How to Overcome Challenges: 6 Business Lessons From Joseph Ruler of Egypt
Hello Monetization Nation. This is a Sunday episode and today I’m going to talk about business lessons we can learn from the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, who became the ruler of Egypt.
During his life, Joseph experienced many challenges. His brothers sold him to be a slave in Egypt and he ended up in prison based on a false accusation from Potiphar’s wife who tried to seduce him. When he refused, he was wrongly imprisoned. However, despite his challenges, he had faith in God and also achieved tremendous success.
Today I want to talk about how we can overcome challenges and the business lessons we can learn from Joseph.
Principle #1: Save for a Rainy Day
In Genesis 41, Pharaoh had a dream that neither he or anyone else in his court could interpret. Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer remembered that Joseph had previously interpreted his dream while he was in prison. The chief cupbearer told the Pharaoh of Joseph, who then brought Joseph from the prison to interpret his dream.
Through the power of God, Joseph interpreted the dream to mean that there would be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine in all of Egypt. Joseph recommended that a percentage of the food in Egypt be stored during the times of plenty to use during the famine and suggested Pharaoh put a wise man in charge of this effort. Pharaoh trusted Joseph and appointed him to be in that role.
Because of this, Egypt began preparing in the seven years of plenty by setting aside 20% of all food to store it away for when the famine struck. Ultimately, doing these things saved all of Egypt and Joseph’s family.
The lesson here is that we need to prepare for times of crisis in our businesses. We should save money for a rainy day. Just as Joseph set aside 20% of all food to have food stores available for times of famine, as entrepreneurs and business owners we should set aside a portion of our profits during the good times so that we have something to fall back on during the hard times.
Economies and industries go in cycles. There may be years of huge economic growth followed by years of hard times. It’s a lot easier to get through a crisis when we have the funds to weather the storm. We never know when a devastating change may happen. If we are prepared, we can have the confidence to take more risks and save our business when hard times come.
T.T Munger, a research scientist, said, “The habit of saving is itself an education: it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought, and so broadens the mind.”
Principle #2: Be Creative and a Problem Solver
The next principle we can learn from Joseph is to be a creative problem solver.
When Joseph learned of the famine, he thought creatively. He didn’t try to do things the same way they have always done and hope for the best. He came up with a solution that had never been implemented before. The building of store cities was a creative idea Joseph had to come up with in order to adapt to potential crises. Joseph’s advice of saving 20% helped him become appointed second in power only to Pharaoh himself. More importantly, it saved a lot of people, including his family.
We too should be creative problem solvers. We should learn to identify the potential crises that our organizations may face and then identify the solutions we need to not give up too quickly. We should think outside the box.
Richard Branson said, “Learn to use your brainpower, critical thinking is the key to creative problem-solving in business.”
During COVID-19, many businesses had to get creative and problem solve if they wanted to survive. One example of a business that had to get creative is Moriarty’s Gem Art, a family-owned jewelry business. Moriarty’s Gem Art was forced to shutter its retail store, but they didn’t let that defeat them.
“When we closed our doors, we had to come up with different strategies to keep business going and engage with our customers,” says Jeff Moriarty, marketing manager and oldest son of co-owners Steve and Nancy Moriarty. “We did know we would open up again sometime, but we didn’t want to just wait, which is why we did everything we could to continue to bring in sales.”
Steve Moriarty, co-owner of Moriarty’s Gem Art, helped launch a live stream gem show to replace income lost after his shop in Indiana was forced to close due to the coronavirus.
The company advertised the live streams through its website, by email, and via social media. More than 1,000 people now watch the two-hour show that airs every other Wednesday (Source: SHRM).
Principle #3: Trust God Even When We’re Treated Unfairly
The third principle we can learn from Joseph is to trust God even when we’re treated unfairly.
Joseph was treated unfairly by his brothers when he was sold as a slave. Joseph was also treated very unfairly when he refused the advances of Potiphar’s wife and was falsely imprisoned because of a false allegation. However, Joseph chose to trust God. He knew that God knew what was best for him. We should do the same in our businesses.
Sometimes we may feel that when bad things happen to us it is because we are doing something wrong. But, if you look at the greatest business leaders that have ever lived, they’ve had many challenges. The challenge doesn’t mean we are an inadequate business leader. The challenge may mean that we’re on the right course and we’re facing opposition because of the great things we are doing.
Rick Warren said, “The more you believe and trust God, the more limitless your possibilities become for your family, your career, and your life.” As we trust in God, the easier it will become for us to overcome our challenges.
In Proverbs 3: 5–6, it says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
An important part of trusting in God, may be understanding that there is a bigger plan, and looking at the bigger picture. Even after Joseph’s brothers sold him to Egypt, he was able to forgive them and understand that God had a greater plan for him. It was through that challenge that be eventually became a ruler of Egypt.
In Genesis 50:19 it says, “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
Even though Joseph had a horrible wrong committed against him, he looked at the bigger picture.
Principle #4: Flee From Temptation
The fourth principle I would like to discuss is to flee from temptation.
Potiphar’s wife approached Joseph many times, wanting to seduce him, and he refused her advances. Finally, she reached a spot where she caught him by his garment, and said unto him, “Lie with me.” When Joseph refused, he left his garment in her hand as he fled immediately.
As business owners, we may face temptations as well. Those temptations may be unethical choices, maybe to not pay our taxes honestly or to not treat someone fairly. Sometimes when money is tight and we don’t have as many resources, the temptations are even stronger. We should learn from Joseph to flee from those temptations immediately, even if there are consequences, even if we’re still falsely accused. We should have a clear conscience by immediately fleeing from that temptation.
Principle #5: Give God Credit
The fifth principle we can learn from Joseph is to give God credit.
Genesis 41:15 and 16 says, “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”
When Pharaoh gave Joseph the credit for interpreting the dream, Joseph responded by giving the credit to God. I think it’s very important that we give God credit. All of the blessings that we have, everything good in our lives, even our talents, and everything that we use to build our businesses comes to us as gifts from God. As we give God credit, we unlock additional power from God, where he’s willing to pour out upon us a greater measure of his blessings.
Principle #6: The Power of Recurring Revenue
The sixth principle we can learn from Joseph is the power of recurring revenue streams.
Recurring revenue is something I talk a lot about on my show, and it’s really fun to see this concept taught in the Bible. In Genesis 47 verses 20, 23, and 24, it says,
“20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.
“23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
“24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.”
In other words, Joseph had stored up all of this food, the excess food during the years of plenty, and then during the seven years of famine, people came to him and bought food.
But, after the first few years, they didn’t have any money left and so Pharaoh let them trade their livestock for food. Eventually, all of their livestock was gone and they came back and Joseph said I will trade you food for your land.
Joseph made a one-time purchase using the corn resource and he bought the land. But he treated them fairly and said, “I’m going to allow many of you to continue to farm this land, and you get to keep four-fifths or 80% of everything that you produce when you farm, and you will return to Pharaoh 20% of the yield of your land, in exchange for the rent of this land which is now pharaohs.”
Essentially, Joseph created a recurring revenue stream as he continually earned food from the farmers. We can also set up recurring revenue streams in our businesses to create reliable sources of income.
Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- We should save for a rainy day.
- We should strive to be creative problem solvers.
- We should put in our trust in God, even when it feels like we are treated unfairly. When we trust in God, we will gain more blessings.
- We should flee from temptation immediately.
- We can use recurring revenue streams to gain reliable income sources.