For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, our current economic times present some extremely daunting challenges. From the complexities of differentiating yourself in a crowded marketplace, to the arduous task of raising capital, one would tend to think that entrepreneurship may not be the financial Promise Land of which so many often speak.
Of course today’s formidable circumstances are not the first time that people and businesses have had to rise out of the ashes of economic blight. Did you know that some of the most well-known and profitable companies in the world were launched during what appeared to be the most unlikely situations? According to a report a few years ago by the Kauffman Foundation, well over 50% of the current Fortune 500 was started in either an economic recession or depression.
Great leaders in business are first great followers, especially in stressful situations. I do not mean that they follow the crowd. I mean they listen to what their inner voice directs them to do.
How Great Leaders F.L.O.W.
There is a powerful Biblical account of a businessman who faced similarly harsh economic conditions, but he was able to prosper greatly in spite of them. His name was Isaac. His narrative in Genesis 26 contains four powerful transferable principles you can follow now to help you flourish personally and professionally, regardless of the conditions that confront you.
1. FOLLOW God’s instructions. Obey Him even when His instructions don’t make sense or might make you look a little crazy. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should be doing it too. On the flip side, just because everyone else is afraid to do something doesn’t mean you should be afraid as well. Your ultimate success as a business leader is determined by your obedience to God, not your popularity with people.
2. LOOK for opportunities instead of problems. Legal problems are blessings for lawyers. Tax problems are blessings for accountants. Health problems are blessings for doctors. Understand that out of times of economic hardship have come some of the greatest innovations and inventions the world enjoys today. Don’t get caught up in the crowds of complaining, conventionality, convenience, or complacency. Ask God to give you a fresh perspective to see opportunities that others don’t.
3. OPTIMIZE your personal assets in the marketplace. Wealth building is an inside job. It involves identifying, evaluating, and developing your internal assets that can be leveraged externally. These include your time, talents, ideas, education, experience, and more. Find your lane and master what you do well. Network and build strong relationships with other professionals who complement what you do. People will pay for your expertise.
4. WAIT on God for your harvest. In this microwave-success-driven society, patience is probably one of the most under-appreciated leadership character traits. You must understand that God’s timing is always perfect. Waiting is not inaction; do your part (pray, practice, network, serve, etc.) and then trust God to do His. One key benefit of patience is that you learn to develop an ear for God’s voice versus following other voices that would lead you down unprofitable paths.
Although following is not typically associated with great leaders, they became great because they learned to how to be excellent followers. The Holy Spirit is your ultimate competitive advantage in business. Learn to follow His voice and you will become the leader everyone wants to follow.