questions for business growth3 Questions to ask to see if your business is ready to grow

When we talk about business growth I don’t want to focus on profits.  We want to focus on helping people.  When our goal is to help others with our business, we are prepped to take on whatever blessings God chooses to give us.

There are many places in the Bible that mention the fact that God will give us what we can handle and He will equip us to handle the next step when we are faithful.  Look at the latter part of Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

With that verse in mind, ask yourself these three questions to see if your business is ready to grow.

 

Question 1: Stability

If there was a tornado or other natural disaster that caused your business to not work for 2-3 months, would you be able to still pay employees and cover your expenses?

 

Question 2: Responsibility

If you got 2 new employees, do you have enough work for them to do, training to get them started and processes for them to follow? (If you have a large workforce, change the number to 20 or 200 according to the size of your business.  Think in number of a 20% workforce increase.)

 

Question 3: Sustainability

If you got 10 new customers a month, could your current system handle the additional workload without bogging down? (If you are a bigger company change the number accordingly to 100. Think about a 20% increase.)

 

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you are well on your way to growth.  Now all you need to do is beef us getting your message out.  We will talk about that in our next article.

 

Asking the right questions gets you the right answers. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

steps to grow your business3 Things you need to understand to grow your business

Growing a business takes a lot of work.  We all hope for the day our business becomes viral and people flock to us like moths to a flame, but in reality, growing a business takes a bit of time.  It takes a foundational understanding of what we do, who we do it for and how to tell them about it.

 

Understand what you sell in business

I know a lot of business owners think they know what they sell.  I am always surprised to see that they really don’t know what they are selling.

Let’s say you sell new cars.  There are thousands of different cars to choose from, so how do you stand out?  You stand out by understanding what you are selling.  If you have a minivan, you may be selling safety and security.  If you have a sports car, you may be selling power and prestige.

Here’s a quick exercise.  Take your product or service and define how your customer’s life is different after they use your product.  Then, ask “Why?”  Do that five levels deep.  Once you do that, you will truly understand what you are really selling.

For example, let’s say you sell minivans.  Your customers have a car that fits all of their family together.  Why?  Because having enough room is important.  Why? So the kids don’t fight.  Why? So they have a more peaceful ride. Why? So the parents can concentrate on the road.  Why? Because family is important and we want them to be safe.

If you follow those five levels you will see that family is important to people who buy minivans.  You are selling the idea of family, unity, peace and security.  You are not just selling a minivan.

 

Understand who you do business for

Once we have nailed down exactly what it is that we are selling, we must understand who needs it most.  Our customers are the people who are going to purchase and if you get this one wrong, we will always have a struggling business.

First thing we must get right is how they think and talk.  Each group of customers speaks a different language.  They may all speak English, but what they say is different.

A twenty something new mother is going to use different vernacular than a forty something female executive.  They are the same general persona, but they have widely different circles of influence, habits and values.  What is important to one may not be as important to both of them.

It is important that we really nail down our ‘best type’ of customer.  If we try to get everyone into our business, we will find ourselves doing a lot of work and getting minimal results.

Think about fishing.  Depending on what type of fish you want, you need the right type waters (lake, river, ect.), the right bait, the right hooks, the right equipment to get where they are, and the right timing.

The more we understand our ideal customer, the better we can talk to them and help them with the business that we have.

Here’s a quick exercise.  Write down 10 things your ideal customer values.  Write down 10 habits they may have.  Where do they shop?  What do they drive?  Where do they spend leisure time? Etc.  Once you nail down those 20 items.  Write a ‘day in the life of’ you ideal customer.  What does their life look like before they use your business and what will it look like after they use your business?

 

Understand how to tell customers about your business

Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be sold.  People love getting a good deal and finding things that help them with problems they have in everyday life.  They love businesses that can speak their language and if they can relate to your business, they will be a loyal customer for life.

I can’t express this hard enough.  If we want our customers to buy from us, they must like us.  They must feel like we understand them and are there to help them.  No longer are we in the days of yelling the loudest to get the most attention, we are in the days of whispering in the ears of good friends and engaging them on a personal level.

