Believing, in Buisness? – Part Two


Part Two

Who is the CEO of your business?

15. Did you need capital to start your business, and if you did, do you mind telling me how much?

“As mentioned, by Gods grace I didn’t need a capital amount up front to start the business. I had no money of my own and I didn’t want to apply for a bank loan. We bought the business for about R240,000 and I made an arrangement to pay this off on a monthly basis as the cash flow came in.

At home, I had an amount of about R1,500.00 which I kept in my clothes cupboard. It was money that I used to pick up if I found it lying around the house or small change from other purchases. We used that money to buy some product for the first order we got and it grew from there! ”

16. How long did it take you to cover all your costs and become profitable?

“The way I planned the forecast was that we should be profitable from the start. It was only monthly running expenses that had to be paid at the end of the month. The business has shown a profit each year of trading to date. It has taken us about 6 years to get to a place where I can comfortably say the company makes an annual profit.”

17. Did you experience pressures in the beginning?

“Yes, it was mostly the doubt of the business succeeding. There were personal pressures and family pressures. There were also business deal pressures and added stress wondering if suppliers would produce what we needed on time and in full.”

18. Did you have a mentor, or someone who was able to guide and direct you?

“No, no particular person. There were quite a few people who gave me advice through the experience of working with them. I was able to witness first hand when situations went wrong and learn how not to do things! But, really at the end of the day, it’s my relationship with the Lord that is my guiding hand. There are answers for everything in God’s word and it is the best “How to…” manual ever!”

19. Were you able to develop successful networks and how did you achieve that?

“Yes, I’ve been able to achieve some very successful networks because of communication and mutual respect for others. I have learned that one of the most important things in life are relationships. Good solid, productive networks are formed by open, honest and respectful communications with those around us. This is not restricted to businessNetworking but applies to marriage, family and friendships as well. As I spend time with people, I get to know and trust them and the reverse applies.

Once again, I take my example from the Lord. Relationship bridges are formed out of serving others, putting their needs before mine. When we have this attitude towards our relationships they will be meaningful and long lasting.”

20. Was your family negatively affected in the beginning?

“I think they were affected but I wouldn’t say negatively. Like myself, they were concerned about the future of the business. They could see that, at times, I was very worried. It was amazing to see how they encouraged me with words that I had spoken to them years before. Things the Lord had taught me to share with my wife and children, were coming back to help me. So, they were concerned, but also very supportive.”

21. What do you perceive your strengths to be?

“I think probably my best strength would be communicating with others. Based on my relationship with the Lord, I strive to deal with people in an open, transparent and honest way. This has helped our business to form long term, healthy relationships with our clients.”

22. What was your most exciting moment in the business?

“There have been a few exciting moments because of the growth the business has shown over the last 6 years. Now is one of those moments because we have just exceeded our best sales month since we started. The turnover is tenSales Bar times bigger this month than it was in our first month of trading!”

23. What was your most challenging moment in the business?

“There have also been a few of those…mostly relating to concerns over cash flow. When the bank balance is low and I have commitments to make, that is always a challenging time for me. Our staff are No.1 in our business, followed by our suppliers and then our customers, so it is very important that our employees’ salaries are paid on time. It has only been in the last eight months or so that I’ve learned to have peace during these tough cash flow times.”

23. How difficult was it to find good staff?

“It was very difficult, and still is, to find good staff that are willing to work hard, to be loyal and honest. Finding the right person for the job takes time and skill. Great attention needs to be paid to the interviewing of prospective employees. It helps to have a guideline for interviewing candidates so that not too much emotion interferes with the selection process. When finding new staff, I pray hard to ask the Lord to put the right people across my path.”

24. Do you feel now that you take a more managerial role versus an entrepreneurial role?

“Yes. However, the entrepreneurial side is always there, it’s not something that I can just turn off. I find myself constantly coming up with ideas – the majority of which are absolutely disastrous! I have to be more managerial at this current time to lead the business. I believe it’s important to understand the difference between managing and entrepreneurship. Management is taking care of the seed born out of an inspired idea.”

25. Where did you set up your business?

“We operate from a business park in Johannesburg. We have a warehouse and a showroom with administration offices. Customers are able to visit us, browse the various bottles and products and then purchase what they need. We cater for the small entrepreneurial business and large companies who require us to deliver to their warehouses.

