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The Pillars of a Successful Faith-Based Business (Episode 62)

Bill Woolsey is the president and founder of FiveTwo, a network that equips entrepreneurs to launch a variety of sustainable startups with a special focus on people with a faith-based business. Woolsey started FiveTwo in 2015, when they launched a training process that helps entrepreneurs grow nonprofits and startups and make a difference in financially sustainable ways.

His personal faith has played an important part in his journey to create FiveTwo. He fundamentally believes in the importance of community support, giving back, and spreading love through faith-based business.

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The Beginning

Since 1987, Woolsey has been an active pastor and evangelist. His mother was a serial entrepreneur who was involved in everything from real estate to pottery and other business ventures. Her influence gave him an eye for business, while his work as a pastor and faith-based leader nurtured his love for people and community. In 1997, he and his family were asked to start a church in West Houston. For Woolsey, it was the right place and right time, and everything was perfect. The church came together and grew into a very large multi-site community.

During that process, he started working with church planters, who were starting churches across the United States and realized very quickly that starting was the hardest part. Building momentum and spreading awareness of a new endeavor takes time and resources. On top of that, people have to find a way to make money. This inspired Woolsey to reach out to more members of the Christian community to provide faith-based business guidance.

Woolsey realized there is a whole slice of people out there, Christian, people of deep faith, who want to live out their faith. By 2015, the network had grown so much that Woolsey could no longer lead both the church and the mentorship program, which was called FiveTwo. So, he went all in with his work on FiveTwo and that’s how he got to where he is today: training Christian men and women to launch new ventures that help people.

Guiding Principles of a Faith-Based Business

When people come to Woolsey with business ideas, he asks the following questions:

  1. Who are you trying to serve? Who are you reaching? In secular terms, this is asking who the customer is. Many times, people want to create a product or a service but haven’t thought about who would use it. The first step is to understand the customer, their pain points, and what they’re looking for.
  2. What is the value proposition? In other words, what value are you going to bring to the customer you have in mind? This should be well-defined in terms of a product or service, and the benefit should be measurable in some way.
  3. What is the relationship between you and the customer? What channels do you have to build this relationship? Most of the people Woosley works with are not social media based organizations. Typically they have a much stronger local focus. Those businesses have to think harder about the channels they use to reach out to people.
  4. How will you create an income stream? Woolsey’s programs teach people how to fundraise and generate cash flow.

Working with Nonprofits

Woolsey also works with nonprofits to help them make more of an impact and spread their values. Many of the principles of business apply to nonprofits, in terms of making donors happy and establishing channels of communication. There are guiding principles for nonprofits too, according to Woolsey:

Invest in Your Donors

In the nonprofit world, there are actually two customers; donors, and the people who will eventually receive the product or service you want to provide. A donor is someone who shares your cause and your values. When people join organizations based on values, they usually do it subconsciously, they don’t realize that’s why they’re joining. In a church setting, or even in a business setting, when they walk in, values live and breathe through the atmosphere and the culture that is present in that organization.

Creating a positive relationship with donors is important. Donors should feel that their money is an investment that will further their values or will provide value to their lives in some way. People give money to people, not organizations. Developing trust is crucial to getting their support.

Seven Steps to Start a Faith-Based Business

In his book Seven Steps to Start, Bill Woolsey articulates the seven things that are necessary to start a successful business. This is general advice that anyone can use to prepare for a new business venture, regardless of what it is.

  • Step 1 – Know your passion. A business can only go as far as the vision of the people who create it. More importantly, creating a business around your passion will be more fulfilling.
  • Step 2 – Get perspective. Why are you choosing to do this? Do some auditing of your experience, and the context that you’ve been dropped into.
  • Step 3 – Plan your steps. Determine the process for making your dream a reality.
  • Step 4 – Enlist the right people. Networking and community are crucial in making businesses successful. Build that team of leaders who you can delegate to and who you trust. They should share your cause and your passion, but they shouldn’t share your gifts. They should complement them, so you can make sure your team is strong in every aspect.
  • Step 5 – Practice and progress. Learn from yourself and from others, and find available resources when you get stuck.
  • Step 6 – Continue to persevere. One of the biggest reasons that startups fail is that the founder gives up. Know that creating a business isn’t easy, and it requires facing challenges and adapting to changing circumstances.
  • Step 7 – Start propagation. Expand and amplify your results. Woolsey believes that if people truly feel driven by God to create these organizations, they should multiply their impact to further positive faith-based business and work.

Finally, remember that while starting a business is risky, failing isn’t the end. Even if things go wrong, you’ll come out of the experience with new knowledge and perspective that will make you a better leader in your future endeavors.

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