What Is Your CREED? How to Ethically Grow a Business with JR Spear
Are you wanting to build and grow a business using the message God has given you, but unsure of where to start? Are you concerned about having to use sleazy sales tactics just to get your message out there?
If so, this week’s Publishing Secrets guest, JR Spear, has some tried-and-true strategies to help you get started and stay committed to honoring God in everything you do. JR has a wealth of experience in a number of industries, and through it all, he’s learned what it really takes to build and grow a business that thrives – and how not to lose yourself or your convictions in the process.
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How to identify your core values and purpose as a business owner
- The four non-negotiable tasks every entrepreneur must do daily to grow a business successfully
- JR’s step-by-step process to grow a business and make sales ethically
- A story of JR’s time serving in Iraq that taught him he’s here for a purpose – and two valuable lessons we can all learn from his experience
- JR’s advice about establishing a solid foundation on which you can successfully build and grow a business
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important links and information!
One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard about entrepreneurship came from a seasoned entrepreneur: “The first time you do something, it’s an experiment. The second time, it’s practice. And the third time, it’s a habit.”
That’s sage wisdom for anyone trying to start and grow a business, but especially for Christian authors. Many times, when we answer the call to write, we’re excited about the message that we have, but we don’t realize that we’ve also stepped into entrepreneurship. It’s important to be a good writer, but also to be a good business person – and, in doing so, to heed the advice of those that have gone before us. This gives us an opportunity to learn from their experiences, so that we can make our own ventures as successful as possible, and so that we don’t repeat their mistakes.
JR Spear is an entrepreneurship powerhouse. He’s built successful businesses in several different industries, from fitness to martial arts to marketing to advertising, and now consulting. By listening to and following his insights and experience, you too can see great success.
Throughout all the different avenues JR has pursued, he says his singular unifying mission is his family. But it wasn’t until recently that he understood this was his top priority. For many years, JR struggled to define his own purpose, even while successfully helping other people find theirs.
He describes it as losing himself in his business: “I put all my identity, my worth, and everything I do in my business into who I am,” he explains. “And that became my identity of everything about me, when the reality is, why are we going to work if we don’t have anyone to share it with?” JR realized he felt lost when he wasn’t busy helping others, but he also realized that his highest calling in life was to raise his children to know the Lord and to be strong leaders in Christ.
JR believes the best way to find the right balance between personal life and trying to grow a business is to develop the discipline of time blocking and setting daily priorities. “At the end of my day, every single day, I am making sure that I know exactly what’s happening at what time the next day,” JR explains. “Then there’s a whole system I go into. First thing you do is your brain dump, then you have something that I call your magic: your three money making tasks. Then you have your top 10 list of people that you need to contact. After you do all that, then you time block. But the first thing you block into your schedule is always your family fun time.”
Now that JR has disciplined himself to schedule family and personal priorities first, before scheduling anything else, he not only has more time to focus on his family, but he’s also able to be more productive and efficient overall.
Identifying Your CREED
For JR, successfully managing all aspects of his life comes down to routines and having set processes for everything. Drawing on his military and martial arts background and advice from books like Atomic Habits by James Clear, JR has built daily habits into the very core of his consulting business, CREED Consulting.
CREED is an acronym that stands for JR’s core values: commitment, resilience, excellence, execution, and discipline. “The one thing that I try to ask everyone is, ‘What is the one thing that you’re most committed to?’” he explains. Because when you’re fully committed, “you’re going to be resilient, even through the most difficult times. You’re going to show up every single day giving your best and having the emotional and physical discipline to complete your mission.”
Rather than just trying to be good enough at what we do, JR believes we must commit and discipline ourselves to show up with excellence. That’s why he chose the name CREED: to be a constant reminder of his own commitment and purpose.
That’s a powerful reminder. It’s easy to say you want something, but there are always going to be days when you wake up and just don’t feel like doing what you know you need to do. When that happens, either you can give into the feelings and emotions that are trying to pull you away from your purpose, or you can dig into your discipline, values, and goals and push forward.
