finding ideas for business

Every Christian business owner needs ideas to grow their business.  Ideas are the life blood to keeping a business relevant and moving forward.

Whether you are just getting started and need an idea for a business or you are in business that has become stagnant, ideas bring new life to the leaders and organization.

Don’t get me wrong, ideas for ideas sake is never a good idea.  We want to focus on ideas with a purpose.

 

Ideas with a purpose

When it comes to having ideas, we must start with a goal.  This could be a simple fuzzy goal, like we need to grow our product line.  We must have a direction to point the ideas.  If you don’t have a business yet, your goal is to find a business idea that will help people and make money so you can help more people.

Purpose is the key element to having relevant ideas.  We may want to grow, build our product line, offer new services, start a new division, etc.  Each purpose will have a different thrust to the ideation process.  Ideas grow when we feed them the right purpose.

Business ideas grow when we feed them the right purpose. Click To Tweet

 

Ideas for starting a business

As Christians sometimes we are called to start a business, but are not sure where to begin.  We must walk through the doors that God has placed in our lives and learn as much as we can about the types of business He may want us to begin.

I suggest starting with the Bible.  I know that is the ‘Christian’ thing to say, but think about this . . . the businesses mentioned in the Bible have been relevant for over two thousand years.  We can see things like farming, financial, construction, writing, textiles, clothing, etc.  Read the Bible not just for ideas, but to allow God to talk to you.  Open your mind and some obscure verse may give you an idea that changes the world.

After you have a basic focus for your ideas, take some sticky notes and begin to write out every idea that pops into your mind.  Once you have read God’s word, your mind will be fertile soil to bring out the best ideas.  These can be silly ideas, serious ideas, ideas you don’t even know where to start ideas . . . the point is to write down everything that comes into your mind.

Once you have over fifty ideas . . . yes, I said fifty ideas. . . you can start evaluating ideas.  When you push yourself past the first ten or twenty ideas, you find your mind searching past your own ideas and you begin to tap into things only God can show you.

If you get really stuck, you can go to Amazon and look at the top sellers in non-fiction categories.  Look at titles, table of contents, or just look at the pictures.  You can even go to an actual book store and browse through various sections.  Ideas are all around you, you just have to look for them.

 

Ideas for growing a business

Coming up with an idea to grow an existing business is pretty close to the same process.  The only problem is that we have more presuppositions about what works and what does not work.  Remember, just because an idea did not work in the past does not mean it will not work in the now.

Start with reading scripture and prayer.  After getting focused on your purpose, pull out some sticking notes.  Take time to write out every idea you have ever tried.  Then, put every idea that you have thought about trying.  Don’t let anything slip away, write down everything on a sticky pad and put it on the wall or spread it on a table.  God may use a combination of those ideas to grow your business in new and exciting ways.

Bring in anyone who helps in your business and ask them for ideas.  It could be a simple as asking your spouse, partner, the person in the shopping line behind you or even a member of the janitorial crew. Anyone may have an idea that you haven’t thought of yet.  The concept is to get a new set of eyes on your solution.  There is much wisdom that comes from much counsel.

Just because an idea did not work in the past does not mean it will not work in the 'now.' Click To Tweet

 

Finding strong ideas

Once you have at least fifty ideas, quickly go through them.  Put them in categories or piles.  If two or more of the ideas mention monkeys, create a monkey stack.  (Sorry about that, now you will probably come up with some monkey ideas when you try this exercise.  Who knows?  That may be the creative push you needed!)

Once you have categories, look at the outliers.  Take out any ideas you don’t want to do, doesn’t fit your business or would not serve your customer.  Throw those out.  The rest of the ideas will become something we can go back to later, but these are the only ones we want to throw out.

Now, take a moment to get away.  Take a walk or drive.  Let your mind wander . . .and keep some sticky notes handy.  Pray and let God speak to you.  Remember, prayer is not just talking, it is listening.  Let God give you a peace, wisdom and understanding about your business.  I suggest taking at least an hour away from your office.  You can take the rest of the day and come back in the morning for the next step.

