Making a Christ-Like Living in a Dog-Eat-Dog World – Part 5

This month we will discuss briefly some general business management topics. If you’ve missed any of the previous parts to the series, you may read them here. The functioning of the business can be summarized by an analogy to how we maintain our body’s health. For good health we eat nutritious food, exercise, rest, are aware of any abnormalities, and take appropriate measures to maintain a quality life. Around us, we see some who have taken good care of themselves and others who haven’t. With a business, we earn income, pay our obligations, observe its financial state by analyzing financial reports, and make appropriate decisions. Not to take the measures needed to maintain a healthy business is a recipe for disaster.

What might be the highest priority? I believe finding and taking care of one’s customers should be the highest priority. Without customers the business will fail, and therefore, satisfying customers is the ongoing principal focus of the business owner.

It begins with the right level of quality products and services at a price customers are willing to pay. For example if the quality is too high, it drives the price too high, and you will lose your customers. If the quality and price combo is too low, you won’t have sufficient profit to sustain your business. Your existing customers are your competitor’s prospects; therefore, value them and provide them with consistent quality at a price they deem reasonable.

Setting the correct price for your product or service is important for Christians. The price needs to be consistent and just. I observe some Christians in business who will charge different prices to customers. If someone is a good customer, who won’t challenge the price, he often will pay a higher price than the customer who is demanding. Scripture would call that unequal weights and measures. “Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 20:10).

When we first began our family business, I remember how difficult it was to set up a uniform pricing policy that would apply to everyone. The Lord led me to establish a discount level based on the dollar volume of the sale. That way every customer was treated exactly the same, and it was based on the size of their order. We strive to have a clear conscience always. “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16).

Another aspect of serving customers is to make sure we are honest with them. Lying is quite common in business, but it is an abomination to God. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16-17). We desire God’s blessing on our business and most certainly not His chastisement; therefore, we are careful to be honest in our dealings with our customers and clients.

Customers are appreciative of professional business practices. One aspect of that is for business invoices to be accurate and timely. If your customer does regular business with you on account, and if the billing is delayed, the bill can grow to a size that presents a serious cash flow event for your customer. Maybe he forgot what he owed you and then made other purchases depleting his available cash. We aren’t doing our customers a favor by delaying invoicing them unless we intend to forgive them what is owed. Be predictable and accurate.

Businesses that extend credit appreciate a customer who pays on time. Never, never put your supplier in the position of having to phone you for a late payment. Just as you desire those who owe you money, pay promptly, be sure you pay promptly. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). If you want to set your business above others, pay within a day of receiving your invoice. “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee” (Proverbs 3:27-28). If you treat your suppliers as one of your greatest assets, you will build a loyal relationship that will strengthen over time. It’s a win-win situation, and it turns suppliers into allies who can be depended upon.

Last month I used an example of a retail store that indicated a willingness to skirt the sales tax law. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). It is extremely foolish to disobey the law. There was a music store that we used to do business with located about a half hour from our home. One day they mysteriously closed. My understanding is that there were tax payment issues going on with the store, and the government shut them down. Even if someone was to get away with tax evasion for a time, the Lord knows, and we want His blessing, not His curse.

Find a good conservative accountant who knows the law and will help you fulfill your obligations. If he makes a recommendation, ask why and also what the law says. “And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25). Remember if there is a question, it doesn’t matter that the accountant recommended a decision, the business owner is the one liable.

Some businesses use their accountant to manage the books. Generally that can be very expensive and worse is the fact that you aren’t monitoring the health of your business. How you are doing financially isn’t a matter of how much money is in the checking account. At a roundtable discussion, one mom who manages their family business finances said that her husband will ask her how much money is in the account so he knows how much inventory he can buy. His question puts him in great jeopardy of not having enough money to pay taxes and suppliers when the bills come in. Financial reports are how we determine the business’ health.

Consider whether a family member has time to enter financial transactions instead of hiring outside help (but please do pay the family member for their time: a worker is worthy of his hire!). If you’re able to keep financial work within the family, it’ll make bill payment and tax remittance much quicker. If you are going to have a business, you need to be familiar with the bookkeeping and management reports. The owner who doesn’t is like a person whose spinal cord is damaged, and his brain is not receiving information on the health of the body. Neither scenario is good.

We have used Quickbooks in our family business and Titus2 for over ten years. It is reasonable in cost and will give you the management information you need to run the business. Because of its popularity, most accountants are familiar with it, and you can easily provide your accountant a copy of your data when he prepares your taxes. It is quite scalable and will handle small to medium sized businesses, provided their needs aren’t too complex. Quickbooks would normally be our recommendation for most small businesses. If you’d like help with learning Quickbooks, watch our website, Titus2.com/blog (or ITonRamp.com) for an announcement about a new course on that topic.

It takes time and energy to keep a business running and healthy. May we be diligent in managing the business to glorify the Lord Jesus in all that we do.

