What Is Business? Pt 1

When the understanding of a phenomenon is not known misunderstanding and misinterpretation is unavoidable; therefore application will be disjointed and misplaced! The title of this article I believe is the most misconstrued of the cardinal questions related to the marketplace especially by Christians! The reason is not farfetched; Christians go to the wrong sources to … Continue reading “What Is Business? Pt 1”

When the understanding of a phenomenon is not known misunderstanding and misinterpretation is unavoidable; therefore application will be disjointed and misplaced! The title of this article I believe is the most misconstrued of the cardinal questions related to the marketplace especially by Christians! The reason is not farfetched; Christians go to the wrong sources to look for its definition, therefore, they’d certainly be misinformed which can result to destiny malformation in the marketplace.

Arguably, there are only two dictionaries in the world: The Bible and others. The Bible is the only “Assured” book that contains the express will of God; that’s why it is regarded as the hand book of life, and by extension the handbook of business. This presupposes that if you want to know the express will of God concerning “What is Business” and other related issues that deal with business; the right and definite place to go is the bible.

Sadly, many Christian business professionals and entrepreneurs – nay, would-be Christian business practitioners seem to believe that the bible has nothing or little to say about business, so they invariably gravitate towards secular sources for the definition of business.

So, what is Business?

Let’s first explore first some of the popular definitions of business that has moulded the culture of business practitioners across the world. The Longman dictionary of Contemporary English gives an illusionary definition that had deluded many. It says business is “The activity of making money by producing or buying and selling goods, or providing services.” The WordWeb Dictionary defines business as the “The activity of providing goods and services involving financial and commercial and industrial aspects.”

Human beings are creatures of emotion. Man is driven by his believes and values ingrained in his heart, even though he may sometime not be aware of it. The believe that business is about making money by providing products and/or services is what had been the driving force behind the passion of many business people, which have alienated mankind from the purpose for which God created business. Sadly, this is the bane of many business practitioners. The fruit or product of this kind of worldview is self-conceited and self-serving business people.

If you agree that God is the creator of the earth and the rest of the universe; then you’d also agree that He is solely responsible for the rules that govern the universe! One distinguishing character of God is that He is an intentional God. He created everything (including business) on and for a purpose. In this article, I’ll be spotlighting God’s definition of business. The surest clue to understanding this is in discerning the purpose why He created business. In this follow up article, I’ll explore what business is truly all about.

The starting point to this puzzle is to go to the very beginning; where God established His purpose of business enshrined in his cardinal purpose for man. The purpose of business is divine in nature: business exists to fulfill the Creation Mandate in Genesis 1:28,

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over… ”

The cardinal purpose of man is to rule God’s physical universe – known as creation mandate. Given the Creation Mandate as the prime mandate of man, then everything relating to the life of man must find its purpose in this mandate. Therefore business is a tool to enable man to rule. If the purpose of man is to rule God’s physical creation, then all human activity must relate to man’s responsibility to rule. Therefore work is, and must be, a means to rule.

What Is Business? Pt 2

It takes “Organized, intelligent and productive work” to rule. One interesting designation is the creation mandate is to “fill the earth.” It takes efficient and effective visionary leadership to “rule,” “lead,” “manage,” and fill up God’s structure – earth. All of the foregoing is the elements that make up a healthy business system. At the conclusion of work after creation episode, God enacted a “work” or “business” code called creation mandate for man to engage in filling up the “structure” that He created,

“Now no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate (work) the ground”
Genesis 2:5

When a high-rise apartment building project is under construction, the structural engineers first put in place the structure or skeleton of the entire building, which defines how the building would look like eventually. Thereafter, building engineers would come and fill up the structure with blocks before you can fully appreciate the aesthetic appeal or value of the apartment building. After God, Adam was the first worker or business man on earth; he was mandated to fill up or work up God’s structure of creation i.e. administer and market productively God’s vision on earth

It becomes clear that business is divine in nature; business is a veritable vehicle to do the will of God; it isn’t created to support sin – self enrichment and nepotism. While I would concede that money or profit is a corollary of obedience to ruler-ship; it isn’t the primary objective of business. The beauty of the business system is appreciated best when it is organized under a harmonious and congenial atmosphere.

So, what is business from God’s perspective?

Business is the efficient and effective organization of your skill, talent or gift under a healthy and compatible business system. Business is the organized supply of human needs and the promotion of human well-being under God’s program. Every kingdom business should have healthy and compatible system in place that encourages efficiency and effectiveness. So then, what is a business system from biblical perspective? That will be the theme of our discourse in our next article!

Many years before Jesus launched His earthly ministry – at the tender age of twelve – He announced publicly to His earthly parents and those within hearing distance His principal purpose on earth,

“… Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

Luke 2:29

By this announcement, Jesus enshrouded the make-up of His ministry in mystery; even His earthly parent couldn’t understand what He meant,

“Yet his parents did not understand the remark he made to them.”

I want to juxtapose the world’s definition of business and God’s purpose for business from the foregoing text. If business is all about making money through the provision of products and services (according to the world’s definition), question is, what was the product or service that Jesus rendered to the “doctors” He listened to and how much money was involved? Your answer is as good as mine – none.