26. How did you choose this location?

“It was a branch of the previous company that I worked for. I was involved in the set-up of the branch originally. We selected that area because of its location to Johannesburg’s CBD and also the town of Soweto in the South West of Business ParkJohannesburg.”

27. Have you faced many challenges since setting up the business, and how have you dealt with them?

“There have been a number of challenges relating to finding new customers and suppliers. We concentrated on our service to the small customers, making sure we served each one equally. This resulted in repeat business and once we were taking good care of the smaller clients, the bigger ones came.

In the beginning, starting the business with no capital was difficult. This has slowly been resolved by careful cash flow management and using profits to fund our growth.

Staff difficulties were and are resolved by applying Godly principles. Often we try to resolve situations with too much emotion, when, if we apply Godly principles, situations are resolved fairly. Applying God’s principles in our business means we have to trust God for the outcome – not something that comes easily!”

28. What is the most important piece of advice you can give any person thinking of becoming an entrepreneur?

“As human beings, we all enjoy attention. So being able to sell yourself is a first step. We all do this when we socialise so why not in business? As people grow to like you, they trust you more and then selling your product or service is the next natural step. If you can’t sell yourself, selling your product or service will always be an uphill battle. Your testimony is very important. How you treat others, how you present yourself and whether or not you conduct your business in a fair and honest way. Respect for others is critical. Your focus should always be on the needs of your customer and not your own gains. These all come back down to the Godly command of loving your neighbour.”

29. What do you find personally rewarding and satisfying in owning your own business?

“When I look back and see how far the business has come in six years, I feel excited and humbled at the achievement. It has been wonderful to see the Lord’s hand working in every aspect. The most rewarding thing for me is now that my sons are involved in the business, I have more time to do my ‘real’ job, which is sharing the Gospel with others, whether they be connected to the business or outside of it. That is my true passion.

Personally, it has been very rewarding to have been used by the Lord in this process.”

30. Has it all been worth it?

“Yes, very much so. I have learnt a lot about trusting God. You know, there is a difference between having faith in God and trusting in God. I have never had a problem believing that the Lord can do anything He wants to do at any time (faith in God). However, trusting Him in a given circumstance is sometimes very difficult, waiting on Him for His will to be done in that instance.

It has been amazing to see how the Lord has changed lives through the business. Not only those employed here, but others outside the business.”

31. What is the most important lesson you have learnt?

“Probably the most important lesson was to learn to be honest and open with people, whether employees, suppliers or customers. The relationships I have with each of these people are like bridges for communication. Clear communication with others in our lives is critically important. When situations fail, you can be sure somewhere along the line, there is miscommunication – one party’s expectation was different to another. As a manager, I have learned to issue a clear instruction and then ask the other person to repeat back the instruction to me so both our expectations are the same.”

32. How did your Christian faith help you with this experience?

“I found that when you own a business, it is easy to become lazy and take shortcuts. From the start of the business, I placed the Lord as our CEO. Therefore, in my heart, I was meeting with Him every day and reporting on what was happening in the business. I had placed His principles into the business and did everything within those boundaries. At times when I didn’t feel like doing things, my relationship with the Lord would help me push through. When I was humbled in relationships with others, the Lord helped me accept the error of my ways and put myself in the shoes of others.

Without the Lord’s relationship, I can categorically say that there would be no business.”

…time with the Master”

“…time with the Master…” is an on-going series of teachings, about lifestyle in the Church and is published bi-monthly.
If you feel this article has value, please send this link to others, Writings are meant for people, not for dormant files in our computers and very often when we share them, it results in positive changes in the lives of individuals and communities.

Please feel free to send in questions (see ‘Contact’) and comments (hit ‘Comments’
button).

Believing, In Business?


Part One

Who is the real CEO of your business?

A young believing entrepreneur was interviewed for an article concerning how believer’s dealt with business issues, when working in a worldly environment with those who have different belief systems.

Int: Would you tell me about yourself before you decided to start your own business?
“Before I started this business, I worked for a privately-owned Plastic Bottle Manufacturing company and then felt led to go into full time Missionary work. I went to Malawi for about 3 years with my wife and young family. When we felt that work was complete, we came back to South Africa and I was invited to work for my old company again. It was after that season of time that the opportunity came for me to start this business.”

