Let the Lord lead: Building a business with faith
By Mikaela Pannell
Being a business owner, whether that business is large or small, can be a challenging endeavor. There are so many moving parts to keep track of: deadlines to make, budgets to keep, employees to take care of, not to mention keeping yourself from getting too overworked. And that’s just on the business side of things. What about your family and your faith? What is a business owner to do?
Tiffny Hagan, owner of Virtual Office Advantage and a parishioner at St. Therese Parish in Sioux Falls, has gained some insight on this as she has been building her business for the past 20 years. There have been many changes to the business throughout the years, and Tiffny can see God’s hand in all of it.
Beginning with God
As the mother of two children and wife to her husband, Tim, the idea for her business was actually born out of a desire to stay home with her children while still being able to help support her family financially. She also had a desire to help small businesses with different administrative needs.
When exploring what it looks like to run a business with God at the helm, Tiffny explains the fruitfulness that comes from it. “I feel so creative and I feel energized … Things that I know don’t come from me are coming out of me; ideas that I know I didn’t have are coming out.”
There is an abundance that can only come from the Lord. That doesn’t mean having a business is always smooth sailing, though.
Oftentimes, being a business owner can be really challenging. Sometimes the answer is clear, and other times it isn’t.
“I pay attention to if something is really hard, if it’s not working, paying attention to why isn’t it working,” Tiffny says. “Is it because it’s my will, am I trying to force this, is it a financial thing … maybe there’s something different that needs to be worked out, is this truly God’s plan for me?” Taking the challenges to prayer is key.
Let God lead
Like everyone at one time or another, Tiffny has tried to do things on her own. She has found that things don’t go nearly as well when she’s trying to be the one in charge. “I know when I’m not listening because it’s really hard … my creativity is not there, I don’t have a lot of clarity.”
Our God is a giver of many chances, which means that if he’s trying to tell you something and you aren’t getting it, he will probably tell you more than once.
“He keeps giving you those same lessons, but not in exactly the same way, until you figure it out,” she says. “Until you figure out to listen to him and what he wants you to do, whether that’s changing something within yourself or maybe what he had guided you to was only for a season and now it’s time to pivot and change.”
This can be a really hard pill to swallow, especially in a business if you are working on a project that you’ve poured a lot of time and effort into.
“Ultimately, when he is done with it and you are supposed to be done with it, you’re done with it,” Tiffny says. He will lead you on to what he desires next.
Tiffny recalls a time about 10 years ago when she learned about letting God move the pieces around in her business. It was a really challenging time for her, and for a long time she felt like it was a massive failure on her part. But after sitting with it and taking her feelings about it to God, she came to a realization.
“It didn’t succeed how I wanted it to succeed, but that doesn’t mean that it was a failure … this is how it’s supposed to be,” she said. “This is what God wanted. It’s not fair, it’s not what I wanted … but it’s ultimately what he wanted, and it was for the best because after I got my head straight and after I figured out, yes, this is really what he wanted. Then I could take a breath, and then other good things came out of it. More creativity, my next step came out of it.”
What else helps run a business on faith? “What has helped me is to actually have a written out list of what my priorities are … Family comes first, and then business,” Tiffny says. It helps to remind you what is actually the most important.
Her priority list is actually pretty short: first comes faith, second comes her husband and third, children. Last up is business. Without priorities in the proper order, things will get out of sorts quickly.
Tiffny encourages everyone to find a rhythm of faith that works best for you within your business. “I just pray little prayers throughout the day, continual little ones throughout the day,” she says. If her schedule allows, she also makes an effort to attend daily Mass and sit with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Tiffny also recommends that you find a patron saint for your business. Hers is St. Zelie Martin. Having a saint for your business is a great way to have someone specific to intercede for you and assist in guiding your business where it is meant to go. Reflecting back, Tiffny says, “St. Zelie has done awesome things for me. It’s worth investing a little bit of time in finding a saint. It makes you feel like you’re not alone.”
Additionally, Tiffny feels that having like minded people around you for support is an essential part of a successful business grounded in faith.
“Make sure that your priorities are in front of you so that you actually see them and surround yourself with people who are on that faith journey and meet with them regularly, and ask them to pray for you,” she says.
Catholic Women’s Professional League, a group Tiffny relies heavily on, is a group for female business professionals whose members meet monthly and talk about different topics relating to how to incorporate your faith within your business. If you are interested in joining this group, you can contact Tiffny at email@example.com or find them on Facebook at CWPLSF. The Catholic Men’s Business Fraternity is a similar group for men that also meets regularly.