I wrote this three years ago, and never published it. Not sure why I came back to it, but I’ll put this out there for what it’s worth.
I’m not a business starter. I’m a pastor with opinions. I like telling people what to do, and it really is a good part of my job to help people frame their behavior inside some larger purpose.
So when it comes to whether you should start a business or something like a business, as one of my mentors says, “I’ll plan your life.” At least I’ll try.
But rather than that, I’ll offer the following:
- Make lists of your thing’s contributions. If you cannot fill a wall or a page or a half-page with a number of contributions, you should try harder. There is great good in adding one thing to the world, but that’s small. Go back to the drawing board until you have a few more. Leave us with more. Make it bigger and better.
- If you don’t love the thing, no one will. Give yourself to your business, whatever your business is. Do it completely and because you love it. If you’re starting a service or creating a product which you wouldn’t use, it better be really good. Because you can’t translate your love for something if you haven’t held it, used it, and “bought” it yourself.
- Learn everything there is to know. Become the expert in something or somethings. Be the authority. Nothing’s stopping you from becoming superior in your area. Read every book written on your subject. Know the relevant blogs and social spaces where your topic comes up. Write a paper about it, drawing upon the insights of others, even if you don’t share it with others. Learn it all so you can answer every question.
- Give up now if you’re looking for a smooth road. Business is difficult. Starting a church or a school or a non-profit is just as hard. If you’re looking for success in the morning, when it’s 8pm, and you’re on the way to bed, your hopes are not full of faith but stupidity. Fruit or success or productivity come after planting and watering and work and toil. None of those are sweatless activities. And it’s too early to go to bed if your vision’s launch is tomorrow. Stay awake and perfect the thing.
- Get your books in order. Whatever you need to keep track of your processes, your expenses, your thoughts, and your records, find two of them. Take good notes. Track your time and your spending, even if you’re spending everything except money. Find people who are gifted where you lack. Fill your time with smarter people. All of these people and systems are “in your books.”
- Get better at meeting needs of people. It’s holy work doing things for others. This looks like selflessness and giving and suffering; it’s looks like a long time. These characteristics will anchor you deeply when things go wrong. They will serve as reminders that your idea, business, or invention is not solely about you and your comfort.
- Plan and implement. If you are a starter, tell people to make sure you implement and finish things. What you bring is no good half-baked, uncooked. Structure yourself and your things; put it in place. Do it. I try to tell people to live by faith. I spend a lot of time framing faith conversation for the moment. It looks like convincing people that what’s in them is 1) given to them, 2) worth responding to, and 3) worth giving away. It’s true for you. Do the thing.
- Tie your work to something bigger. For me that has to do with the purposes of God. It may not for you. But if you’re developing a service for the small sake of securing money, you’ll find emptiness soon. Connect your idea to something deeper than yourself.
That’s enough for now.