp movement.
B Corps are companies that use the power of business to solve social and environmental challenges to make the world a better place. To become a fully fledged B Corp you have to complete a thorough audit of all of the ways in which your company serves and impacts a variety of groups, and score a certain number of points against measures and tests which are independently verified.
As a team we’ve talked a lot about how Nous will have a ‘material positive impact’. Some of it, we’ve already begun – like launching a free forecast to help households get wise to the cost-of-living crisis. We know we have a lot still to do to build the organisation and culture to have the positive impact we aspire to. Becoming a pending B Corp – a status for companies that are less than a year old – is a tangible step along our path, and we’re excited about the way ahead.
I’m sure over time there will be other measures and standards that we will seek to meet. None is perfect. But the B Corp standards are, I think, good as guidelines and to help train your conscience as a business, and are also good as indicators – to employees, suppliers, and customers – of what you’re trying to achieve.
No-one should be dealing with the cost-of-living crisis all alone. We’re building a new service to liberate households from drudgery and make people’s lives simpler and fairer.