Ever since BTP was founded back in ‘95 by Ben and Nicky, and bought by myself and my fellow investors 10 years’ later, we’ve always remained adamant that the business shouldn’t conform to corporate norms. The clue is very much in the name; The Boston Tea Party was a victory for the small guy, of independent thought, of questioning the status quo in the face of colonial oppression. It was this bohemian, unorthodox way of doing things that first made me first fall in love with BTP, and we’ve always sought to evolve and amplify that independent spirit.
Has anyone noticed that things have gone a bit weird lately? What with Brexit, Putin and now Trump coming to the fore, globalisation and immigration being blamed for everything and isolationist rhetoric everywhere; it feels like we’re entering a strange and uncertain time. For me, this has all been driven by one primary problem; mainly that a large section of Western society haven’t taken part in global gains being made around them. And the solution? Far from lying in isolationism, we have to be working together like never before.
The difficulty is that, for the most part, we don’t change the thing we know we ought to. Everywhere we look for leadership and change, we find people, businesses and institutions repeating the same mistakes. Business as usual feels a bit broken to me. Businesses command enormous resources and can shape the lives of employees, partners and communities. There are a growing number of businesses, such as ourselves, that see that profitability and social responsibility can live and thrive side by side; businesses that put society and people at the core of their purpose.
With all of this, and the current political backdrop in mind, I recently took a team of our BTP folk away for a few days of soul searching, to ask ourselves what, beyond serving brilliant, ethically sourced food and drink, was BTP’s bigger purpose? The output of those days, and the months of thinking that followed, was our very first manifesto, a set of guiding values that inform the way we behave, and our new overarching and audacious purpose: Making Things Better.
Make what better? Well at its simplest, turning the ingredients we buy into amazing food and drink, turning knackered old buildings into inspiring spaces, developing long-standing relationships with like-minded suppliers and putting smiles on our customers’ faces. By providing careers that build confidence, and to allow our people to be the best they can be, whilst also being accepted for who they are. To see potential and back it, to invest in those that perhaps haven’t taken part. To ensure we have a positive societal impact and use the talent in our teams and customers to make a real difference in the communities in which we serve.
We have a lot of work to do to make BTP be the epic purposeful cafe chain I think the world needs. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing more of our new manifesto and our values. Making Things Better will be a collaborative effort, and the input our staff, suppliers and you, our customers will be absolutely key to growing in the right way.