You have a message about how you can help your customers.  They want to know how you can help them.  Put together the two ideas from above.  Do they fit?  If not, fix the one that makes the most sense.  Remember, people love to buy things that help their lives and solve pain points they feel, but they only listen to you if they feel like you are talking directly to them.

 

Putting it all together

Here is a real life example. I was talking to an insurance sales man.  Their motto of their company was “for all your insurance needs from A to Z” (slightly altered to protect the company).  I asked what they did different that all the other companies that say they have all kinds of insurance.

He said, “Well, we are Christian and we pray for our people.  We have all the insurance they need and can probably get them a better rate than they are currently getting.”

I asked, “Many insurance agents offer all types of insurance and a lot of them say they can save you money. What are you doing differently?  Are your customers Christian?”

He said, “Why, yes, most of them are. I don’t guess I ever realized that.”

I suggested, “Then why don’t you emphasize your Christianity?  I would put our some ads, geared at Christians that said, ‘When was the last time your insurance agent prayed for you?’ When people know you are praying for them, they realize that you really care for them and that is different than other insurance agents.”

He said he had never thought of that and would have to do some work to see if he could get more people.

See, he wasn’t just selling insurance, there are thousands of people doing that.  He was selling a company that prayed for you.  In essence, he was selling insurance agents who care about you and your needs so much they will take time to pray for you.

Being in business as a Christian may not mean you only have Christian customers, but some do. You must identify your ideal customer and how you can help them.  Then, and only then, will you be ready to tell them what you have and how you can help them.

 

People love to buy, but they hate being sold. #Christianbusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

 

God does not believe in recession

This video is a great conversation about how to view money and business.  It is simple when you put your life in perspective.

Too often we listen to media to tell us if we are in a recession or if things are good or bad. Make your own decision. I heard Zig Ziglar say, “We heard there was a recession and we chose not to participate.”

As a Christian business owner, you have the ability to help people in any economy. Seek God for His wisdom in your buisness and take action when He says.

Look at Joseph in the seven years of famine. He prepared a way to protect everyone under his care including his brothers who sold him into slavery. God was with Him and He is with you too!

 

It's not about the money, it's about the relationships. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Moving From Failure to Success

from business failure to successWe’ve been talking about Christians failing in business because I think we are missing the point of being in business.

Let me state it as plainly as possible: Business is the vehicle that brings people to God.

Our entire lives have been sculpted and guided by God.  Every moment of success and failure have been used to help us become the person we are today.  All of those moments lead us to be a business owner and because we know God is real and our lives are touched by the hand of God, we are Christians.

Yes, we must make money in order to survive as a business, but ultimately we can’t make money if we are not helping people.  The best way I know to help people is to show them the undaunting love of Christ through our words, actions and our business.

Not until we fully realize that our business is God’s business will be really begin to undertake the transformation that we need to do business.  I know this may sound like pie in the sky thinking or some preacher telling us something we remember today and forget tomorrow, but it is more than that.  Being a Christian is a way of life and if you are in business, it is the way you do business.

 

Practical Faith In Business

Let’s get practical for a moment.  What does this really look like to live out faith in a business?

I work in the world of business marketing.  Many of my clients ask me to help them with Facebook ads.  When I set up ads I ask about their goals and their strategy.  Often, their goal is to get more customer and they say their strategy is to use Facebook ads.  I press in, “Why do you really want to get more customers?  What would happen if you got 100 new customers?  Could you help them?”  I get various answers.

It is here that something different happens.  I begin to pray right in the middle of the meeting.  I had prayed before the meeting, I prayed for this client throughout the week and I prayed for my understanding about using Facebook ads.  I even read my Bible each day to gain wisdom from God and here at this very moment I am seeking and searching for God to guide my words and give me wisdom.

You’d be surprised at how quickly the moment turns.  I have had people share with me about struggles in their family, medical issues, etc.  All because I asked about their business and took time to engage God in the midst of my conversation.

It is in these moments that I offer to pray for these people.  If I find out they are a believer at any stage of believing I may point out a Bible verse.  Yes, we complete the Facebook ad, but until this person is free from their pain, they can never truly engage their customers and grow their business.

