Thursday, October 9, 2008

Adapt and Overcome

Our annual budget planning cycle and October board meeting has kept me from my regular schedule of blogging this week. In the midst of planning for Belay’s future in a rather unprecedented economic situation, I have a couple of observations:

  • In Denver, we are experiencing a business anxiety recession in the midst of a relatively strong economy. Everyone seems panicked about the future. All day long I am dealing with individuals and business people fearful about the future. A friend of mine made an observation that we are scaring ourselves into a recession. We’re in danger of becoming like deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car. Collectively as a culture, we need to rediscover our inner drive to overcome problems and tough times. These were strengths of Americans in bygone eras. I sensed we were in trouble a few years ago when pundits were declaring the end of the business cycle. The reality is that economies have built into them the seeds of their own creative destruction. Economies go up and they go down. And there are opportunities to be found in both directions. I’ve chosen to turn off the news and focus on the fundamentals: God, family, serving our customers and clients to the best of our abilities. If it falls apart at some point in the future, we will pick ourselves up and try again, firm in the knowledge that God will provide a way.

  • The future is uncertain…but then isn’t it always? As an entrepreneur, the question comes down to whether you have confidence in yourself to overcome future challenges. Every business plan will face challenges. The key to success, in Army parlance, is adapting and overcoming.

  • Non-profits need self-sustaining models. Last week, I participated in a meeting of Christian ministry professionals. I had an opportunity to share about how Belay’s non-profit model is built upon self-sustaining businesses that do ministry. I forget how very unique it is to have a nonprofit organization that obtains most of its resources without having to rely on financial donations. I walked away from the meeting firm in my conviction that operating businesses isn’t the answer to most non-profits, but that non-profits need to think differently about raising money. Most non-profits act as intermediaries allowing individual donors to buy services for in-need communities or causes. Non-profits need to focus on finding investors that can build product delivery of non-profit services in a way that continually improves quality thereby building increased resources through efficiency and passionate donors. That is a non-profit equivalent to a self-sustaining business. I will explore this more in the future.

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