The Business Startup
Was there a business and growth strategy plan in place for your business start-up?
I did not have such a plan for Crazy Dog Creative and often found myself just chasing the next lead. But over the years, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is more than just earning money and remaining active in my career industry. Through this journey, I learned to evaluate my own weaknesses and lean on God while growing in my profession and faith. In hindsight, I wish I had known and heeded this advice: Plan business steps intentionally.
Crazy Dog Creative was launched when I was seven months pregnant with our oldest child. My “business plan” was simply this: stay active in my graphic design and marketing career while being a stay-at-home mom. Although we could exist on my husband’s income alone, we would be pinching pennies, skipping the extras, and hoping no crisis came our way. I loved my work and already had a few customers following me from corporate position to freelance gig (with the full knowledge and approval of my employer). This made business start-up easy. But the next years proved that staying in business was more difficult than starting a business.
Why? Because I didn’t plan my next steps.
I began working with my client base but found myself chasing every possible lead. It was overwhelming to navigate first-time motherhood and entrepreneurship! The situation became more pronounced during my second pregnancy, which was full of complications, a serious concern about my son’s heart (he’s fine), a failing gall bladder, and a slow recovery from my second c-section.
I emerged from those early years with plenty of experience in failing, a couple of exciting success stories, and a few solid clients. My next steps were impactful. I discovered the power of continuing education and finding mentors in business–those who had been there, done that, and could teach the lessons they learned. Most importantly, I learned to trust God with my children and my business.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)
As an Apostolic entrepreneur, I desire to honor God through my business. I want to give back to the kingdom with my professional skills and connections while also earning cash for my family. God has met this desire with His blessings again and again. We’ve experienced these God-moments:
- Checks that arrived the moment we needed to replace tires, do a major home or vehicle repair, or felt led to give an offering beyond what made sense with the budget.
- Unique, professional opportunities where God opened doors when I only saw a wall.
- Moments I could live out my faith and advance the kingdom of God among other professionals. My Christian principles, ethical business practices, and generosity of time spoke much more than a fish symbol on my Zoom background. One client paid me the highest compliment when she told another business owner that I was the “peacemaker” on her team. This occurred because I listened with empathy to both sides of a disagreement and was able to propose a solution that everyone could agree on.
- Opportunities to witness. One client halted our marketing brainstorming session to say she felt a need to read her Bible and ask my advice on where to start. A close friend in the business world said God wanted her to get closer to Him and urged her study the book of Acts. Then she asked if I would pray for her efforts.
Stepping back and intentionally planning my next business step is how I run my business now. Taking time to seek God’s will for my business is my gateway toward a strategic plan. I retreat to a quiet place with notebook, Bible, and ideas. After brainstorming, I reverse engineer those goals. I emerge with easily laid-out steps and a plan for growth. This is Strategic Planning. When grounded in faith, it transforms the entrepreneurial process into an act of service. It enables our decisions to align with our values and purpose. It creates harmonious synergy between our faith and business.
The Power of Vision and Mission
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Faith-based entrepreneurs are often driven by a vision that goes beyond profits. We want more than just an increase in our bank accounts. We want to make a positive impact on our communities and society. Strategic planning translates this vision into practical, actionable steps.
While leading marketing departments for volunteer organizations, I’ve learned the importance of clear, faith-driven, God-directed vision. These offer both leaders and team members an opportunity to embrace the mission and work in unity toward organizational goals.
This is true for any entrepreneur or leader. A clear vision of moving from where we are to where we want to be offers many benefits. It causes team members to work together, families to support the vision, and everyone to move toward the shared mission. Unity is vital for a church congregation to reach lost souls. Unity is vital between couples who wish to serve the Lord. Unity is vital when building a business. Remaining true to that mission allows us to reach our full potential.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
Entrepreneurship is filled with challenges and uncertainties. We must rely on our faith to guide our strategic planning process and approach challenges with a sense of prudence. It helps us find answers to difficult questions:
- What happens if I have a major health set-back?
- What if an unforeseen pandemic, natural disaster, or cultural upheaval tosses your quarterly marketing plan out the window?
- What if a client cancels their contract or doesn’t pay their invoice?
The answer is this: your plan remains as you prayerfully adjust.
Strategic planning built on a foundation of prayer and faith in God provides the needed tools to navigate the ever-changing dynamics of the business world. It encourages reliance on God’s guidance while making practical and well-informed decisions. God is never surprised by what happens next in the world. We must plan for tomorrow while living today. When we look to the future and ask for God’s wisdom in our plans, we will feel His nudges of “pursue this” or His directions of “not yet.” This process helps us face an uncertain future.
Stay In through Strategic Plans
Faith-based entrepreneurship is a unique journey where the spiritual and practical intersect. Apostolic entrepreneurs view strategic planning as more than a business tool. They realize it is an intentional process that honors God’s guidance, brings a compelling vision to life, and navigates challenges with faith and prudence.
As we move forward in our mission to start a business, grow a business, and advance God’s kingdom, let us heed the timeless scriptural wisdom and guidance of those who have walked these paths before us. When we embrace strategic planning with faith at its core, we can grow our businesses and advance the kingdom of God.
By Jenn Warren, Marketing Director | Apostolic Chamber of Commerce and Top Dog at Crazy Dog Creative – Strategic Design & Marketing