Int: What kind of business do you have?
“Simply put, we buy and sell Plastic Bottles and accessories into various types of industries i.e. Cosmetic, Food, Chemical and Pharmaceutical. We don’t manufacture anything but have verbal sales agreements with about 40 Entreprenuer 2 jpg manufacturers around Johannesburg. This helps us to focus on servicing our customers without the added challenges of manufacturing.”

Int: Were your parents or relatives entrepreneurial?
“Although my father was loyal to a large corporate company for the greater portion of his working career, he was an entrepreneur at heart. I believe, had circumstances been different, he would have started his own business. He used to repair motor cars on weekends to generate extra income to help support and educate our family.
Two of my brothers initially followed suit into large companies but Later on in life, started their own businesses.”

Int: Do you have any role models in your life?
“My role model is the Lord. He is the basis of everything. I’ve tried to put His character and principles into the business, my family life and my personal life. I’ve seen and worked with several people along my business journey and liked the way some of them worked. I’ve taken a bit of something from each one – following the good examples and leaving the not so good!”

Int: What was your education and training, and did you possess any special skills to start your business?
“I never applied myself very well at school and so never achieved great results. I don’t have a South African Matric but finished school with the British GCE ‘O’ Level grade. After school, I didn’t have a desire to further my education but really wanted to earn money.
I would say that I like being with people and learning about them, which automatically led me into work where I was meeting new people. Through that I went into the Sales field.”

Int: Did you have a job before, and what was the nature of the job?
“After school I spent a few years trying to complete a Radio Technician apprenticeship but really couldn’t settle and so my business journey started as the Team Leader of a group of ladies who went door to door in office blocks selling jewellery. I moved from there to a company that sold Plastic Piping and Valves where I worked in the Stores department doing stock control. I was promoted from there to Counter Sales and then given a brand-new company car (which I crashed on the first day!) I was told to go and find new customers, which I did and really enjoyed that.”

Int: Did your previous job experience help you in your venture?
“Yes, it definitely did. Over the years I learned a tremendous amount. I gained product knowledge, customer and supplier contacts as well as general administration and distribution experience. I learned that communication between people is of utmost importance.”

Int: How did you come about the business opportunity?
The company I was working for was beginning to lose market share and eventually their cash flow was at critical levels. They had a Cash Sales outlet in Johannesburg, which I was instrumental in starting up some years before. I asked if I could buy this branch from them and my offer was accepted.

Int: Did you have to change your goals and lifestyle to start the business?
Not really. In my life everything revolves around my relationship with the Lord, so whether I was working for a boss or managing my own business, I was focussed on Him and His principles. So, in essence, I did things the same way, it was just the job that was different.

Int: How did you evaluate the opportunity?
There wasn’t too much time for me to properly evaluate this opportunity because a decision needed to be made quickly. The evaluation I made came from my experience in the market up to that point. I did sales forecasts and estimated costings, so there was a bit of evaluation but nothing in depth.

Int: How did you evaluate the level of competition in the market?
“There were really only about four other companies doing the same type of business that we were doing. They were situated geographically quite far away from us. We didn’t interfere with them or their customers and they didn’t bother us. We had heard in the market place that they were not supplying their customers a satisfactory service, so I knew if we provided good service with quality products at the right price, we would grow the business.”

Int: Did you start on your own, or do you have partners?
I started on my own with my wife who I consider to be my partner. As the business grew, we gave shares to two of Entreprenuer 4 jpg.jpgour sons who work in the business. A third son of ours has recently joined the business so it is a real family business!

Int: Did you compile a business plan to start up?
I didn’t do a business plan in the beginning. As mentioned, I did a basic sales forecast with costs projected for three years to see if it was a viable venture. By God’s grace I didn’t have to apply for a loan to start the business, so a full business plan wasn’t necessary.

Int: How long did it take to compile the forecasts?
“It took me about a week to do the forecast with costs. I still do the forecast and budget every year so that we have a set plan to follow. I have a system of monitoring the sales and expenses daily and this helps to keep one step ahead of whatever situations arise. I spend about 30-60mins a night updating the figures.”

“…time with the Master…’

Part Two will follow next week.

“…time with the Master…” is an on-going series of teachings, about lifestyle in the Church and is published bi-monthly.
If you feel this article has value, please send this link to others, Writings are meant for people, not for dormant files in our computers and very often when we share them, it results in positive changes in the lives of individuals and communities.

