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Why every business needs a manifesto

Manifesto: a public declaration of policy and aims.

It might seem irrelevant to have a manifesto if you have a team of three, two or even one; but putting the values of your business into writing can help set expectations, boost motivations, and keep everyone accountable.

At my very first job, at fifteen, my boss had a scrap of paper stuck to the wall in the staff room. It read, simply, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. I can’t remember any of our conversations word to word, but I remember reading those words every day, and they stuck with me during my time there and beyond.

Never underestimate the power of the written word!

When it comes to writing a manifesto for your business, think about what really matters, what you want to achieve, and what values you’re aligned with (even if you’re just a party of one).

1. It’s not just about the customers.

It can be all too easy to focus on deliverables:

  • We’ll mow your lawn in half the time our competitors will!
  • Our products last ten times longer!
  • Satisfaction guaranteed!

But a manifesto shouldn’t just be a list of what you’re giving to customers: it should also focus on what you’re giving to yourself, and to your employees and your teammates.

If you show that you appreciate and value your employees, they’ll feel important, and your customers will take note.

2. How will you continue to improve?

Manifestos shouldn’t be just a list of things that you do well: they should focus on how you plan to approach things, and how you’ll keep improving.

For instance, you might decide that a core value of your business is educating your employees, by making sure they always have up to date, relevant training. You could highlight this by stating a commitment to excellence and employee education.

Take the time to reflect which things you believe will push your business further: and then commit to them by putting them on paper.

3. How will you care?

More and more customers are drawn to ethical businesses. How are you looking after yourself and your team? How are you caring for your customers? How are you engaging with your suppliers and delivery drivers and external contacts?

Take the time to map out exactly how you’d like conversations to take place, and put them down. Do you want to focus on respecting the needs of those you engage with? On working efficiently and quickly? On demanding excellence?

More and more companies are discouraging employees from working overtime, and are facilitating ways for them to relax and balance their jobs with their lives. Studies show that a healthy work/life balance and less stress boost productivity and workplace satisfaction, so it might be worth thinking about the ways in which you’d like to support the people around you.

Studies show that replacing performance reviews for frequent, casual one on one meetings between employees and their managers can improve productivity and decrease turnover. How are you communicating with your team? Having formal structures in place could help open dialogue and make everyone feel appreciated; while streamlining processes and boosting growth.

4. How will you connect?

According to Simon Sinek, a marketing consultant and speaker, people want returns when they’ve invested, and to contribute when they’re connected. By boosting team bonding (or self-care, if you’re a party of one) you can increase satisfaction, willingness to work, and drive.

Fostering bonds between employees can go a long way when it comes to success, and people’s willingness to put in extra work and energy.

5. How will you deliver?

When it does come to customers, how exactly are you going to engage with them? Which methods (such as active listening, empathy, timeliness) are you going to adopt as company culture? How are you going to deliver products, engage with feedback, and learn from mistakes?

Writing down guidelines for how you and your employees will communicate with customers can help sales and conversations go smoothly, and set expectations for both sides.

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Writing a manifesto may seem a little strange as a small business owners, but there are many benefits to putting your beliefs down on paper. Even if they’re things you’ve told your employees again and again for twenty years, writing them down and making them available can make a world of difference when it comes to follow through.

Let us know what are your core business values?

- Lena Klein

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