Christ business wasn’t predicated on physical reality but on spiritual reality, he sought to pursue the will of God – creation mandate – by bringing His creation into alignment with God. Therefore from the outset of His business on earth, Jesus sought to bring people in alignment with the ways of God, through His ministry.

“Jesus said to them, “My food (purpose) is to do the will (creation mandate) of the one who sent me and to complete his work (ruler-ship)”

John 4:34

If given that Christ perspective of business wasn’t predicated on provision of physical goods, products or services for the purpose of making money! So then, what was the father’s business that He alluded to in the text above? His father’s business is the work given Him to do on earth which is the will of the father – creation mandate.

Christ business on earth was is rulership. From the foregoing, one can understand the fundamental elements of God’s business which are:

His will – VISION
Rulers-hip – ADMINISTRATION
Working – PRODUCTION
Dominion – MARKETING

This is the core of what is known as “business system” that Christ explained in the parable of the householder in the twenty-first chapter and verses thirty-three and thirty-four of the books of Matthew. In my follow-up article, I’ll explore “The anatomy of a business system.”

Becoming an Entrepreneur – Toolkit for Your Start-Up Home Business

This Toolkit for your Start-up Home Business outlines all the basic guidelines you will need to get your home business up and running. The goal is to ensure that you have all the relevant information and a structured approach in getting your business off the ground as soon as possible.

Step #1 – Determine what type of business you want to get into.

Business ideas and suggestions may come from many sources. You may have some ideas of your own based on your passion or you may recognize that there is a need based of discussions you have with others. A case in point, I recall when my children were younger we needed transport to pick them up from school (there was no school bus service). After discussing with a friend, he assisted us with picking up the children, and soon realized that there was a demand for such a service. There and then his new business was born.

Step #2 – Research the business idea

In the school transportation service example given above, my friend conducted an informal survey by speaking with other parents, he was quickly able to determine the demand for such a service and the potential revenue to be generated. Depending on your business idea you may be required to do a combination of both informal and formal research, but the goal is to gather as much information as possible that will help you to make an informed decision on the business idea.

You may have several business ideas in your head and would have to make a choice on which one to implement. In making your choices consider the following:

The size of the market – in terms of customers, revenue and growth potential

Competitiveness of the market -how many businesses are already operating in that space?

Who is your target audience? If a market is very competitive, as a new entrant, you may want to probably look to see if there is a particular niche that has needs that are not being met by the existing suppliers and get into it.

What are customers looking for? (demand)

Where are the customers located?

How do you plan to reach them and serve them? (Your marketing strategy). More on this will be discussed in a subsequent article.

If you are not producing your own product or service, who will be you supplier? I will suggest that you identify at least three suppliers to give yourself more room to negotiate and get the best deals.

If you plan to import or export then you would have to enquire about licences with the relevant authorities within your jurisdiction.

Tip – Focus on the business idea that you are most passionate about. Because when things get challenging, it is your passionate that will give you the strength to stay in the business.

Step #3 – Decide on your Business Structure

Since the focus of this article is on home based businesses, the assumption is that your business structure will be one of either a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Notwithstanding that, I will still provide a brief description of the three typical business structures for setting up and registering a business.

Sole proprietor- this a business where there is a single owner. It is sometimes referred as a “one-man” business. You are the business and the business is you. As the owner of this type of business you have the responsibility for making all decisions. You receive all the profits and accept all losses.

Partnership – this is an association between two or more persons who joint themselves together to form a business. You can partner with relatives or friends or whoever. You and your partners contribute to the business equally and share equally in the profits and losses. A limited partnership may have some different arrangements in terms of contributions and profits and losses.

Corporation – a business structure, where the business has a legal identity that is separate and distinct from its owners. The owners of a corporation are referred to as shareholders. In some countries a corporation can be started by a single person. A key distinction between a corporation and the other types of business structures is that the owners (shareholders) have limited liability, in that they are not personally liable for the debts of the corporation. They share in the profit of the company through the receipt of dividends and stock appreciation.

Step #4 – Register your Business

Having decided on your business structure you will need to register your business name with the relevant authorities in your country. If you are a sole proprietor and you are using your name as the business name you do not have to register yourself, since you and the business are one. However, apart from that all business names must be registered.

When you have a name in mind, you will be required to do a search of the data base of registered companies to ascertain that the name is not being used by anyone or company. Once your chosen name is available then you can go ahead and register it with the relevant government authority.

Step #5 – Calculate your start-up cost

The guidelines used here are focused on a home based business that may not have some of the typical expenses of a business operated outside the home. Calculating your start-up cost will certainly assist you in deciding how you will finance your business.

Start-up expenses- examples- business cards, flyers, promotional expenses etc.

Assets to be purchased- examples could include- desk, chair, filing cabinet, computer, software licences, printer, inventory etc.

Ongoing monthly expenses- example website hosting fees, other online fees and charges, subscription services fees, business telephone, advertising expenses, distribution cost etc.

Tip – multiply the monthly expenses by six (6 months), since it may take approximately six months to breakeven or realize a profit.

Add the figures in 1+2+3 to get your total start-up cost

Step #6 – Forecast your Revenue

To calculate your breakeven revenue – divide your ongoing monthly expenses by the number of business days to get your daily revenue. Anything in access of that is your profit.

