The desire for financial freedom is just one of many reasons why people start a business, but at the core of this desire is trust or lack of. We no longer trust the system, our employers or the government to provide for us, or our future, we want control back. In order to gain control we need knowledge, information and guidance. This book provides that much needed help, providing its reader with the correct information to start their journey to personal autonomy. Covering areas such as vision, planning, dominating the market, and using their Faith for progression. It fuses practical advice and tips with biblical revelations accompanied by God's scriptures.
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How to Build a Christian Business
By Michael A. C. Maynard
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Michael A. C. Maynard
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHis example for our business
"The bible is full of biblical business examples, if we look close enough"
Starting a business is easy. Millions of people all around the world start businesses every year; in the UK alone, 50% of those businesses fail within the first two years (2009) and many of the businesses that do survive often struggle to reach a turnover of £50,000 within that period. In the US, the failure rate of small businesses has risen by 40% between the years of 2007-2011, although growth is still taking place.
Being a Christian business does not exempt us from falling into those statistics; like every other business owner we should study the reasons why those businesses failed and aim to avoid the same pitfall. Where we do have an advantage are the kingdom principles that God has given us to use, spiritual laws that supersede the laws of man and this earth. This means as a Christian business owner we must work twice as hard as a business owner in the world. Why? Because we need to research and understand current business trends and industry patterns in order to operate within them. But once we have this understanding, it is for us to use our kingdom principles to not only succeed, but to also positively affect the industries that we are in.
For example, the bible teaches us the power that exists in our tongue/ speech; we are commanded to prophesy the word of the Lord over our circumstances. Ezekiel 37 (valley of the dry bones) is a perfect example where prophecy can bring a change to even the worst situation. Romans 4 v17 also confirms the power of speech in action, when Abraham "Calls those things are not as if they were". These are spiritual principles that we can use to change our natural business circumstances. Could you imagine if the word in Ezekiel was 'businesses' instead of 'bones'? Ezekiel would have been speaking to dead businesses, commanding them to live and trade again, or commanding customers to come back and good staff to support the business. Using the Abraham example (in a business context), could you imagine him declaring that there will be large bird-like vessels to carry people through the sky? Or declaring that one day Christians will run the country? We have the ability to call things into our business that are missing.
It's the spiritual principles that separate us from the businesses in the world; if we can marry these principles with sound business practice, our companies truly will be "the head and not the tail, and above only and not beneath" (Deuteronomy 28).
The bible is an amazing book that holds the secret to life itself. What amazes me is that it has something for everyone, and can therefore meet the need of every person. In times past, I believe it was read very narrowly and only in a spiritual context, typically in a church setting or personally for spiritual growth. But more and more in recent times I have seen God reveal His scripture in other arenas - it is proving to hold the keys to prosperity, society and moral behaviors, businesses, health and so much more. We must be open to the Holy Spirit to reveal to us revelations from His word based on the context in which we need it. So for us who are in business, I want to use Christ's administration and ministry as a blueprint for us to follow, as there are key factors that we can use as examples for our businesses.
The bible tells us in Matthew 4 that before Jesus started His ministry He spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. Being able to resist temptation was one of the key factors for Jesus's ministry; everything Christ did was hinged on the fact He didn't sin and so this time was exceptionally important. If we look at this in a business context we can draw on key points:
1. We too must spend time BEFORE we begin our business learning the factors for our business's survival. This may be research, gaining knowledge or simply planning sufficiently what we are trying to do, ensuring our vision is clear and our goals are set. Throughout Christ's wilderness temptations, I am sure He would have envisaged exactly what His ministry would have achieved, and keep His eyes on the reasons why He was doing it. He was so clear that even when Satan tried to use the word to cause Him to fall, He could answer promptly and confidently. Can we do the same for our own business? How well do we know our industry?
2. As a Christian business owner, we need to fast and pray for our business. Our business will never grow if we don't take the time out to present it before the Lord and cover it spiritually through prayer.
3. We must be careful not to sin in business; Christ stayed blameless because He lived by His principle (His word). I believe business has a hidden code of ethics, underlying principles that must be followed. For example, business is about trade, supply and demand; you give something to get something (supply a product and receive money). If we break this code, it's not business; in other words, if we receive payment for something but don't supply the goods we are breaking the code of ethics. Another underlying principle is if I offer a good service at a good price, I expect more business in return. If my service is poor or my price is over inflated, how can I expect repeat business? Another principle is one of leverage, e.g. one person cannot do it all, but by recruiting good workers and using their efforts, energy and skills, the business will produce more. Failing to use the leverage of others will stunt the business growth.
