Mission is at the heart of all Catholic businesses, arguably even more so than secular ones. If you’ve seen the famous Simon Sinek Ted Talk about “Starting with Why” you’re familiar with the idea that your customers ultimately buy why you do something as opposed to what you’re offering them. According to a 2020 study from 5W Public Relations, 71% of consumers prefer to buy from business owners whose values align with their own. If you’re looking to scale your Catholic business, it’s critical that you keep your mission at the heart of your growth.
Are you a mission-focused Catholic business looking to scale upwards? Here are 6 tips for maintaining your mission as you scale your Catholic business!
Catholic businesses often pay too little enough to success strategies that work in the secular sphere. While you don’t have to take every secular business strategy to heart, the most successful companies (secular and religious) have their mission at the forefront of what they do. You need to be doing the same.
The majority of customers look to see their values reflected in the companies that they support. If you’re a Catholic business looking for Catholic consumers (or to evangelize through your business), your mission is ultimately the Gospel, and your practices must reflect that from the top down. When looking to scale, take a look at what your mission truly is. Unsure? returning to the Gospel is a good place to start.
Once you have your Catholic mission and you can articulate it (writing out a concrete mission statement can be helpful), you need ways to keep your staff on mission. Even if you’re a freelancer or sole proprietor, you need to constantly engage yourself to stay on mission!
An organization I worked for before my freelance days had a segment of our weekly meetings where we would each talk about one instance we felt our mission was lived out during the previous week. While it seemed cheesy at the time, as I look back on it, I see the value. You or your employees may not always have any outstanding moments you saw your mission lived out, but you’re constantly reminded of your why.
It doesn’t have to be that structural, although it can. Even having a sticky note visible on your desk with your mission can be helpful. Make it your phone or computer background or daily affirmation. Whatever works for you, make sure your why is a part of your structure.
Yes, you want to keep your mission close as you scale. However, you can’t skip over the scaling part. As a mission-based Catholic business, it’s important to always be aware of where you’re going. You need to be knowledgeable of the market that you’re looking to expand into, as well as your competitors and how you stand out. If you’re a Catholic alternative in a secular market, your mission is very likely the thing that makes you stand out!
There are only so many people who know what it’s like to run a Catholic business or freelance as a Catholic. Your values and practices are different from your secular counterparts and that’s what makes you unique. However, it can also make you feel like an island. A lot of the same practices for maintaining relationships with clients apply here. Communicate with like-minded people, ask for their help (and how you can help them), and nurture these relationships for the long term.
COVID-19 uncertainty can put a damper (and has) on community life. While you may not be heading to networking mixers with other Catholic business professionals, you can find alternatives on places like LinkedIn. Personally, I’m a big believer in Young Catholic Professionals as an antidote for a generation of younger people who feel increasingly lonely, especially if you freelance or work from home.
Whatever your case is, seek out those around you who understand the challenges of trying to grow a Catholic business.
Admit it, you saw a Catholic list and knew this one was coming. While it’s always suggested, no matter the concern at hand, it’s also always needed. Pray for help defining your mission. Pray for like-minded people to come into your life. While this is sometimes taboo in Catholic circles, pray for your business to be profitable. You don’t have to subscribe to the prosperity gospel to desire just profits for your labor.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (#250) speaks out in resounding favor of just compensation for work provided. Above all, pray for guidance as you look to scale your Catholic business.
As underappreciated as HR can be, the culture of a company begins with its hiring practices and who it hires. If you’re hiring employees as you look to scale your Catholic business, look for mission fits with business potential. While it’s great to hire someone with an MBA, you may lose out in the long term if that candidate doesn’t share the same mission-based enthusiasm.
Who you bring in, whether that be employees, freelancers, consultants, or interns, makes a mark on your business’s culture!
Again and above all, pray for help on the journey (or just look for Catholic candidates to hire).
About the Author:
Joe Coleman is a freelance writer, editor, and audio production consultant. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University (and actually uses it from time to time). A former fellow at KNOM Catholic Radio in Western Alaska, he got his start as an on-air host, producer, and news writer. Currently, you can find him in Southern California writing about national parks, outdoor gear, and the role of Catholics in the business world.