Please feel free to send in questions (see ‘Contact’) and comments (hit ‘Comments’
button).

Being a container for the Lord….


I’ve heard the expression “desperate times call for desperate measures…” and can’t help but think sometimes my prayer life is something like that. We live in desperate times. Our country’s economy is currently very difficult and as a nation, we struggle with divisions along racial lines, not to mention our ownindividual situations of debt, personal relationships and work challenges.

Desperation - Homeless
Desperation – Homeless

Prayer, which is our communication with the Lord, is obviously influenced by these factors in our lives. One might argue that if we had no challenges in our lives, we probably wouldn’t communicate with God!

Recently, I had a conversation with someone at a fellowship gathering which went something like this:
I asked him how he was. He replied the he was very well.
I enquired after his wife and he told me she too, was very well.
An enquiry about their young son brought a similar answer.
I then asked him how Jesus was…..
There was a short silence and I could see he was a bit lost for an answer.

The thought then occurred to me, that if we are in constant communication with people, we generally know how they are and what they are currently feeling. Shouldn’t it be the same with the Lord? Shouldn’t we know what He is feeling at present ?

How are we currently communicating (praying) with the Lord? Are our prayers only born out of a place of desperation? – In other words, as our personal situations become more grave, our prayers become more intense. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with these types of prayers, but there are additional ways of communicating with our Father.

Pray - Lord Teach Us
Pray – Lord Teach Us

“Oh Lord, teach us how to pray?”

Most of us are familiar with the scripture in
in Matthew. Jesus uses this example to teach us how to pray.
It is interesting to note the following:
Firstly…
“Our Father who art in Heaven….” – Exalting HIM
“Hallowed be thy name….” – Worshipping HIM
“Thy Kingdom come….” – Desiring HIS Will
Then….
“Give us this day OUR daily bread….”

It seems our needs (if translated as ‘daily bread’) are further down the list than the position of exalting, worshipping and desiring HIS Will. A point to ponder: When we measure this against how we pray – what do we find?

The King James Version of the Bible says “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This portrays a picture of someone who is at total peace with the Lord. Not concerned about his needs or fretting in a given situation, but just resting his head on his Father’s heart – listening….

If we go to the Lord throughout the day and place our head upon His heart, we will find the same peace and joy as we listen out for what His heart is saying to us. Not always ‘bombarding’ Him with desperate requests, but listening for His will.

John on the breast of Jesus
John on the breast of Jesus

“Give us this day OUR daily bread”. If we ask the Lord, He will not only supply our daily need, but will give us ‘bread’ for those that we come into contact with on a daily basis. It may be a physical need, a prayer and words of encouragement or perhaps just being there for them.

Let’s desire to be a container for the Lord today. Let Him use us as a vessel to bless those around us. Before we leave home today, let’s ask Him for our daily bread – that which we can deliver to others on our Father’s behalf. What a privilege to be used by Him!

From: “time with the Master…”

If you feel this article has value, please send this link to others, Writings are meant for people, not for dormant files in our computers and very often when we share them, it results in positive changes in the lives of individuals and communities
Please feel free to send in questions (see ‘Contact’) and comments (hit ‘Comments’
button).

Nursing Emotional Weaknesses


We are naturally self-centred and therefore it’s not easy for us to accept what other people say about us. We have a built in instinct to defend ourselves and criticise situations or others, if we do not approve.

Continue reading “Nursing Emotional Weaknesses”

Mission Malawi – Chapter Four


25.02.94

David, Frank, Hein and I began early morning prayers this week. They have fellowship meetings Mon, Wed, and Fridays. Tonight is our first meeting and we will attempt to do the first teaching, ‘The Fall’. God has shown us clearlyYoung disciples at the mission that we are to impart the Gospel to faithful men. At this time we see David and Frank as two whom we will work closely with. I am a bit uncertain of Frank at this time, but the Lord will show us. We prayed for one of Frank’s children, a daughter, who has a very bad cough (TB?).

The Lord through David: “Rest in me, this is my battle and I will fight, you must seek me for strength and rest in me”.

Do everything without complaining, otherwise God will keep us in the wilderness.

Continue reading “Mission Malawi – Chapter Four”