 

Finding a winning idea

Here is where the growth happens.  You may have had a dream, God may have given you another idea or one of your ideas may have naturally rose to the top.  If so, you are done, run with it and take action on your new idea.

However, if you still have not seen the strong winner.  Go through your stacks.  Pair them down to ten, then five stacks, then two.  Pick only the best.  Bring it down to one stack.  Don’t throw the others out, just set them aside, out of mind.  Go through your one stack one note at a time.  In that stack will be your wining idea.  If not, go to the next best stack.

 

Conclusion

Creating ideas is not a one and done process.  It is a constant ebb and flow for your business.  Whether you are getting started or growing a thriving business, we need ideas to serve our customers better and communicate our business to the world.

God called you into business.  You are a Christian business owner the moment God sparks in you the notion that you should be working for yourself.  Take this exercise seriously.  It may take a day, a week or a month, but let God breathe life into your business.

Only when we align ourselves up with our Creator, can we truly understand how to create a business that impacts the world.  God wants you to make this world a better place and He has placed within you all you need.   You have brains to find solutions.  You have vision to do what God has called you to do in your business.  You have the tools, resources and training within your reach if you just look for them.

God wants you to make this world a better place and He has placed within you all you need. Click To Tweet

In our next article, we will talk about evaluating ideas.  Don’t move on to the next article until you have a strong idea from the process above.  You must start with what you know first.

Your business can never grow until you take action.  Take action now, don’t let another moment pass by until you have nailed down the fact that God has called you into business.

 

Did you read our previous article titled: Fundamentals of business?

 

basics of starting a business

I’ve noticed Christian business owners want to do more than make money, they want to change the world.  In business, we must understand the fundamentals if we want a strong, striving business that will make a positive impact in our world.

We are starting a mini-series about starting a business.  Even if you have been in business for a while, going back to the basics may help you get a firm grip on what you are doing and where you are going, so don’t skip the basics.

Vince Lobardi was the coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1961.  He took his team, all pros at the time, and started their camp that year by saying: “Gentleman, this is a football.”  To make a long story short, they won the NFL Championship that year.

 

Defining business

When we think of business, we often think about buildings, offices, warehouses and stuff like that but a business is much simpler than that. A business is just an exchange of value.  We share something of value and people pay for that value.

Business is just an exchange of value. Nothing more, nothing less. Click To Tweet

No matter what business we are in, people will pay to the extent that they see value in what we are offering.  People will pay large amounts for things that they see of high value.  The same item can cost significantly more or less based on where it is purchased and from whom.

Even non-valuable things can have value.  We can talk about pet rocks, a crazy fad from the 1970’s.  People saw the value in having a rock as a pet because they didn’t have to feed it and the novelty of such an idea…against the man…was valuable to many people of the time.

What does a business do?

Businesses solve problems. Plain and simple.  If we can solve someone’s problem, people will pay.  If we can make something easier, more convenient or more immediate, people will pay for the value that we bring to their lives.

It is not convenient to buy chickens, feed them, roost them, and collect eggs, so we buy cartons from the grocery store.  There was a day when buying eggs from a store would have been ludicrous, but now we think the opposite.  Our buying habits have changed and will continue to change based on what we value.

Why do people get into business?

Whenever I talk to someone who wants to start a business, I ask them “Why?”  I can tell by their answer how successful they will be.  If their answer is, “to make money.” I know they won’t go very far until they have found a reason behind what they do beyond just money.  I usually follow up with a series of question, “Who are you going to help with your business?  How are you going to help them?  How will you make money by doing that?”

Until you know who you can help and what problem you are going to solve, you won’t really have a business.  If you have ever watched SharkTank, you will see that many times a budding entrepreneur is told that they have a product, not a business.

So let me ask you . . .

  • Who will you help in your business?
  • How are you helping them?
  • How will you make money doing that?