A Homeschool Secret

I wonder how many of you who are homeschooling are thinking about curriculum decisions for the next school year. You are considering your options, looking at what is available, consulting with your husbands, and praying for direction.

Through our twenty-eight years of homeschooling, we have observed many homeschooling moms wilt under the stress of trying to do all that their curriculum requires of them. They love the idea of what they have chosen for a homeschooling method, but the reality of preparation and fitting the school work into their day leaves them harried, tired, frustrated, and irritated.

This has been such a concern of my heart that several years ago, I began sounding a trumpet for a type of homeschooling that is usually viewed negatively in the homeschooling community—using Christian textbooks—but in practice it is stable, productive, and extremely functional for the homeschooling mom and her children. It allows her to be successful without being stressed. I have written three other Mom’s Corners about this topic, and then a book, Managers of Their Schools, giving specifics. Here are links to the Mom’s Corners.

If you will read those previous articles, you will discover why I am such an advocate of Christian textbooks for the homeschool family. My heart longs to see moms successful and not discouraged. Let me share with you a few testimonies of families who are making the choice for Christian textbook homeschooling.

“Because I have been homeschooling for sixteen years and have graduated two of my boys, I almost did not purchase Managers of Their Schools. I am so thankful, though, that I did. I learned so much from it, and it helped me to be more of an encouragement and to give better guidance to the moms in my homeschool group. I have made some positive changes to my homeschool as a result. We had a fantastic year because of those changes and are looking forward to the coming year. We have been so blessed.”

Here is another testimony from a mom who has three little girls.

“As our school year draws to a close, may I express my deep gratitude for the direction you provided in pointing out the traditional Christian textbooks. We absolutely loved it!!! It has been so much more manageable (especially as I dealt with my depression issues), productive, and structured due to your excellent advice on the choice of materials and scheduling in general in Managers of Their Schools. I am so relieved now as I look into the next school year because the direction is set, and we can now focus our energies on the daily walking out of our faith in the Lord Jesus!”

This mom found so much benefit from textbooks that she is continuing to use it for her large family.

“I have always used Christian textbooks and have found them to be economical as well as thorough. Using textbooks has taught my children self-discipline, a strong work ethic, and many other positive attributes. In the years that I seemed to always be nursing a baby or pregnant, it was extremely helpful to know that I taught the children to be more independent in their work. I have always been there when they needed help and to listen to them tell back to me all the neat things they learned that day.

“When I was asked what curriculum I used by other homeschool moms, I was  often frowned at and corrected because we used textbooks. I am so thankful that I stuck to my guns and kept going despite the negative comments. If I had listened to the opposition, I don’t know if I would have continued homeschooling due to the great stress that ‘Being everything to my children’ would have brought. My oldest is in his senior year now, and I plan to continue using textbooks for the seven younger children. Thanks again for your encouraging words and for expressing the truth rather than popular opinion.”

Textbooks can even be used with children who have learning disabilities as this mom testifies.

“When we decided to homeschool our youngest son and then his sister who was two years older than him, we began homeschooling them using Christian textbooks. We have used textbooks with our son from the first grade up and with our daughter from the seventh grade up, and we have been very successful.

“We are homeschooling two special needs children and there are times that we have had to adjust our lesson plans and cut down on the amount of work we do in a day or a week. However, having the consistency of textbooks and a goal to finish each book or class before moving on to the next grade level, we are now starting her senior year and his sophomore year. He has maintained an A/B average and she is maintaining A/B/C’s. Both of these children were diagnosed as mentally retarded, emotionally disturbed, ADHD, and the list goes on, by the public schools. He was repeating the first grade for the second time, and she had just finished the sixth grade but was doing work on a 3rd and 4th grade level when we started homeschooling them.

“We have used textbooks through all of our homeschooling. It makes preparing lesson plans, setting goals, you name it, easy for me and easy for them.  Now they are able to check the lesson planner and get started on the day’s work on their own.They consult me when they need help, and I think they have a really good over all education. Their classes on any given day are theology, literature, spelling, grammar, history, science, math, government, economics, physical education, home economics, music, and art.

“They look forward to the spring when we get our new books, and they get to see what they are going to be doing throughout the year. We are getting the majority of our work done before noon. I completely agree with the use of Christian textbooks.”

These testimonies are from typical homeschooling families—one that has been homeschooling a long time, one with many children, one with children with learning disabilities, and one with young children. Our ultimate goal is to raise children for God’s glory in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Homeschooling is simply a tool to help achieve this goal.

A mom who is stressed often lives in guilt and defeat. What she needs is a homeschooling method that will allow her to be accomplish her homeschooling so that she has relieved herself of one of her major stressors. As these moms have chosen to use Christian textbooks, they feel successful, confident, and blessed. I want each of you to be moms like these moms and feel that delight in what is accomplished in your homeschool. I recommend traditional Christian textbooks, and I suggest Managers of Their Schools as a resource to help you on that path.