Many are asking, “If I desire to purse stewardship business where do I begin?” While there are many steps to the process, the following are foundational first steps to equip yourself for creating stewardship business. These steps are not necessarily in order, as many of them can and should be done simultaneously. Each of these steps should be started and accomplished with a missional attitude.
1. Pray, Pray, Pray
This step is listed first, not just because it is the most important, but because it is often overlooked and undervalued. Praying should come first, in the middle, and at the end. You should ask specifically whether God is leading you to pursue stewardship business or not. Then as you learn and begin to embrace the cost of doing stewardship business, you should continue to pray about what part God has for you in this life-long pursuit.
2. Get training and experience
When pursuing any worthwhile endeavor, you should first make sure you understand the cost and resources required to execute it. In the pursuit of starting or working for a stewardship business, you need to begin with good training. That training consists of both gaining knowledge from learning communities and from connecting with those entrepreneurs already at work. While training through conferences and seminars are a good place to start, these are insufficient for you to have a realistic understanding of stewardship business. Therefore, you also need to get some experience through a 3-month to a year general internship and/or 2-3 year skill specific apprenticeship. This work experience can come from your home country and/or internationally. Before you can make a wise decision about pursuing stewardship business long-term, you need to have both training and experience.
3. Live in country to learn language & culture
One of the core competencies in building a stewardship business is having a growing and realistic picture of the culture you are starting your business in. Therefore, before you can start a business that is culturally sensitive and fruitful for the people it serves, you must understand things like the local work ethic, worldview, family structure and language. Language is foundational to culture and therefore learning language is critical to developing a realistic understanding of the culture. Stewardship entrepreneurs should not make learning language a part-time endeavor or an afterthought, but they should start the business development process by taking time to learn language first. The language learning process helps the entrepreneur better understand the people, culture, and business market they will be working in. While it is possible to learn language outside the country or culture where you will start your business, it is best to learn language by being immersed in the very people you desire to serve.
4. Identify proven business-makers already running business in country
While getting training and experience, you should begin networking with like-minded businesses and business leaders in the country. It is never too early to begin networking and learning from others who have started business, even those whose businesses that are struggling or failing. You will learn that many, if not all, of the entrepreneurs you meet will have had businesses that have failed before they saw success at their present business. You will learn the most from this step after you have begun to learn the language in the country and location of your business.
5. Work hard to find accurate and trustworthy legal information in country.
This step is both difficult and long-term. Learning who you can trust and how to ask the right questions as you enter a new country and culture is a huge endeavor. Yet, do not grow weary! Your faithfulness will pay great dividends in the long-run. Before you can build a stewardship business, you must first understand the legal requirements and restraints for starting a business. In some countries this is organized and documented better than others. But regardless of what is documented, you always need to thoroughly check the process with multiple local legal and financial experts who can help you understand what you as an foreign entrepreneur can and cannot do. How well you embrace this step could determine how effective or ineffective your business will be long-term.
6. Identify local experts in your industry in country
Once you have decided which industry your business will be in (i.e. retail, hospitality, manufacturing, service, etc.), then you should be actively pursuing local experts in the city, country, and region you are targeting. If your business has a global reach, then you will need to do global research. Don't limit your research to other steward businesses, but rather learn from both like-minded and non-liked experts in your industry.
7. Find a mentor and build a team
Before you make a decision to pursue stewardship business you must have both strong accountability and community. Do not pursue business development without first finding a mentor who can walk along side you as you pursue your business vision. At minimum this mentor should be like-minded and have business experience to help guide you. A mentor should be able to encourage you, network with you, and challenge you along the journey. Not only do you need a mentor, but you also need to build a team around you that creates strong community. Creating stewardship business as a lone-ranger causes blindness and isolation. It takes more than one person to build a strong, healthy stewardship business.
8. Take time to develop an accurate, thorough and useable business plan
After you have been trained, gained some experience, and have completed thorough market research, then begin to develop an accurate and usable business plan. While your business plan will continue to be a working document, you should be able to make wise decisions based on what you have learned and documented in your business plan. Starting a business is a long-term process and your business plan should communicate that you have a realistic picture of what your business can and cannot do.
9. Begin networking to discover sources of financial capital
This step is accomplished through relationships. Potential investors in your company are all around you, but the key is discovering who they are and how to cultivate an opportunity for them to invest in your business vision. Some investors like to be a part of the process of creating a new business. Therefore, you need to start discovering and networking with potential investors early in your process. While you are looking for multiple investors in the long-term, you should be able to find a few who are able and willing to form a sounding board group. They will enjoy helping you discover the best business venture and give you feedback on the initial stages of your business plan.
10. Do not get in a hurry, take your time and have a long-term perspective
Starting a business must be a life-long pursuit. When you first catch the vision to begin this journey, you will be excited and eager to jump in. Remind yourself to be patient through the process. Continuing to learn and remain flexible is critical to the foundation of your business being fruitful. If you chose to by-pass steps or quickly move through them, you will miss many opportunities and make mistakes that will set you back or take you out of the game completely.