McDonald’s, Kroc, and the Test of Entrepreneurial Success.
Entrepreneurship is a confusing word. Not just because it’s hard to remember how it’s spelled, but because of the many word pictures we put behind it. Business is usually the venue where we see this practice. Even in the market place though, it can equally be applied to someone who starts up a business and also someone who takes an existing company to the next level. I swim mostly in the realm of the Church and discipleship world where the range of applications can be just as wide. A church planter establishes one church in his life that grows to 1000 or more in Sunday morning attendance. Suddenly he is allowed to successfully wear the title. A woman takes an existing ministry to new heights and likewise is awarded the spot light for her accomplishments. The bigger the results, the more the person is called an entrepreneur. Yet those who achieve lesser accolades are denied the headlines.
But I wonder if maybe there’s more to the story here in creativity. Could it be that for true divine entrepreneurship to take place we really need a number of different people, different skills, and different situations? To illustrate, I’m wondering who is the biggest entrepreneur in the fast food business; the McDonald brothers or Ray Kroc? The original McDonald’s drive in restaurant opened in 1937 in Pasadena, California. The brothers struck gold. They expanded and were hitting revenue of some $350,000 a year in the mid-1950s. Kroc came into the picture in 1954 when he owned a business selling milk shake machines. He saw the vision of what McDonalds could be and in 1961 bought the franchise rights for 2.7 million. The rest is history with stores all over the world. Including the ones I ate at in Moscow, Russia. So when you look at these two pictures; which one is the greatest entrepreneur? Many would say Kroc as he was the greater visionary while the McDonalds brothers were better managers. In one sense I’d agree with that. On the other hand, Ray Kroc would have gotten nowhere without the original entrepreneurialism of Dick and Maurice McDonald. The truth of the matter is that both were needed and unfortunately we don’t always see that when our eyes are constantly focused on the celebrity side of entrepreneurship.
This is the case in the kingdom of God as well. There are so many pieces that come into play with the expansion of the kingdom. We all have different gifts with some more bent toward creating new things and others with an incredible ability to organize programs. Even in that though, there is an element of vision in developing a system to carry something new to the next level. We also have to consider circumstances, timing, and a number of other factors. When it comes to church planting I think of the apostle Paul who experienced various levels of success in the book of Acts. If we only knew of his ministry in Athens, Acts chapter 17, we might not consider him a worthy entrepreneur as the text tells us that only “a few” became followers of Christ. But yet in chapter 19 the entire city of Ephesus was turned upside down at Paul’s preaching of Christ. Without dissecting the difference in the two occasions, what we do know is that Paul was the same man in both places. Quite possibly the “experts” of the day could have said that Paul failed in one and was successful in the other. Yet we know the truth is different and that Paul was successful in God’s sight by simply pressing forward and leaving the results to Him.
Maybe that can be an encouragement to you in your sphere of influence. One reality in the story is that we all possess some piece of entrepreneurship as we are all daughters and sons of Adam and Eve. God charged his first children with not only naming the animals but governing creation. Ultimately we are all created in God’s image who himself is all about creativity. So while the experts in your field may never call you to speak at their national convention for mammoth results, keep in mind that there is more in play than we realize. God’s dream has all of us in mind and there is a creative side to each one of his children. The real test of entrepreneurial success is simply what we do with what God has placed in our hands.
So; what are you creating today?