I started the below in my journal the day after we got back from vacation. It has some organization to it but more than anything is a compilation of thoughts that I've been chewing on for the past few years. Wanted to get it in ink to serve as an initial draft of something we can discuss and build out at least in theory together. Perhaps, we only pursue a fraction of this but as I dream, these are the things that come to mind. Take a read through and then let's schedule some time to reconnect. Would love to regularly schedule time to connect on this and build out further. As to what I wrote:
From my perspective, there is a simplicity that you approach life with that is inspiring. You plan, but don't seem to overplan. You get after it in terms of what needs to get done. And you love your kids and wife well and I think your heart is compassionate towards what God wants you to be compassionate towards.
We've been friends for a lifetime and that won't change. Several times throughout our lives, I've wanted to start a business together. But for whatever reason, that hasn't materialized so far. I regret in college not doing everything I could to help you with the window washing business. You tried to get after it and I didn't. Why didn't I do that? I can't remember if that was still when my dad was sick or if I was still wrapping up the prison ministry but I regret not helping you then. I think it could have been fun and I certainly had more time to try something then than I do now.
I do seem to remember us both being hard headed in our own ways and I'm sure plenty of that remains. Have we matured? With the help of our wives to balance us out, would now be the time to venture into something new? Could we start a venture together and build it into something great? Something that fulfills a creative desire in both our souls? Would we define this in similar or complementary ways? Would we war with one another or sharpen one another?
I don't know the answer to those questions but I'm willing to share my vision and explore if it is something that you share as well. At the very least, we can sharpen one another in our own independent pursuits. At most, we partner together to dream up and make reality a vision that neither of us is capable of on our own.
Let me hit the church planter topic out of the gate. For whatever reason, each time you've mentioned it, it's caused me pause and I've been trying to determine why. In the past, you've brought up the idea of us consulting churches. I've been opposed or rather hesitant towards the notion as I saw it and interpreted it as I didn't want to try and profit from churches (though I am confident there is a need and a good and right way to go about what you were proposing). From my current perspective, I'd rather profit from my primary business and volunteer my time towards the church. Part of my rationale for that is that in whatever venture I undertake, I want to build in high margins so that I can do the job really well. I would war within myself as to what that looks like within the church. I think that is why the mention of helping church planters initially gave me pause. But as I've thought about it more, I think you have an admiration for a very specific group of individuals because you want to spur on what they are doing in any way you can. At the core, I'm onboard with that desire and would expand that to anyone actively sharing the gospel. Todd mentions every week that we are one church with thousands of locations and I believe that to be true. I want the theme of any business I'm involved in to have a strong element of encouragement, respite, and inspiration fueled by the Creator Himself.
Over the years, I've spent many hours thinking about what I would like to do and what I would want my business to do. The truth is, there are a thousand things we could do to earn money, some more lucrative than others. But at the end of the day, once I go beyond providing some of the basic needs and wants for my family, I start to look for an endeavor that allows me to be creative in the ways I want to be creative and to help others in the way I want to help others. I learned quickly from the first venture I undertook that I have no desire to venture out on my own. I like tackling things with a team. It is important to me that in any venture I start or am a part of, that a team is quickly formed. From my vantage point and experience to date, I've crafted my own aspirations into something structured like a private equity firm. I have some cash to start this with but expect I can either obtain more from investors or generate more from cash flow with the right plan.
To start our business, we must determine what it is that we are going to become or at least continually strive to be Best at. True, there are many things that we can be profitable in doing without being best and there are many aspects of our business where status quo will have to work for a time. But, there should be one thing that always takes precedent, one thing we all strive for and continue to improve upon. For me, I think that has something to do with investing in people, and as much as I want to figure out how to do life better myself, I want to help others do so as well (I think you have a strong interest in this as well). I am drawn to books and blogs on doing life well and I love businesses that operate well. I enjoy projects that are managed well. Unfortunately for me, I'm not a naturally great project manager. But I think that might actually work to my advantage in this business pursuit as I've had to work twice as hard and am continuing to work with extreme focus to find ways to manage time better and to focus on the thing that matters most. Perhaps most of all, there is this idea of rest that God promises to those who trust Him and follow Him. I'm not setting out to build a billion dollar enterprise nor am I setting a number that is its limit. I want to build an enterprise that partners with others in faith to build something on biblical principles with God as the Foundation, Fuel, and Lead. I want our trust to be in Him alone and I want to aggressively utilize the resources He has given me and others to faithfully build a business that allows all who engage to:
Be inspired and act on creativity
Find rest and refocus on what is most important.
Develop a plan and network with others who can help you get the right plan.
Follow God with one's whole heart and to walk in His ways
Learn and accomplish things you didn't know were possible.
So I don't know exactly what that looks like or how all this plays out but the below is an example portfolio of one way it could look based on many of the things that I've been interested in:
The individual service areas represented above can manifest themselves as start-ups, partnerships (joint venture or affiliate networks), acquisitions, and/or just other companies that we love and choose to learn from, help support, and/or recommend.
There are some things I want to make sure to achieve and never compromise on for myself. I want to ensure that I am bringing the best of my abilities to the table and that I'm teaming with and empowering others in the areas where I'm not strongest or best to serve. One key question to answer in relation to each of the above is what do we bring to the table with each endeavor that we undertake and how does each endeavor support our overall mission? Also, what should our personal life look like in order to successfully pursue this as anything we pursue must enrich our personal life equation, otherwise it is not worth it.
What do we bring to the table?
Now - Optimism, Encouragement, the Spirit of God, a vision, a foundational Biblical framework, Faith, a business Engine, Accounting and Legal Support, and a plan to do things well.
Eventually - Proven success with the above principles, a network that can benefit growth, a reputation of doing things well, and start-up cash.
How does this impact our personal life?
For starters, we've got to be able to get this rolling with things as they are meaning we keep our current jobs, we don't steal time from our families, and we don't go into debt at our personal expense. (Quick note - debt is something that can be good if used wisely however I would rather just have debt tied to the business…not our personal credit). We should make an initial investment in this business and then re-invest the cash that is generated. We should also determine when and where we might take cash out and recapture our investment. A business expense plan is also key as we need to be in agreement on what types of expenses should be insured and what amounts should require a conversation before incurring. This is probably tighter when we first begin and loosens up as we go.
The most significant investment we'll make into this business is our time. If managed rightly, it can be time that is blessed and replenishes our souls as the time spent is fulfilling, encouraging, and productive and perhaps even time that our wives will be happy about. Two things are key to this
Inviting God to meet with us.
Inviting our wives into the conversation at the right time (need to have clear agendas when they are consulted as I have found it doesn’t go well with Sara when I unpack everything in my brain in detail).
So I'll cut that off there for now. Let me know if any of it resonates. I have a lot more that I can share and even more that I still need to work out but think the below is enough to gauge interest.
Let me know your initial thoughts and when you would like to meet to discuss something further.
Loved last week and hope it is the first of many.