How fun is the word manifesto?! In coming up with today's title I had a few excellent choices to choose from:
a) Man, I need a Manifesto.
b) Just like pesto, you need a fresh manifesto.
c) Feeling depressed-o? Write a manifesto.
and the winner...
e) Presto! Your Manifesto.
Ok, maybe they're not that great - but they're fun right?! And that is the goal of today's Small Business, Small Steps post. I am encouraging you to set aside a few hours to indulge in your biggest, brightest hopes and dreams, your greatest strengths and your most honest intentions, and how they relate to your business.
Before we dive in though, lets define what a manifesto, or the more commonly used term, mission statement, is:
a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.
Man, I need a manifesto.
I recently picked up my copy of Craft Inc. again this week, if you aren't familiar with Meg Mateo Ilasco's book I would encourage you to check it out. I was re-reading an interview she did with potter and designer Jonathan Adler where she asked him about the importance of having a mission statement when it comes to the design process and ensuring your work is charged with your own values. His response was that indeed it is important, and that for him "[his] manifesto is an expression of [his] philosophy of design and of life in general. [He] strives to make stuff that adheres to the ideas and values in [his] manifesto." To read Jonathan Adler's complete manifesto you can visit his website.
Reading this interview in Craft Inc. made me realize that I don't have a manifesto for my own business. Such important and powerful ideas as English Muffin's purpose, core values and contribution to the world have not been organized into a clear and concise statement. The very foundation of my house has yet to be poured and I am already hanging out on the second floor with plans to add on more. Oops!
Just like pesto, you need a fresh manifesto.
So now that I've realized the importance of creating a document that will guide myself and my business from first idea to product delivery, where do I begin? If you google 'mission statement' you will get a ton of results that link you to small business how to's, examples and templates, there's even a website called missionstatements.com if you're really stuck. But the business writers of the world can take you down that path much better than I. So, I would like to talk about crafting the creative/idealist/dreamer mission statement, the kind of manifesto that Jonathan Adler would approve of!
Here are a couple ideas on how to get the manifesto juices flowing from another book I often turn to for small biz advice, The Boss of You by Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears. Grab a pencil and paper, or keyboard and screen, and jot down your answers to the following questions.
• What do you hope to achieve through your business?
• How will you get there?
• What are the underlying values that guide your work?
Your answers to these questions will provide you with the raw materials you need to shape your manifesto. When sitting down to write it, remember that it can be long or short, in full sentences or a point form list, the important thing is that the more personal it is to your business the better. So use these questions as a jumping off point and see what you can come up with.
Here is an example of a unique and humourous mission statement from Betsy Ross Patterns that I found via The Boss of You.
We at Betsy Ross believe that it shouldn't be so darn hard to make
hot clothes. We believe in good looking clothes and flattering fits.
We believe that all of the shoulder pads in the world should be piled
up and lit on fire. We offer women the chance to make their clothes
instead of buy them."
Having a manifesto is something I have never really given great importance to (or else I would already have one). I know what I like, I know what I want and I know when something is right for me. But on second thought, do I really? Do I make every decision for English Muffin based on a clear list of ideals and values? Have I looked at ways of aligning the values of my company with those of other companies and projects? Can my manifesto both help me to focus my brand as well as expand it? I believe it can. We are creative people whose creativity does not stop at our fingertips, we need to find fulfillment on many levels. Do I believe that paper and ink will make my life complete? No, but creating work that inspires and educates, reaching out to others who do the same, connecting with customers and my community, I can see all of those things making my life very fulfilling.
So, I'm proposing a SBSS challenge!!
1. Write your manifesto. Take an afternoon, a day, heck - even a weekend and ask yourself the above mentioned questions. Write and re-write, and then write some more. Hammer out a manifesto that works for you and your business.
2. Share your manifesto. I would love to see what you come up with, or if you already have a manifesto, what it currently is. Post your manifestos to the comment section of this post, or to your own blog (leave the link to your blog post in the comments below).
Next week I'll put up my brand new manifesto right here on the blog. I can't wait to see what you come up with, and with your permission hopefully use some of them in next week's Small Business, Small Steps post.
Good luck with the challenge, and as always I'd love to hear what you think :)
(photo: Camilla Engman)