6 tips for launching a new project or ministry

Today is my first day on the job. I am now a full-time blogger and self-employed entrepreneur, having left the day-to-day grind of retail marketing and now venturing out on my own. The journey building up to this point has been a melting pot of mixed emotions: excitement, anxiety, fear and joy. I haven’t had a lot of control over which emotions creep up, but I have had control over which ones dominate, and I choose excitement and joy every time.

Whether you’re about to launch a new project like me, or you’re about to re-launch your ministry or career through innovation or redirection, here are six things I’ve learned that will help you in your new endeavour.

1. Don’t worry about tomorrow

When I discovered that the Christian bookstore I worked for these past nine years was going out of business, I found myself stewing over what to do next. But then my wife, bless her little heart, read a quote she found online somewhere (I believe it originated with author Dan Zadra), and I’d love to share it with you. It’s been my motto ever since.

“Worry is the misuse of imagination.”

Mindblow.

But think about it. What is worry? It’s when while imagining what the future might hold, you think of all the things that could go wrong. I believe God built imagination into all of us so that we could hope and dream and be filled with eagerness and expectation. When we worry we are misusing the gift of imagination. Worry will be a barrier for your plans and prevent you from going all-in. Keep your dream alive through eagerness and expectation, and imagine what can become of your next venture. Then put your hand to the plow and don’t look back.

2. Be intentional

I have too many regrets over the years because I set a plan in motion, then sat back to see what would happen. I had one of those, “if you build it, they will come” mentalities. Michael Hyatt (who blogs here) has been a huge influence on me, and he’s big on intentionality. If you’re not intentional about your ministry, careers, parenting, marriage or whatever, then you’ll end up just drifting along and one day look back only to realize you’ve drifted out to nowhere.

Every step I’ve taken for this new project has been intentional. I thought long and hard about the subtitle. I agonized over every word on the About page. I have plans for church leaders who want to go deeper with a membership program I’m developing called Gospel Sneeze. Through trial and error I’ve learned the value of intentionality. Whatever your next project is, take time to think things through and be intentional.

3. Be fluid

But I’ve also learned that you need to be fluid. You cannot be too rigid with your plans. Things change, circumstances arise, people get involved, life happens. If you don’t allow yourself fluidity then when life happens and your plans get derailed it is easier to give up than to realign and get them back on track.

The first goal I set for this website flopped because life got in the way. A few weeks ago my plate was overflowing. I was (1) trying to wrap up the bookstore I worked for which was going out of business, (2) create a slide show presentation and (3) preparing to do the videography both for the local homeschooling associate, while (4) writing an e-book for my new subscribers which I wanted to give them by June 1.

Needless to say I was swamped and as a result I missed my June 1 deadline for the e-book. What’s worse is that I announced to my subscribers the June 1 date. So I felt really bad and could have quit right there. But I didn’t. Instead I sent my subscribers an update. Then I realigned the release date for my e-book (June 16) and was able to over-deliver by having it completed and in their inbox by June 11. What I learned was that we need to be intentional, but we also need to remain fluid.

4. Be passionate

Whatever it is you’re launching, you have to be passionate about it. This is an absolute must. If you’re not passionate about your next project, if you’re in it for the money or because someone pushed you into it or for any other reason, but you lack the passion, get out or get passionate.  Your project might succeed for a while but it won’t last in the long run. When things get sticky and hard and when the rubber meets the road, your passion is what will get you through.

In his book Talk Like Ted, Carmine Gallo writes,

“Passionate business leaders are more creative, set higher goals, exhibit greater persistence, and record better company performance.” (p.29)

That’s not just true of business leaders, it’s true of all leaders. If you’re starting a new church-plant for example, and you’re passionate about it, you’ll be more creative, set higher goals, and be more persistent in the face of resistance and obstacles. Over the past few years I have had many conversations with church leaders asking me to help them figure this “social media thing” out. So that’s my passion, my project, my business, my ministry. What’s yours?

5. Be unique

The biblical book of Ecclesiastes says “there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9). Well that may be true, but what’s stopping you from taking something old and giving it a new spin? In fact, finding a unique spin is essential to starting something new. Don’t just do what’s been done before. Do it better. Do it different. Make it purple.

Last week I sat down with a friend who’s trying to get her spa business off the ground. In our conversation I told her about the Purple Cow effect that Seth Godin talks about. Everywhere I look spa’s are popping up. Our city is overrun with spa’s. That shouldn’t be a deterrent to start a new spa. But if you’re going to start a spa (or any project or ministry), it should be purple. And here’s why: nobody notices the hundreds and hundreds of regular brown and white cows they see while driving in the county. But if you spotted a purple cow, what would you do? You’d take notice. It’s the same with all new projects. So what’s your purple cow?

Whatever your project is, find an angle that makes it unique. People like fresh stuff. Give visitors and supporters something to sink their teeth into. Old is boring and new is exciting. It might be old truths, old traditions, old habits. That’s fine. Give them a new spin and watch as interest in what you’re doing grows. There may be no need to reinvent the wheel, but find a way to improve it at least.

6. Have a vision

Having a vision for what “could be” is the opposite of worry. Before you begin you need a vision. I love this verse in Habakkuk 2:2 and I’m only stretching the context a little by adding it here:

“Write the vision and make it clear…”

This is an important principle. Authors without a book proposal (a written vision) are far less likely to get published. Businesses without a business plan (a written vision) are far more apt to fail. And projects without a clear vision are far more likely to fizzle out. Developing your vision on paper will help you crystallize it in your head. You’ll know where you want to go (the goal), why you want to go there (the purpose), and what the best route to take is (the strategy). It all begins with a written vision.

Question: What tips would you add to my list for someone who is about to start on a new path? You can leave a comment by clicking here.