You may have heard of Shark Tank, the television series that premiered on ABC in August, 2009. The show features business owners who make presentations to five potential investors, who are referred to as “sharks.” Each of the sharks is an experienced entrepreneur who became wealthy by inventing products or by successfully starting and growing one or more businesses. Shark Tank is now in its fourth season, and is the most watched television program among 18 to 49-year-olds on Friday nights.
During each show, business owners make individual presentations in an attempt to persuade one of the sharks to invest in his or her business in exchange for an equity share in the business. After a business owner gives a presentation, each investor has an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Most of the time, the investors opt out of the deal, although there are some situations when two investors bid against each other and try to convince a business owner to accept a favorable offer.
The business owners who make presentations on Shark Tank all have one thing in common: they need large sums of money to expand their businesses. In my opinion, instead of a large infusion of cash, most of the business owners actually have a greater need for the expertise and experience of the investors to help promote and market their businesses.
There is a common belief among small business owners that “it takes money to make money.” Put any group of business owners together and when one of them says, “It takes money to make money,” the other business owners will all automatically nod their heads in agreement.
When a business is initially started, a loan or an investment of capital is usually needed; however, for most established businesses, an infusion of a large amount of cash can actually be harmful to the business. A loan postpones the inevitable question that a business owner should be asking: “What do I need to do to fix my business so it can be more profitable?”
While a business owner may believe he or she needs to borrow money to keep the business going (or to grow the business), what the owner should instead be doing is figuring out a way to make more money, which can be accomplished in a number of ways: using more effective advertising and marketing, doing a better job of training employees, creating better-quality products or services, and doing a better job of communicating with customers, clients, or patients.
A large infusion of cash usually has a number of negative effects: (1) covering up errors and mistakes that are being made in the business, (2) allowing employees with bad attitudes and work habits to escape from being held accountable for their actions, (3) wasting valuable time and resources that could be used to fix the problems that exist in the business, and (4) putting off the day of reckoning while adding another layer of debt that will eventually have to be paid off from existing cash flow.
In addition, when extra, unearned money is made available through a loan, a business owner may end up hiring more people than are needed, instead of training existing employees to be more productive and efficient. The owner may also buy new and “better” equipment, instead of firing a bad employee who should have been fired months ago.
Business profits are not generated by loans from banks, investors, friends, family members, or the government. Even though a business owner borrows money, he or she is going to eventually have to make the adjustments and corrections that are needed to make the business stand on its own.
I thought of Shark Tank and the belief that “it takes money to make money” a couple of weeks ago when I picked up a copy of my “Modern-Day Goliath Crushes David” article in the adoration chapel and saw that someone had made some handwritten changes to a sentence in the last paragraph of the article. Here’s an image of the changes that were made:
The replacement of “We have the power to conquer any Goliath that threatens us” with “God’s grace will conquer any Goliath that threatens us” changed the entire meaning of the paragraph and is misleading.
The examples that I gave of the type of “Goliath” that may threaten us included a corrupt and evil government, a multinational corporation, a ruthless employer, a malicious individual, a debilitating disease, a terminal medical condition, the sudden loss of a loved one, a financial crisis, or an uncertain future.
God does not guarantee that we will automatically receive a sufficient amount of grace from Him to conquer a Goliath that threatens us. The one thing He does guarantee is that He will give us the grace to pray and to perform works of mercy. When we pray and perform works of mercy, He showers additional grace upon us to deal with the Goliaths that threaten us.
If God automatically handed us the grace to deal with every problem that came our way, there would be no reason for us to pray or to work at improving our problem-solving skills and our ability to practice the virtues of faith, hope, love, humility, patience, courage, resilience, industriousness, and self-denial. Like the business owner who is able to cover up the shortcomings and defects of his or her business by borrowing money, we would be able to cover up our own personal shortcomings and defects if God automatically solved all our problems for us.
There are many Christians who have an entitlement mentality when it comes to God’s grace. They become angry and resentful when He doesn’t send them the grace to conquer the Goliaths in their lives. They fail to recognize that they have to actually pray and perform works of mercy before they will receive the additional grace that is needed to overcome the obstacles and problems that inevitably come their way.
We have to work our way into heaven. Just as there is no free money, there is no free ticket that gets us into heaven.