FYI as you read: Threads by Nomad is our company. My daughter is my partner. Her name is Christen, but she has been Sissi to the family her entire life. So while this is about Business with a Purpose
there is a lot of personal thrown in. After all, business is personal.
This blog post has been floating around in my brain since the beginning of Threads by Nomad. I was freaked out scared when we started. Ministers/missionaries are not business people. Or at least I was not! I have changed in so many ways as a minister as a result of Threads by Nomad. I can’t even begin the list the things I have had to learn. I am very grateful to many people who have helped in that process. There is one group in particular that has stirred me to go ahead and put this on paper. I meet with Women Helping Women 2 Network fairly regularly. We talk about goals and we talk about how we can help each other in our businesses. Many of them like me, really did not know much about business or what they were getting themselves into. Like us at Threads by Nomad, they took the leap. Listening and sharing with this group of women has led me to wonder if there are not others who toy with the idea of having a business with a purpose, but have no idea what they are getting themselves into. In this blog series I want to share what I have learned that may or may not be in the books on business. Maybe some of what I have learned can help others. There are no priorities in my list. They are all important….at least they have been to me.
(Read about the first 5 things I wish I had known here.)
(Read about the second blog with 6 – 10 here.)
(Read the third part with 11 – 15 here.)
(Read the fourth part with 16 – 20 here.)
1. From the beginning my daughter and I promised grace and forgiveness to each other and to ourselves.
2. It is a gift if your abilities and the abilities of your partner complement each other.
3. There is enough business for all of us.
4. Bartering is not a bad deal, but it is messy.
5. Get out of your little world…intentionally.
6. Network, Network, Network.
7. Learn, learn, learn.
8. Make use of fund raising programs.
9. Determine your mission and stick to it.
10. Know the population of the folks you are working with to make a difference.
11. Surround yourself with people who can encourage and help.
12. Determine if this is a hobby or a business.
13. Social media is not an option.
14. However much you think it will cost, it will cost more.
15. Love what you sell.
16. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
17. Get the financial part straight and keep it straight. If you can’t do that find someone who can. Stay away from debt if at all possible.
18. Stress is a part of it. Take care of yourself.
19. Expect setbacks. Tenacity is the key.
20. Don’t be afraid to let others know your struggles.
21. I have prayed more and prayed more fervently for Threads by Nomad than any other ministry I have been involved in. My daughter and I did not go into this lightly. Neither might I add did our spouses. There was a lot of soul searching and praying. Many things fell into place to convince us the time was right. One was finding Haydar. As a seamstress I knew how good whoever we hired needed to be. I expected we would spend months training someone. What an absolutely amazing and talented tailor, Haydar is! The chances that we would find someone like that from the start were miniscule in my opinion. Other things fell into place like the successful kickstarter campaign. We were affirmed by our team and our colleagues as we began the endeavor. As we hit major bumps, God brought us the people we needed to get things sorted out and get back on track. It has been an amazing journey. Yet, there is not a day goes by that I do not sense a need to bring before God a variety of situations that face us in the day to day operation of Threads by Nomad. I think part of it is that I am trained for ministry. I was not trained for business. I have needed to rely less on myself and more on God than in other endeavors. I have a dear friend who has run a business with her husband for many years. We pray together weekly. Often she brings to our prayer time concerns about the business. My son worked for them for a summer and told how they pray every morning before sending their men out for the job. I learned from her the importance of praying for the business God has entrusted to you.
22. Weigh the pros and cons of being for profit or non-profit. I have to admit that we really didn’t seriously consider non-profit for a number of reasons. One refugees do not need to know how to run a non-profit. They need to learn how to market their skills and run a business. As we work we mentor and apprentice to that end. Two we had witnessed other non-profits serving refugees in entrepreneurial endeavors where the refugees stayed at low wages and those running the non-profit were driving nice cars and staying in nice houses. We wanted a business where the refugees could grow as we did. Three, one of our inspirations was the founder of Chobani Yogurt, Hamdi Ulukaya. Hiring many refugees, he built a business that eventually gave the employees ownership stake. We wanted those working for Threads by Nomad to have the same opportunity hopefully someday. However, being a for-profit means that we do not have access to a lot of grant opportunities or open access to some churches for space, advertising or events. This is a decision to be weighed carefully.
23. Do not think you will be able to keep doing it all. Something will have to go. Yes, a lot has gone by the wayside for us. The relationships we are investing in are those who work for us. We have less time for other relationships with Internationals. For me, less is getting done at home and I have had less time for my personal hobbies. I have had to decide what aspects of our refugee ministry I can be involved in and still do the work Threads requires. In mapping out our plans for our work in Houston, we eventually completely gave up one aspect of our ministry. That proved fortuitous as I could have never kept up with it time wise.
24. Failure is nothing personal. We have had failures. Threads by Nomad cannot move over in the “success” column yet. We are hanging in there, but we have not arrived. What if we fail? Dr. Keith Parks of the International Mission Board and later the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship told us many times, “If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried.” We are giving this our best shot! Amy Robinette of Women Helping Women to Network says, “Whatever you Plan A was that didn’t work, there is always Plan B. Just get to it.” So if we fail, we will get up and try again.
25. Enjoy the ride. I can honestly say, “This has been a ton of fun.” I have enjoyed learning (mostly). I have enjoyed creating. I love it when someone’s ears perk up as we are explaining what we are doing. I have loved having something new and challenging even as my career nears retirement. I love love love the people we have met along this journey, our clients, our employees, our partners, those we network with, those who have reached out and lent help when needed. I would not have met these people or been in these circles of influence without Threads by Nomad. I have truly enjoyed the ride.