I have had clients start reading their Bible, start going back to church and even  getting involved in group studies at their church.  It excites me to see God working in their lives, not because of what I did, but because of what God did in these people.

You may say, “Well, sure you can do this.  You are a Reverend and trained to do things like this.”  I would answer in two ways.  One, I did the same thing before I even knew I was going to be a minister.  Two, I will remind you about 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Even before I knew that I was called into ministry I was involved in business.  I was talking to a family before I even knew I could be a minister and they were having medical struggles.  I simply told them that I cared for them and I would be praying for them.  They became great friends and I got to walk with them as they got back involved in church and the Mother went into remission.  We rejoiced greatly and gave God all the Glory.

I am nobody special.  No more than you.  You can impact and influence people’s lives just as easily as I did.  You know how I know?  Because the same God that lives and works in me, lives and works in you.

 

You are Gifted

Each of us are gifted in different ways.  You may be able to reach people I could never reach.  You may be the one person who could bring a particular person to know Christ.  You have a responsibility. . nay…you have a privilege to bring people closer to Christ with every encounter and every contact.

The reason Christian businesses fail is that they do not see God as the sole reason for what they do. They don’t give God the glory for every victory and ask His wisdom in every triumph.  Remember, it is not about what you do, it is Who you do it for that makes the difference between a flourishing business and one that is holding on by a thread.

 

Lining Up Your Business with God

Take action.  Go back to our previous article and do the three exercises (click here).  Line up your life and your business with God as your CEO.  Commit to the basics of reading your Bible, praying, getting involved in church, giving and worshipping our Savior.

You may not know me, but I am praying for you.  I prayed for everyone who will see this post.  I prayed that my words would be His words and your life will be edified because of Him speaking to you through these words.  If you sign up for our Faith Membership, which is totally FREE, I have your name and I will pray for you by name.  If you want me to pray for you specifically, just let me know by responding to one of my emails.

Once you get your business lined up with God if you need some guidance, I offer a monthly training specifically on business principles, strategies and tips.  You can even submit a question specifically about your business for these trainings if you are part of the Growth Program.  In my personal business I have to charge hundreds of dollars for this kind of consulting, but I offer it here on this web page for pennies a day.  Consider getting involved with our Faith (free) or Growth program.

To God be the Glory both Now and Forever, Amen!

Be blessed and be a blessing.

 

Business is the vehicle that brings people to God. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

reasons Christians fail in businessAfter studying a lot of businesses over the years, I have pinned down three main reasons Christians are not growing in their business.

Let me warn you.  I am not writing to offend anyone.  I am writing based on seeing what is working in business in the lives of Christian entrepreneurs.

Take time to read each of these. Don’t just read the title and skim the rest.  Read the meat of the story.  Only when Christian business owners dig into their faith can they dig into the blessings of God for their lives and their busiensses.

 

 

Christian Business Failure #1: Prayer is not integral to the business

We touched base on this in our previous article, but I want to take it a step further.  Let me start by telling you a story.

I was working as a minister at a church.  While leaving one day there was a lady in the parking lot, chain smoking.  She looked up at me and with a straight face said, “I’m praying that God will deliver me from smoking.”  I replied, “It might help if you stop buying cigarettes.”

I have no doubt God can deliver people from all kinds of habits, but we must take action.  We can’t just sit in our office and wait for God to bless us, we have to get out there and see the opportunities that God provides.  We can only do that when we have a constant, consistent prayer conversation with the God of the universe.

I know people who get up at three in the morning to pray for an hour.  That is awesome!  But don’t let it stop there.  Let prayer become integrated into your entire day.  When the phone rings, ask God for wisdom and the ability to help whoever is on the other end of the line before you answer it.

Praying for business is more than just expecting God to grow your business.  Praying for your business means you are seeking God with your whole heart, mind, body and soul.  You are looking to God as your CEO and asking Him before making any decisions.

Here’s a quick exercise: For one day, write down all the things that you can pray for.  Start with employees, customers and vendors.  Then, write down products, divisions and locations.  Write down your website and all your marketing endeavors.

