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.