This is the last part in a series of 5 on writing business plans.
Integrating your business plan with your ministry plan is a non-negotiable. You may write them as one proposal or as two separate plans, but when presented to Christian investors and churches they need to be seamless. A separate, straightforward business plan may be openly shared with a variety of people, including potential investors, local non believing businesspeople, and government leaders. These people can provide counsel that will help find the economic, social, and cultural errors in your planning. A combined business and ministry plan* should incorporate both your ministry and business objectives so that churches and supporters can grasp the whole picture of what the Master is leading you to do.
Expect to invest time and effort in explaining to churches that the business is not solely an attempt to get a legal visa, nor is it a scheme to make money, while pretending to serve God. The plan should assist mentors and churches in understanding how to hold you accountable to both your business and ministry objectives.
Make plans. My own research shows that the initial business plan changes 75 percent of the time, yet those who do not have a plan fail nearly 80 percent of the time. Lay out your plan in writing, and as you move forward stay flexible, making changes to the plan as circumstances change.
Do not fool yourself into thinking that great spiritual goals will overcome a poor business plan. Remember, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (Proverbs 12:11, ESV) and, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5, NLT). If you need ideas on developing a ministry plan, read chapters 7–12 in the book, Tentmaking: The Life and Work of Business as Missions. If you need help in writing up a Memo of Understanding (MOU) or ministry plan, review appendix C of that book.
How to Plan?
Some have asked about templates for writing up a business plan. There are many specialized business plans that you may buy online. Some include consulting and some are specialized for specific businesses like schools, hotels, or restaurants. Usually these are excellent business plans, but if you are short on funds, here is a list of free websites with helpful business start-up ideas and templates for putting together a business plan:
These websites will go into much greater detail, and it would be wise to take some time and explore these sites to find a plan that fits your business idea.
The standard business plan outline or template contains six or seven sections. When completed, most plans are between twenty to thirty pages in length. Unlike high school term papers, length is not usually indicative of quality.
If you don’t have a business plan and are a little overwhelmed by the prospect of completing one from scratch, there is help. Both the OPEN Network (firstname.lastname@example.org) and IBEC (Robert.Bush@ibecventures.com) have coaches who understand the B4T world and who will assist you.
* Note: business is ministry. In this paragraph I am separating the terms only for clarity as many people still see business and ministry as two separate functions.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.