Shark tank vs. fish tank: growing a Christian business community

fishtankMy wife and I regularly watch the show Shark Tank, it’s like getting an MBA in startups. While most of the commentary is cordial and sometimes tough, occasionally “blood” is spilled during verbal exchanges, even “Mr. Wonderful’s” comment of “You’re dead to me!” But that is a shark tank, and Christians should never do the same thing. Or do they?

I visited with a local pastor and he and his wife and we discussed their chances of starting their own businesses. As we were talking they let me tour their church, which had been a closed down commercial establishment. They had segmented off parts of their building for their church, a food bank, a day care center, and a school. A good portion of the building was still empty. I asked, “What happens Monday through Saturday?” “Not much” was essentially the reply. As I looked around I was reminded, again, of the parable of the talents, where one slave was chastised by his master for not putting his given resources to use. I wondered aloud to them that I could take my book How to Start a Business: Mac Version and teach others about startups, to fill up the rest of the space with paying customers. The idea was dropped like a lead ballon. But visiting their church website recently, they have started something exactly what I recommended, but I was never included going forward.

Christian churches should start a fish tank, or become Venture Builders (“also know as tech studios, startup factories, or venture production studios, are organizations that build companies using their own resources and ideas.”). Create events in their church for their flock to seek financial and startup advice based on Bible business principles.

For a longer term project, churches could establish a coworking spot to use underutilized church resources to spark Christian innovation for the marketplace. Just as a fish tank has many kinds of fish, a Christian coworking spot would provide space for like-minded Christians going through the same startup process and become a feeder for successful startups or accelerator’s such as Colorado’s own Thrive, Innovation Pavillon, Galvanize, or Spark Boulder. The emphasis is to spark and coach businesses, not for the church to house businesses. Even the golf expert he is, Tiger Woods has coaches.

For any growth, pain is involved, and old muscles need to be torn down for the body to build new and better muscles. For entrepreneurial growth, bad or old thinking needs to be turned into new thinking, and that requires time and effort and most essential, excellent startup content to learn (such as How to Start a Business: Mac Version and soon to be launched “How Would Jesus Do Business?” book).

Rom 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [emphasis added]

But, do you know what you call a failed entrepreneur in Silicon Valley? Experienced.

You either pay the experience piper and learn it yourself, or you learn from coaches and mentors that are experienced. There are never any short cuts to success, but there are certain avenues and paths to take that will prevent spending on unnecessary resources.

The Bible speaks a lot about greed, but when it comes to greed, greed knows no amount, it is an attitude, and no one is immune to it’s mental cancer that can affect anyone at anytime. Even being a financial miser can be a form of greed, it’s about robbing man of his creativity and labor.

The wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician.—James J. Hill (1838-1916), CEO of the Great Northern Railroad.

But building a fish tank entrepreneurial community is about treating those in your community as one of your own, not as a foreigner or an outsider, walling off others from participating and contributing to each other’s causes.

Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Growing a Christian business community begins first with God.

Pro 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, And your plans will be established.

Watch for the section “Six Steps to Blessings Bounty” in my new upcoming book How Would Jesus Do Business?

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