Conclusion

Anyone can create a simple service or product and sell it, but creating a business is more than just making a sell.  It is understanding the fundamentals to the ‘game.’  My goal is that this series will give you the understanding you need to create a solid business so that you can create a solid business and impact the world for Christ.

Take time to answer the above questions for your business.  If you don’t have an idea yet, don’t worry, we’ll cover that.  I know that sometimes God places a calling on our lives and we don’t have a clear picture of what that looks like right now.  We must walk through the doors God gives us and move forward as He reveals truth to us.

Did you see the article When should I start a business as a Christian?  If not, read it now. 

Let me end this the way we need to begin:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is business.

when should I start a business

 

I work with a lot of business owners at various stages of their business development.  I always see the hesitation on new business owners when it comes to starting their business.

As Christian business owners, we must realize that the spark of entrepreneurship comes from God. The moment you think about a business idea, you must pray and decide if it is something God wants you to do.  If your idea to start your business comes from God, you are literally being disobedient to wait to start your business.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to quit your job and start a business, unless you are sure that is what God wants you to do.  Work your business on the side, during your off time.  Build it little by little until it can support you and your family.  The key is to take action on your dreams before they fade or God gives the idea to someone else.

True stories of business ideas

I recently worked with two budding entrepreneurs.  One of them wanted to start a catering company.  He wanted to get his website started and begin promoting his business.  He put the project off for a month.  At the end of that month, he was released from one of his jobs.

Had he put some time in developing and promoting his business, he probably would have had to quit the job and been able to do much more with his catering business.  I even sent him contact information to a group that was looking for the exact kind of catering that he did, but he was hesitant to contact them.

He is a Christian, but he did not take action on the dream that God put in his life.  He is still offering catering, but he is so busy trying to get a new job that he does not have time or money to develop his business.  If God put this business idea in his heart and he has a passion for cooking, he should be developing a strong foundation for his catering.

Another budding Christian business man wanted to sell bowties.  I won’t give away his unique idea, but he had a great idea and wanted to get his website up so he could sell online.  We talked about figures and ideas.  He wanted to start, but never really took action on his idea.

Four months later, he came to me and shared about layoffs in his job.  He was not laid off, but it could still happen at any moment.  He is worried about his job and has started sending out resumes.  I am saddened by this because if he had taken action on his dream and developed his business, he may not have to worry about being laid off.

Let’s get talk about jobs

Many people get a job because they want to feel secure.  They feel like they have a job where they get paid on a regular basis.  Yet, the reality is that job could disappear at any moment.  There is no real security in a job.  You are exchanging time for money.  Someone else tells you when you can work and how much you are worth.

When you take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur, you decide how much money you are worth.  You get to decide your schedule.  Yes, it takes work and it takes planning, but in today’s digital world almost anyone can be an entrepreneur.  And if God puts a spark in your life to be a Christian business owner, you must take action to be obedient to him.

My challenge to you

If you are thinking about starting a business, take action today.  Do some research, look up some similar business types, and begin collecting information.  God placed the idea in your heart and he brought you to this page for a reason.  You are a called with a purpose and that purpose just may be to be a Christian business owner who influences others.

God may be calling you to start a business and influence lives. Click To Tweet

I would love to help you walk through this process if you are thinking about starting a business.  We will be posting a short series on getting started in business.  Hopefully, it will help give you the courage to take a single step towards your entrepreneurial goals this week. . . maybe even today!

If you want to get on the fast track, consider becoming part of our growth membership.  It is really affordable and you can ask questions about your specific business or idea.  Find out more information on our growth membership.

In the meantime, go to our contact page and ask your questions, share your idea, or just tell us how we can pray for you.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

 

what to do about worry

Worry is something that gets stuck in our head.  We don’t take action on it because we are too busy thinking about what could happen.

When we start to worry, the first thing that happens is we get us off track from our goals.  We stop doing what we know we should be doing in order to worry more.  Worry becomes a stop sign in our life rather than a speed bump.    Worries should cause us to pay attention, but it does not mean we should stop.

