How do you find inspiration in business?

How do you find inspiration in your business?

I find inspiration in scripture, in customers’ needs, and in discovering how God has wired me up.

For instance, Proverbs has a multitude of business-applicable concepts buried in it, and there I find a lot of inspiration and encouragement to pursue righteousness and wisdom in business.

In business, my customers are very important, and listening to them and pursuing new ways to meet their needs will often yield new inspiration for products or services.

When I find something that meets a need for others & fits with the passions and skills God has given me, that’s a special place to be, and often leads to new ideas and opportunities.

Poverty vs. Wealth?

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. (Proverbs 15:16 ESV)

This verse, more than any other verse in the Bible, has caused me a lot of confusion in my business pursuits.

It’s easy to read this verse and associate being a Christian or fearing the Lord with poverty. It’s also easy to assume that it’s wrong to be wealthy, and that wealthy people have strife and don’t fear the Lord.

These ideas can attack and discourage a desire to be in business for personal profit, and can introduce a feeling of guilt when the cash comes in.

What I’ve missed is that this was written to the son of Solomon, the wealthiest heir in the ancient world. Solomon is warning his son against abusing his position and power, and pleading with him to worship God first, not money.

It’s not saying money is bad. It’s saying that wisdom/fear of the Lord is much more valuable than wealth alone.

Here’s the take-away for me: Wealth in the hands of a man who fears the Lord is a very good thing. It’s something we should not be jealous of or strive against, and it’s a good thing to aspire to. But the most important thing is the fear of the Lord, not wealth, in whatever life circumstance we find ourselves.

Plenty of Bread

Ever since I took the grand leap into full-time self employment my life has felt completely out of control.

More than one person has said I’m ‘living the dream’. Some days that’s true. But I’ve also been through some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.

Recently I discovered joy in reading through the book of Proverbs with a keen eye for business-applicable wisdom to help me approach my daily challenges with fresh eyes.

One mistake I made early in our move to Watseka was to put time and money into new ideas when we needed to be investing and improving in our core areas of business. I still struggle with this.

One of the Proverbs I found has helped me to be able to filter my pursuits a bit better. Check this out:

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 28:19, 20 ESV)

It’s so easy to think that a new idea is going to be the golden ticket or silver bullet that solves all my problems. I’ve found though that our best times happen when I’m focused and working steadily rather than chasing rabbits in every direction.

Planting Seeds

We planted a very small little garden in our backyard about a week ago, and then it got cold. Nothing came up. We thought maybe the seeds died.

As soon as it warmed up though, everything started popping out, and of course the kids love checking it out to see what’s new.

Seeds are a really good picture of a business concept I’ve been told over and over and have been slowly learning. There’s a Bible verse that’s stuck in my head that basically says if you sow generously you’ll reap generously, but if you sow sparingly, you’ll reap the same.

In a business sense, I think that means you have to be open and confident about the products and services you offer, and you have to let people know what you’re doing. Maybe even a lot of people. I think that makes sense. But I think it also means helping people see, not just what you currently are doing, but what you are capable of doing given the resources. And I think that’s something that I struggle with. I don’t want to let people down. I don’t want to be boastful or prideful. I don’t want to fail.

So planting seeds means this to me – be confident, know that I’m capable and in what areas, and don’t be afraid to let people know. And then pray for rain.

The long path from ‘Hired Hand’ to ‘Content Provider’

I’m experimenting with something.

As a business, I have traditionally done exactly what is presented to me by a customer. A church wants a specific video, they come to me with a plan, and I make it for them. A grandmother wants a special custom frame created for her grandchild, she picks out all the materials, and I make it.

I’ve had the idea for a long time that I could eventually be in the position of a content provider, and I’m finally getting a chance to experiment with that. I have a couple of videos that were created for my church, but have permission to re-edit them and make them available to other churches to download and use in their own worship settings.

I don’t know if it’ll work. I have a lot of insecurity and fear – that no-one will want what I have to offer, primarily. By this time tomorrow, though, I should have some videos listed for sale with a web distributor, and we’ll see where it goes!

I don’t expect a run-away success, and it may never be more than just a small income stream, but I hope that starting to think this way will help pave the way for the future of Center Street Productions, and also continue to encourage others in their faith.

A Good Tired

It’s been a long week. Right now I’m juggling about five video projects, maybe five custom frame orders, and my wife has quite a few portrait sessions booked for the next week or two.

