Hannah Cox is the founder of betternotstop and co-founder of the Better Business Network and Hannah is also a B Corp Ambassador, promoting the movement.
Hannah has battled through a few obstacles on her way from arts promoter to B Corp Champion.
Hannah studied at the University of Hull for a BA in tourism and travel services management. Earning her own way meant working as a waitress, which resulted in zero social life. Hannah took out a student loan and hired a nightclub for Monday evenings, her night off. This quickly spun into putting on gigs and creating Big Pond Promotions with the Prince’s Trust funding. She oversaw backstage, promoted bands and events.
Hannah’s dad had worked for a multinational all his life. Just before his retirement, the company restructured, which halved his pension. He encouraged Hannah to not fall into the same corporate trap but go out and grab life. This would give her the determination to combine passion with whatever she did. However, it was made more challenging by a bad personal relationship that left her working, fighting for freedom but while spending most of her 20’s paying off a £20k debt.
To achieve that while freelancing meant making unhealthy lifestyle choices. Hannah and many other freelancers she knew worked up to twenty hours a day to get the jobs done and failed to look after themselves properly. It was a vicious circle, with the work taking longer and not being as high quality because you aren’t at the top of your game. Hannah was already becoming interested in well-being and kept up a blog on lifestyle, something else her father had encouraged her to do.
Hannah stayed in music and events and gained marketing and operational experience. She also worked on a contract for the founders of Running Remote and a contract for Subkit, who help people go self-employed.
Throughout these years, Hannah managed to keep to her father’s advice and travel extensively,
including backpacking through a total of eighteen countries on a journey from the UK to Bhutan; this expedition was called the Road to Happiness.
Hannah took on several of what she describes as other people’s passion projects. One was an artwork company she and a friend ran while traveling. When they returned to the UK, the friend opted out, and Hannah was again left tidying up the mess.
Hannah wanted other freelancers to try traveling and working simultaneously, so she set up a
travel experience company that launched in 2019: Not fortuitous timing for a travel start-up, as it was immediately hit by COVID. Hannah found that only just over her old debt troubles, she had now lost a lot of money between this and the art venture.
betternotstop, so named from her original blog, pivoted from the travel experiences idea to become a sustainable impact agency working with purpose-driven businesses. Hannah herself completed her B Corp Leader program with B Lab UK, and the company is certified pending B Corporation. Hannah was still pursuing ways of improving people’s quality of life while at the same time being more careful with her own physical and mental wellbeing.
The growing number of companies attaining B Corp certification have met higher standards of accountability, performance, and transparency and pursue purpose as well as profit. Among the big brands that have chosen this route are Etsy, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry. In addition, B Corp has a relatively new ambassador program, where leaders such as Hannah are trained to promote the movement and help others achieve B Corp certification.
Hannah has a growing team of B Corp Leaders who help businesses set clear sustainability goals. Hannah says it is easy for her to say that becoming more sustainable would be a good thing. However, it is now proven to bring other benefits, increasing revenue and customer loyalty and improving the teams’ culture, well-being, and retention.
They provide operations, sustainability, and marketing support and work with companies in a wide range of sectors and aim to show both businesses and individuals how easy it is to make a difference while at the same time increasing profits. The structures taught include B Corp Certification, Carbon Literacy, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Perhaps surprisingly, from someone with such an artistic background, Hannah has found that she likes the order of the B Corp structures and procedures. But above all, she relishes the impact they achieve.
Hannah was quickly shortlisted for Entrepreneur of the Year at the Made in Manchester Awards. In Seoul, Korea, the company was also a finalist in the WeWork Labs Pitch Competition, and in 2020, they were named one of the Top 10 Start-ups to watch in Manchester.
Despite COVID, BNS has a growing list of retainer clients and recently took a Veo.World certifications process scoring 130.6, in the top 5% of B Corps worldwide.
BBN – a different sort of networking
Hannah was keen to meet more like-minded entrepreneurs but found herself hating the local networking. Events were all focused on profit and growth without any emphasis on purpose. She also found herself treated like a teenager because she chose to wear jeans and had tattoos.
Hannah had always been careful to live and buy by sustainable ethics, but she met no one interested in sustainability. She found she was not alone, with others feeling that the networking on offer was falling short by lacking purpose. Locality no longer mattered, with video conferencing having taken over during the pandemic. So, she set up BBN (The Better Business Network), believing that collective action always has more impact.
The network aimed to bring together a sense of responsibility and make the world a better place by changing how businesses are run, putting people and the planet at the center of what they do, alongside the profits. Members are involved in positive action to make the world better through climate change and better workplace practices and ethics.
Sister company, betternotstop, financially supported the network to get it off the ground with an interest-free loan through Hannah hopes this will be repaid eventually. They take in companies in cohorts and connect them with a welcome week with training, workshops, networking. The hope is that if these small businesses grow, they will achieve more impact, and there will be more leaders working towards UN Sustainable development goals.
The companies do not have to become full B Corp members, but Hannah insists that they consider sustainability in how they work. They are vetted to ensure their values align with the group. Most of the businesses they work with are either sole traders or micro-businesses with under five employees, and with help and self-care, they can increase their own productivity.
Part of the goal is to help prevent burnout and overwhelm such as Hannah experienced in her freelancing days. To help build resilience, they offer mindset coaching meditation and round table support sessions alongside help in goal setting. Hannah believes that goals are often set too high and need to be set at more realistic and achievable levels.
Members pay a monthly or annual fee, of which much is plowed back into training programs and resources, but they also donate 30 percent to groups such as ClientEarth and Stop Cambo. Members are given a list of five not-for-profit companies and asked to vote for their chosen group each month.
Hannah recruited her team through the Kickstart Scheme. She is also passionate about creating new jobs, particularly those not in education, training, or other employment. One of her ambitions is to become one of the best companies to work for in the UK and be included in the top 10 Sunday Times companies to work for. Meanwhile, Hannah will train more B Corp companies and continue her mission to change business for the better a little at a time.
If you have enjoyed this article, you might like to read of the fascinating work of Australian Helen Andrew who has started another community, the Regenerative Alliance, to help businesses reach UN Sustainability goals.