When you started your business, did you start it just to make money or did you start it for a bigger purpose (while looking for an opportunity to make some money in the process of fulfilling that purpose)?
My guess is that you chose the latter option (most of us do). In light of the high failure rate of new businesses, along with the amount of time it takes to launch a new business, along with the uncertainty and headaches of leading a business, most business owners and entrepreneurs could actually make more money working for someone else.
Note: depending on which study you’re looking at, the average business owner in America only makes between $50K and $75K/year.
So, when you started your business, why did you start your business? What was its purpose? What problem were you trying to solve? Were you trying to
- Alleviate someone’s pain
- Accelerate someone’s performance
- Enhance someone’s health
- Improve organizational efficiencies
- Keep someone out of jail
- Protect someone’s investments, etc.
What was your purpose?
For example, when I started Wired To Grow and now BizScalers Club, I did so for a number of reasons. One of them was to alleviate pain. Why? Because I remember what it was like back in 1989 when I started my former church (my first full-time company vs. Johnson Driveway Sealing which basically paid for my schooling). I started with two families that moved out from Chicago to a suburb of DC where we had no contacts, no place to meet and no ongoing source of funds. I raised some money but we blew through that in no time.
We were only taking in around $200/week in offerings and it was costing us $350/week just to rent the movie theater. Forget salaries. In fact, in the first twelve months of Seneca Creek’s history, I took home $3,000 for twelve months of eighty hour work weeks. It was total pain. Can you relate? And I’ve never forgotten that pain. As we grew to 100, then 200, then 400 then 800 then 1,000 people per week and beyond, at each juncture, there was a massive amount of pain that I had to endure as the person at the top of the organization that no one else had to deal with or experience to get through to that next level. I’ve never forgotten that pain either.
So when I left pastoral ministry, one of my commitments was to help alleviate some of that pain for other business leaders. During the years I was leading and growing Seneca Creek, I spent a lot of time looking for mentors and other leaders who knew things I didn’t know so I could get through the pain of the next level faster and less painlessly. Part of my mission was and is to alleviate some of that pain for others like you.
In other words, people like you and me, do what we do in a financially beneficial way for a reason beyond just money. While the money is good, it’s the purpose that drives us to make the sacrifices we make.
So, the question I have for you is, how can you communicate that purpose to enough other people so that they’ll drawn to you and your cause—as employees, as customers, as followers, and as fans/referrers?
Well one way to do that is to create a manifesto for your business—a rallying cry for others to join you and to be a part of what you’re attempting to do.
Note: if you’re wondering if a manifesto actually makes a difference you might want to think through some of the manifesto’s you’ve probably heard of—like the Declaration of Independence and The Communist Manifesto. Both of those worked out pretty well. Or more recent versions like the Agile Manifesto or the Mozilla Manifesto. Or how about the Crossfit Manifesto or the Apple Manifesto (Here’s to the crazy one’s …). In other words, yes, manifestos can make a difference.
So, here are five steps to help you create a manifesto that rocks for your business.
I. Connect With Your Why
If you’re going to write a manifesto for your business, you might as well start with you. What are some of the issues that matter to you? What are some of the personality traits of the people you connect with and want to be a part of your cause? Think through the kinds of people who motivate you and inspire you.
What kind of language then would you use to connect to that group of people? For example, when Apple says,
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently,”
Who does that sound like? Steve Jobs. And who does he want to connect with? People like him. I also love the last line of the manifesto, “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
In my case, when I was writing my manifesto for BizScalers (which you can see at the end of this post), I wanted to connect with my why so I used language like,
- We are growth-oriented, high-impact business owners and entrepreneurs who refuse to conform to what’s normal, ordinary or acceptable.
- We love hiring people, making them better and paying them well
Why? Because I want to help put people back to work. One of the great joys of starting and leading a growing business is hiring people, and paying them well so that you can help take care of them and their families. You get to put food on their tables, help them buy a house and put their kids through school. You get to play a part in providing them with the resources necessary to go on vacations and plan for retirement, etc. So, I put this line in my manifesto because I only want to attract other business owners and entrepreneurs who want to hire people and take good care of them (vs. solopreneurs or other business leaders who don’t want to hire people).
So, as you think about your manifesto and your why, what language can you use to describe the kind of people you want to attract to your cause and business?
II. Give Your Group a Name
If you’re going to take the time to create a manifesto, why not give your group/community a name. Why? Because there’s great power in a name. For example, when you meet someone who goes to a Crossfit gym, they don’t just think of themselves as normal weekend warriors or people who go to a gym, they think of themselves as “Crossfitters.”
