Many small business gurus and trainers will agree that building the foundation for your business is an important first step. But, many entrepreneurs just start out with an idea and in the entrepreneurial spirit go try it to see if it works. We don’t set up systems, document procedures – or even necessarily balance the checkbook. In some cases, the idea never takes off or we lose interest and the lack of foundation doesn’t matter. Actually, we saved a lot of time by not setting up all of these systems. But, on many occasions, our business idea works. What I mean is we try to sell a product or service and people actually start buying it. Then the lack of foundation can cause a good idea to fail. Let me repeat that. The idea is good and you are achieving initial success, however, without systems and procedures you cannot keep up with the growth or your quality quickly begins to suffer. Not having a foundation for your business is like building your business on sand, not rock. If there is any rough sea or major wind, the sand will erode or blow away. And our business goes with it. So what is building a foundation? I would categorize the slab and the building blocks of your foundation as:
Professional Values for Christian Based Businesses: This is the slab or the main foundation of your business. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash.”
The bible tells us specifically that if we hear God’s word and don’t follow it, we are headed for trouble. Jesus tells us to build our house on rock so we can weather the storms of life. This includes our business. If we only follow God’s will for our lives outside of our business, our business will not be on a firm foundation. This means integrating your faith and beliefs into the culture and core values of your business. Values like integrity, glorifying God in our work, helping others, not making money a God in our lives. Build your business’ culture on your Christian values and you will have a strong foundation to build the rest of the framework of your business.
Money systems – we are called to be a good steward of the resources God provides. Today we have tools, systems and procedures available to manage the cash flow and financial reporting of your business. This includes a separate checking account, an accounting system like Quick Books, company credit cards, loans, quarterly tax payments, etc. Make sure the tools are in place so you can exercise your stewardship in a Godly way.
People systems – we are called to love others as ourselves. If we have that in mind when we build our team, the team will reflect our efforts. It is expensive to hire employees and turnover in our team is even more costly. Even small businesses need procedures for consistently interviewing, hiring and firing employees. We all need policies on paid holidays, how many sick days/vacations days, do we provide maternity leave paid, do we share in insurance cost, what is our overtime policy, etc. I think if we are employing a culture of Godly values, we will desire to be consistent and fair in our hiring, benefits, management, and sometimes firing of our employees.
Marketing/Sales systems – the majority of small businesses implement what I call “roller coaster marketing”. This is when we hustle and employ all of our marketing and sales efforts in a flurry until we get a big sale or a couple of new clients. Then we don’t do any marketing until we finish the sale or need clients again. A written marketing and sales plan consistently implemented will provide a pipeline of new sales or customers.
Operational systems – This is more dependent upon the type of business you run, however, all business should document key procedures of the operations of their business so that new employees can more quickly be trained correctly and ensure consistency in quality of output. Some businesses need automated systems such as point of sale, distribution, or customer contact management. Many will set goals on how much output they expect or require from operators, salespeople, etc.