Starting a Business, Generating Godly Wealth
Godly businesspersons and entrepreneurs,
Financial independence. Time freedom. Creative control. A childhood dream. All reasons one might start a business.
For some, entrepreneurship is a survival project, what business magnates call "necessity entrepreneurs". Others, in light of the economy's semi-recovery (at the time of this writing), are now increasingly "opportunity entrepreneurs". They see an underserviced niche or undersupplied demand or dormant demand and blitzkrieg into the cracked door...and make millions.
For born-again, Bible-believing Christians, our first and foremost entrepreneurial motive must be what I term calling-based design. God calls some of us to a business inheritance and He indicates that call through a commensurate design--the spiritual and genetic equipment well-tailored for business.
Sound like you? Then let's talk business and moneycraft.
Money & Pragmatic Maturity
So you have an intrinsic design for business, but not necessarily the extrinsic experience or education. No need to fret godly millionaire-to-be. As many successful businesspersons now realize (and say), pragmatic maturity supersedes formal education in business or moneycraft. Book smarts and good grades on paper do not translate into the skillful pragmatism required to build wealth.
I could adapt that last sentence for Bible-believing, Spirit-filled Christians: Being "book smart" in Scripture and living a Spirit-filled life does not translate into the skillful pragmatism required to build wealth.
You can be a dutiful sheep, pray for hours a day, sing only worship songs in your car, go to every "kingdom wealth" pep rally (conference), declare the right thing in faith seven times a day, send monetary oblations to your pet movement's leader, but if you do not have ever-increasing pragmatic traits you can never build or maintain a wealthy apparatus. Jesus said this.
Jesus & Moneycraft
In Luke 16:8, in a strange statement, Jesus said the people of the world (the unsaved) are wiser in money matters than people of the light (the born-again). Jesus is not at all referring to fraudulent economics, or chasing money above all else, or predatory capitalism. He is referring to certain pragmatic traits the unsaved rich often possess, and for whatever reason, Christians often do not.
The Greek adjective Luke uses here to denote "wiser" or "more shrewd" is phronimos, which means "intelligent, mindful, prudent." Notice how phronimos is used throughout the Gospels. This is important to sensing what Jesus meant.
In Matthew 7:24, Jesus says a wise (phronimos) man builds on a sturdy foundation. In 10:16, He commands us to be as wise (phronimos) as serpents. In 25:2,4,8,9, He says the five virgins who set aside extra oil were wise (phronimos). In 24:45 and Luke 12:42, He asks, "Where is the wise [phronimos] manager?"
This survey of phronimos in the Gospels illuminates what Jesus meant when He said the unsaved rich are, in general, financially wiser than the saved: they build wealth on a foundation, are strategically cunning like a serpent, save and set aside like the five virgins, are prudent managers, and so on. These are only a few traits of wealth-generating moneycraft. There are more.
Selective Bible Reading
As Jesus scolded, the people of the light, in general, are not very phronimos-wise financially. We slothfully expect God to do everything (usually a big-money miracle). We believe and pray the few favorite verses we have dug our heels into, to the neglect of others equally important, like Luke 16:8, James 2:26, and others I will emphasize in this article. Put simply, many Christians have little or no moneycraft because their financial theology is shambolic.
If you are going to generate godly wealth, you must have certain pragmatic traits the unsaved rich often possess, a humbling but critical fact Jesus pointed out.
From the early 1940s to now, the U.S. has developed into an unprecedented economic power. Events like World War II and others certainly contributed opportune conditions for a Pax Americana, however, those events and conditions could not have been monetized without key pragmatic traits in the last three generations of Americans. To succeed in business and money, those same traits are a strategic starting point. You can build on them over time.
Generation Baby Boomer (1943 - 1960s)
The baby boomer generation epitomized longterm commitment, work ethic, and patient methodism. If you want to build a deep and wide apparatus of wealth, you have to resist the overnight success fantasy. Realize child prodigies and sudden fortune are extraordinary anomalies. Establish your methodology and stratagem, which will evolve, and patiently work them for the long haul.
