First, let’s go back in time a little ways. Many years before college, or even high school, I started my first little business selling holiday cards. I was the only 12 year old I knew with a checking account which I used to pay for the cards that I later sold. Over the years since then, I’ve had many entrepreneurial ideas, but for the most part, I’ve been employed by others most of the time. Now, I’m over 40 and I’ve finally come across what may be my best business idea ever, but I’m too embarrassed to make it a success because I would be ashamed to make money with it.
Am I ashamed of making money? No! I actually have a relatively healthy income that puts me in the top 5% of the US, and I’m not embarrassed of that. I’m proud that I’ve worked hard and I fully appreciate that I’ve had many undeserved blessings that contribute to that financial success. I’ve had some windfalls and I’m not embarrassed of them either. I’m actually proud of how my wife and I have learned to manage our money to God’s glory and give money, time and spirit to do good works. Then what kind of business idea would I be embarrassed of making money?
Ironically, it is a message that is partially about how badly I managed money before and got myself into a heap of debt. It’s a message that could help save a lot of people from a lot of pain and suffering from debt to addictions, bad habits to bad relationships. So far, I’ve captured the story in form of a short novel (buy a copy of Pillows For Your Prison Cell for your friend today), but I’d like to reconfigure the message in all forms of media over time. Eventually, I believe it would make a powerful play for the stage, a fantastic feature film, an awesome interactive VR experience, and a fun children’s story book. I want to create weekend retreats to give people the opportunity to take the message and apply it to their own lives. I went to create sensational events with bands and multimedia to reach young people. I want to create workbooks for churches and small groups. I want to create curriculum for use in public schools. I want to get the message into the hands of college students across the country in campus-wide reading programs. In short, I want to create a thriving, profitable business that has a positive impact on hundreds or thousands or even millions of people. So what’s wrong?
I am so embarrassed of the possibility of making money doing this. I’m embarrassed to even admit that I’m embarrassed. The only reason I’m doing it is in the hopes that some of you reading this can help me overcome my ridiculous conclusion.
Somehow, in my mind, it would be perfectly acceptable to create a new hotel reviews website (another one of my ideas) and build it into a thriving business used by millions of people and sell it for a massive amount of money to Expedia or Priceline. Making $30 million with a software/app company would be fine. Not so with a book that aims to help people!
Is my hang-up tied to the notion that doing good should not, pay well? Look at what our society says. Consider teachers, very high on the doing good scale, very low on the pay scale. Counselors and therapists, same thing. Pastors, mostly same. Heck, the highest paid public employee in most states is a Football or Basketball coach!!! It’s ok to earn $1 million per year as the Football coach at the University of [any state] but it’s not reasonable to pay teachers a living wage.
At this point, I have to thank Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Tom’s Shoes and others that have paved the way showing that it’s perfectly fine to do something well and make money and be a blessing to others in the process. Earlier this year I decided that 2016 would be the year that I start seriously investing energy into this venture. I am taking a crack at this. I still have a day job, so this is a weekends and evenings kind of thing, but I’ve hired others to help me. If you are interested in helping me succeed in any way down this path, I’d love to hear about it. I’m looking for script writers, translators, artists, musicians, photographers, film makers, VR designers, and anybody that has a passion for helping people live the full, rich, and meaningful life that God designed us to live. If that’s you, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and if you’d like to invest in this venture, I’ll need that too.
Upward and Onward, Mark