The list will be a long list and that is perfectly OK.  Now you have a road map of things you can pray for.  By doing this, you have set your mind to be aware of how God is working in and through you all day as you work His business.

 

Christian Business Failure #2: Attitude is not focused on true success

Attitude can be a double edged sword.  On one side, we have such a great attitude that we leave God aside because of our ego.  On the other side, we have such a lowly view of life because we are a sinner.  There is balance between the two.

First and foremost, you are child of God.  You are child of the King.  You are child of the King of Kings.  That alone should give you confidence. Yet, that should not give us license to do whatever we want.

We are stewards of the King’s people.  We are to take care of them as if they were our own.  God has entrusted us with the responsibility of the lives He has put in our business.

So what does all of this have to do with attitude? We can read books about positive thinking.  We can watch lots of motivational videos.  Yet none of those really make a lasting impression until we realize our value and our place in this universe.

God gave you the ability to run a business.  He gave you skills and opportunities.  He gave you a brain to learn what you need to learn to grow your faith and your business.  He gave you the wisdom to turn to Him, rely on Him and trust Him.

Our attitude should line up with Jesus who humbled Himself as a Servant.  We are to serve others out of our gratitude to God for all He has done for us.  Our attitude must come from our identity in God, not our success in this world.

Here’s an exercise: (You may want to do this on paper and out of the view of others.)  Write down everyone in your business that you are better than.  Seriously, check your heart.  Who do you feel like you are better than?  Write their name or initials and why you are better than them.  Then, go back through the list.  How is that same person better than you?

This is a tough exercise, but partnered with praying for these people, this could become a powerful exercise for you in your business.  You will see the value in yourself and the value others add.  If you want to take it a step further, take a day to be grateful for each person and send them a hand written note of thanks.  Encourage their character and edify them.

 

Christian Business Failure #3: You is the center of the business

I know this is a tough article for some of us.  God wants to chisel away at the things that are holding us back from doing all that He has called us to do.  As long as we hold on to the comfortable chains that bind us, we will never grow in the blessings that God wants to bring us.

When we have ‘you’ as the center of our business our business will never grow.  Yes, there are large personalities that grew large businesses, only to quickly fail with one attack to their character.

A business built on ‘you’ is centered on what you can do and what you want to do.  It does not take into consideration all that God has done or His guidance.  It focuses on making a buck so that ‘my’ life can be better.

I struggle with this just like everyone else.  This week I have turned down at least three great ideas that would have made me a lot of money.  I could jump on some fad or sell some hot product, but in the end that does not bring glory to God.

God is the center of all we do as Christians.  When we place ourselves on the throne instead of God, our values and ideas become warped.  I am sure you can think of some movie or TV series where the wrong king got on the throne and ruined the entire kingdom.

God gifted us with skills, talents and aspirations.  He does not want us to give up our personality to serve Him. He wants to complete that personality.  He wants to help make you the best you possible.  He created you and knows the best version of who you are.

Business may be started as a solo act, but as we grow we need to let others take on parts of our business.  Delegation is a valuable skill and you can see it all throughout the Bible.  God gave you a personality, to bring other personalities and help more people with His business.

Business is about helping people and bringing Glory to God.  When ‘you’ is the center of the business, all glory goes to self.  The business will slowly depreciate and the ‘you’ that is on top will soon find that it is lonely at the top.  It does not need to be that way if you line up who you are with who God is.

Here’s an exercise: Write down all of the things that make you special.  Write down your talents, skill, and training. Look on your resume or your LinkedIn profile.  Write down any rewards, certifications or awards.  I want you to write down everything that you are proud of.  It should be a long list and that is a good thing because God has made you a blessed person.

Now, take that list and one by one, check off each as you thank God for giving you that gift.  Take a few days.  Really pray and thank God for that item on your list.  Pray more than just a single sentence prayer.  Pray for everything that surrounds that item.  You will begin to see God’s interweaving your life to make you the person you are today.