God's Word agrees. Proverbs 28:20,22 (NKJV): A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished...A man with an evil eye hastens after riches...
Generation X (1960s - Early 1980s)
Gen Xers were born into a new era of two-income families, the popularizing of Self-Help, and a faster pace of life. They, in turn, gave the American workforce a self-motivated, self-sufficient, energetic element. Long haul methodism can, at times, bring on a sluggish lassitude, but the Gen Xer trait of self-starting and go-getting can invigorate and accelerate slow-developing business results.
God's Word agrees. Matthew 11:12 (NKJV): ...the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 7:7 (NKJV): Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. Titus 3:1 (AMP, CE): ...be prepared and willing to do any upright and honorable work.
Generation Y (Early 1980s - Early 2000s)
Generation Y has contributed a prolific technological element to the workforce. From narcissistic selfies to multimillion dollar operations from a laptop, Gen Yers consume and employ any tech tool available. Don't like technology? Get over it my friend. In today's world your enterprise needs it. Watch "The Internship" (2013, PG-13).
God's Word agrees. The Lord used whatever earthly vehicle was available to Him: Moses' rod, Balaam's donkey, David's slingshot, Peter's boat, a boy's lunch, Paul's handkerchiefs, your technology.
In business and wealth-building, there will be times for patient methodism. And energetic go-getting. And tech savviness. You need to do all three as needed.
Entrepreneurial success will require key social traits also. The following is enough to get you going, though you will build on this, too, over time.
Business Friends & Business Allies
As early as possible (in the prelaunch phase ideally), get business friends and/or allies. A business friend is a person you know and have some level of affection for, but who is also involved in or acquainted with business. Business friends provide a nice mixture of support, fun, and beneficial business dialogue. A business ally is one who shares or supports your business goals in a more objective way. They might do this monetarily, through strategy and mentorship, through opportunities and introductions, or in any way directly helpful to your enterprise.
The Superiority of Friends & Allies, The Inferiority of Networks & Social Media
Friendships and alliances are superior to networks and social media. The former is more personal, lasting, strategic, defined, and ultimately beneficial. Which is more helpful, one friend or ally who can open a door that results in a 300% revenue increase, or four thousand Facebook "friends" all competing for News Feed preeminence, or a business network in which members finagle against each other to be seen and heard? Networks and social media have their benefits and upside, but those benefits will never outdo the God-ordained, Biblically-proven mechanism of genuine friends and allies.
Through two relationships (Naomi and Boaz) Ruth became the owner of the very field she panhandled scraps from. Through two allies (Ashpenaz and Arioch) Daniel became one of the highest paid administrators in all Babylon (Dan 2:48). So also did his video game buddies, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (v49). Joseph became the second richest man on earth through a brief friendship with just two men, Potiphar and the cupbearer.
You do not need a million people to know you and like you, you just need the right one. You do not need to exhaust yourself to be noticed, or check your social media updates every six minutes (control yourself, please). Rather, get sincere, valuable, business-relevant friends and allies. They will be the hands that crack open windows, the hinges that swing massive doors, the sentries that open golden gates to unclaimed treasures.
Networks and social media can have some benefits, but they will never outdo the God-ordained, Biblically-proven mechanism of genuine friends and allies.
Getting Started Practically
Bloomberg mentions that 8 of 10 small businesses fail in the first eighteen months. Take heart, though, you can preempt rookie mistakes and get into that upper 20% that go on and grow on to delightful bottom lines.
Make Sure Your Good/Service is Promising
Butterflying your cocooned idea into a profitable good or service first means honestly appraising its potential. How promising is the idea to your niche market? Does it have a magnetism that would likely draw consumers and market shares?
A product has magnetism to the degree it possesses one or more of nine characteristics: blessing (for born-again entrepreneurs), novelty, design, quality, price, multidimensionality, speed, duration, and freshness mystique. I explain these nine terms in my business article Turning Good Ideas Into Profitable Products.
