The Beggar is the Best Customer

The church is a great business idea. The founder is usually a person that requires help from God and perhaps genuinely heeds to “a divine call”. He has to bear with the doubts and difficulties that come with all start ups. For starters, nobody might believe the cock and bull story that the poor guy has to craft. Thankfully, his loyal spouse and submissive children usually don’t have a choice.

Nonetheless, he has to work hard and win the trust of some few other family members and friends to put up a funny structure and buy drums and other equally loud musical instruments. I’m sure you will agree that some of the loudest noises that come from churches are made by congregations that hardly exceed ten individuals that look somewhat inebriated.

But the many doubters (or more fashionably, haters) are soon put to shame as the passionate pastor now buys better suits and mobilizes more flock. The church is now big and within no time a sleek car starts to be a reality for the pastor.

But to sustain the dream, the pastor shifts from focussing on the service of God to what the congregation can give to God – which some “haters” mistake for himself. The preaching Sunday after Sunday is aimed at coercing the congregation to respond to the needs of the church and by extension the “man of God” as a means of meeting their own. Promises of prosperity now form the bulk of summons and the condition is invariably giving to the church’s projects.

This is the trend in most churches where pastors are reduced to poets keeping their congregations hopeful amid deepening misery in their own lives. The pastors nonetheless prosper – making themselves richer and richer. Politicians are not any different but that’s material for another day.

There is one thing a struggling person can learn from this common trend, desperation fosters creativity and is the best opportunity for business and success. Many people are born desperate, in families that kill morale. Your dad probably looks happy herding goats and your mother is contented with selling illicit brews save for the few times the cops have to carry her on their less than elegant pick-ups. Your brother could have died of starvation and your sister couldn’t make more than just a starving prostitute. You see failure and suffering all around you. Everyone is comfortable and resigned to this less-than-perfect conditions – but what makes you feel special is that it bothers you.

If you can relate to this I have some good news.

The obscure truth is that the best business ideas start and thrive on widespread desperation. The best businesses promising jobs to thousands of jobless lads waiting for that elusive splash of opportunity and actually delivering a decent fraction of their song and dance were started by jobless people. The best teachers are failed practitioners trying to run away from their own mediocrity. The sellers of hope were once hopeless and with problems worse than any of the people they have had an opportunity to preach hope to. All the same, they made themselves millionaires by looking around and seeing how they can meet the needs of the majority average. They have looked at their experiences and managed to view the desperation and the failure as their main opportunity – and they are never wrong.

An average pastor has a car, an average officer of the poverty NGO makes more money than a car salesman. The person advertising jobs for the jobless is self employed. And the list is longer than you can imagine.

Please, kindly send me an email so I can forward you the invoice: the guy that is always begging you for coins has enough money to be your customer. All you have to do is find a way to make his existence a blessing.


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