Before Setting Foundations

Leaders set foundations and then bring all elements of the organization into alignment with those foundations.

Companies aren’t built in a day. It takes time. It takes planning. It takes resilience in the midst of setback and challenges.  And it all starts with the process of setting in place the organizational foundations – more specifically, the mission, vision and values. 

But there are a critical set of questions that leaders should ask themselves before they lay the foundations.  The series of questions goes something like this:

“Is this the right thing to be doing?”

“Is this the right time to be doing it?”

“Is this the right way to be doing it?”

“Do I have the right personal motive for doing it?”

Christian leaders should ponder these questions in the context of what they believe God’s Spirit to be saying.  Does the contemplated organization fit into the larger scheme of bringing the shalom of the God’s kingdom to the earth?  Will difficult problems be solved in a unique way? And of course, what is the leader’s personal motive driving the formation of the entity in the first place?

Once the above questions have been seriously considered, leaders drill down to an additional set of practical questions before creating and growing a business. Here’s just a few of the important ones to be asking.

1.    What is my personal appetite for risk? Start-up companies involve significant risks of all kinds (financial risk, market risk, execution risk, to name only a few). Examining one’s own risk profile is essential before proceeding with what will be a risk-filled endeavor.

2.    What is the market saying about my idea? The market should be crying out for your product or service. How do you know whether that’s the case?  Try talking to a large sampling of potential customers to see what their needs truly are.  Those interactions will go a long way toward informing you what the real value proposition of your company should be.

3.    Who is on my team? As important as any factor in the equation, the quality and depth of the team you assemble to execute the organizational mission is vital.  Do the skillsets, past experiences, and personalities of your team complement one another and mesh well? Do we have the right team for the mission at hand?

4.    Is there a good chance of my idea/company being funded? This is perhaps the most practical question of all for start-ups.  Many great ideas fail for lack of funding, of course, and most enterprises will require outside funding to strategically execute toward the vision.  Evaluating the fundability of your company before getting too far down the road is therefore a very good idea!

Once these questions have been pondered, leaders can then proceed to the setting of the organization’s foundations.  I’ll address that topic in my next blog post.

Image: "Firm Foundation" by Son of Groucho. Used via Create Commons Attribution 2.0 

Image: "Firm Foundation" by Son of Groucho. Used via Create Commons Attribution 2.0