Step #7 – Prepare your Business Plan

It is good to prepare your business plan before seeking financing, even if you are self-financing. Your business plan is your road map showing your business vision and how you will get there. The key elements you want to cover in your business plan are as follows:

Business Concept- Description, vision and mission, goals and objectives

Operations and Management- Owner background, location, staffing, inventory, suppliers, delivery and distribution etc.

Marketing – products and services, customers, competition, pricing, promotion and advertising etc.

Financing- assumptions, operating expenses, asset requirements, operating expenses, sales and revenue forecast etc.

Step #8 – Get Financing for your Business

Just to re-state the focus here is on the sole proprietorship and partnership business structures. Depending on your business structure and the size of your business, there are many ways that you can secure financing:

Personal Savings- you may have adequate personal savings set aside to start your business. In a partnership, partners would contribute to the financing of the business based on the partnership agreement.

Line of Credit- you may have a decent line of credit from you bank which you can use to finance your business.

Credit Card- depending on your credit limit, your credit card could be a good source of short term financing. The interest rate on this could be very high.

Borrowing from friends- to supplement your personal savings you may borrow from relatives or friends

Institutional Borrowing- you may approach a financial institution (bank or credit union) for business financing, and this is where your business plan will come in handy. Your financial institution would only lend you money based on a solid business plan.

The above are the basic tools required to get your home business started. Have fun utilizing you toolkit and best of luck with your business venture.

Additional note for those who are getting into Import and Export

Get familiar with these shipping terminologies

Free on Board (FOB) – The quote reflects the cost of the goods plus the cost of loading them on the ship or plane. The supplier handles all customs export formalities at the loading port. No insurance or freight is included.

Free Along Ship (FAS) – The seller is responsible for delivering the goods alongside the vessel at the agreed port of shipment. It is the buyer’s obligation to clear the goods for export and must also absorb all costs and risks of loss or damage from that point on.

Cost and Freight (C&F or CFR) – The price quoted include the cost of the goods and the cost of the ocean freight to transport the goods to the agreed port.

Carriage Paid To (CPT) – Seller absorbs cost of freight for the carriage of the goods to the destination. The seller clears the goods for export.

Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) – The seller pays for the insurance coverage of the goods up to the time they reach the designated port of entry.

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) – The seller is obligated to deliver goods to the named place in the country of import. The seller absorbs costs involved with bringing the goods to that point (excluding duties, taxes and other charges)

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) – The sell absorbs all the DDU costs in addition to the duties, taxes and other charges of delivering the goods to the destination.

Small Business Insurance Basics: 10 Things You Need to Know Now

When you hear the words “business insurance,” you might think this only applies to large, established businesses. But in fact, this is an important topic for any sized business – from the largest corporations to the smallest, one-person operation and everything in between.

Whether you’re simply in the beginning stages of getting a business idea up and running, or already own an established business, it’s important to know a few basic things about how business insurance works, and what kinds you might need. Here are a few tips to get you started – or to provide you with a quick review.

1. Property Insurance – understand what it covers

Property insurance covers not only the physical structure which houses your business, but also the contents inside the structure. This could include equipment, office furniture and even inventory.

2. Liability Insurance is a must

No one likes to think about it, but getting sued is always a possibility for a business, regardless of its size. Having the proper amount of liability insurance is of the utmost importance. Liability insurance can help with expenses if your business is sued, but it can also help pay for expenses if anyone is injured due to a faulty product or service.

3. Worker’s Comp – check your state’s requirements

If your business has employees, it’s very possible that you’ll need worker’s compensation insurance. If anyone is injured on the job while working for you, worker’s compensation insurance will help pay for medical expenses. Most states require worker’s comp for all sized businesses, but be sure to check your state’s requirements to be sure that you get the proper type – and amount – of coverage.

4. Errors & Omissions

E&O Insurance is similar to Liability Insurance, but it is specifically for professional services businesses. This type of insurance can cover expenses that may be incurred due to accusations of negligence, or the failure to perform your professional services. Even if you haven’t.

5. Got employees? Consider EPLI

Employment Practices Liability Insurance applies to situations where businesses are sued for things such as discrimination, sexual harassment, or wrongful termination. At one time, these topics were only of concern to larger companies, but in today’s environment, businesses of all sizes can be subject to these types of suits. If your business has employees, it’s wise to consider adding EPLI coverage to your Business Owner’s Policy (BOP, described below).

6. Is Key Employee Insurance worth your while?

Many times, the success of a business relies on the involvement of specific employees. If one of those employees were to pass away unexpectedly, their absence could affect the profitability of the business. The beneficiary of a key employee policy is the business itself. Key Employee policies can often be requested by lenders, to meet certain credit requirements.

7. Cyber Liability Insurance is gaining in popularity

More and more business is being transacted online. And more and more data are being stored in “the cloud,” allowing for ease of access and reducing the need for companies to invest in storage or storage facilities. However, as more business is transacted electronically, the more that information is opened up to theft and hacking. Cyber Liability Insurance will help protect businesses if they experience a data breach; it will help cover costs ranging from legal expenses to public relations expenses.

8. Directors & Officers Liability Insurance is NOT the same as E&O

As the name implies, D&O insurance specifically protects the directors and officers of a company. D&O insurance protects the business, and sometimes the directors and officers themselves, in the event of legal action brought for alleged wrongful acts. While lawsuits such as these are less common in the United States, if your business operates outside the U.S. this type of coverage is definitely worth investigating further.

