Jun 22, 2015
It used to be the American dream (generations ago) to start a business, doing what you were skilled at, and be a blessing to your community and country. This can be evidenced by the history of the late 1700, and throughout the 1800s into the 20th century, however somewhere in the 20th century people got brainwashed that the American dream was to go to college, work for someone else, make enough money to do what you want, then retire comfortably and live off the government.
This is exactly the way the government wants it. This supports them, not the Kingdom of God . The truth is, as financial expert Deena Marie Carr says, “The only real way to get rich is to start your own business entity or invent something revolutionary." This is not only practically true, but biblically true as well. The church is called to be world changers and "take dominion" over the things within the world. In order to do this, the church must be number one on every mountain of society: mountains like arts, entertainment, finances, and business. This essay is about how someone can become a successful entrepreneur and use their position as a kingdom gatekeeper or marketplace minister.
5 Groundwork Keys to Successful Entrepreneurship
To start off one must have a desire to be a business owner. This means you want to be a trailblazer, your willing to take risks, you are creative, you are willing to seek help. These qualities along with my following five keys makes a good groundwork before anyone can take the next step:
1. Number One quality that is necessary for any would-be entrepreneur is to embrace mistakes and “failures” because they will happen. Almost every entrepreneur has had their fair share of mistakes when it comes to being at the helm of a company. I remember when I was starting out I was taken advantage of by many different clients because I was way under-priced. I could of easily gotten mad at myself, but instead I re-adjusted an moved on. Whether someone drops clients because they're frustrating, only to later regret it, or try to perfect the process early on within their own organization when they should be focusing on the bigger picture, it's nearly impossible to get it right every single time. What's important is that you're able to learn from mistakes, (no such thing as failing when you view it that way), and use them to your advantage when you can. When you embrace missteps, you put yourself in the position to be able to grow and move forward.
2. Number two is work with those who will challenge you. Another way to say this is “find a mentor.” This is one of the most important mantras an entrepreneur should have, not only in business but also in their personal lives. When you first start your own company, it's important to surround yourself with people who really push and drive you to step up your game. If you work with those who don't, it'll eventually rub off on you. Working with people who are equally as passionate and driven as you will do nothing but set you up for success.
This is a small piece of excellent advice from Blake McCammon on the topic of mentors: “When choosing business partners and mentors, don't just pick your best friend, pick someone who is going to push you, challenge you, and make you a better entrepreneur. With a partner like that, you're less likely to lose the drive and ambition you started with.”
This is a lesson I learned the hard way. When I began my web design business, I did so out of desperation. I needed money fast. I did not take the time to search out a mentor. Looking back, I wish I had. It would have saved me plenty of mistakes, and business wise, it would have connected me with more partnerships earlier on so there would not has been as much stress those first few years.
Every couple of months I get the opportunity to teach chapel sessions to the current graduating class at a local private business school. I always end my chapel session series with my business testimony and the encouragement that since they are sitting under mentorship early on, they will be in a much better place than I was even a year into having my business.
3. My third key to business success is to be smart about where you invest. When I say that, I am not just talking about monetarily, which of course is a part of it, but I am more talking about your time. I noticed that early on I dedicated a lot of my time to education. Learning to do better work, be kinder to my clients, and have a quicker turn-around time than my competition. Taking the time to perfect my skill was in my opinion the key to my business’ exponential growth. Your business must be state-of-the-art and the only way to get there is by investing time, and resources into making it so. There are too many business in the church that are not operating on the level they could. They blame it on the economy or on a lack of money, when the reality is, they are lacking knowledge. If you don’t have knowledge your business will fail. (Hosea 4:6)
4. The fourth is Learn how to be Spirit led I hesitated adding this key on the list because it should be a given in a believer’s personal life as well (and especially) in his or her business dealings. But this key has served me well in business. I do not take a client unless I first consult with the Holy Spirit. One time I was approached by a business owner who heard about me from my website. He was just starting out and on the outside it looked like his business would be a great client to work with. We was looking for multiple services, and from first glance it looked like it would end up being close to a $15k contract. My flesh was excited, but nonetheless I listened to the Holy Spirit. It took 3 days to get my flesh out of the way and to hear clearly, I had no shalom in my spirit about taking him on. I rejected the offer to work with him.
Three months latter, a competitor called me up and told me that he had heard I turned down a lucrative offer to work with this man. He asked me why I did it, and he proceeded to explain that he had just done $10k worth of work for the man and put him on a payment plan. The client ended up going bankrupt and my competition had lost quite a bit of valuable time, money, and morale.
5. The fifth key is like two in one: Have fun, find what you're passionate about, and don't settle! In other words, before you start your business, make sure you are doing something you enjoy and then create a value system for your business. List the values and principles you stand for, create boundaries that you will force yourself to follow. Create employee policies that clearly state what these values are and review them regularly. This not only creates and maintains structure, but also ensures that you won’t get burned out on stress.
Once you have done this, you will be less likely to settle for second best. We've probably all seen others who settle because they're not brave enough to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship. We say they're playing it safe but really what's happening is that they are denying their own happiness and giving up the opportunity to have fun and live their passion. In short, they're settling.
The amount of fun you have following your passion will be a determining factor in how much you excel at your new venture. Suddenly, working sixty to eighty hours a week isn't so difficult when you're doing it while exploring your passion.