Have Enough Startup Money
Underfunding is one reason 80% of startups get choked out, and that because the entrepreneur often underestimates cost and overestimates demand. I call this "rookie narcissism". This also happens with amateur church planters and pastors. So be humble and realistic starting out. If you have immediate skyrocketing success, wonderful, but realize such awe-inspiring spectacles are aberrations, not typical.
Financially bubble wrap your first two years. Calculate and accumulate your startup money as accurately as possible. Add more bubble wrap on top of that for unexpected threats or opportunities. Jesus said in Luke 14:28 (HCSB): For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn't first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
Outer Circle Your Financial Startup Matrix
The average entrepreneur spends $15,000 on startup, and 82% of this is from family and friends (GEM 2012 United States Report). The resulting stress on those relationships can become high to intolerable.
As much as possible, then, you do not want your startup matrix (or large portions of it) coming from your closest relationships. If there seems to be no other way, make sure those individuals understand the risk, are at peace with possibly losing the investment, and will still be in loving union with you in the aftermath. This is not theological or entrepreneurial dogma, just discretionary wisdom to safeguard your most important relationships.
In recent years I have benefactored or contributed to three individuals/startups. One has produced great returns in multiple dimensions, with even more on the horizon. One is still in the early stages. One I lost several thousand dollars and the relationship. The Lord gave me a peaceful green light on all three, but on the loss He illuminated critical things I was not perceiving about people and moneycraft and the complex, nuanced interplay between them.
As much as possible, accumulate your startup matrix (or most of it) from "outer circle" relationships, benefactors, donors, or investors (people you know and associate with, but not your closest relationships). This will avoid a potentially negative reconfiguration of your inner circle. But even more so, if your business succeeds, a layer of marketing and advocacy will have already been established. These benefactors will become your first promoters to their social and business pools.
Practice "Emerging Future Finances"
Unless you are already in financial bounty, you will have to practice what I call "emerging future finances". You cannot launch a business and be a glutton for spending and small-scale vice. You must submit to a tactical austerity, for a season, until you generate consistent surplus.
In a counseling session some time ago I was asked what needed to be done (financially) to launch one of three business ideas. I said, "Stop taking two to three overseas vacations a year. Take only one to a nice place within driving distance. Set aside X amount every month into a new business account. Within a year you will have enough to bubble wrap your first eighteen months. Use that prep year to get everything else ready."
Their faces dropped. Present tense hedonism and small-scale vice were more valuable than lifelong abundance, loads of free time, creative control, and writing paychecks instead of waiting for them. The Word says in Proverbs 13:11 (NIV): Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
Establish a Strong Internet & Tech Presence
These are days when you can create an empire from a laptop, foment a national revolution through Google, or build a jihadi army through Twitter. Mind-boggling and perplexing, for sure. Today's businessverse is unapologetically digital, consequently, you will need to establish a strong, savvy internet presence. This begins with a nice looking, easy to navigate website. Beyond this, you will have to analyze and strategize which tech tools are the most fitting to your operation. Find it, get it, use it, maximize it.
Establish an Intelligence Apparatus or Routine
I study around five hours a day, and sometimes more. This creates a continuous, neverending flow of intelligence into my being. It is from this informational inflow that the Spirit of wisdom and revelation can illuminate strategic rhemas for applicational outflow. Proverbs 18:15 (Young's Literal Translation): The heart of the intelligent getteth knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
Establish some type of intelligence-gathering apparatus or routine for your enterprise. You need a continuous, neverending flow of information relevant to your work, from which the Holy Spirit can illuminate rhema-strategies that outpace your competition, progressively take new territory, and grow your bottom line.
Do the Legal Necessities
Each state has its own business laws, and the feds do too. Figure out and comply with whatever legalities are necessary regarding your enterprise. As long as civil government is not asking us to sin, we are to submit fully to earthly authorities, Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1 say.
Launch Timing & Location
Ecclesiastes 8:5,6 (NIV) tell us "the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure" and "there is a proper time and procedure for every matter".
After a startup matrix has been accumulated, a strong internet and tech presence established, an intelligence apparatus or routine established, and the legalities are in order, burrow into the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for launch timing and location. This final phase--launch time and location--can oppose or propel all your prudent preparations.