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Article 7 of 15 in Series: Perspectives on Work, Worth and Faith
I still remember the night Joshua explained he was heading to northern Nigeria to do a missions placement for 6 months. This was in 2011. I was probably a bit dramatic in my thinking, but 6 months seemed like a long time. I also wondered if he’d return. He eventually left again a few years later for another cross-cultural training program. Fast-forward almost 9 years, Joshua is back and a lot has changed but I am still blessed to call him a brother and a friend.
CHRIS-ANN: What kind of work do you do?
JOSHUA: I operate DOXA Detailing, a car detailing business. Detailing is the enhancement of and maintenance of a vehicle’s aesthetic. For those unfamiliar, this would include things like polishing, ceramic coating, wrapping, applying paint protection film among other services. It also includes maintenance for clients with as few as 2 cars or as many as 20 vehicles. This involves regular upkeep, such as weekly or multiple times a week.
It also involves the everyday things like growing client and supplier relationships, maintaining equipment and so on. It also means attending various events, like car shows, to build new relationships with those who would most benefit from my services and expertise.
CHRIS-ANN: What inspired you to start this business?
JOSHUA: I would say a combination of many factors. The first is that I grew up in an entrepreneurial home. Both my parents are self-employed and they taught my siblings and me to think about the world outside of the typical fashion. I learned a lot from my mom. Her work ethic was most dominant: tireless, humble, driven by a love of family and Jesus, done with excellence and going above and beyond. This is the same work ethic I try to bring to my own work.
The business originally started as a summer side hustle while still in school. After working for a detailing company for a number of years, I concluded that I had the necessary skills and equipment and decided I would advertise my service to friends and family. I would work when I got jobs. This was around 2011.
However, I really started to think more about this after a specific conversation I had in 2014 with a missionary friend who asked if I had done any fundraising over the summer break. During that time, I was attending a cross-cultural missionary training program in Texas that had a narrow focus on unreached people groups. I would work a summer job when I returned home for the break.
Now, I’m all for support raising but after really thinking through this and reading the word, I was convinced there was more than one approach. I didn’t see fundraising as the most effective approach in each situation. Yes, Paul makes a strong and true case for ministers being compensated, but at the same time, he chose to work outside the ministry too. As a person with business abilities, I saw this as an opportunity to turn my side hustle into a business that could eventually support myself and other missionaries.
CHRIS-ANN: What advantages do you think believers have in starting a business?
JOSHUA: God uses two books, the word and the world; both have the same goal which is exalting Jesus (Col. 1:16, 1 Cor. 10:31). I understand that not everyone is gifted to start a business. Not all excellent employees make excellent business people. However, if you are gifted in this way, you should use your gift for the glory of Jesus and the benefit of others.
I think believers should conduct their work with the utmost excellence. Instead of being fueled by financial freedom, love of money or ultimate love of family, our work is done unto the Lord and motivated by devotion and gratitude to him. Because our motivation is so much deeper, our work should be that much more excellent. As a business owner, you have the freedom to set the bar for excellence and service to your customers as dictated by the great commandment in scripture.
Great businesses should have the goals of genuinely serving the needs of their clients, growing and providing jobs to serve others.Tweet
Before making my business official and incorporating in 2017, I received a job offer to manage another organization’s detailing business. It was fixed hours and well paid but I turned it down. I saw the opportunity to create my own business where my ability to implement client focused policies would not be constrained by those who didn’t share my biblical convictions.
Great businesses should have the goals of genuinely serving the needs of their clients, growing and providing jobs to serve others. And in particular, black brothers and sisters who start and run their businesses well give glory to God and serve to quietly undermine myths associated with that.
CHRIS-ANN: Has being a black man ever affected the way you are perceived as a business owner?
I grew up being taught that I can’t was a swear word… My siblings and I would get in as much trouble using I can’t, as we would if we said the f-word.Tweet
JOSHUA: Before I answer that question let me start with this. I tend to put little weight in peoples’ opinions of me. My parents raised me to believe that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I grew up being taught that I can’t was a swear word: the sort of word that called for the bar of soap to be applied to your mouth. My siblings and I would get in as much trouble using I can’t, as we would if we said the f-word.
My mom was an Egyptian immigrant who moved to North America not knowing much English. My dad was a black man from Jamaica. Both of them worked in corporate and both faced a lot of discrimination for their gender and/or the colour of their skin. My mom was firmly rooted in who she was as a person (as was reinforced throughout a lifetime by her father…note to the dads out there) and she wouldn’t let those situations have a lasting impact. She always let her work speak for itself.
So yes, I have experienced prejudice regarding being black and owning a business but my first tendency is to pity the judgmental person. It’s sad that people have discriminatory thinking that relegates black people to a certain station in life. Oddly enough, I also get some of this discrimination from black people as well. My reaction is a different sort of pity. I often think, ‘who has convinced you to think so low of yourself, and by implication me, to limit me in what I can do.’ Neither is right.
CHRIS-ANN: What is your personal approach to growing your business?
JOSHUA: Business is primarily about people. I’m more interested in building relationships with my clients across generations rather than a quick purchase. I want my customers to know that I care more about them and giving them great service, than seeing them as transactions. I refer business to others in my industry if I think they would better serve that potential client.
I spend a lot of time building relationships and not just with a financial outcome in mind. I practice listening well by checking in to see how they’re doing and asking how certain life or career events they’ve shared with me went at a later time. I also take note of dates that are important to them. On the anniversary of my business, I take the time to put together thank you gifts and notes. I’m intentional about communicating my gratitude for them.
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