 

Conclusion

Whew!  This was a tough article to write.  I have prayed and really searched for the words that I felt like God wanted you to hear.  It is not easy to line up our lives with what God wants, but it is worth it.

Take each of the above exercises seriously.  Do one a week for the next three weeks even if you think you are on course with God.  It will strengthen your resolve to be a Christian first and a business owner second.  It will line your business up with God and His plans for your business.  It will show God that you really think He is the CEO .

 

God gave you a personality to help people with His business. #ChristianEntrepreneur #ChristianBusiness Click To Tweet

why do Christian businesses fail?I often wonder why Christian businesses fail.  It really bugs me and honestly, I think it bugs God.  God does not set us up to fail.

I have to share a little rant today. . .

I’m tired of seeing Christian in business fail!  There are too many opportunities in this world and with God on our side, why are not more Christians succeeding?  We can’t help but succeed . . . IF we put Him first.

That is the first issue I have with Christian business owners.  Sure, they pray, but prayer is not an integral part of their business life.  They say a prayer like, “God help me succeed in business today.”  What a selfish prayer.

Look at what James says in Chapter 4, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

See the slight difference?

We are to put the Lord FIRST.  When we start our business.  When we open for business each day.  When we are doing well.  When we are failing.  When we are mad and want to give up.  When we are excited and ready to take on the world.

God is with us each step of the way.  He wants us to acknowledge Him as the True Owner of our business.

 

I work with all kinds of business owners.  From multi-million dollar companies to businesses that are just starting out.  I work with Christian and non-Christian business owners.  The Christians who are succeeding have a breath of fresh air about them.  They have God integrated into their whole way of doing business.

 

Christians who are succeeding have God integrated into their whole way of doing business. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

It is more than just quoting some Bible verses and putting God in our value statement.  It is whole-heartedly following Jesus as a true believer . . . a disciple.  It is understanding that God is in everything we do and everything we do, we do for Him.

Listen Christian business owner, let’s not wait for something to happen, let’s make it happen.  Let’s call on God and sit down with Him in a One on one ‘board meeting.’  He is the Owner and we should not move until He says move.

And when God says move, we should take action.  We should learn all we need to do the most excellent work for a Most Excellent God.  We should implement with His plan in our business and wisely take the steps we need to prepare for the growth that He wants us to have.

Christian, take action today.  Sit down with the True CEO of your business.  Get away from the office if you have to, but take time to really seek His will for your business.  Only then, with that solid foundation, will you have a business that succeeds and honors God.

VIDEO: Christian Business Books

Reading is an important part of growing as a Christian entrepreneur.

As a Christian, first we must dig deep into the Word of God. As a business owner, we must look to those who have been successful as Christians in business.

In today’s video, Smart and Relentless shares some of their favorite Christian business books.

 

 

What is your favorite Christian business book outside of the Bible?

Leave a comment on our Twitter or Facebook page.

Comment on Facebook by clicking here, liking our page and leaving a comment.

OR

Comment on Twitter by using the click to tweet and fill in your book . . .

 

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marketing strategyA marketing strategy is a growth mechanism for any business. Christian entrepreneurs understand they need to pray for growth and plan for it with an on-going, effective marketing strategy.

We’ve talked about business strategy and communication strategy.  Today, we get practical by putting these two together in a marketing strategy that brings in new customers.  Let’s define marketing.

Marketing is making sure those who need what you have know about it.

In other words, you help solve a problem in your business and it is your responsibility to make sure potential customers know that you can help them.

Before we go too far, let me say that marketing and advertising are different.  Advertising is the item you are using to market.  A flyer is an advertisement.  Marketing is strategically placing that flyer at the most effective location and making sure it has the most effective draw to your ideal customer.

 

Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategy is lining up your ideal customer with your ideal message.  Start with your customer and their needs.  Then, add in relevant and specific messages in a way that communicates with them.  We have other articles about your ideal customer and communicating well in marketing (see links at the bottom of this article).

When you refer back to your mission and vision, you should see a consistent pattern in how you help people.  The way to help people is the key to marketing.  It is not about shouting from the roof tops, though that may work for some businesses.  It is about creating a message that specifically and effectively talks to your ideal customer and helps them with a pain in their life.

