Biblical Perspective on Investing in Business – I



“Invest in truth and wisdom,
discipline and good sense, and don’t part with them.” -Proverbs 23:23 (CEV)
Numismatics_and_Notaphily_iconEvery business owner, big or small, is familiar with investing.

As early as the planning stage, a business owner figures out how to invest and account a limited capital to run a prospective business.

The standard areas of investment for a business start-up include advertising, promotions, training, opening inventory, furniture, fixtures & equipment (FF&E), consulting, business set-up, licensing, and working capital. For business owners who opted to draft a business plan prior to starting out their business, those areas mentioned are enumerated in the investment summary with corresponding costs under the financial projections category.

Sure, investing is not just about familiarizing oneself with a formula, a ratio, and financial jargon after another. It is about budgeting for a set of expenses considered necessary to the operation of a given business. The business owner allocates funds to this set of expenses according to their assumed value in achieving results vital to the survival of the business.

Different businesses have different sets of expectations and strategic focus. This explains why one business firm would spend thousands of dollars on advertising while another would be more willing to spend the same amount for the FF&E.

For a Christian business owner, what set of results matter?

This article explores Proverbs 23:23 and its practical applications that are grounded on cost management.

For a company that is barely surviving, investing in intangible assets like truth and wisdom, discipline, and good sense can be on the bottom of the priority list. Worst, they may not make it to the said list. But wait, the man who is considered the wisest in the Old Testament may have valid and logical arguments for concluding that those intangible assets matter. Most probably, there are some data that justify King Solomon’s plea: please, don’t depart from them.

The concept of human capital comes to mind.

Gary Becker, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences awardee, is renowned for his studies on individuals and how society can derive economic benefits from investing in people. According to him, human behaviors have rational and utility-maximizing capacity. In William Tracey’s words, author of The Human Resources Glossary, investment on human behaviors beneficial to the firm can yield a return on investment (ROI) that may be equal or may actually exceed the ROI from machine capital and research and development (R&D). Suffice to say, cultivating truth and wisdom, discipline and good sense among employees can be a source of value to the firm and to the society.

So, how would Christian business owners invest in truth and wisdom,
discipline and good sense without bleeding their coffers?

Below are three approaches that can be valuable to any firm:

1.) Draft house rules upholding the tenets of truthfulness and wisdom, discipline, and good sense in a firm’s business practice. This would not cost thousands of dollars. The most this approach will cost a firm is the payment for a proofreader or an editor to polish the writing. If a firm had the house rules drafted, review them. Do they reflect the firm’s stand on truthfulness and wisdom, discipline, and good common sense? What area needs an improvement? What area is less-enforced? Business owners can make an action plan based on their objective answers on the aforementioned questions.

2.) Hire competent workers who will need less training to function successfully in the job. According to John Dalla Costa, author of The Ethical Imperative, there are a number of people looking for jobs, already holding a firm yet largely untapped wisdom within themselves. Truth and wisdom go hand-in-hand. Workers who have wisdom rarely render mediocre outputs. They pursue choices based on their knowledge of what is true and right.

3.) As early as the interview phase, make it known where the firm stands on the issues of truthfulness and wisdom, discipline and good sense. Sometimes, a firm’s problem roots from the failure to communicate the policies to the workers accordingly. Well-communicated and well-enforced house rules are always an effective business strategy.

Further discussion on the importance of wisdom/truth, discipline and good-sense and their practical application for running businesses in a biblical way is set for the second part of this article.



Photo Credit: Antonu

Originally published at © 2013, The Center for Christian Business Ethics Today. All Rights Reserved.

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