Worry is a speed bump not a stop sign. Click To Tweet

When we stop doing what we should be doing our worries build up.  As Christian business owners, the best way to get past worries is to take action.  Take action on training employees better.  Take action on marketing our business better.  Take action on better customer service.

Each worry has a seed that has grown into one of your business systems.  Look at your business as a whole system and see where you can make one little improvement.  Make sure you have your systems in place and you have a good understanding of how your business functions.

When we focus on improving a single part of our business two things happen.  One, we accomplish something which makes us feel better.  Two, we get our mind off our worry and onto something productive.

Don’t spend time worrying about your business if you are not taking time to correct the issue.  Take action to correct what needs to be corrected, grow what needs to be grown, and train what needs to be trained.  Then you will get past what you are worrying about and your business will start to flourish once again.

Matthew 6:25-27  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Lesson about Value

The point of business is to add value to the world.  As Christian business owners, our value comes not only from the work we do, but the God we serve.

I wanted to share a fun little clip from the Andy Griffith show.  Here we see Opie asking for a raise in his allowance on the condition he doesn’t have to work for it.

I want to put this video into perspective with business.  I have talked to business owners who want to grow their business, but they are not adding value for their customer.  They are not working hard to create a better customer service or adding additional value to their product or service.  They are just asking for more because that is what other people are doing in their business.

My challenge to you: offer more value.

You work hard for your money and so does your customers.  Put more value out into the world and people will be ready to pay you for the value you add to their lives.

People pay for the value you add to their lives. Click To Tweet

Hope you enjoyed Andy’s simple wisdom and our short business lesson for today.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

-Rev. H.

Overcoming Failures as a Christian Business Owner

overcoming failures as a Christian entrepreneurIn Christian circles whenever we have emotional struggles during times of failure, we are told, “Just pray about it.” or “I will pray for you.”  But sometimes, those emotional issues still haunt us.  Our emotions feel real to us, even if there is no logical reason to feel them.

Yes, we can quote scripture and meditate on God’s word and they help considerably, but until we get to the root of the problem those things will always pop up like those dandelion weeds that pop up all over your yard in spring.

Focus on who you are not what you do

It is so easy to tie up who we are with what we do, but that is just a trick that the deceiver uses to keep you off your game.  If your business is cleaning pools, you are not a pool cleaner, you are a child of God.  A simple revelation about who you are can change the way you look at any circumstance.

For instance, when someone rejects your business, they are not rejecting you!  Let me say that again, when someone decides not to do business with you, they are not rejecting you.  They may need more convincing, they may have found a better offer, or they may just not like the color of your hair.  We can’t dwell on the people who don’t want to do business with us, humans are irrational people.

You are not what you do, but who you are as a child of God. Click To Tweet

Focus on what you can control

We must focus on what we can control instead of worrying about the “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s.”  Our brains can get in a loop and we start replaying all the ways we messed up.  Instead, we ought to replay the mistake the way we wanted it to go.  See, if you replay the mistakes, you are reinforcing the errors. If you replay the way it should have gone, you prepare yourself for the next encounter.

Note: Our memories are not a concrete item.  Each time you remember something, you literally change it based on your current knowledge, experience and emotional state.  A memory from the past, is in essence a modified version of reality.  I bet you have noticed this when reminiscing with family members.  They remember things a certain way, but you remember something completely different.

Focus on the root

Being self-aware is a great thing to strive for.  As an entrepreneur, you are already more aware of who you are and what you do than most people.  Yet, sometimes, emotions creep in and you are not sure why.  You must learn to notice them and take control of them before they sideline you from the work that God has created for you to do.

When you feel like you are angry or fearful, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this right now?”  Just naming the emotion can help you determine what is causing it.

