“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” –Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
You’re going to need people to pull this off.
The Christian entrepreneur who takes Harper Lee’s words to heart lives to minister another day. He gains new people to the cause because he truly cares for them, regardless of their background, which allows them to discover camaraderie. Plus, by learning to understand the people they serve, the Christian entrepreneur gains knowledge and wisdom.
If your startup will ever reach people, it must include people at every step.
Who are the people you need to include for the sake of your plan? Who are the people you are praying that God would provide? I encourage you to pray for leaders. Leaders bring more people. And when those people join your team, so, too, will their provisions.
Regardless of your product or proposal, here are the five types of people you should include.
Team Members Most entrepreneurs don’t think team. They tend to be idea people who fly solo. The idea might originate with you, but executing and bringing your idea to life requires a team.
The brilliant animators at Pixar understood this well. It didn’t matter how great the idea for Toy Story was if they couldn’t actually produce a finished film. Having the team of businessmen, storytellers, artists, and animators actually allowed them to make an idea into children’s classic.
“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they’ll screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they’ll make it work.” – Harvard Business Review on Pixar
Community Members A Christian entrepreneur lives the presence of Christ, believing that wherever he goes, there goes the Church. A great sacramental startup connects that presence into the heart of the local community.
Involve the community and its leaders early and often in shaping the startup. While your team consists primarily of those who have bought in and signed up, build a larger ownership by enlisting people in the community in one-off opportunities. Allow them to have a vested interest in your success by enlisting them as consultants, experts, and key holders.
Look for experts who live in the community. Partner with business, financial and church experts. Rather than seek to teach them, approach them as a student. Ask them to help solve your presenting problem. “If you were in my shoes, starting this _________, what would you do? Whom would you make sure I talk to?”
A Coach When I learned to swim, I was wise enough to know I could not do it without a coach. Since I was a stubborn, 53-year-old man with an ingrained fear of water, I needed more than an instructor. I wanted someone who could match my stubbornness, yet bring a love for me succeeding. Someone who could balance compassion and truth, push and pull. Part trained counselor and part expert consultant.
I chose my daughter.
If you knew Abigail, you’d know she was a perfect choice. She is sweet but strong and a competitive swimmer who knows her stuff. She’s experienced in working with children of all fear levels and has plenty of confidence to tell her old man, “Stop thinking that way.”
Whenever we start a new direction in life, especially one we have not accomplished before, a coach is critical. He keeps your skills sharp, forces you to explore other ways of thinking, and pulls out of you what God has poured in you.
A Boss Entrepreneurs enjoy being their own boss, accountable to no one. In the real world, ’no accountability’ is a fantasy. Christian entrepreneurs at a minimum will demonstrate accountability to family and followers.
From the moment you’re on the clock, find a boss (an individual or a board) to be accountable to. Find someone that can hold you accountable for your character and your goals. Embrace being accountable for the sake of growing the kingdom.
This will likely mean that you should be accountable for measurable results, metrics that are ultimately about more people being in Jesus’ kingdom.
A Friend Starting new businesses and ministries open your heart to a world of hurt. Disappointment, depression, and moral temptations await the Christian entrepreneur at every stage. Start praying before you land that God would provide a friend for the journey.
If married, confiding in your spouse seems natural. Startups tend to overwhelm the family, though, so a friend apart from family is a huge blessing to the family.
The tendency might be to look for a friend in the midst of the startup. While teammates should love being with each other, a friend outside of the mix allows you to be loved not for how you perform but for who you are. It also provides a door to life outside of the whirlwind, bringing much-needed diversion when stuff starts flying.
So go out and enlist and cultivate. Take Harper Lee's words to heart and find the people you need to strengthen your sacramental startup.