I used to think that people who say that the Bible is the best business book were saying so just to lure business people to church. Guess what? It is the best business book, containing countless lessons, tips and strategies. You don’t need to be a born-again Christian to understand and accept this. All you need is to read the Bible, if not as a holy book, maybe just as any other book. More than enough business lessons are in there and in this article, we look at some of them.
1. Thou shall not steal
This is one of the ten commandments which are found in the Bible in Exodus 20:2-17. Though the other commandments are valuable business principles in their own right, this one is the most profound. Business is all about providing a service or product and making money out of that. However, the money must be made in a fair and just manner. In every country, if you steal you are likely to be arrested or worse. That is the same principle being taught here, do not steal. Your business should always aim to outwit others and position itself to make money at all costs, but, honesty and integrity are key. Ecclesiastes 5:5 continues with the same principle, teaching us not to claim that we can do something when we can’t. You need to stay in your own lane, do the things that you do best. If you are not a doctor, never try to attend to patients and prescribe drugs because that will surely backfire almost immediately. Accept that there are things that your company cannot do and have the courtesy to refer customers to the right people if you know them.
2. Invest, diversify and be willing to take risks
If the Bible is the best business book, the book of Ecclesiastes is the best Chapter in that book. Ecclesiastes 11 talks about investing in order to make future gains. In fact, the Good News Translation of Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Invest in foreign trade and one of these days you will make a profit.” The same chapter encourages investing in different things, not just one. This is a well articulated business strategy. If you rely on one product, you will face problems if that product does not sell as much as you expect. Rather, have different products and services so that if one is not doing well, you can leverage on those performing well. In addition, Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “He that observeth the wind will not sow and he that regardeth the cloud will not reap.” Simply put, learn to take risks. There is never a perfect time to introduce your product or open your business.
3. Do not work alone
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.” This is a simple but practical principle not just in business but in life in general. You are never a jack of all trades. It is not possible to be an expert of everything. In that light, where you lack, find those who are capable to compliment you either as partners or employees. You will often find that if you have competent people doing what they do best in your business, you will have enough time to also concentrate on your expertise and this will benefit your business. It’s as simple as that, if you don’t have enough money, find a partner who has the money to invest in your business. You cannot do it all alone.
4. Pay up your obligations
In business, you are likely to have debt, loans, salaries and other obligations that need to be taken care of. Matthew 22:21 says, “Jesus said, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’,” It is not good business to dodge loan repayments and salaries. You may soon find yourself with lawsuits and a bad credit record, meaning you are blacklisted from further borrowing. Taxes are an important part of these obligations too. It is a fact that some of the taxes may be deterrent but still you need to settle them. This will allow your business to operate legally and thus concentrate on making money.
5. Customer is king
Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” We often hear that the customer is always king and that is true. This verse captures exactly that. You should always put yourself in other people’s shoes. Ask yourself, “If I were a customer, would I be happy with this service or good?” Admittedly, customers are different and require different levels of attention. Read your customers well and embrace individual differences. That way, your customers will become your greatest marketing tool, telling others of the great service they got from you.
6. Know your market
Market share is everything. But, for you to get a bigger piece of the cake, you have to know your market. Approaching a market which you have no clue about can be disastrous. You need to study your market, its characteristics and needs. Regular market surveys are one way of getting relevant information about your market. “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?’, They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets’,” reads Matthew 16:13-14. You have to check out your market often. Find out what people think about your business and products just as Jesus asked what people thought about Him.
It is not possible to exhaust all the business lessons that are in the Bible. Such an exercise needs a whole book. But, even if you are not a Christian, these lessons need not escape you if you are serious about your business. You will need them along the way.