  • It could be mental. If so, take a moment to pray, breathe deeply and get back to work.
  • It may be physical. Evaluate when you ate last, when you last took a five minute walk or if you need to move from your current environment.  Eat, exercise or just get away to change your physical. (You can also just try a power pose!)
  • It may be spiritual. If you feel something ‘in your spirit,’ take time to really pray and discern what God is trying to tell you.  Turn to scripture for advice and take time in silence to listen for God to speak.
  • It may be emotional. Emotional scars are hard to overcome.  We must find what is triggering the emotion and learn to reinterpret that emotion.  You may need to talk to a counselor or pastor to discover and overcome your emotional issues.

Focus on a new perspective

When you feel overwhelmed, it is not good to have all those things going on in your brain.  Do a ‘brain dump’ and just write down (on paper) everything that is in your mind.  Your brain can not evaluate thoughts running around your head, but when you put them on paper you can see solutions.  You may realize that all those things could be overcome with a simple plan of action.

Getting things on paper is the best way to change your perspective, but also take your mind off your mind.  Take time to focus on other people, helping them and focusing on their needs.  This practice will get you out of your own head and focus on what God has created you to do, touch the lives of others.

Conclusion

Failures and struggles are not as easily overcome as just quoting a Christian phrase.  It takes work to really get your life back on track when you have been bumped off your path to success.  Afterall, we live in a ‘fallen’ world and bad things still happen.

We must remember that we have access to a higher power.  The Creator of the Universe wants to have a personal relationship with us and has sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us on our path in this world.

God did not create you to fail, even though you have failures. Click To Tweet

Can Christians Set Goals?

Christian New year's ResolutionI heard a Christian business man say that it is not good to set New Year’s resolutions.  I even heard one person say Christians should not set goals, but should just rely on God each day.  Some of those well-meaning friends quote James 4:13-14:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

That is only half the truth.  Let’s read the very next verse, James 4:15:

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

It is not a matter of not making New Year’s resolutions or setting goals at any time of the year.  It is a matter of where those goals come from: self or God.

Christian business goals start with God

When we start setting goals at any time of the year, we should put God at the center of our goal setting process.  You may need to get alone for a little while and really dig into prayer before setting any goals for your life and/or your business.

Start with the question: “What does God want from me?”

Then, ask “What does God want from my business?”

When we start with ourselves it helps us to listen to God because we open ourselves up to hear from Him.

Remember, prayer is a two way communication.  It is not about listing all the things we want.  It is about connecting with an Almighty, Creator God who knows what is best for us.  It is about learning to listen to Him for direction.

Here are some verses to help you focus on God’s will when you set out to make your goals.

  • Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
  • Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
  • Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
  • Isaiah 32:8 “But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.”
  • Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
  • Luke 14: 28-30 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

 

A simple plan for Christian business goal setting

  1. Keep God at the center of your goals: Read one of the verses above and meditate on it before you set your New Year’s resolution or when you set goals at any time of the year.  Take time to pray and really become clear about what you feel God wants for you and your business this year.
  2. Focus on one goal:  God is not a God of confusion.  Find one goal, one purpose God wants you to focus on.  Set your goal with something that is specific that you can measure and track: i.e. specific amount of revenue, number of new customers, specific amount of charitable donations, etc.
  3. Divide the goal into monthly goals: Break your yearly goal into monthly steps.  What do you need to happen each month in order to accomplish your yearly goal?
  4. Create action steps for each week and every day: Take the first couple of months and jot down weekly and daily actions. Four successful weeks and you should reach your monthly goals. What do you need to do each day in order to make your week a success?
  5. Take small steps each day: Take small steps towards your goal every day.  Each day make small steps towards your overall goal and if you miss a day, don’t focus on what you missed, focus on what you want to accomplish overall.  Pick yourself up and make each new day a day to Glorify God.

If we set goals that glorify God, we will have the right intention for our business: a God-honoring business.

If we set goals that glorify God, we will have a God-honoring business that impacts lives. Click To Tweet

Go ahead and set some goals, whether it is the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month, or just the beginning of the day.

Remember: God will be glorified in your business when you turn to Him first.