Steve Jobs said it best during a conversation with Pixar CEO John Lassete: "In your life you only get to do so many things and right now we've chosen to do this, so let's make it great." Settling isn't something that should even be in your vocabulary as an entrepreneur.
In order to keep your passion strong you must have boundaries as I mentioned before. One boundary I have is that I will only do business with those that advance the kingdom of God. I have had bars, night clubs, and worse approach me for assistance in marketing and web design. I have had to tell them my belief about what they are doing and my personal and business convictions, and most of the time, they respect that.
A business owner must recognize that whatever they put their time or their employees time toward is a seed. All those seeds will reap a harvest one way or another. From there it is the responsibility of the businessman or woman to tithe off the business income, because God honors the tithe. Business owners who are believers are marketplace ministers and stand as gatekeepers for the church. They should be the ones financing the church, not federal or carnal business’s loans or grants.
Practical Steps to Start your Business off Right
Once someone has the key groundwork in place and their character is sustained, its time to look at the practical steps that are necessary in starting up a business. There is a definite right way and a wrong way to approach the marketplace. The first practical step is the make a vow never to go into debt.
Let me explain. Debt is bad, available credit is good. If you've got a great opportunity and need access to debt, you want to be able to know it's available. But living with debt regularly well enrich everyone at the banks long before it will enrich you. If you have to start small do it. There are lots of creative ways in the 21st century to start your business without debt. Believe God for the finances, and he will provide before you go. I never view such a thing as “business debt.” Debt is debt all business debt is the personal debt of the business owner.
Debt in and of itself is not a sin, but it is nasty. My business principles concerning debt is to NEVER borrow money that will go right into covering expenses. And NEVER use personal borrowing to fund my business. I have never needed to go into debt because I maintain low overhead and I trust God to pay my bills every month.
Another very important practical step to take early on is to incorporate right away. Get an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp, it will protect your finances. It is cheap now to get any one of those business structures. No matter how careful you are in choosing clients, there can always be issues that arise. You don’t want your personal assets to be in danger in case of legal issues. SPs are no longer enough to protect you in this sue happy world we live in.
Next, be cheap in things that don’t matter, but splurge on the things that do. I know this is vague, but the definition of “what matters” varies depending on what industry you are in. For me in the web design business, I am cheap on my office space (I still work from home and travel to my clients), my pens and office supplies (I try to keep everything digital), etc. But I splurge on the things that matter. For me those are; computers (fast big computers mean I can accomplish more faster), IT education (things change so fast, I want to make sure I am up on all the changes), clothes and grooming (to impress my clients).
Fourth—and this one is optional but recommended—start several different businesses (or one business with a lot of offerings) and for sure have multiple streams of income. I found this helpful. My first business failed because I was too narrow. When starting a business you must identify what is called a niche market. Even though “niche” can often denotes small that is not the idea. I prefer the word “untapped” instead of niche. Niche simply means you identity an audience that has a need and that audience should be underserved by that industry. That audience should be unique but not small to a point that you will have to spend a small fortune on advertising (money you don’t have starting out) to reach them.
It is better to start several small offerings than one large one. If one fails, you have others still generating income. In my business I have my book publishing arm, I have my popular web design arm, I have an SEO arm, and I have a marketing arm. During certain times of the year I have almost no income from certain arms, but it all balances out by the end of the year.
My last practical step would be to treat each of your clients like royalty. Look at each of your clients as you would if they were your highest paying customer, or most valuable contact. Remember, one negative review by a client can cause you to loose more money, than just biting your tongue and having a short term loss.
I do very little marketing for my business. So this principle has done me well. Lately almost all my business comes from word of mouth. This is only possible when I treat my clients so well they can’t contain themselves to tell others. Like the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus (a Jew) treated her with respect and love and she turned evangelist and spread his ministry like wildfire. Would she had done this is Jesus treated her like the other jews were treating the Samaritans?
In conclusion, it is a blessing to be an entrepreneur. It is a calling that God takes as serious as a calling for a 5-fold minister. The businessman has the honor to finance the Kingdom of God and to share in the exploits of the Body of Christ. However as exiting as that is, we must rely on sound advice when doing business. That is where this paper comes it, when we mix the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of God we can be like it says in the book of Daniel, “10x wiser and better than all of the wisest in the [world]”
Carr, D. M. (2014) ‘Finances and the Kingdom’, 26 January.
Ferriss, T. (2007) The 4-hour workweek: escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich. New York: Crown Publications.
Floyd, M. (2003) Supernatural Business: Principles for Business Success. United States: Strang Communications Company.
Frank, B. and Bettger, F. (2003) How I raised myself from failure to success in selling. 1st edn. New York: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.
McCammon, B. (2014) ‘Five Keys to Entrepreneurial Success’. The Huffington Post.
UpstartSuccess, E. @ (2013) ‘Steve Jobs: Success Quotes’. Upstart Success. Available at: http://www.upstartsuccess.com/steve-jobs-success-quotes.htm (Accessed: 17 March 2015).
Nathaniel Spiers is a minister, business owner, and eternal student of the Word of God. He has been called as a teacher to the Body of Christ around the world. His commission is to prepare the church to be the bride Jesus deserves. He is passionate about seeing Christians become Believers and Males become Men.