 

Marketing Channels

An effective marketing strategy understands there are many marketing channels.  Each of these channels must line up for a specific message for your customer.  Basically, you must decide where the most effective location for your marketing would be best suited.  You have to define where your customers go to get information to solve the problem your business solves.

Here are some marketing channels to think about:

  • Webpage (SEO, Content marketing, etc.)
  • Social media
  • Coupon books
  • Billboards
  • Flyers/Mailer/Direct Mail
  • Whitepapers and reports
  • Webinars and video series
  • Commercials on TV or Internet
  • Digital ads (PPC or CPC)

 

I don’t want to inundate you with ideas.  I have a list of over 100 ways I can help businesses market their company.  My background is in helping businesses find ideal ways to grow through marketing.

As a matter of fact, you can have one million ways, but until you know your goals and understand your customer, it will be hard to create a marketing strategy.  You must start with a specific goal.  There will be some trial and error, but you must engage your customer to understand them better.  Then, you must go where they go and make it seem as though you are everywhere they are.

 

Marketing strategy is creating a message that is an integral part of your customer’s life. #Christianbusiness #Christianentrepreneur Click To Tweet

 

How to set up your marketing strategy

  1. Start with your vision and mission.  Set a goal that you want from your marketing.
  2. Once you have a goal, set up a valuable sequence to bring your buyers from knowing about your product to actually buying your product.  You must know where your customers are in the buyer’s journey.
  3. Do your research.  Talk to current customers.  Engage online in forums and social media to really get to know your customer.  Look for pain points and common terms among your potential customers.
  4. Based on your research develop a marketing sequence.  Post your ads where they will get the most attraction and make sure it lines up with the terms and pain points of your potential customers.
  5. Evaluate each piece of your marketing to test its effectiveness.  Make sure any calls or emails that you gather have tracking so you know where your customers find out about your business.
  6. Once you know the most effective source, put more time and effort into developing a solid campaign.

 

Conclusion

It may sound like a lot to do, but you are fine tuning how you communicate with your customer.  You are defining how they hear about you and making sure you can help them.  As Christians, we should want to help as many people as possible.  It is our duty and responsibility to treat people with kindness and integrity.

Marketing strategies are simply aligning how you help with where your customer are.  Whether it is online, at a location or some other idea you found when doing your research, get to where your customers are and make sure they know how you can help them.  Do it in a way that benefits your customers and not just for your sales.

Here are some articles you may find helpful:

If you need a professional to help you design a solid effective marketing campaign for your business, here is a link to a Christian Marketing Consultant I trust.  Just tell them you found him on Christian Business Revolution and he’ll give you a great deal.

how to develop a communication strategyCommunication strategies are how your business is represented to the world.

Communication is something that we rarely think about when we talk about strategies.  Instead of strategies, you may call these procedures or policies.  They are a set of standards that represent the business at all levels, but strategies make policies and procedures integral to the business.

Here is what the Bible says as a reminder about how we communicate: Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Your communication comes from how you treat the janitorial staff, how you speak to workers who mess up and even how you dress.  For this communication strategy, we are going to focus on verbal and text communication.

Some things to think for communication include how phones are answered, who can respond on social media, who handles bad reviews, what kind of words are used within the workplace, etc.  You can group these communication strategies into two strategies: internal and external.

 

Internal communication

Internal communication is what happens within the doors of your business. It is how employees interact with each other and how leadership spreads information.  Don’t take for granted the internal communications.

Here are some questions for internal communication strategies:

  • Can employees freely express themselves?  Is cussing allowed?
  • Are employees allowed to use personal cell phones to communicate?
  • What are the consequences of breaking the communication policies?
  • Is there a structure in place that allows the CEO to announce specials, promotions, changes in policy, etc?
  • Do employees know the organization structure and who to go to if there is a problem or challenge?

These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that business owners need to have in place.  As Christians, I would hope you want to provide a positive atmosphere and wouldn’t allow cussing and disrespectful comments.  Understanding that we are all created in the image of God allows us to elevate the value of people within our business.