As Christians we must adhere to the business principles and our Christian principle, which include trading fairly, honestly and with respect. Galatians Chapter 5 talks of the fruits of the Spirit - we must aim to evidence this in our own behavior, which will in turn impact our business.
Christ started His ministry in Capernaum (Galilee), which became a base for Him whilst ministering in Galilee. Although He was from Nazareth, He chose to start His business 20 miles away from His own town. There can be many reasons for this but I want to challenge us with this fact because many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we must start our businesses from home or in our hometown. In many cases this may be acceptable because it can reduce the startup costs, however a business location should be based on where there is a market for the business.
The research we conduct before starting our business, should indicate where our product or service is most needed. This evidence should drive our business location or marketing activity. Christ understood that His ministry would be limited in His hometown (due to familiarity) and so He began it in one of the busiest cities in the region where He could also gain more support and resources.
Another reason why many start in their hometown is often as a safety blanket; we are launching out but not too much just in case it doesn't work. We try to stay close to home so we can retreat and feel safe if necessary. We ignore the fact that there are 100 other companies offering the same services as us in our town. In my local town, we have one particular street that is full of takeaway shops, literally next door to each other, all selling the same foods at the same prices. The only differences between the shops are the color of the shop front and the person at the till. The major consequence of this is that they all share the same customers, therefore reducing each individual shop's profits. I often laughed when driving by that particular road because of the number of similar shops and asked myself why? But I now realize it's because they feel safe - they have launched out into business, without launching too far, and the other shops are familiar ground (home), all doing the same products as them.
Jesus realized something very early on in His ministry, which is a key message for us all. He realized that if you are to build anything substantial and lasting, it cannot be done alone and so He recruited. Jesus was to build a ministry/movement/business that was to last for the rest of time; it was to start with one, growing to 12 and eventually reaching millions. Jesus was/is the word, and created the strategy for the business, but it's His team that helped spread the message. As a visionary it was important for Him to communicate His vision to His team, in order for them to spread the correct message.
The first four-team members Christ recruited were businessmen; all four were fishermen and operated two separate fishing businesses. These guys would have been used to hard graft, working for a profit through sometimes tough conditions. Christ's ministry would face tough times - He needed people that had experienced hard work and could handle the pressure. In Matthew 4 v 18, Christ calls Simon and Andrew - He makes reference to them fishing for men now instead of for fish, using their past experience for the ministry.
Christ being a visionary would know where He wanted the ministry to go and so the 12 people chosen were each chosen for a specific reason, whether it was skill, background, mindset, etc. Some of the disciples would have been beneficial to the ministry immediately - perhaps their background or occupation would have had a direct impact on the ministry. Luke was recorded as a physician and so would have been invaluable for the ministry, to his team and others who were following Christ. Luke could have also been used to verify healings that had taken place. Matthew (a tax collector) would have had access to circles of people that the other disciples wouldn't have; he was part of the world's system and so would have bought a wealth of knowledge and differing experience. Others would have been chosen for their future roles - Christ knew when He chose Simon (later to be named Peter) that He would develop into a leader, and therefore addressed Him as a "Rock".
We must evaluate where our businesses are going, and then choose people who align with our future vision. Who does your business need now? And who does it need in the future?
It is important to note that I am not suggesting that you must find a partner to go into business with or that you must recruit staff immediately. What I am emphasizing are the relationships needed in order for your business to succeed. Each relationship may be in a different capacity, e.g. some may be staff, others may be critical friends that you can talk to about your business, and others may be businesses that you can form a mutual agreement with to share information. It is important that you remember that this is about building your business, it's not about you as an individual, and so you must identify what the business needs are. If the business needs particular skills to grow that you don't have, you will need to determine how you can get the required skills for the business. Will you develop them? Buy them in? Or find strategic alliances? Either way, if the business needs those skills, it is your job to get them.
One of the most effective means of marketing today is word of mouth, and the core of Jesus's ministry was based on His message. He was able to use His disciples to spread the word on His behalf - they became an extension of Him, and the word was furthered because of it. In today's market we call that networking - meeting the right people and telling them about our business, which in turn spreads our message (they become extensions of us). Networking continues to remain a powerful medium for spreading the word about our products. It simply requires us to talk about our business in the right circles - this could be staff, or other businesspeople. The main thing to remember when networking is to be proactive in conversation, ensuring your message is spoken about and a clear route to your product is communicated effectively.
