A basic principle of a business plan is defining your customer. In order to succeed, a business needs to have a clear understanding of the wants and desires of its customers as well as knowledge of what makes them unique. For most for-profit businesses, the answer is pretty clear-cut. The customer is the individual or business that has a specific need for your product. A contemporary rule of marketing is to make sure your product appeals either to a targeted niche of customer or to a large section of the broad market. So you have businesses marketing targeted services like Christianbooks.com or companies offering broad services like Amazon.com.
For a faith venture, where business and ministry are linked, one must expand the definition of customer three-fold. Like a traditional for-profit, a faith venture needs to know who will purchase its product or service as the first level of customer. But unlike most businesses, a faith venture seeks to serve disadvantaged communities through its operation. So the second level of customer is often its employees or the community it seeks to help. The final level of customer is the most important...it puts the faith in faith venture. God must be seen as the principle customer of any faith venture in order for it to succeed at its mission. When a faith venture forgets God it forgets the very foundation of all it seeks to do.
If you are planning a faith venture, let the three customers principle guide you. Build your business to serve God, your program community, and the individual or business that needs your product or service. Even if you aren’t building a faith venture, if you apply this rule to your private business, you will discover what God intends for a Christ-centered business: Serve Him, your employees and your clients.