Why? There are many reasons — some businesses are built on crummy ideas, others are brought down by economic turmoil, and still others are run by incompetent people. But we believe that many businesses (start-ups and established companies alike) fail because the people in charge of them fail to run them according to God’s financial laws.
Just like God has a master plan for your personal finances, He also has a master plan for your business. And here’s the exciting part: It’s the same plan!
A lot of people can wrap their minds around the basics of good personal financial management. After all, things like budgeting, saving and planning well start to make a lot of sense when you start thinking about them. But many of those same people throw reason out the window when they decide to start a business. They start businesses quickly with little planning and even less capital. They hope that their “great idea” will make them instantly successful. When success doesn’t come so easily, they begin using debt to stay afloat, and double down on bad business decisions. In the end, nobody is surprised when these businesses fold.
A business owner in this scenario has made many mistakes. But perhaps the greatest mistake is assuming that the rules that govern personal finance don’t apply to business. They may be diligent and cautious with their own money, but take unnecessary risks in business. They may believe that success in business requires big loans and big risks, things that they wouldn’t do in their personal lives. They believe that if they squeeze hard enough for long enough, they can eventually turn a lump of coal into a diamond. They think that if they can hold on to a struggling business, it will eventually turn the corner and become profitable. But most never do.
If you’re in business for yourself, here’s the most important thing to remember: The same laws that govern your personal financial life will also govern your company’s finances. After all, God created these laws, He put them into place, and He made them inviolate. So why would we think that the rules somehow change when we start a company?
The rules don’t change; in fact, they become much more important, because we have more people counting on us to follow them correctly. When you’re dealing with your own finances, your decisions don’t really affect anyone outside of your own family. When you run a business, however, your circle of influence gets much broader. It’s not just your family counting on you at this point — you have employees, vendors and customers who are all counting on you for something, and they all have families too. Handle your business right, and you can make a positive impact on all of those constituencies (and make a good living doing it). Do things wrongly, however, and you can cause a lot of grief for those same people.
We’re not small business experts, but we do believe strongly that the wisdom found in the word of God gives us guidance that applies to business life. In coming articles in this series, we’ll examine some of the ways that godly financial principles like discipline, diligence, budgeting, planning and investing can pay off in your business life.
For now though, just remember this: If it’s not a good strategy for your personal financial life, it’s not a good strategy for your business either.
Photo by Johnny Goldstein. Used under Creative Commons License.