What happens when Christian business owners start to make decisions about how they run their business without first determining the overarching purpose of their company?
Like many business owners, John Sikkema had become caught in the chase of business success without first asking the why. Blindly pursuing profits, it became increasingly difficult for John to call a time-out, change trajectory and start rebuilding a business on purpose. Here John will outline 5 principles that he needed to follow to change his orientation so that he could experience the benefits of building a business on purpose.
1. Get off the treadmill
We’ve all heard the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet it is still easy to get trapped in the expectation that change will just happen. Instead, we get entangled in a cycle of working long hours, accumulating and paying off debt and chasing the next win.
If we don’t stop and ask what our purpose is in running the business, we can find that much of the work we do does not bring personal fulfillment and even worse, has negative side effects on our health and relationships. The Bible warns about the emptiness that can come about when we strive after the wrong things in life.
Get off the treadmill that was created by someone else and start taking charge of determining the “why” of your business. There’s no perfect plan or perfect moment to discover your purpose in running your business. If you wait for the perfect moment you will never get there.
2. What are your unfulfilled dreams?
We are all uniquely designed for a purpose. It’s only when we choose to live for that purpose that will achieve the fulfillment we desire. At the age of 40, when I started my journey from success to a purpose-driven business, I had to confront the hard reality that many of my dreams of changing the world when I was young had been buried and pushed aside. By quenching dreams that we have as a child, all sorts of symptoms can arise: depression, a lack of motivation, frustration and destructive mood swings.
Unfulfilled desires can be a strong motivator for change and can give us the power to propel us forward even when we are faced with setbacks. I believe like Joseph in the Old Testament, we can only inherit God’s promises for our lives when we hold onto the dreams He gives us. Joseph was able to walk through a 13 year wilderness period that included violence and betrayal from his siblings not to mention imprisonment following false accusation by his employer.
When his chance of release from prison seemed like a strong possibility, Joseph is let down again this time by the reinstated cupbearer who forgets to mention him to Pharaoh even though Joseph accurately interprets his dream. At 30, Joseph a foreigner and ex-prisoner with a history of deep afflictions, becomes an unlikely candidate to be delegated authority over all of Egypt by Pharaoh. He literally sees his dreams come to fulfillment despite all of the opposition he faces in his youth. (Read more about Joseph’s amazing journey in Genesis 37:1- 50:26).
3. Accept you were wired to help others
There is a reason that no matter how successful you are it never seems to fully satisfy. It’s because you were not solely created for yourself but for others! If we put success before others when operating our business, we will forever feel like we are living below our potential. Holocaust survivor and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor E. Frankl writes:
Many successful business owners invest their resources solely in their business which provides them with resources to build their little empires. Then they guard what time they have jealousy for themselves. When you build a business on purpose, you can enjoy the same adrenaline rush in building something new but with the satisfaction that the business makes life better for others.
Our whole outlook changes when we accept that we are wired to help others. It is really about cultivating an attitude of generosity rather than settling for committing random acts of generosity. More than just writing the odd cheque, your whole being becomes involved when engaging the world when you foster a philanthropic mindset. The more you cultivate from giving your time, talents and treasures, the more you will gain from it. When you live 24/7 with a spirit of generosity, you will see lives changed around you.
4. Living with Purpose is a Life-long Journey
Most adults when they turn 50 are predicted to have another good working 25 years ahead of them. Longevity in business can be a blessing if you steward your years well. While we are sold the idea of an early retirement, the bottom line is that meaningful work adds years to your life and life to your years.
Why retire and miss risking the most exciting years of your life? There are plenty of examples of people in history who made significant differences in the world in their 60s and 70s. One of my favourite examples is Peter Mark Roget (1779- 1869) who despite many personal setbacks including a long struggle with depression, authored “Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases” otherwise known as “Roget’s Thesaurus” at the age of 73. Your legacy may be established in your latter years so don’t compromise now by failing to commit to a life-long journey infused with purpose.
5. Don’t Journey Alone
Building a business on purpose is a lot easier if you have a network that will support you and keep you accountable in investing in meaningful work. If you go at it alone you will quickly figure out that you are not cut out for your new venture. Accountability is 90% encouragement to provide crucial perspective and guidance.
Even the best have mentors or partners, which is largely the reason for their success.
You need to find someone you respect and you can work with in your business journey as there will often be challenges and obstacles to navigate. The best mentors know how to listen to you and equip you with the skills and resources to realise your God given dreams.
The internet has made it possible for entrepreneurs and business owners to connect online to a much bigger support network than was possible 15 years ago. Philanthropist and business magnate Richard Branson points out:
By not tapping into a credible Christian online business network, you are excluding yourself from a wealth of business knowledge and insights that can accelerate you forward as you pursue your business vision. Resolve to get connected with a Christian online business community and be part of a much bigger community of Christian business owners who are building businesses on purpose.
About John Sikkema
As Co-founder of Business On Purpose (BOP), John Sikkema coaches Christian business owners to discover their purpose using a set of principles he discovered on his own journey to real success.
BOP has become a growing online business network for Christian entrepreneurs and business owners, sharing resources and opportunities for holistic development and growth.
Photos sourced from Shutterstock.