In today’s article, let’s talk about the best investment known to mankind: TITHING.
Every client I meet with, at some point, will ask, “So, you got any hot stock tips?” What they are really asking is: “Do you have any investments that can’t lose?”
I have been an investment advisor since 2011, and for the past nearly 2 years I have helped hundreds of people invest both in Ghana and beyond. I have worked as hard as I could to make sure that my clients have goals and that we are working towards the achievement of those goals. Throughout my experiences, I have become pretty quick to understand who will be a successful investor, and who, on the other hand, will not. You know what it comes down to? Perspective. Let me explain…
There are clients I have met with over the years who view investing sort of like they are paying a monthly bill. By that, I mean they do it as an expense item on their budget. They do it because they were once told they “needed” to invest. As a result they come into the investment with a negative mindset. Because of their perspective on investing, do you think they invest with a large amount of their assets, or a little? Right, a little.
Then, if you think about someone who comes into investing with a negative attitude, and isn’t bought-in enough to actually even give it a proper chance, guess what is bound to happen to their investment? At some point, they will see it go down, even if for a short period of time. Once it goes down, and they are proven right, at least in their own minds, you know what they stop doing, right? Exactly…they stop investing.
For a moment, I want you to think about the way you give your time, talents, and treasures to “the church”. (I use parentheses for a reason and I will explain that in a minute.) When you give to your Church, how do you view it? In other words, what is your perspective on giving? Do you give because you feel pressure? Do you give to show thanks for all that God has given you? Or, do you give because you are excited to see what happens with the cedis you invest in God’s Kingdom? Of all of those possibilities, the last one is my hope for this post.
If you want to be a cheerful giver, you have to take your eyes off of tithing as an expense. You cannot look at giving to the church as a “have to”, instead, it needs to be a “want to”. If you look at giving with a negative mindset, as mentioned previously, you’ll never feel satisfied with what you give, no matter how much you give. But, if on the other hand, you changed your view on the why you give, and see it as an investment in the people of our church, ministries, programs, and outreach and collectively, connecting everyone’s life to Jesus, perhaps the way you give would also change.
If you view tithing as an expense…or a line item on your Schedule A, chances are pretty good you’re doing it wrong. While it is a nicety to have a tax deduction for spreading God’s Kingdom, it is not the reason God asks us to tithe. Think for a moment, about what happens with the time, talent, and treasures you are giving to our Lord. Think about the wonderful ways in which you are blessing people’s lives and introducing them to the beauty of a relationship with our Lord, Jesus.
Before I move on, what about those parentheses up there? When I referenced “the church”, I meant our place of worship, but only because that’s our home church. If you go to any other church, or you have in the past, the topic of tithing is not local to just our pulpit. It is a topic of conversation in every Bible believing church in the world. You know why? Because the Bible says that we are obligated to give back to our God. He makes it quite clear, throughout scripture, that this is the way He intended it to work. As we continue our study of Proverbs, let me walk us through a few verses to explain my point…and in fact, bring about another point.
Proverbs 11:24-25, “Give freely and become wealthier; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
One more verse, to further this point:
Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then He will fill your barns with grain and your vats will flow with good wine.”
See that? If we honor the Lord with what He has given us, we will be further blessed. God. Loves. Obedience.
Try to change your perspective on tithing…stop seeing it as an expense, or a bill you have to pay…and start seeing it as an investment in the expansion of Heaven. Think about how God will be using your cedis to introduce as many people to Jesus as possible, and see if it feels just a little more rewarding the next time you pay…I mean, invest…your tithe.
WHEN GIVING REALLY BECOMES AN INVESTMENTS
As a business owner, you’ve probably heard this from customers making cutbacks: “I can’t afford the expense at this time.” The domino effect has likely caused you to view everything as an expense as well. When times get tough, companies tend to curtail or cease spending. Everything that costs money is viewed as an expense.
Some business owners don’t need an economic downturn to have an “expense only” mind-set. This mind-set is one of the biggest downfalls of businesses in general. If everything is viewed as an expense, then decisions are based not on a growth model but rather a survival model. Those who start a business wanting only to survive are sabotaging their ability to make sound, strategic decisions that will grow and sustain their businesses.
The key is to know and understand the difference between what is an expense to your business and what is an investment in your business. Important to note is that this is a standard mode of operation for the high-growth companies.
Areas that are considered an investment by companies that understand a growth model vs. a survival model are: image and marketing, training and development, technology, physical location and hiring.
Image and marketing:
If a business owner says she can’t afford to market her business, she truly can’t afford to be in business. This is where negative and stagnant companies went awry in the last economy. When times were good, they stopped marketing in spite of the fact that marketing got them busy in the first place. They became too comfortable with business flowing in, deeming marketing no longer necessary; or they had to shift to a servicing mode to see their commitments through, so marketing took a back seat. A stop-and-go or stop-and-wait mentality toward marketing will cause more business failures than anything. For growth companies, marketing is an ongoing investment and an operational part of how the company conducts business.
Example: A pediatric equipment company had been allocating a flat-fee reimbursement for mileage and gas for its direct sales force’s personally owned vehicles. While the reimbursement was considerate to the sales force, the personal vehicles were not effectively able to contain all the equipment or parts necessary for optimal in-service calls. In addition, the vehicles were unmarked, hence not providing any marketing value while on the road.
Training and development:
Growth companies understand that to grow the company, attention should also be paid to developing people within the company. Investing in technical or soft skills to enhance the people within the company makes a company a stronger competitor. From enhancing the ability to sell, negotiate, use software or equipment to implementing a quality initiative for coping with stress or with working together, training is deemed an ongoing operational investment by companies that see their people as critical to the company’s staying power and growing power. This also positively affects the staying power of people within the company.