9. Don’t forget about the car!

If you have vehicles that are owned by your business, and are used exclusively for running your business, they won’t be covered by personal car insurance; a separate business auto insurance policy is needed. There are many types of coverage available, and auto insurance can sometimes be bundled into your Business Owner’s Policy. However, individual plans can be more easily customized.

10. Consider a BOP

A Business Owner’s Policy can be a great way to bundle common types of business insurance into one handy policy. BOPs are customizable, and can save you money since there are multiple types of coverage combined into one policy. Purchasing a BOP can also simplify the insurance process, since you’ll have just one policy, one renewal date, and one premium payment to deal with. While combining policies can be extremely convenient, it should only be done if you can truly have all of your insurance needs met by one product. If your business is of an unusual nature, or you have specific insurance needs, it might be best to still consider individual policies. Working with a trusted insurance agent or broker will help you ensure you’re getting all of your business insurance needs taken care of.

5 Things You Must Consider When Starting Your Own Business

Starting your own business may involve a lot of headaches. There’s having to find office space, getting permits, hiring people, and more. Aside from those, you also need a business plan. In what direction do you want the business to go? How much money would you like to make five, ten, or so years from now? Those are very important questions to ask, but since you’re still in the early phases of your business, you should also seriously consider these five things.

1. What sector will you be in?

Let’s say you want to be in IT (information technology). It’s a huge, cutthroat industry, with lots of companies, both big and small, competing for market share. It’s a lot tougher for you as someone just starting if you want to jump into the industry as well. So then, you first have to find your niche. What sort of products or services will you specialise in? What can you offer that your competitors don’t have? Don’t just go with the flow. Be unique and offer something really valuable to your potential customers. Ideally it’s something they’re looking for that your competitors just can’t offer them. That way, your business will stand out above the rest!

2. How much will you invest?

Of course, as a business, you need capital to turn your business ideas into a reality. If you don’t pour in the capital, your home business idea will be nothing but a big flop. One important thing to know is how much money your business needs to both begin and maintain itself.

Where would you get the money? You could use your savings, if you have a lot. If not, you could find some business partners and ask them for an investment. Or, you could take out a loan from a bank or a reputable finance group. You could even try crowdfunding like many startup owners do these days. Last but not the least, you can seek professional advice from financial planners, business experts, or business coaches.

3. Who will operate the business?

Managing your small business by yourself is never an easy task. It’s even less easy when your company is already expanding. One way or another, you will need to enlist the help of well-trained people to help run your business. Their knowledge and skills will be great assets to your expanding small business, helping it grow further.

4. When do you expect to make money?

Certainly you would want to make money at some point. How could any business owner not want to make money? With that in mind, it’s good to set a target date for recovering your capital and earning profit. And if you have a goal, you need an action plan. Let’s say you want to recover capital after one year of starting your home business. What actions will you take to achieve that goal?

5. Do you have what it takes to build your own business?

Running your own small business requires a lot of sacrifices on your part. And there’s even the chance that your business idea won’t work out. That’s something you have to contend with. You can’t avoid running into a few (or many) obstacles along the way. But if you’re convinced that running a business is your road to financial freedom, then go on ahead! By all means, do your best!

You may find these questions far too serious to think about, but one way or another you have to answer them. Starting your own business is a major life decision, and as with any major life decision, you have to be absolutely sure before you say yes. The more you know what you need to do to succeed, the more likely you will succeed. Remember that these questions are not here to discourage you from starting a business. Rather, they serve to prepare you for the journey ahead. So go ahead and start your business, for it may change your life forever!

Characteristics of a Successful Business – M&A Transactions

Many businesses fall short of their potential valuation or maximum sale price. While there is no such thing as a perfect business without flaws or challenges, the businesses which sell at the top of the valuation range or command the highest multiple embody a number of common characteristics.

1. Increasing revenue/profits. Cash is the fuel of business. Businesses that have strong financials with year over year growth in revenue and profits will be in demand and should achieve an attractive valuation.

2. Clean Books. Having accurate, detailed, up-to-date and professionally prepared financial statements and records is one of the most critical components to a successful business sale.

3. Bright prospects for future. Businesses that operate in an industry that has a strong outlook for continued growth in the years ahead will be highly sought after.

4. No customer concentration. A business that has a diverse and broad customer base will have a lower risk that the loss of any one customer will have a material impact on the revenue and profits of the business.

5. Multiple vendors. Companies with a diversified product and/or service offering with a deep bench of suppliers and partners will be a less risky acquisition than a company who is dependent on only one manufacturer or service provider to generate income.

6. Stable work force. Having a loyal and content work force with long term employees is always a positive attribute for a buyer seeking to acquire a privately held business.

7. Established Processes. A business that has written procedures detailing work flow and operational processes provides greater continuity during a business transfer of ownership.

8. Owner not the business. Companies where the owner lends their expertise by working “on” the business vs. “in” the business are less likely to experience a loss of revenue during a sale. Owners who have become the face of the business where they are one of the chief reasons for customers using their products or services create challenges for the new owner in retaining these loyal clients.

9. Business qualifies for acquisition funding. A business for sale that meets the qualifications for acquisition funding by a bank or SBA backed lender will benefit from their ability to be marketed to a wider audience. Certain issues prevent 3rd party financing from being secured including poor financial performance or messy books with unreported cash and questionable add-backs.

