(Editor’s Note: This is the first of two articles on how to start a business God’s way.)
If you don’t count the greeting cards, ice scrapers or newspapers I sold as a child, my first business startup was a car rental agency. After I liquidated that business, I made a commitment to myself never to launch another startup. This was when I began to learn that if you want to give God a good laugh, tell Him your plans – His plans are very different from yours. Because from that time, I have been part of at least seven startups!
Since those who track marketplace trends report well over one million businesses have been started since the COVID pandemic started, a “Monday Manna” looking at what the Bible teaches about “Starting a Business God’s Way” seems appropriate.
The first principle to remember in starting a new business is: follow God’s call and leading rather than your own plan. Then proceed accordingly. As Proverbs 19:21 teaches, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
When I was 25 years old, I left the public accounting world and struggled to determine what I wanted to do next. I read about a new concept called Rent-a-Wreck. It sounded like a groundbreaking idea, so I started my own used car rental agency. It never occurred to me to seek God’s leading, asking if He thought this was a good idea.
Looking back, my only real objective was to make lots of money. I had no knowledge or passion for renting cars, and no legitimate answer for the question – the second principle – “Why should this business exist?” Proverbs 20:5 teaches, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” If you’re considering launching a business, consider, “Why should this business exist?” If your only answer is to make money, seek to find a better purpose for your career.
After my son was diagnosed with autism, a group of parents and I decided to start a school for children with special needs. Some professionals advised that we could establish a school for children with learning disabilities or autism, but could not serve both.
As parents, we balked at accepting that conclusion. It took several months, but eventually we concluded the professionals were right, that we could not effectively do both. We discovered the third principle, when starting a business, determine who you will serve. So, we developed a school for learning disabilities, even though several of our children would never be able to attend. That school has since helped over 1,000 children.
Matthew 6:24 teaches, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” Your business needs to have a focused audience. Lack of a clearly considered business focus can result in going in too many different directions, failing to properly serve any of your intended customers.
We will cover three additional biblically based principles for starting a business next week.
Copyright 2022, Unconventional Business Network. Adapted with permission from “UBN Integrity Moments,” a commentary on faith at work issues. UBN is a faith at work ministry serving the international small business community.
1. Have you ever started a business of your own, or have you given help to someone else as they were starting their own business? If so, what has that experience been like for you?
2. How would you suggest that someone go about trying to determine and follow God’s leading for a new business startup, or even for making a major career change?
3. What is your reaction to the question, “Why should this business exist?” – do you think many people give the answer to that question a priority when they are trying to start a business?
4. Why do you think it is necessary for a company to have a clear understanding of who their customers are – essentially, who are those people (or entities) that they intend to serve?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Psalm 37:3-6; Proverbs 3:5-6; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:17, 23-24