“What we focus on becomes our reality.  When an organization gives its attention to some aspects of the corporate life, those aspects tend to define the whole.  For example, if a church focuses on money (or declines or particular debates) then everything is seen through that lens.  So, the reality of an organization is defined by whatever participants think about, talk about, work on, dream about or plan.” (Mark Lau Branson)

I’ve been reading Mark Lau Branson’s Book “Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry, Missional Engagement, and Congregational Change.”  I came across this quote that stood out to me, makes a ton of sense, and should shape how we approach everything we do in churches.

I thought about this in the context of our personal lives – what we focus on is what comes to define us.  The things I think about the most: work, family, and my hobbies are what defines me.  Pastor (of sorts), Father/Husband, Business Owner, Runner (kind of).  We know this intuitively as well.  We say things like “I just need stop thinking about it” or “I just need to stop obsessing about it.”  And we all know people who trap themselves into their current circumstances because they’re fixated on some aspect of their life.

There’s no doubt in my mind that as church leaders, we need (and I fully include myself here) to be strategic in what we’re focused on.  If we focus on the negatives of the life of our church, such as the “our church is dying” narrative, that’s exactly what will happen.  On the other hand, if we choose to place the focus and thereby the priority on what is good in the life of our church, I suspect it could have a positive impact on the church as a whole.

Think about it this way – do you like talking to the resident sad sack who is always upset and complaining?  No? Then let’s not let our churches become sad sacks where all we do is focus on the negatives.

Starting your first small business

Most likely you have already identified a business idea, so now it’s time to balance it with a little reality. Does your idea have the potential to succeed? You will need to run your business idea through a validation process before you go any further.

In order for a small business to be successful, it must solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants.

There are a number of ways you can identify this need, including research, focus groups, and even trial and error. As you explore the market, some of the questions you should answer include:

Is there a need for your anticipated products/services?
Who needs it?
Are there other companies offering similar products/services now?
What is the competition like?
How will your business fit into the market?
Don’t forget to ask yourself some questions, too, about starting a business before you take the plunge.

You need a plan in order to make your business idea a reality. A business plan is a blueprint that will guide your business from the start-up phase through establishment and eventually business growth, and it is a must-have for all new businesses.

The good news is that there are different types of business plans for different types of businesses.

If you intend to seek financial support from an investor or financial institution, a traditional business plan is a must. This type of business plan is generally long and thorough and has a common set of sections that investors and banks look for when they are validating your idea.

If you don’t anticipate seeking financial support, a simple one-page business plan can give you clarity about what you hope to achieve and how you plan to do it. In fact, you can even create a working business plan on the back of a napkin, and improve it over time. Some kind of plan in writing is always better than nothing.

Starting a small business doesn’t have to require a lot of money, but it will involve some initial investment as well as the ability to cover ongoing expenses before you are turning a profit, and don’t forget that once you start your business it is important to have an accounting software australia in order to keep track of your finances. Put together a spreadsheet that estimates the one-time startup costs for your business (licenses and permits, equipment, legal fees, insurance, branding, market research, inventory, trademarking, grand opening events, property leases, etc.), as well as what you anticipate you will need to keep your business running for at least 12 months (rent, utilities, WordTree marketing and advertising, production, supplies, travel expenses, employee salaries, your own salary, etc.). If you are looking for a great insurance company for your business, then check out One Sure Insurance.

Those numbers combined is the initial investment you will need.

Now that you have a rough number in mind, there are a number of ways you can fund your small business, including:

Small business loans
Small business grants
Angel investors
You can also attempt to get your business off the ground by bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start your business. You may find that a combination of the paths listed above work best. The goal here, though, is to work through the options and create a plan for setting up the capital you need to get your business off the ground.