Answering these questions helps us identify policies.  Policies become strategies when they tie into the mission and vision of your business.  Instead of posting a long list of rules, why not have a single strategy of internal communication.  It may be something simple.

The key to a good strategy is to have a memorable way of communicating it.  Remember our article from yesterday?  We talked about Coca-Cola.  One of their visions is:

“Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.”

This is part of their vision statement and it helps them communicate internally.

 

External Communication

External communication is a bit more complicated.  It is every type of communication that a company has with customers, through advertising, sales and even how the phone is answered.  Your words and actions need to be consistent across all areas of your business.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Is there a script on how to answer the phone?
  • Do sales people get to create their own presentations or are they required to use a standard presentation?
  • Is there a check and balance for each piece of advertising that is created by the company?
  • Do employees know what is allowed when responding to bad reviews, negative comments on social media or personal attacks online?
  • Do you have a policy about personal social media accounts for employees?

Again, we could list hundreds of questions, but having a solid understanding of how your company communicates with the world is important.  Think of it this way, each person who communicates from your business does so as an ambassador for your company.

In the ancient world, an ambassador was an extension of a king.  They could save or start wars with a single word or two.  Even seemingly non-offensive words could become crucial when an ambassador was away.

JCPenney’s had some major issues in the last few years.  They created cute shirts, but those shirts were met with major controversy.  Those shirts seemed innocent enough, but when the word got out they were taken with a whole other context.  Their marketing department did not have a good way to vet their ideas and this happened more than once. (more about marketing strategies in our next article)

Imagine an employee of yours responding to a hateful comment on your social media.  Then, it gets blown out of proportion and your company suffers because of a careless communication from an employee.  This happened a few weeks ago with a very reputable company.

External communication strategies must take into account the culture of the business.  What works for one company may not work for your company.  The strategy may be multi-leveled based on the position of the employee.  Your strategy may represent casual friendliness, or business professional or anywhere in between.  As a business owner, you must have a good grasp on your business culture and how to readily communicate the values of your business.

 

Developing communication strategies

There are so many ways to create strategies and each business is different.  Let me start by saying that a communication strategy starts with developing a strong hiring process.  The better the employee represents your company, the better they will be in the long run.  Having a solid training program to communicate by example will also show the demeanor and culture of your business.

Start with the C level employees even if it is just yourself.  Pull out your mission and vision.  Look at your values and see if you can put your business culture into a single sentence.  You can use a series of words if that best suits your business.  Just make it simple and easy to remember.

Post your communication standards in relevant places.  Give incentives for knowing the values of the company.  Reward workers for exemplifying your business culture.  Remember the old adage: what gets rewarded, gets repeated.

 

Conclusion

Above all of your communications keep in mind your Christian values.  Ultimately, you are representing God with your business.  You are an ambassador for Him and everything you do is a reflection on who He is.  When people know you are a Christian company, they will look to see if they can prove it.

I want to remind you that you don’t need to be preachy or use Bible verses on everything you communicate.  There is nothing wrong with doing that, but your business culture may reach into the world and need to be a light that guides not a light that blinds.  Be wise with your words and your actions.

Here’s a quick reminder from the Bible: Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

 

When people know you are a Christian company, they will look to see if they can prove it. #ChristianBusiness #ChristianEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

how to develop a business strategyStrategy for most new business owners is nothing more than ‘making money.’  Business strategy is much more than just making money.  It is identifying and implementing the power of a business mission. As Christians, we understand that there is a plan and purpose to what we do in business.  Strategy is just aligning with God to accomplish great things.

I was a teen when I first got into business.  I saw others selling candy at school for various activities.  I noticed that they all sold candy for a short period of time leaving a hungry market between fundraisers.  I capitalized on that hungry market buying in bulk and selling for prices slightly cheaper than the fund raisers.  I told people I was just helping deliver snacks and not fundraising, so there was no animosity.  I went from suckers, to candy bars.

My strategy was to fill the gap left by fundraising activities.  The only problem, I got ahead of myself and tried to sell everything from chips to sodas.  I forgot the main market of sugar laden snacks.  My strategy was simply to make money and I had no business thoughts beyond that.

