Luke Burgis is the Executive Director of ActivPrayer, a social business that develops lifestyle and faith-based fitness programs.
He is also the director of a sister charity, ActivPrayer Charities, and the ActivPrayer Institute for Integrated Fitness.
Burgis shares his experience:
The Challenge: When I started ActivPrayer, I was coming fresh off of putting my previous and most successful company through bankruptcy. I did not have a penny in the bank.
Now, I was telling people that I wanted to start a company called ActivPrayer where all of our profit would go to charity. I gave away my founders equity to charities and to people who lost money in my previous company.
People thought I was crazy. Everybody that I talked to questioned my motives, advised me not to do something so radical, and told me that I should focus on making money. No investors seemed to want to invest in a company that didn’t put profit first.
The Solution: Prayer. With prayer came the peace and clarity to know that ActivPrayer was ultimately a work of God, not of me. I couldn’t run ActivPrayer by normal business standards.
I communicated my beliefs to everybody and developed a new vision of a “faith-based social business” in a business plan.
I vowed not to bring anyone into the company unless they were fully aligned with this different way of doing business, even if it meant turning down good people with the wrong intentions.
The Aftermath: Through patience and sticking to the convictions that I held, I found tons of people around the country who were fully aligned with the philosophy of ActivPrayer and wanted to be involved.
Seven people offered to devote their time and talent to develop the organisation without getting paid; they viewed it as a necessary ministry rather than just a company.
Over time, I recovered from bankruptcy and ActivPrayer grew into a healthy organisation with tons of committed members and partners.
The Lesson: Stick to your convictions. Don’t necessarily take the first offer that is put in front of you (whether investment, partners, or anything else).
Be patient, and don’t be discouraged if things don’t take off right away. It is more important that you build your company the way that you want it to be built and not the way anybody else wants it to be built.
Follow your heart.
The Young Entrepreneur Council was founded by Scott Gerber, a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated small business columnist and author of the book, Never Get a “Real” Job. The YEC’s mission is to help young people build successful businesses and overcome the devastating epidemics of youth underemployment and unemployment.