10. Professional Advisors. Successful business sales require a team of professional advisors who are experts in their designated field. Members should include an experienced M&A advisor or business broker, a business attorney who specializes in transactions, and a CPA knowledgeable about tax structuring and asset allocation. Experienced advisors are worth their weight in gold and will add value that far exceeds the fees involved.

Small business ownership involves some level of risk. The price a business is valued at should reflect the degree of risk. While the element of risk can never be eliminated from small business ownership, the ten characteristics detailed above should mitigate many of the issues that cause concern for buyers when pursuing an acquisition. This in turn will enable the business value and sale price to be maximized.

5 Ways of How to Destroy a Business Partnership: Don’t Start That New Business Until You Read This

Let any one of these 5 situations into your business and you’ll ravage your entrepreneurial career:

1st – Stop needing each other:

There’s a considerable chance that the partnership power and responsibility structure will start to shift and will look very different starting anywhere from 3-12 months after inception.

In the beginning of any new venture, a dynamic and compelling new venture phenomenon, made up of fear, anxiety, stress and excitement, emerges and makes for an impressive personal barrier disintegrator. No facades and no charades are the hallmark of a new venture. The partners forget about their own needs and are on their best behavior. Everyone is madly in “love.”

“Needing each other” is a compelling power source in successful business partnerships. In most partnerships that “need” is the bond that keeps it all together. As time passes, especially after the 12th month of being in business, everything and everyone starts to shift, evolve and a displacement arises that will be unsettling and transformative for the business and all the players.

See #4 for more information on “not needing each other”

Solution: Accept the fact that the above information is valid. Discuss it openly with your business partners. Be vigilant and sensitive to your business partners and what they say and do and how they say it and do it. You don’t have to be “a touchy feely kinda person.” Think selfishly. Think protection for your future. Think protection for your business’ future. Communicating, openly and civilly, is the only preventive measure that will increase the chance for a favorable outcome.

2nd- Allow your significant other to point out all the expensive gifts your partner’s significant other is receiving and they’re not:

Significant others, and other family members, can be the source of great pain and distress when it comes to the relationship you have with your business partner.

Greed, jealousy, being overcritical, being generally resentful, tactless and being superficial are some of the flies swimming around in the business partnership ointment. Money and power sometimes brings out the worst in “significant others” and family.

Solution: There’s two parts to the solution:

a-It’s the smart business person who pays extreme attention to the health and tone of his business partnership. It should be the number one concern, above and beyond anyone else in your life. I know I’ll get a lot of Boos and Hisses but, if you take care of your business and the business partnership, it will always take care of you and the people you love and who love you. Everyone will be happy and satisfied.

b- Going to, or inviting in, a counsellor or therapist to meet privately once a month, individually and aggregately, with the business partners will always be money well spent. I’ve seen the wreckage that family members have created in some very successful businesses.

You will have partnership strife and discord. Bet on it. Prepare for it now and have the preventive and supportive resources at the ready and/or in play from the beginning. It will be a shame if one day you’re standing outside your padlocked office wondering what happened.

3rd – Have sexual relations with a family member of your business partner:

I “feel” the smirks already. Talk about destruction. This is an insidious act of extreme betrayal. It not only will leave your business ripped apart, it will destroy precious family and personal relationships. People will be crushed and devastated for a lifetime.

The reputations of all the partners will be tainted. You’ll be amazed and appalled at the same time to find out how many suppliers, banks and customers will turn their back on you. They know that with a soiled and stained situation like this, destruction and failure may be close by. No one wants to be part of this, especially if it hurts them financially. Something many people take for granted is that It takes years to build a reputation that’s respected and trusted. It takes 24 hours or less to blow it up.

Are you are going to make your bed and Lie in it, or not?

Solution: If you’re over 18, take a wild guess. Under 18? Talk to someone over 18.

4th – Do some self-talk about how you deserve more money than your business partner:

“I’m working so much harder than her.” “He was supposed to be the sales end of our business but…” “Our biggest customer can’t stand her.” “He can’t handle the pressure.” “I never realized how much she talks.” Do I need to go on? You may recognize one of these.

In the beginning of a new venture there’s “reality” and there’s “wishful and well-intentioned thinking.” The responsibilities and strengths that you bring to the new venture are not necessarily the responsibilities and strengths that will be in play when things get started and are rolling along.

Being aware of each partner’s powerful strengths and their ‘vulnerabilities’ will allow weekly partner meetings to be productive and allow for everyone to be open, honest and transparent. Staying flexible and being willing to adapt, not only leads to a sustainable business but what’s more exciting is, it leads to personal growth for all the partners.

Solution: There’s 3 parts to the solution.

a-Mandate, enforce and re-enforce up close and personal, respectful and empathetic communication meetings on, at least, a weekly basis. These meetings are confined to the partners only and are done behind locked and closed doors. Bring in food. Do not go to a public place to talk.

b- There are always 3 realities: Yours, theirs and the business’ reality. Work with the reality of the business only and adjust your life to the needs of the business. I repeat, make your business the priority above and beyond all others and the “others” will have a phenomenal life.

c- Accept as fact, that you may have to change your place and responsibilities in the business as time passes. Welcome it with open arms. If you have a problem with this I say, respectfully, get a therapist as soon as possible. Your reluctance is connected to, and about, ego, self-image and self-confidence. It pays to have someone help you disentangle your emotions and consequently save your entrepreneurial career.