Example: A manufacturing company was enduring business costs such as pricing wars and supplier conditions affecting profitability. It became apparent that more efficiencies and less waste were paramount to operational sustainability. As a result, the company invested in an overall plant-recycling and waste-reduction program requiring training and new processes to be implemented. In addition, a lean manufacturing initiative was identified, and key plant personnel received training to execute. The resulting efficiencies enabled the company to allocate money for an ongoing and more aggressive marketing program.
Even with its rapidly changing and evolving application platforms, when thought through strategically, technology can be an investment that pays your business back in a multitude of ways. A business owner should continuously be considering how technology can help the business perform better, be more efficient or allow its people to focus on more income-generating and income-producing aspects of the business. Too often the “expense” of technology clouds an owner’s perspective on what the technology can ultimately do for the business in the long term.
Example: A custom cabinetry business owner saw his business begin to explode in inquiries and opportunities to bid on projects as a subcontractor to primary contractors serving government construction projects. Even working 16-hour days, he could not keep up with the demand for estimates of new projects along with oversight of projects already under way. Numerous bid deadlines were missed. After lamenting the expense of an estimating software program that would require a GHS 2,000 investment, he deemed it an investment he needed to make. Not only did it enable him to estimate jobs at the click of a mouse, it also reduced his hours-per-day worked so he could invest the time in other ways. Jobs are streaming in vs. just inquiries.
Being home-based saves on overhead expenses and can be an excellent tax write-off. This can allow you to put your cedis in other areas of investment that make better sense. An office presence, however, can be a smart investment depending on your business’s growth model. If you need a space to present the appropriate image or to accommodate workers or meetings with clients, you may have to consider a location outside the home. Later, as your business grows and continues to expand in a rented space, a mortgage might become a better alternative than leasing because the property would be an investment and a tangible asset both for the business and for you as the business owner.
Example: A custom home builder was in the midst of expanding with an impressive stand-alone commercial office and showroom. The new facility was still several months from completion when his current leased space came up for renewal. With no option to go month-to-month, the owner leased a temporary, low-rent warehouse unit to curtail expenses until his new space was ready to be occupied. Shortly thereafter, rumors began to spread that his business was in trouble.
With the help of a consultant, the owner realized that his expense mentality was the culprit, so he made two critical changes that set the record straight. He invested in under-construction signage to make passers-by on the busy highway aware of his new facility. He then moved from the low-rent warehouse space into one of the spec homes he was building, temporarily outfitting the garage into a complete office and showroom welcome center. These location moves immediately squelched the rumors and brought positive attention to his business’s expansion in the community.
One of the toughest hurdles for many business owners to clear is hiring the first couple of people. That’s because the positions are viewed as an overhead expense rather than an investment. You need to factor your time into the equation. Before the first hire, the business owner’s time is typically being monopolized by necessary but non-income-generating activities. The next hire typically is needed because enough time is being devoted to one particular business activity to warrant putting someone in charge of that activity. The bottom line in either case is to hire in order to grow to the next level. If no one is available to do what needs to be done, it won’t get done. Period.
Example: Co-owners of a language services company were feeling the pinch of the economy in early this year as contracts began to be delayed and put on indefinite hold. The company’s growth plan was set for hiring a key administrative position to support the owners. With the economy affecting sales coming in, it was all the more imperative for one of the owners to be able to target and market the business more aggressively while the other oversaw the work and kept it moving for clients. The owners determined that hiring an administrative assistant was critical to enable one co-owner to focus on income-generating activity and the other to focus on income-producing activity.
Once you make up your mind to understand and know the difference between a true expense and an investment, you could be among the businesses that not only survive but thrive in this and future economies.
Use these statements to assess if what you are considering is a justifiable investment. If you can answer yes to one or more of these, then what you are considering is an investment, not an expense.
• Can be directly measured for increased productivity in an area of the business
• Can be directly measured for greater efficiencies in a process or the business overall
• Can be directly measured for increased profitability of products or services
• Can be directly measured for increased sales in business
• Can recoup and realize a financial gain as a result of the monies spent
• Will allow time for more income-generating or income-producing activity
• Will improve individual, team or customer-service performance
• Will enhance, reinforce or protect the company image
• Will add credibility or capability, which can be promoted
• Will aid in distinguishing the company against competitors
Example: An attorney was frustrated, believing she had reached capacity in the hours she could bill per week due to the time necessary to manage and run her practice. In addition, she and her husband were planning to have a family soon, so she did not want to get into a habit of working more hours to increase her billable hours. A consultant suggested she track and document all of her time, including the non-billable hours, without changing her work routine. After four weeks of tracking hours, tasks equaling 10 to 15 hours per week were identified as activities that could be given to a strong office assistant.
The expense of hiring and paying someone else on a weekly basis had kept the attorney from considering adding any support position. However, when it was pointed out that the additional 10 to 15 hours could be converted to billable hours, she determined to bring someone on board for 10 hours per week as a test. Within one month, the assistant’s hours were increased to 25 hours per week. She had also proved valuable in research support, also a billable activity. The end result was an increase in the attorney’s billable hours per week by 25 percent to 35 percent without increasing her overall hours worked. The administrative assistant generated enough billable activity to pay her weekly salary, plus add more profit to the firm’s bottom line.
Author: Gabriel Ofori Yeboah
Fund Manager, Investor, Broker, FX Trader, Consultant–(Investment, Financial Analyst, Banking) and CEO & FOUNDER–GOY FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0246751535