Faith, hope, + business planning

Because most of the small businesses that I work with have very limited market assessment and business planning resources and budgets, they often stick with what has worked for them in the past and hope that things will work out well in the coming year. These business owners are hoping that all the business variables they don’t know, or can’t control, will not affect their business adversely.  

Their (agnostic) hope is a lot like a (religious) prayer: “Well, this is the best plan I can come up with given my resources and what I know. I pray to God it all works out.”

This train of thought got me wondering how faith based organizations add prayer to their business planning processes. I asked my brother, Reverend Martin A. Wehrmann for help.  Here’s his response to me. 

“Churches are also worldly institutions. They require savvy business minds, careful planning to be established or to revitalize, they require concrete short, and long-term planning, cost estimates for work to be done & financial planning for expansion & growth down the road that is planned. They must identify who has the gifts, skills and passion to carry out the work, who will lead - what are their gifts/skills etc.  How 'big' is what we plan? Will it put us at risk or is it a minor but promising change or enterprise?

Prayer is not an 'extra' that is added to all the above. When people of faith feel they are called to change direction, begin a new ministry, correct their direction etc., they have probably come to this point through prayer and discernment. Perhaps a need has stared them in the face for years & one day they came to its realization? We pray about most things to determine that we are hearing God correctly. We meet both in worship and in business meetings regularly to discern whether we are 'hearing' our calling clearly. Our worldly skills have been given to us by God just as our prayer-life and faith has been. So, the discerning process is whereby we proceed, also checking whether what we know & believe are doable and likely to succeed. We "count the cost" but don't shy away from taking a risk for the "good".  Sometimes, we do not succeed. Different faith-groups will understand that differently. Is it failure? Was it our pride? Did we miscalculate? Was it our testing? What did it teach us? Where did we go wrong & not listen carefully? Did a single person or committee let us down?

This morning I was told that a local sister Church held their last service today. Just across the street we closed our church about 3 years ago. These decisions are often financial, but they also express the belief of the Church that a handful of people cannot maintain buildings or do the ministries they once could. Faith enables them to 'close the doors' & to join again with another congregation and joyfully minister with them for God's glory.  There's no chicken or egg scenario here. Our faith opens our hearts and eyes and enables us to discern God's Will or understand the Word of God we need to heed. It's that simple; it's that painful, it's that exciting and that hope-giving. God enables the entire person to engage themself in our relationship with God."

Reverend Wehrmann's take-away on the subject of faith based business planning is this: "faith keeps us asking God for direction, correction and inspiration. We believe and trust that God will be in the work we perceive God is calling us to, and which we do in order to give God glory. The business plan comes when we've done all of our homework."
Frank Wehrmann's take-aways on business planning are these:
1.  Blind faith is no way to plan, or to run a faith based business, or an agnostic business. 
2.  Your faith in God is not a planning short-cut, but it can be a planning resource. 
3.  Great advertising, marketing, sales + operations support a good plan, but they are not your plan. 


This article is also related to "faith" + "planning" but looks at (agnostic) faith as an option ID + evaluation tool:  Article (A)

This article shows you how a Calgary window manufacturer employs faith to improve productivity:  (Article (B)




How strong is your network?


While we all like to believe that we have a powerful network around us, odds are that it’s pathetic. In the ‘70’s singer - songwriter Linda Ronstadt nailed it when she lamented that “everybody loves a winner, but when you loose, you loose alone.” If you don’t believe me, try this little network strength-test.

First, let your network know about a big opportunity.


  • 3 BR. Downtown Condo w. Pkg. : NINE months FREE rent while I'm away.
  • A +$150M job + International Travel + Expenses.
  • Estate sale: 5 year old Mercedes – 2,000 miles  |  $10,000.

You’ll probably get lots of hits from folks who want to know more, because 99.9% of your network wants to increase their standard of living as much as possible with as little effort as possible. 

Then, a few months later, share another big opportunity.


  • Hey does any one of you have a spare room or couch for a month?
  • Hey, just lost my job – and need a P/T gig to make ends meet. Can any one help?
  • Ouch. Just trashed my car. Who can lend me a car or help me find a reliable one for $2,500.00

The responses and the response rates will be dramatically different.

This sagging fence post illustrates how a strong network should work and how a good network supports you when the shit hits the fan. I’m not here to tell you how to build a network that’s as strong as this fence (for free), but I will give you this piece of free advice: bank on less than 1% of your network in a pinch.

Save this picture to your personal and professional development files and use it as a litmus test to see if an existing contact is worth having + investing in, or not.

The use of this picture as a planning too will change your life.




Dock cribs, chains, lines + change


For the first 60 years the docks at out cottage in Northern Ontario were kept in place, with massive cribs made of old railway ties that were then filled with boulders. While they last a lifetime, they are not very good for the lake or the shoreline flora + fauna.

About twenty years ago crib + boulder docks were banned and floating docks became the popular go-to solution. To keep the docks from floating away steel chains, wrapped around boulders (from dismantled cribs), cinder blocks (left over from cottage foundation improvements) or old engine blocks (with oil still in them), were often used as dock anchors. This solution was a bit better for the environment but tougher on the back because the dock chains need to be adjusted as the lake's water level rises and falls.

Last year my son introduced the latest solution. It’s made up of two small pitons driven into an onshore rock crevice and two thin, but very strong nylon lines (that keep the dock from drifting). Think mast rigging rather than foundation building. Now there's no more heavy lifting, no more near shore habitat issues, and no more monthly chain adjustments since the dock mooring is now lateral – not vertical.

There are a few business observations here:

  • Some old technology is worth replacing because it really wasn’t all that good for us or the environment.
  • Some new technology, like nylon + plastic, has gotten out of hand but when used carefully and sparingly, it is better than the old technology for all of us.
  • My parents saw change occur slower than my generation did, and my son’s generation is seeing it occur faster than I did. But all three generations respond in similar ways to change because people have not changed at all in the last three generations. So while you may not be able to fathom the tactical change your children or grandchildren are going through, the coping strategies that your parents or your grandparents used to embrace and leverage change can be taught to your children or grandchildren to enable them to surf the waves of change, rather than be drawn under and drowned by the strong under toe of change.  




Brussels sprouts, life + business


When I was a kid I hated Brussels Sprouts, and as an adult I just ignored them. Until last month. At a trendy Japanese restaurant they were served sliced and grilled with bits of bacon (rather than served whole + boiled to death).

Since then my wife and I have had them three times. Each time we’ve experimented with a different recipe; as a coleslaw, sautéed with bacon, and mixed grill.

The brand, business and life lesson is this.

Sometimes it’s important to revisit the old ways you hate and avoid to figure out a new way of embracing and loving the stuff in life that’s good for you or your business.



Season's Greetings