5th -Start the new venture on a 50/50 ownership platform:

If you’re forced to initiate an equal stock partnership, then having or learning patience, empathy, and anger management becomes even more crucial and essential than ever before. A 50/50 is fine until the “cracks” start to appear. If you don’t follow the advice in step #4, it could be the beginning of the end for everyone.

Some interesting points:

a-In a partnership breakup your net worth is never, I repeat, never what you think it is. It’s always much less.

b-Banks, customers, suppliers and even employees will scatter when they get a whiff of bad news on the horizon. Your net worth could entirely dissipate in the time it takes you to say “Wait, I changed my mind.”

c-Make the partnership agreement as simple as possible (two pages is good) or you’ll find that the lawyers will make more than you.

d-You could make a 51/49 % stock ownership with a 50/50 % profit split. It’s worth it to give up more on the profit split in order to get 51% ownership of the company. In any event, no matter what you decide it’s always wise to have salaries, expenses and benefits remain equal.

Solution: See the solution in step #4

“Now go with your eyes wide open”… Good Luck out there.

A Personal Note:

I’ll be accused of being negative and shortsighted. My response: That’s Crap. This is reality. This is life. It’s raw, pure, up close and certainly personal.

You don’t like the article? I understand. The truth and reality have a way of making people feel uncomfortable.

Just do me one favor. Print it and put it in a drawer, in a sealed envelope. Open it 12 months to the day that you started your business. If I was right you unfortunately learned a valuable lesson and if your verdict is that I was wrong, please take a closer look and search for cracks in the partnership relationship. You may be in the “subtle stage.”

Partnerships are great when they’re solid and built on mutual respect. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. This article is about possibilities that you must be aware of and in tune with. Consider this article a practice “fire drill.” Adapt now, because when the flames start to roar, it’s too late.

This article is about coating your business relationship with empathy. It’s about knowing that you’re not only responsible for your welfare and performance, but you’re also responsible for your business partners state of being. I’m not advocating that you become super-parent. I’m advocating for you, and this article is all about your protection and your financial and mental well-being.

Once again. Good luck out there and never, ever give up on your dreams.

Business and the Christian

When it comes to Christians doing business there inevitably, at some time or another, arises a conflict of interests, things that disturb the conscience, is this right or is it wrong. The conscience interrogates itself, tearing the Christian apart with inner turmoil. There is always the lingering doubts, did I do it God’s way? Am I being true to my faith? How will I be judged as a result of my actions? Will others see me as a hypocrite?

In today’s cut-throat world of business where the line between right and wrong is thinly drawn, one wonders if it is at all possible for a Christian to be a good businessperson without the compromising of faith and morals. The tactics employed by the world make almost anything legal, but for the Christian this has only made decision-making more difficult. What was dishonest and dirty and unacceptable only a few years ago has become praiseworthy today. Just take a look at the language being used today and the movies being shown, what was distasteful and improper has now become the norm and it is in this world that we as Christians have to make a living without compromising our values.

A young man just entering the business world once said to me that he could not do business without taking of his Christian jacket. The implication in these words was that he could not do business without cheating, lying or stealing. If, during the course of your life, you have seen a mentor or someone you respect doing business (and I use the word with reservation here) by cheating, or lying, or stealing, then the natural thing is for you to think it is quite alright to use the same methods. I used the word ‘business’ with reservation in the previous sentence because I do not believe cheating, lying and stealing is business. These things are an affront to the majority of businesspeople, these things are sin. I want to clarify here, that making a profit is not sin for it is written:

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. (Isa 48:17)

The Lord will not teach us to sin. The bible is full of people, holy and righteous people of God who earned their keep doing business and making a profit. Abraham was a successful farmer, soldier and businessman. So too was Job. Solomon sent ships to trade and barter in foreign lands even importing chariots from Egypt, Israel’s traditional enemy. Business should not be left in the hands of the ungodly few, but all can, and should, participate.

When Elisha multiplied the oil of the widow and all the containers were full we read what he said to her:

Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.(2Kings 4:7)

In other words make money and retire.

In the New Testament we read of Matthew and Zacchaeus both successful tax collectors and Paul a maker and seller of tents. Then there is also Lydia a seller of purple cloth.

Tax collecting was a type of franchise purchased from the Roman authorities but most tax collectors in Jesus’ time were viewed as dishonest ‘cheats’ by the public at large, but this had more to do with the way in which the business of tax collecting was conducted rather than the business itself. Jesus who spoke to and visited with tax collectors had no condemnation for their business, in fact He commended Zacchaeus for his decision to be honest in his dealings. Tax collecting was a necessary occupation, much as soldiering and politicking was.

If we read Proverbs 31, one of the things that make a wife virtuous is her ability to do business.