Just two or three weeks ago I was worried about our cash flow and things felt slow. So I’m tired, but it’s a good tired.

I’ve struggled for a long time, wrestling out what my purpose in life is, and what God’s calling me to do, and outside of my church I haven’t had many outlets where my work and faith come together.  It’s exciting to see those two spheres in my life merge sometimes, especially now.

I’m tired, but excited.

Good feeling.

Puzzle Pieces

I’m working on a project right now for Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign, IL. They have a housing program and food pantry, and take in homeless people for about a year, feed them, offer them a wide variety of classes and church services, help them find work and train them to be self-sufficient, and then release them back into the world, hopefully as changed people.

One of the things they strongly teach is that you are a person created by God for a specific purpose, and that if you can find that purpose you’ll find peace and fulfillment in life, and you’ll be able to provide for yourself and your family responsibly.

That got my attention. I’ve been struggling with a lack of peace and fulfillment, and sometimes worry about my ability to provide. I started thinking about that – our culture tends to believe we’re blank slates and we can become anything we want, we just have to try hard enough and long enough.

There’s something unique about myself that I’ve been learning recently. I have a lot of ideas and I’m not always afraid to try them, even if they are big and crazy. I sometimes see things that other people can’t see. I can be passionate about things that make no sense whatsoever to anyone else.

Maybe it’s compulsive behavior, maybe it’s because it’s a challenge for me, I don’t know. I remember once when I was working at ATS Acoustics, we had a campfire one night and we were joking about making different kinds of panels, and someone had the idea to make an acoustic panel that looked like a guitar. I had to try it. I did, and it still hangs on the wall over there somewhere. It was pretty cool.

Little things like that led me to wonder if I could start a portrait studio for my wife. I built one in our garage, and it was pretty cool. Then we moved to Watseka and I did it again, bigger and better. It was cool.

I saw a need for a small group, wondered if I could start and lead it. I did, and it was pretty cool.

I have a corresponding weakness. Long-term things really wear on me. The thought of doing something over and over and over again for the rest of my life makes me feel miserable inside. I have trouble with mowing my lawn. I wish I could invent short grass that didn’t grow, and if I thought I could, I’d put more energy into that than actually mowing the lawn.

If I don’t have new projects coming in regularly, I go nuts. I start inventing new projects from nothing. If I don’t have any new ideas, I start to get depressed.

I do believe that God creates us for a specific purpose. We still have choices to make, but I believe He created us with gifts that fit a task we can do well.

That makes me excited for the future. I don’t have all the pieces in place yet, but I believe God has a plan for my life and He’s leading me.

I Failed the Boat Builder

Failure.

Not a fun word. Something we want to avoid in our lives. Something that doesn’t go on our resume or on our Facebook page. We run from failure, pretend it didn’t happen.

But often, failure is exactly what we need to build our character and prepare us for the next step forward.

I remember one of my first paid video projects. It came through a friend of a friend, and it was to create a video telling the story of a lovingly restored sailboat.

It should have been a very easy thing to do, looking at it now. But I made a mistake. I didn’t get the whole picture, and I didn’t hustle.

I spent a long time trying to get everything set up perfectly inside the sailboat to shoot it. I didn’t want to do any handheld shooting, because I was a little naive, so I had the guy build me a custom guide-wire through the boat for a walkthrough, and it didn’t work at all. We ended up wasting hours on that and did a handheld walkthrough in the end after all in about 30 minutes or less.

Then, I didn’t focus on the details he was hoping that I would. I didn’t pay enough attention to what he wanted and shot things that weren’t flattering.

He had a ton of photos of the construction, and wanted a slideshow with voice-over telling the story. I wasted so much time getting the boat footage that we never got to the photos.

Eventually I lost the job to a professional video company in the area. I was too slow, didn’t listen, and botched it.

I never saw it coming. I thought I was awesome. The truth is, I was a college student working for cheap with borrowed equipment and no experience, and had no idea what my client was actually looking for. He thought he was getting a great deal at first, and I didn’t deliver.

That was one of the best failures I’ve ever had. I tasted just enough of the thrill of contract work that I wanted more, and paid just enough attention that I could learn from my mistakes. I was told by yet another production person that I had no future in the business of video, which spurred me on to keep trying and to prove them wrong.

And, it knocked my pride down a few notches, which was helpful in showing me how much I still needed to learn.