5 Reasons Your Business or Ministry Might Not Succeed


Your dream venture might never happen not because it’s not a good idea or it’s not needed, but because it might be under resourced.  Entrepreneurs in their zeal to get their dreams birthed usually shortchange the true cost of what it takes to create a sustainable business. Here’s some of the most common mistakes:

Small Business ministry Failure

You don’t pay yourself enough. In order to get the business going, entrepreneurs will often pay themselves very little or nothing at all. That’s not a sustainable model. If the business cannot pay you a decent wage in a short period of time, then rethink your model altogether.

Your financials, income/expense projections are unrealistic. I was guilty of this for years. Being optimistic, I have always projected high on the income, and being very frugal, I default to thinking things cost a lot less than they actually do. Unrealistic targets can put too much stress on a new venture. If you are new at this, find someone whom you can trust with business questions and have that person check your assumptions. Assume the best case scenario but be prepared for the worst.

You don’t have enough margins for error. Some ventures feel like the Apollo 11 mission to the moon: in order for it to survive everything has to go just right. That’s seldom the way things go. Contingency = good business.

You don’t understand sales and marketing. A great service business, non profit, or product that no one knows about will put you out of business. A mediocre product in the hands of a great sales and marketing person or team has a much better chance to make it than something great without a champion to sell it.  And that’s even more true when it comes to churches and not for profits.

You don’t have the right people around you. I have seen men and women with great vision, passion and talent whose dreams have never materialized because they did not have the right team, whether paid, volunteer or even advisory,  to pull it off. I wrote more about it here. The right people is critical to making it happen.

Have you ever thought of starting your own business?

  • I had my own business for two years, but I didn’t plan well. Hired a guy that took all the money right from under me. I didn’t have a back up plan. Lesson definitely learned. I’m still paying for that lesson today, but I wouldn’t take it back. It grew me BIG. 

    • I’m sorry to hear that Sundi. I also have made hiring mistakes that cost me a lot of money, clients and worst, part of my reputation.

  • I’m currently running two “businesses.” One is the college ministry I lead as a nonprofit, starting groups at other schools and training up leaders. My board and I are looking into ways to make this organization bring in more money so we can afford to hire some staff, myself included.

    The other one, that I am looking into forming as a legit business, is the graphic design/marketing consultancy I do in a freelance capacity right now. It’s been growing faster than I anticipated (a good thing!) and I haven’t done really any marketing on my own, aside from putting up a web site and asking current clients to give out referrals. Initially this was just going to be some side work I did to earn extra money, but the dream wheels have been spinning and I think I’m ready to take a leap into something more concrete.

    • Jason I always build on opportunity. If the design business is taking off, then put more resources and effort behind it and see how far it can go. A critical mistake is to ignore the opportunity for the sake of an idea and not have either one succeed.

      • Thanks for the advice Maurilio! I appreciate your wisdom as someone who has been there, done that.

        I am pursuing both right now (the graphic design more heavily for myself) as both are really taking off. The Ignite board is talking to find more creative ways of bringing in money on top of the retreats and mission trips we already provide. I would say this is more my passion and dream, but something I’m ok doing on a volunteer basis, as I have done college ministry on a volunteer basis through a local church for 8 years.
        But you’re right, I am pursuing the graphic design business more heavily because it’s more personal income for me and is taking off even more.

  • Very sound advice. The idea of having my own business has always intrigued and intimidated me. Will definitely keep these tips in mind as I explore opportunities. The possibilities of being self-employed are very exciting.

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