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    14 Aug 2020 | 12:00 am

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Aug 03

Facing Your Business Goliath

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Randy owned a growing heating-and-cooling contracting service in Ohio. Over thirty years, he had built up a solid clientele by establishing a reputation for integrity and superior value. Then the town's largest employer announced a plant closing that put one-third of the town's population out of work. The effect on other businesses in town was immediate. Everyone, from bakers to grocers to retail stores, took the hit. Randy's business experienced an immediate 25 percent decline, leaving him with a difficult decision: surrender, or face the giant. Randy chose to fight, and he ultimately won. His victory was based on following a clear blueprint for battle.


Every business eventually faces a fierce giant: a challenge that looms so large we feel helpless. Lessons demonstrated by David in defeating Goliath thousands of years ago will serve us well today.

First, we need to prepare for those challenging times. "David went back and forth from Saul to tend his fathers flock at Bethlehem" (1 Samuel 17:15). David was on task, tending to his various responsibilities. As a shepherd, he demonstrated bravery and tenacity: "When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth- and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him" (1 Samuel 17:34-5). 

Like David, Randy had prepared his business for challenging times by eliminating debt, keeping expenses down, building a great reputation, and training an efficient staff. It's nearly impossible to build up these key elements while recovering from a business decline. Advance preparation is the key.

Second, we must bluntly and honestly assess our situation. David understood that Goliath was more than nine feet tall and well armed. Likewise, Randy understood that the drop-off in his business would be long-term, requiring a long-term plan.

Third, we need to evaluate our assets and our opportunities. David could see that hand-to-hand combat would be fatal-for him, but using a sling could give him the opportunity to succeed with a well-placed shot. When Randy took stock of his situation, he realized he was close to a potential new market, one that was not well serviced, in a large rural region stretching thirty miles to the west. He initiated a marketing campaign by mail and telephone to reach these formerly neglected prospects, resulting in an increase in sales and new customers that replaced half the business volume he had lost.

Next, he offered a large discount to any laid-off families that needed repair service. The lower pricing eliminated his usual profit margin, but the increase in volume kept his work crews busy. He avoided having to lay off qualified staff members, and the low-cost repair worked covered some of his fixed overhead expenses.

Fourth, recognize that time is not your friend. Giant-size challenges require fast action. When the time came for action, David "ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:48). Randy understood that the unemployment situation in town would not disappear any time soon- therefore, the faster he developed a plan, the quicker his plan would start paying dividends. Whether we're facing a cash shortage, staff problems, a new competitor, or tough market conditions, we must develop a sense of urgency and take action. Plan now, don't panic later.

Finally, we must develop a vision for how we will move beyond the crisis. Scripture teaches that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) Effective business leaders imagine how success will be achieved and then follow through with focused, effective action. Professional golfers imagine making the tough shots. They picture driving the ball out of the sand or hitting it between two trees in the rough. If we can't envision victory, we will never experience victory.

David exhibited confident humility as he started off to battle against Goliath: "This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands" (1 Samuel 17:46). We need to do our part to prepare for battle and follow through diligently- but we must also understand that the final victory rests with the Lord.


Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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