Making money is not a bad thing.  However, our strategy must be more than making money.  We must understand what we are actually doing and why we are doing it.  We must understand our mission and vision before we get into our goals of making money.

Strategy is the action taken by accomplishing your goals that align with your vision and mission.  Let’s define strategy with a simple equation.

Strategy = Mission + Vision + Goals

 

Start with a Central MISSION

We must start with the Mission, the ‘what’ of our business.  What problem do we actually solve for the consumer that they will pay for?  I was selling candy, right?  Nope.  I was selling convenience.  I sold sugary snacks in an environment where sugar was not easily found.

This is the strategy that every corner store starts with. Why do you think the same bread costs more at the corner market than it does at the large supermarket?  I understood my mission was to provide convenience and I kept my products where they could be easily found.

 

Add a Motivating VISION

In my example of selling candy had no vision.  I did not want to start a convenience store.  I didn’t want to save the world.  I simply wanted to pay for my gas to and from school and pay for graduation.  And I did.  That was a goal, not a vision.

Vision moves beyond goals.  It is purpose.  The vision is a rallying cry that all the employees and owners can align.  A vision is something that rarely changes.  It is the core ‘why’ a business exists.

I know a lot of people get mission and vision confused.  There is a great article about business strategy in Harvard Business Review.  They have a diagram that shows mission is the ‘what’ and vision as the ‘why.’  I other words, mission is what you do and vision is why you do what you do.

Mission keeps us on track as we develop our business. Vision, on the other hand, motivates us to do the best we can because we believe in what we are accomplishing.  These two go hand in hand when developing a strategy.

Coca-cola is a great company to review mission and values.  Their product is beverages.  Their mission is to ‘refresh the world.’  ‘Refresh the world’ is what they do, they don’t just sell beverages.  They even have a multi-level vision that encompasses the internal and external motivations. Their vision gets into having a great place to work, a growing product line, mutually winning partnership, responsible ecology, long-term profits and an effective organization.

You don’t have to get that detailed, but what if you had a vision for each part of your organization?  Depending on how big your company is, vision can be a powerful tool, when aligned with the overall mission.

 

Add Solid Goals

Last part of strategy is to talk about goals.  Goals are like headlights on a car.  You can put the high beams on and see far ahead, but as you move your goals moves with you.  They are always being tracked to make sure you are on the right road going the right direction.

Goals are steps you take to implement your vision and mission.  We should have monthly, yearly and long term (five to ten year) goals.  The easiest way to set up business goals is to look at your long-term goals.  Divide it into sections and practical steps.

Let’s say I am just getting started and I want to have 100 consistent customers in five years.  That means I need to have 20 customers each year or approximately 2 customers each month considering some customers may not be a good fit.  Now all I need to do is set a goal to attain two customers in a month.

Goals need to be broken down into bite sized chunks, like 2 customers a month.  Then, they must be aligned with our mission and make sure we are on track with our vision.

If you are a visual person, think of a tree.  The trunk is where the strength is. It is our mission.  Our mission is founded by the roots, our vision.  They are what hold us solid and keep us growing.  Out of the top grows branches, our goals.  They need to be pruned, trimmed and eventually they bear fruit.

 

Putting a Strategy in Place

So how do you get all of these things lined up for your business?  Start with prayer.  Start with centering yourself in the presence He who created the entire universe.  Decide on a definite mission for your company based on your prayer, wisdom, experience and counsel.

Once Mission is nailed down, look to your vision.  Why do you want to accomplish your mission?  What impact will you have?  What values will you bring into your mission?  Create a vision that motivates and keeps your business on track to accomplish its mission.

Now take your vision and put some work to it.  What action needs to happen in order for you to accomplish your vision and mission?  What steps do you need to take today to accomplish your one year and five year goals?  What do you need to do this month, this week and today to accomplish your goals?

You can type these up, make a poster, create a mantra, or whatever, but put them where you can see them daily.   A long business plan won’t help if you have to shuffle through twenty pages to find out what you need to do today.  Keep it simple and make it visual.

 

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