I attended the Thrive Conference in Scottsdale recently where 250 proud Christian business owners gathered together to learn how to put God First in their business. One of the speakers talked about the need to plan and strategize every day. Too often we have an idea and just run with it, with little regard to what happens if we hit a wall, or it grows so quickly that we do not know how to manage the success. Or what happens if we decide to sell it? Have we planned for that event from the very beginning? Without proper planning from the first day of your dream or vision, your business will fail to thrive….just like a plant without water or nourishment.
Every small business owner or manager must develop a mission statement that clearly shows God is guiding this business. You need to show the world what you believe in and what principals you will use to run this business successfully. A business plan must be developed that will stand up to changes in the economy, increased costs, and the loss of key staff members. The vision must be clearly shown to everyone critical to the success of the business. If they don’t know where you are going, it is highly unlikely that you will all end up at the same destination. Your guiding principals must be shared as well, with both your employees and your customers. This will help keep you accountable for your actions as the owner or manager. Only hire and retain staff that have the same clear conviction that you have. Staff that don’t have the same principals will tear down and damage the reputation of the business that you love and are trying to protect every single day. Finally, you must compensate your staff fairly for the work they perform, not based on some pay structure that was developed years ago that no longer works in today’s economy.
Successful businesses have all of these critical pieces in place and without them you will fail over time. There is a fascinating story about the first great strategic planner, dating back over 400 years BC. This man was named Nehemiah and he took on a massive project by himself when he heard some terrible news from his son. The walls of Jerusalem were broken down and the gates to the city had been burned, leaving those left behind from the exile exposed and unsafe. When he heard this news, he didn’t sit by doing nothing, reading a book, eating bonbons and expecting his government to fix the problem for his people. He decided to get involved but didn’t have a plan or the resources to step in and help right away.
So he did what all us should do before starting a business or making a big change in our business. He spent over a month quietly praying, thinking and planning, asking for God’s help every step of the way. He knew he would need both the support and resources from his king, to rebuild the wall and gates so that the city would no longer be in disgrace. This is the equivalent of asking a community bank or the SBA for a loan today when starting up a new business.
He did not just walk in to “the bank” and get what he needed. He shared his mission and vision with the king who supported his efforts completely. His business plan included everything he needed from everyone involved, he needed timber from the keeper of the royal park, and he needed permission to travel safely. He needed the support and help of all the men and sons around him, to slowly rebuild each section of the wall and the gates, one day at a time. There were threats to tear it down, but he kept his faith strong in God and all the families guarded it every night. How many small businesses, anticipate the threats around us and make sure we have a contingency plan in place?
There was rubble in the way, the laborers were tiring, resources were short and yet he continued on, guarding exposed areas, holding on until the wall was even stronger than before. He never gave up on his mission from God. His vision was always clearly shown to the men around him and the plan guided every step of the way. The wall was finished just 52 days later, keeping his people safe and secure once again.
I am always amazed at how quickly things were accomplished in the Bible stories I hear about every Sunday at church. Nehemiah built the walls in 52 days after personal sacrifice, prayer, a plan, team building and hard work. Jonah, after taking a few painful wrong turns that nearly swallowed him up, went to the city of Ninevah and told them the city would be overthrown in 40 days. The people believed him and prepared themselves, praying and asking God for forgiveness. God listened and did not destroy the city, because His people had asked for his forgiveness. Simply amazing what prayer can accomplish in our daily lives and our business plans. If you have made mistakes in your business along the way, pick up you pencil and start noodling again…pray to God for help, not for a quick fix, but for quiet support and strength while you look for the answers he has ready for you to find on your own.
There were many Christian business owners at the conference who shared stories with everyone about what happened when they put God First in their businesses. The level of success was unheard of and they rapidly had to change their business plan to allow for this growth. Even customers that are not strong religious followers always have spiritual beliefs that help guide their lives. By stating that you put God First in your business, people will feel more trusting of you and believe in your business as well.
Put God First, have outstanding principals that never waiver, run your business in a very strategic manner, expect your employees to have the same strong principals and treat your customers and employees with respect and honesty. A very simple approach to a strong, successful business. My husband and I did everything listed here, except we did not put God First in our business. We placed too much of the burden on ourselves and burned out over time, leading to the sale of Playful Pooch a year ago. If we had asked God for help along with way, options and ideas would have been shown to us and we would still be running the very successful business that we started. For those of you that need help getting started with your strategic God First business development, please send an email or make a comment on this website. I am happy to share my ideas with you.