The 12 disciples would have networked with countless people, maybe other fisherman, tax collectors or family and friends; the message is always more authentic if you have experienced the product yourself and can endorse it. The disciples witnessed the miracles firsthand and were therefore ideal candidates for spreading the word of salvation. It is important to take the time to share our business product to those around us. Sometimes as Christians we shy away from telling those around us what we do; we fail to understand how networking truly works. Even if the person you talk to doesn't know someone, it's who they tell and so on that could bring you business. I have firsthand experience of this, as for years many of those in my own church didn't (and there are still a few who don't) know what I do for a living; they knew it was business related but couldn't categorically say what it was. The problem with that is that I may have missed out on several sales opportunities for failing to open my mouth.
If we put His ministry further into a business context, we can identify that the message of salvation was His product. His sales strategy was to encourage others to buy this life-changing product, use it and then tell others how good it was. The disciples were His sales force and managers, and the Godhead (trinity) was His board of directors. What I want to highlight from this analogy was the Godhead's part in this. The scripture often speaks of Christ separating Himself to talk to His father. If you are new in business or fairly new to business, I encourage you to put in place the role of a mentor. This mentor can be in the form of an individual or it can be a team of people, e.g. a board, steering group or critical friends. The mentorship role gives you as a business owner an opportunity to go somewhere to talk and if necessary gain advice. Sometimes if you are in business alone, you lack the outside eyes looking in who can give a different perspective on things.
Most large corporations in the world today have a board of directors - people who they are now accountable to. The board helps make the major decisions and will always act in the best interest of the company. Even as a small company, you can still place someone/some people in that role to ensure you are staying on track. Jesus's conversations with the Father kept Him focused and strengthened on the task at hand.
There are many other examples we can learn from Christ and how he managed His business: paying taxes early was one of them, communicating effectively was another. I encourage you to look into His story further and gather more applicable truths.
We can learn extensively from Christ's example on how to build a good team. Each member of the team had a specific purpose and reason for being there. When recruiting or looking for strategic alliances, we must recruit wisely based on what the business needs and where it is going.
1. Have you identified what staff is needed for your business?
2. Take the time to research team building techniques and how to people manage
Chapter TwoVision- It's all about what YOU can see!
"Our current surroundings cannot be allowed to obscure what we see"
I believe that vision or lack of vision is a defining measure or factor of success in business. Every business should have a vision; it can be defined as the mental picture of what you see your business becoming, an end state or position that you are aiming toward. Every business owner or founder, Christian or not, should have a vision of their business. It's the moment they thought of the idea of realizing the business, or perhaps a dream of where they saw themselves being. It's not a spiritual thing, let me make that clear from the outset, the only thing that makes it spiritual is if it is God given. Sometimes the vision is only seen in part; perhaps you have thought of the idea but are yet to work it through. We sometimes have the misconception that we must see the whole of the vision in order for it to happen, in a flashing day thought or night dream. At times we mystify the vision because we feel if it's God given then it must come to pass and be successful, but this is not always the case.
In reality we can control our vision - God has given us the ability and creativity to create visions; just as He did when He created this earth, we too can see a thing and then work to make it happen. God does at times show us a vision as His intention to act or as a stimulus to prompt us in the right direction, but He has in-built in us all the ability to see.
I first realized this to be true whilst watching the erection of new houses behind my property. I watched several builders come and go, I watched the diggers, the trucks and various drilling equipment being used over the course of the week. The build was split into various stages, which then triggered a number of processes, which informed the company how many workers to deploy. To the naked eye (namely mine), the building site looked an absolute mess but every person working on the site knew what they were doing, they knew what went where and how each part of the build should look- they must have seen a picture of the end state. The developers would have drawn a master plan, which would govern each stage of the build, ensuring that everything was measured correctly; it's this plan that would ensure that each tradesman's contribution was the right one.
Excerpted from How to Build a Christian Business by Michael A. C. Maynard Copyright © 2012 by Michael A. C. Maynard. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. His example for our business....................1
Chapter 2. Vision- It's all about what YOU can see!....................11
Chapter 3. Planning....................23
Chapter 4. We need Resources....................41
Chapter 5. Dominating your market....................51
Chapter 6. Part A - Digging the foundation....................65
Chapter 7. Part B - The build....................73
Chapter 8. Our business the product....................83
Chapter 9. Anointed for business....................95
Chapter 10. The attributes of a Christian businessman/woman....................107
Chapter 11. Faith's place in business?....................115
Chapter 12. Quick business startup – the basics....................125
Scripture References by Chapter....................137
About the Author....................141