This is the second article in a series called Biblical Principles for Sales and Marketing. The first article shared five principles that are foundational to Biblical marketing decisions:
1. Love. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31
2. Truth. A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. Proverbs 11:1
3. Humility. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
4. Contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
5. Service. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28
What is your business purpose?
Let’s back up and start at the beginning. Before we begin marketing, we need to know what we are selling. Even more importantly, we need to know why we are selling it.
Why are you in business? Why should your employees come to work every day and throw their energy into the work? One hundred years from now, what difference will it have made whether your business succeeded or failed?
People go into business for many different reasons. Perhaps you identify with one or more of these reasons:
- To have a flexible schedule.
- To earn more income.
- To enjoy the challenge of running a company.
- To generate profits for charity.
- To provide work for your community.
- To give your customers better products, better service, or a lower price.
- To pursue your hobbies.
- To spend more time with your family.
- To fund a personal mission project.
- To improve your standard of living.
While all these reasons might have their place, only a few of them involve the customer.
If we forget to include customers in our reason for being in business, they will have no reason to buy from us so that we can stay in business. In fact, without customers we won’t have a business at all. When thinking about your business purpose, consider the customer’s point of view as well as your own interests.
Creating a business purpose
Various models and terms are used to frame business vision and purpose statements. Some models use the three categories of vision, mission, and core values. Jim Collins in Good to Great teaches the Hedgehog Concept and Gino Wickman in Traction teaches the Core Focus™. For this discussion, I will use “business purpose” as a general term to cover all of the above.
Let’s look at five aspects of a Biblical business purpose that lay a good foundation for success.
1. Our business purpose should serve the general welfare of society.
Some things such as alcohol, gambling, or abortion clinics are clearly outside Biblical guidelines. But what are some areas we as a Plain community might promote unwholesome living?
Considering that obesity is a national problem in the United States, how should a bakery market sugar-laden goodies? Or what about a buffet-style restaurant with a large spread of options? Is the focus on sharing good times with friends and family or on indulging your inner cravings and “all you can eat”?
What about herbal supplements’ sweeping claims of amazing cures, perfect health, and long life? Do you care most about your customer finding a solution for a reasonable investment or do you willingly sell them more than they really need?
These questions can be difficult to answer and the differences may be subtle. But as Christians, we must be honest about the impact our products have on our Christian witness and their practical effects on others’ spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
2. Our business purpose should acknowledge God’s plans and providence.
The opportunities we have are a gift from God, and we should acknowledge them as such. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
God’s plan for our lives and our businesses is an important aspect of business purpose. . Is your business an avenue to help you serve the Lord or is that only an afterthought? God wants not only our Sundays, but He wants ownership of our lives every day of the week.
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Without God’s blessing and enablement we can accomplish nothing of eternal value.
We should remember God’s providence and His sovereignty as we plan our business purpose. God alone knows the future. In addition to praying for His wisdom, we should cultivate a mindset of flexibility. The future may bring developments that could change the why and what of our business.
3. Our business purpose should focus on benefiting others, not ourselves.
We expect to benefit from our business, but the principles of love and service compel us to think beyond ourselves and consider the customer’s perspective. Picture yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would you want your company to be and do for you? Your vision should carry a tone of humility and service rather than bragging and self-exaltation.
Neither should we talk down the competition or have the goal of putting competitors out of business. One corporation’s motto was to “Crush [Name of Competitor].” And they did, too. Rather, we should be willing to bless our competition with cooperation or collaboration when there is opportunity.
In Business by The Book, Larry Burkett shares a story of an employee who stole company secrets and started his own business competing against his former employer. Several years later, he faced serious problems because his product was defective. His former employer bought one of the defective items, paid for laboratory research to diagnose the issue, and then he even paid his engineers to figure out a solution. He gave the solution to his traitor employer/competitor, truly returning good for evil. Would the spirit of your business purpose allow you to do that?
Rather than copy the competition, we should differentiate to serve a different niche. This shows love and respect to the competitors and to your target niche customer base, and also provides a better business opportunity in the long run.
4. Our business purpose should utilize the full potential of our opportunities.
Is it possible that your business purpose is not as full or complete as it should be? Part of the lesson of Jesus’ parable of the talents is that we should not let our God-given resources lie dormant. Invest your talents instead of burying them in a napkin.
It’s good to think big and stretch our minds. You might want to pick a goal and then ask, “What if we did 10x that? Or 100x?” If you are providing real value to your customers, wouldn’t it be good to provide that value to as many customers as possible?
On the flip side, we have to be realistic and reckon with the truth about our circumstances, skills, and resources. Do we have or can we get what it takes to do this really well? Stretch goals have their place, but we must not promise more than what we can deliver.
5. Our business purpose should align with our resources, proficiency, and passion.
Wesley is an energetic 20-year-old who wants to start a construction business. His father and grandfather have experience in carpentry. He has worked in a mill shop that makes custom trim packages for homes. He has also spent about a year working on a carpenter crew on a variety of projects from residential remodeling to building pole barns and small new homes.
Wesley likes to see a lot of progress in a day’s time. He would rather measure and cut the 1/8th inch instead of the 1/32th inch. He also prefers to work outdoors.
Wesley has two different contacts who say they can supply him with plenty of leads. The one will send him leads for building pole barns. The other leads are for high-end residential remodeling work. Let’s consider two purpose statements Wesley could write. Which one would suit Wesley the best?
- To delight one customer at a time by transforming their outdated mansion into a modern paradise.
- To be the go-to local pole barn builder for timely completion at a fair price.
Option A is a stretch for several reasons. First, his personality and skills are not suited to the detailed time-consuming work of remodeling luxury homes. Second, he doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to do this well because his time in the custom molding shop only touches one small aspect of the array of skills and knowledge he would need. Wesley is likely too impatient to take the time necessary to communicate well with the homeowners. Maybe most importantly, he will not enjoy the work of remodeling as much because it is mostly inside work.
Option B is much better. Wesley’s penchant for visible progress will be fulfilled in erecting pole barns. It is also something he has experience in. It is relatively simple compared to most types of construction. Accuracy and detail are not nearly as important with pole barns, and he can work outdoors where he loves to be.
Many business owners have taken their business purpose for granted without taking time to think deeply about it. I suggest that, at a minimum, you will find a deeper satisfaction in your work if you develop a business purpose statement, one that rings true to your heart’s core. This can spill over into other areas: you may enjoy more buy-in from your employees, greater efficiency, and a higher level of appreciation from customers. .
The focus of our business purpose should be something that God will smile on. As Christians, our businesses should be dedicated to serving and glorifying God. As such, maybe it would help us to think of them as charitable organizations that earn their funds through the sale of products or services.
Schedule time to explore and develop ideas for your business purpose and to pray for God’s direction for your business. After all, as Gary Miller entitled one of his books, “It’s Not Your Business.” Our businesses are in God’s hands and should be used to do His will.
About the Author: Roy Herr is the senior marketing consultant at Rosewood Marketing. The Rosewood team guides business owners through marketing challenges into sustainable growth.