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (Pro.31:16)

And again:

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (Pro.31:24)

When it comes to business and profit, it is not so much the ‘what’ (yes, there are certain businesses that have to be avoided) but the ‘how’ that causes concern. Living in the grey area between right and wrong is not good enough, we need to be firm in our choice to be a Christian irrespective of the implications it may have for business. God, in His wisdom, has given us guidelines in His Word, on how we are to do business, what businesses need to be avoided and what the consequences will be if we transgress His law.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal.5:19-21)

Anything that encourages any of the above must be avoided at all costs. In his prayer for a successful life, Jabez prayed:

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed, and make my border larger, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, so that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he asked. (1Chron.4:10)

Jabez asked that God keep him from evil so that he would not cause grief to others, and God did what he asked.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Mat.18:5-7)

In your business dealings let no harm come to any child or any person for that matter, for you will be held accountable.

In Habakkuk there is a list of things that could get in the way of a godly business, things that need to be avoided, even if it means passing up a good deal.

Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people. (Hab.2:5)

No greater trap exists for a businessman than pride. Pride led to the downfall of the prince of angels. It led to the downfall of King Saul and Nebuchadnezzar, it clouds judgment and smothers wisdom, leaving you vulnerable and at the mercy of the enemy.

Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!(Hab.2:6)

Alongside pride, we can place unpaid debts as another reason for the downfall of businesspeople. ‘Clay’ refers to pledges or promises to pay debts and I.o.u.’s which in those days were written on clay, and ‘thick clay’ refers to an abundance of debts that pile up and are not paid.

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! (Hab.2:9)

Next to unpaid debts comes greed, a drive to gain as much as possible so that one may, through wealth, gain a position of power. Wealth becomes the source of security, as Proverbs 18:11 says: Wealth becomes his city behind the walls of which he will feel safe. As Christian businesspeople, our security is in the Lord.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Prov.18:10)

Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! (Hab.2:12)

After greed comes disregard for others. Building a business on the blood of others will have consequences. Your methods will determine your outcome. Jesus warned:

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matt.26:52)

There is always somebody stronger or more ruthless than you. Your approach to business will determine their approach to you.

Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! (Hab.2:15)

To mislead and to cheat speaks of thievery not business. To force people into situations, whether by alcohol or coercion or blackmail, speaks of one who is unable to do what is right, unable to be a businessperson. ‘Help one another’ we are told by Paul the apostle, and He will help you.

Opportunities abound, we must just be on the lookout for them. Do your business within God’s parameters, and He will send people to you, those needing your help and those who can help you. Certainly within most congregations are people who can and will help you. Just keep your focus on God. He is the one who ‘teaches us to profit’, who blesses and rewards.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal. 6:7)

The rewards you reap will depend on you.

Doing business is not the problem. As Christians we must remember that we are subject to a law higher than that of the world. We carry a name higher than our own. That said, we must not to be na├»ve in our dealings. The world will quite easily and without a second thought take advantage of any unwary, unprepared ‘do-gooder’. Business is business and that means making a profit. Take heed of Jesus’ words:

Brainstorming To Start A Small Business – Questions To Answer

Hello readers and potential future entrepreneurs. I understand the feeling; desire to create, operate, and succeed. Throughout my professional career, I have learned that there are numerous steps that must be taken in order to organize opening and operating a small business. I have put together a few questions which aspiring entrepreneurs should, at the very least, consider reading over. There are many questions that may arise with opening a small business, and I will address a few of those questions briefly in the following list of questions one may ask while brainstorming.

What type of business do you want to open? There are various business endeavors an entrepreneur could involve themselves in. It all comes down to what knowledge one has, or is willing to obtain. Are you a restaurateur? Repairman? Plumber? Home health / assistance? Do you have experience managing or working at such establishments? Do you need formal education from an institution? Will you work as a sole proprietor, or a partner / member? Research limited liability corporations (LLCs) in addition to sole proprietorships and partnerships. S corporations are another option, but they are for business with stockholders, and may not be right for your particular business application.

What kinds of licensing and/or permits are required? Each business will have different licensing requirements; it all comes down to what the entrepreneur ultimately chooses to do. A restaurant would need food safety licensing in addition to basic business licensing, and if alcohol is on the menu – there is another permit the entrepreneur would need to legally sell alcohol on the premises. Repair oriented businesses would need at least the business license to repair, but if they sell parts as well, they would need to have “retail” listed on their business license in addition to “repair”. Health care services require at least formal education and licensing as an LPN, RN, or one of several other health care related licenses. Be sure to check your state’s laws to ensure what is necessary to operate your type of business.

What training / education / certifications are required to legally run this business? We touched upon this in licensing / permits, however there is much more involved than the required licensing. For example, one cannot operate a vehicle collision repair business without the knowledge of performing those types of repairs. There are schools that can be attended to learn what must be learned to effectively operate nearly any kind of business. However, there are also businesses where experience is enough to operate effectively without needing any formal education (lawn care, house cleaning just to name a couple). Also, there are certifications for training in nearly, if not all, care industries.

Does this business require a storefront? Retail establishments will undoubtedly need a storefront. Bear in mind, retail business will have a much larger initial investment than a service based operation. That initial investment is inventory. Some service businesses may not need a storefront to operate, as much of the service performed could very well be on-site. If a storefront is necessary, be sure to consider delivery or on-site service if it is feasible for your operation.