Back in my old pastoral days, I used to call the people of my church, “Creekers” (short for Seneca Creek). I could then say, “Creekers do X, Creekers don’t do Y.” If you have kids, you may do the same thing. In my family, when our kids were growing up I used to say things like, “Listen, you’re a Johnson and Johnson’s do X (for example, Johnsons persevere) and we don’t do Y (for example, Johnsons don’t quit).
In my most recent venture, I searched for a name that would connect with the purpose of this community (to help business owners and entrepreneurs build more scalable businesses) and eventually decided on the name BizScalers. Why? Because that’s what I want every member to do, to scale their current biz and then hopefully do it over and over again. Plus, it’s a term I created so it’s unique to us.
So, as you look at your customers/clients/members/users, what name can you give to your group?
III. Define What They Will and Won’t Do
As I just mentioned with my daughters, part of creating culture is defining both what’s inside the boundary and what’s outside the boundary. That’s how every group knows who’s part of their group.
Listen to the words of the Crossfit Manifesto. Listen to how they define who’s in (and by definition, who’s out). Note: WOD = Workout of the Day.
We go hard. We kill WODs daily. We hit chest to bar. We push plyo. We fight through. We eat paleo. We clean and jerk. We finish strong. We suck less than yesterday. We straight up snatch. We work through exhaustion. We get results. We are determined. We are resolute. We are achievers. We aren’t just fit. We are Crossfit.
As you read those words, you probably got a pretty clear picture of who’s in and who’s out.
In the case of BizScalers, I chose phrases like
- We are risk-takes and value creators who live to make a difference
- We are get it done leaders. Excuse making is not in our nature. Taking responsibility is.
- We never settle or conform. We play all out.
- We refuse to be bottlenecks.
- We build businesses that scale—businesses that are designed and built to grow fast, hand that growth well and deliver consistent and predictable results for our customers. Etc.
Clearly, not every business owner and/or entrepreneur fits those criteria so they clearly define who’s in and who’s not (and by extension, what BizScalers do and don’t do).
So, as you look at your community that you want to grow, what words and/or phrases can you use to define who’s in and who’s not?
IV. Make it Aspirational
People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to know that their life matters and that the time they’re investing in what you’re doing matters as well. So, connect to something aspirational.
When Whole Foods decided it was time to communicate what they were about, they created a campaign to connect with their manifesto. Here’s the end result of their process.
When you finish watching that video, you feel inspired because it’s aspirational.
In the case of BizScalers, I chose to use aspirational phrases like
- We are big thinkers and dreamers who believe that anything we set our minds to we can achieve.
- We transform ideas into realities and move markets
- We are BizScalers and we’re here to do it again and again, because our markets, our families, our communities and our nation require us to do so.
I knew my manifesto was right on when the first person I sent this to wrote back a few minutes later saying, “WOW. After reading that, I felt like running through a couple walls and then doing 100 pushups.” Bingo.
So, how can you make your manifesto aspirational? How can you connect what you’re doing to something bigger than any one individually?
V. Get it Designed
This last one is optional but I’m going to encourage you to go the extra mile and make it happen. Google, “Business Manifestos” and then click on the images tab and you’ll see tons of examples. I’m going to give you mine at the end of this post so you can see a good illustration of this idea played out. However, whatever you do, make sure your manifesto is designed in such a way that your target market will want to read it.
In my case, since I work with business owners and entrepreneurs, I wanted something that looked professional. You might want something more artsy or more playful or more Art Deco or more country or more sporty or more …. I also wanted to stay brand consistent in colors so I chose blues because they fit my brand (whereas you might prefer reds or greens or purples or a combination of colors).
There is no one right design option. Just find a few sample manifest designs you like. Find a graphic artist and then have them try to recreate what you’re looking for. If you’re at all like me, you’ll end up going through several iterations.That’s fine. Perfection is overrated. Just get your manifesto to a place where you don’t mind publicly distributing it broadly.
So, there you go. Five keys to creating a business manifesto.
- Connect with your why
- Give your group a name
- Define what they will and won’t do
- Make it aspirational
- Get it designed.
When you’re done, let me know what you’ve come up with. I’d love to see your result!
To your accelerated success!
P.S. Here’s the BizScaler Manifesto I promised I’d show you. Note: If this resonates with you, make sure you join us at www.BizScalers.com
Click here for a 8 1/2″ x 11″ version of the BizScalers Manifesto