The Business Plan
Business owners, entrepreneurs, and key managers are often consumed with running the day-to-day operations of their business and overlook developing or implementing a business plan. In the pages of this book, one of our objectives is to help you develop your business plan with enough detail to enable you to achieve your goals. The business plan consists of the four primary components we mentioned before: Values, Strategy, People, and Finances—all built upon the foundation of the truths found in the Bible.
Nehemiah is a terrific example of a person who prepared and executed a business plan well. It all began when he learned that the people of God in Jerusalem were vulnerable to attack by their enemies, because the city’s walls were “broken down and its gates are burned” (Nehemiah 1:3). Shattered walls and charred gates were a grave security concern in that day.
After carefully evaluating the situation and taking stock of his resources, Nehemiah waded into the chaos and implemented a step-by-step plan to restore order, safety, and hope in that discouraged community.
We can learn a great deal from the steps this wise official took as we begin developing our business plan.
1. Prayer. When Nehemiah learned of the problem, he “sat down and wept. For some days, [he] mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. . . . [He said] ‘Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant . . . Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.’ I was cupbearer to the king” (Nehemiah 1: 4, 11, NIV).
The most critical ingredient in the success of any business is to pray.
This is especially true when starting a business, making crucial decisions, or grappling with a difficulty. Invite the Creator of the universe to give you guidance as you develop the business plan, and expect Him to respond. As we learned in the last chapter, He owns everything, including your business, and wants to be involved as you manage it.
Psalm 127:1 emphasizes the significance of God’s role in your business. It says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” Stop reading for a few minutes and ask the Spirit of God to make this truth part of your thinking. Unless the Lord builds and protects your business, unless you allow Him in on the very ground floor of all that you attempt, you’re working in vain. That means it will all come up empty! All your work, all your planning, all your sacrifice, all your investment. This is the reason your business must be built on prayer.
When I was in the real estate development business, I realized the importance of confirming that the Lord wanted me to develop a project before launching it, because the financial cost of failure would have been catastrophic. On my last project, that meant literally getting down on my knees on the land of the potential project every day for six months. Finally, the Lord made it clear through a unique set of circumstances that He wanted us to go forward with the development. When you know for certain He is calling you to do something in business, it increases your confidence and courage, and you can experience peace even in the midst of challenges.
2. Purpose. Some months later, the king asked Nehemiah why he was sad. Taking a great risk, Nehemiah responded with candor, saying it was because Jerusalem had been reduced to rubble. “Then the king said to me, ‘What would you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king . . . ‘send me . . . that I may rebuild it.’” (Nehemiah 2:4-5).
Nehemiah concisely communicated to the king what he wanted to accomplish and why. This was his 30-second elevator speech that summarized his Mission and Vision.
3. Plan. Nehemiah told the king precisely how long he would be gone. Then, he asked the king for letters guaranteeing his safe passage for the long trip and requisitioning the timber needed to rebuild the city gates. It was so obvious that he had thought it all out (and prayed it all out) in advance. Nehemiah had planned ahead and identified what he would need to be successful.