How to Dream Big and Start Small
Most businesses start small like Do Won Chang who started the retailer Forever 21 with his wife from their home after running a small coffee delivery business in Korea. Ikea was started by Ingvar Kamprad who began his business career selling matches door to door. Jolibee, the Pinoy fast-food chain, began as an ice cream stand. Anna Phosa began her piggery with $100 and four pigs in 2004 and has expanded to raising 4,000 pigs. Fomba Trawally began his business selling plastic sandals and has now expanded into other consumer goods.
Some of these people took humble local needs (pigs, sandals) and continued to grow the business. Others began with one business (coffee delivery, matches) and then used the money from these to start a more successful second business. All of them started these business with little money and used their first year to experiment and learn what the local market wanted and what it was willing to pay. Over time, as the businesses began to grow and make money, the entrepreneurs began to hire staff and open new locations. These businesses were like an apple tree; first the seed had to be planted, then watered and tended, and over time it would grow into a tree which provided fruit. In our case, we want to see three kinds of fruit: People coming to Jesus through the business, a community being blessed, and profits used to take care of our families, our churches, and OM. Imagine the impact if Ikea used its influence and resources (€4b in 2016 profits) to honor Jesus (and instead of the difficult Swedish names we might have Rahab curtains, Moses baskets...).
We often have big dreams and ambitious goals, and we should because we serve an awesome God. However, we also need to remember that often we need to start small. Christ described the Kingdom of God to be like a tiny mustard seed which grows into a tree (Matt. 13:31). Not only does God often start small, but He often uses what we already have. Moses asked for a sign to show Pharaoh and God used Moses’ staff to show His power (Exodus 4:2). Starting business the small way takes humility, hard work, and patience, but as followers of Christ, this is no different from our walk with Jesus.
To start you need to think about what your community needs and what you could do right now (what is in your hand). Then ask your family for their feedback on your ideas. Take your idea to the very smallest level and consider how you could serve the community from your home or via bicycle/car. Ideas you can start from your home include: retailing, hairdressing, tutoring, child care, bakery/food sales, tailoring, laundry, locksmith, rug & upholstery cleaning, photography, machine repair, farming, furniture making, website design, transport, delivery service, or car wash. Starting with something simple like ice lollies sold with a smile and “Jesus loves you” could be the first step to sharing your faith. It could also lead into another business idea or opportunity.
Most businesses start small
Never forget that everyone has failed at something and many businesspeople failed several times before finding the right business for them. Failure teaches us many lessons and Proverbs 24:16 encourages us to get up and try again. Failing when you start small is like falling off a chair instead of the roof (and not as public). But no matter how we fail, we know that Jesus will always be there for us and this can be a wonderful testimony to those around you who don’t yet know of His great love for us.