You might have delved into the why behind your business, but do you have a purpose that goes beyond creating a better situation for you and your clients?
Have you ever written a mission statement or a brand manifesto? Or thought deeply about changes you want to make happen in the world?
In partnership with Claudia Moselhi, Jess and her business partner Natalie Moores recently launched a manifesto in support of equality.
I wanted to find out more about how a manifesto could work within a small business. Is it a realistic option for solo-run businesses, and how could freelancers make it work?
We talk about where the inspiration came from and how their brand manifesto developed, as well as how it connects with a business strategy and a content plan.
Let’s hear from Jess, shall we?
Hey Jess! I’m so inspired by your commitment to positive change. How did you come up with the three pillars your brand manifesto is centred around and each of the goals within them?
Well, there’s nothing like a good
- Doing things properly
- Doing things differently
- A platform for people on the way up
These pillars were founded on providing thoughtful and trusted work provided by ourselves or our partners, our commitment to empower and lift other women up and a strong desire to help create social justice and equality in and outside of the workplace. If you’d like to read more about our manifesto then I recommend our blog: Thinking is Good. Talking is Great. Doing is best.
How important was it to you that Mac&Moore was built on solid principles?
The most important thing for Nat and I is that Mac&Moore is built with a real sense of purpose and integrity. I see so many businesses, brands and public personalities who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. The people and businesses we admire such as Cindy Gallop, 72&Sunny and Thoughtful works (to name but a few) are honest, driven, have strong values and a commitment to do things differently. This gave us the drive to do bigger and better things so we’d create work and a be part of a movement we really believed in.
Can you tell us about any other key influences that have helped shape your mission?
Largely our own personal experiences. Without the support and empowerment of other incredible women, Nat and I would not be where we are today. The #MeToo movement and rise of the women’s rights in recent years has spoken to us both personally and professionally. We truly believe this is a time of change within ourselves, the UK and society as a whole and we’re hugely passionate about playing our part.
In your manifesto you highlighted the idea that “Thinking is good, talking is great, doing is best.” How can freelancers – who are often overworked – do more to support the initiatives they care about?
It’s so overwhelming these days running a business. Not only do you have to think about your client work but also how to keep the day-to-day operations running. Add on top of that so many worthy causes out there to support that it can be difficult to choose where to put your time and energy. Firstly, don’t feel bad! We’re not superhuman and setting up and running your own business is a lot of hard work. I’m also a firm believer in helping yourself first before you set out to help others. We created our manifesto two years into our business journey after a lot of learning and soul-searching. You’ll know when the time is right to get stuck in – and when you do – make sure you surround yourself with plenty of cheerleaders who keep you going.
What advice would you give to freelancers who want to follow in your footsteps and write (and act upon) their own brand manifesto?
Don’t do it if you don’t believe in it. You have to be willing to live and work by the principles you set out. I’ve seen so many empty #GirlPower or #WomenSupportingWomen quotes posted on Instagram only to then see the author belittle or tear somebody else down. Not only does this lack integrity (and kindness!) but it will also damage your brand and business in the long run. It’s also important to be thoughtful in your approach. We took a lot of time and consideration writing up our manifesto which was shortly followed by a plan of action. You need to be committed to your manifesto and make sure you deliver against it to be taken seriously. Doing is best!
Let’s talk about content and business strategy. Do you plan and create content around a central idea in relation to your manifesto?
The central idea is “equality with attitude”. We live in a world where not everyone is afforded equal rights and that just isn’t good enough. So our manifesto is centred around equality; “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.” The “attitude” stands for how we’re going to communicate how we can do things better – by being sassy, spirited, informative, open-minded, direct, brave and no bullsh*t with our voices and content.
How does the content you’re producing help you with your mission?
To keep being better at what you do I believe you need to continually commit to being radically open-minded. We’re aware we have so much to learn and that we’re also aware that we’re operating from a privileged position. We want to continue to question ourselves, others and society as a whole with the hope that we can make better choices and produce better work as a result. So the content we produce has to be a reflection of this. Whenever we write about a fierce female disrupting the status quo, the importance of diversity and the impact it has on businesses, or get noisy about all things #womensrights we know we’re an active part of a movement helping to provide that much needed positive change in the world.
How much has your mission influenced your business plan?
Hugely. In some ways, it IS our business plan! The dream is to work entirely with clients who believe in equality and doing things differently by disrupting the status quo. When we first started out we were just chuffed that clients were paying us to put together marketing strategies! Now we get to pick and choose who we work with – and not only is that so empowering it also shows that people can see and believe in the value of our work and what we’re trying to achieve long-term.
And how does your manifesto support your business goals?
Our manifesto allows us to look at all of our business goals and see if they reflect our overall vision. We never make a decision solely about making money. Choosing to work with a client is a careful and considered decision. They have to have the same values as us or be open to seeing things from a different perspective, genuinely believe in equality and diversity and generally be an all-around good egg.
Is there a danger of letting the mission take over and cloud your judgement when it comes to making smart business decisions?
I think you need to always remember that despite the fact we never take on any work solely for the money … we still need to be able to pay the bills. We work hard to be realistic and rational with any business decision we make. That being said it’s imperative that the manifesto exists to remind us what we’re building our business for and the “why”. If we didn’t care about making a difference and doing things differently then it wouldn’t have given us our sense of purpose and drive. And that’s the reason we get out of bed excited to get to work in the morning.
You give a lot back to the freelance and small business community. Tell us about some of the things you’re working on at the moment to champion other business owners.
We run a blog series called #TheFemaleFocus which champions and promotes amazing women from all walks of life. We’re firm believers in empowering and learning from other women. We’re also lucky enough to work with the amazing She is Fierce, an offbeat magazine for femmes who are looking for something a little different from the world. As part of their founding collective, we’ll be offering mentoring and marketing workshops for the next generation of female creatives/business owners and we’re SUPER excited to get started. Finally, we’re also on the advisory board for the amazing platform The Doers – a network of some of the best marketing talent in the industry. So yeah – we’ve got enough to keep us busy for now 😉
And how do you balance those things with client work and the day-to-day running of your business?
No one day or working week is the same! But that’s what we love and we wouldn’t have it any other way. One thing I’ve learned is the importance of structure. I always plan my weeks to make sure I balance getting s**t done, client meetings and ensuring we’re not sidelining all of the important work we’ve set out within our manifesto. Prioritising what’s important has been key to our success and I’m currently working on the power of saying “no”.