How much will it cost? This number will vary wildly based on the type and size of business you are planning. For smaller businesses, this number could be as low as $200 for a license and/or permit, or as high as a million dollars or more. Obviously, inventory is very expensive, and so are specialized tools for performing extremely precise work. Calculate the expected opening and operating expenses. Determine what size storefront is needed (if applicable), and research local commercial realty properties, locations, and prices. It is absolutely cheaper to rent in the short-term, although the thought of owning property that is paid off is very tempting. Prices on most things will vary based on your location. Employees are another cost, if your business warrants employees. When employees come into the equation as opposed to sole proprietors or partnerships, one must add extra insurance for the business (unemployment insurance comes to mind). Check with your selected insurance company for which types of additional coverage are required, and if offering health insurance can be done reasonably. Those employees will also need to have taxes paid on their wages – part from the employee’s paycheck and part from the company. Another potential cost is repayment of loans, if you don’t already have the capital needed to open your business. Basic operating expenses are not to be forgotten, as heating/cooling, Internet connectivity, and utilities will be regular expenditures for any storefront. On-site service operations cost very little when compared to a physical storefront.

How can an individual pay for this? If you do not have the funds available, which is very common, applying for loans is a way to attain funding. Be sure to have a business plan with projected expenses and revenues. There are other ways to gain funds for a business. Look into grants. While they are not very common, they are a potential source for assistance nonetheless. If many people believe in your dream, one could possibly acquire donations from those individuals.

What about accounting? Bookkeeping is a necessity – research which accounting/bookkeeping software would work best for the type of business you are planning. Point-of-sale (POS) systems are needed for “ringing up” and selling inventory or goods to the customer. POS systems keep track of sales, sales taxes, employee labor dollars spent, and many other items. If you are apt at creating spreadsheets, you may be able to keep track of your own inventory depending on your particular business model.

I hope this brief listing of questions and potential answers has been of assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. Although there are countless successful entrepreneurs who have little or no formal education in business, it is never a bad idea to research courses regarding administration and management. Be sure to take a look at the Small Business Administration’s website at http://www.SBA.gov for more helpful information.

Ten Important Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting An Online Business

These ten factors may not necessarily appear in the same order as listed below but certainly, they are vital for the issue at hand.

HERE ARE THE TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

1. What type of online business do I want to engage in?
2. What do I have on offer that will be better than my Competitors in my niche?
3. Do I need to prepare a business plan for my business?
4. How much will it cost to set up my business?
5. Is my business online based or BOTH online and offline?
6. Do I need a dedicated website for my business and how much will it cost?
7. How will I market my business whether online or offline?
8. What is the right strategy to use to market my business?
9. Am I getting value for money in advertising my business?
10. Am I reaching the right audience with my advertising?

Having a positive answer for all these questions can only lead you to the next stage of your pursuit of running an online business.

Engage yourself in research into the business you want to get involve in and have a go at it. Take for instance, the Mobile Phone Industry. Statistics have shown the total number of mobile phone users worldwide from 2013 to 2019. For 2017 the number of mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.77 billion. Customers and potential customers use their mobile phones to browse the internet for Products and Services more than a Laptop or Desktop computer, so it make sense for business owners to utilize this piece of technology for marketing their products and services. This could suggest that there is an opportunity to tap into the mobile app industry to meet the needs of these businesses requiring mobile apps.

Millions of apps for almost anything you can think of, are now in circulation whether for free download or at a cost. You might ask, why don’t I have a slice of the pie and start a mobile app business? The excitement kicks in, but one has to have some kind of knowledge about the whole App design process. This will probably force you to dig deeper into your research on the whole aspect of mobile app development. With this being established, my first question is answered; through study and research, you have made an informed decision to get involved in Mobile App Design and Development. But, what will you be offering that will be better than your Competitors? This is not a simple question to answer, but to say the least, strive to offer quality products and services to customers, and simply make your Products and Services more affordable while maintaining quality.

Starting a business without some kind of a business plan is like driving onto a very long motorway with 1/4 tank of fuel, with the hope that it will take you to the next service exit. The business plan will give you a breakdown of what you need for the business even though success is not guaranteed, as there are a number of opposing factors along the way.

There are a lot of businesses with little or no startup cost as opposed to other businesses with huge startup cost. It also depends on whether your business will both be online and offline. You have to decide if the business you want to indulge in, has minimal startup cost.

To setup an online business, does not have to cost an arm and a leg, if you take the time to do extensive research into the business you want to get into.

If your business is online based, advertising it to the right audience can be a huge task. Finding the right sources to advertise your business, can be quite challenging and risky as this is where you can spend huge sums of money to advertise, but yet get little return on investment if the advertising strategy is wrong.

Advertising a business to a targeted audience involves a number of factors like;

1. Google Indexing
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
3. Domain Authority (DA)
4. Page Ranking (PR)
5. Back links
6. Social Media
7. Joining Forums
8. Blogging
9. Google AdWords
10. Google Analytics
11. Keywords Research

To do all of these stuff can be demanding and boring, but if you need success in any business, you just have to get on with the task at hand.

Handing over this challenging task to an SEO Expert can be quite expensive. If you put the time and effort in and do your research and utilize the available SEO tools on the Market, believe me, you can bring your online business to life without ‘breaking the bank’.

To conclude, I would say to minimise business startup costs, try to do as much as you can yourself. When you have exhausted all avenues, seek help.

I did not need any website design experience to build the Apptitecture’s website. Therefore, not having to ask a web designer to build a website, has saved me some money which I was able to channel elsewhere in the business. Starting an online business can be quite daunting but with hard work and determination, you can have a successful business in the end.