According to JR, there are four non-negotiable tasks that every entrepreneur must do every single day to build and grow a business. He expresses those tasks using another acronym: PILE. These tasks are:
- Producing daily content. It doesn’t matter so much what the content is, but putting your content out on a daily basis ensures your audience knows who you are and trusts you to show up.
- Improving your customer experience. Find something small you can do each day to make your products, services, offers, and/or client interactions just a little bit better. That often means listening to what your audience wants and needs.
- Leadership. Following the example of Jesus, be sure you take time to fulfill three elements of leadership: leading yourself through self improvement, leading and looking after your team, and leading – that is, serving – your clients.
- Expanding your network. Even if it’s just reaching out to one person, look for ways to grow your network each and every day.
It all comes down to consistency. Whether you have a product, service, or some other program, the best way to see results and grow a business is to put your message out there consistently, day in and day out.
How to Grow a Business from the Ground Up
JR’s first business venture was a martial arts school, which he describes as going back to his roots. “After getting out of the military, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to work for someone,” JR explains. “So I just leaned back on what I knew, which was teaching martial arts. So that was my first business.”
However, at the time, JR didn’t know much about how to build or grow a business, so building the martial arts school was a learning process at every step. He started out modeling his program after old methods he’d observed his mother use in the past, but quickly learned that times had changed and that business structure wasn’t sustainable.
“If you’re selling sessions of any kind, you’re trading time for money and you are killing your business,” JR says of the experience. “You’re never gonna be able to scale to the level that you want to do. You need to sell the desired outcome and create programs around that.”
After a few months of just scraping by, JR decided it was time to hire a coach. That coach advised him to completely restructure his programs and price points, and at first, JR was skeptical. “I was shaking in sweat,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘No one is going to buy this.’ So I had a belief in my head of what my value, my worth, was. And I had to fix that.”
Still, JR followed the coach’s advice, and both he and his business approach completely transformed. Not only was the martial arts school a great success, but JR learned and perfected repeatable processes that he still uses to build successful businesses today.
After selling that business, JR went on to build another from scratch. Although, once again, he had to push through a lot of uncertainty and put in long hours of hard work, he and his wife were able to not only build and grow a business, but also build up a long-lasting client community.
That community, JR says, is the key. “I was more focused on the transformation of the individuals than I was about the transaction of what I received from it,” he explains. And as a result, the community and culture he built around his business were still going strong years after he closed his doors and moved on.
“Even eight years later, I walked into a church – and I hadn’t seen them in how many years? – and he’s wearing my old shirt. So to me, it shows me that I did something right,” JR says. “I’m building that community and changing this person’s life. That’s what your books can do. That’s what credibility and building your community and your culture can do.”
Ethical Sales: C for Conversion
For many Christians, sales is a struggle, because there’s a common belief that marketing requires unethical tactics and convincing people to do things they don’t want to do. But that’s not actually true of good marketing.
That’s why JR teaches a sales process called C for Conversion, which he explains in four parts:
- Connection: The first step in sales is to connect with people and spread awareness of what you have to offer. During this step, it’s important to focus on building a community, a following, and an email list, because that’s the foundation of your business. For JR, that means utilizing Facebook groups, which allow him to connect with more people and position himself to serve them.
- Commit: Once you have people in your community, you must commit to serving them and nurture the relationship you’ve started building. There are many ways to do this, but the end goal is to build trust as people get to know who you are. This is a vital step, but many people skip over it, wanting to jump right to the conversion.
- Convert: This is the part where you ask for the sale, but don’t skip straight here from the connection stage! You must nurture the relationship first, and earn your followers’ permission to ask for a sale. Give people time to consume your content and get to know you, and you won’t have to try to convince them that they need what you’re offering – they’ll already know.
- Community: After you’ve made a sale, the next step is to build a community of raving fans. This is admittedly the hardest part of the process, but JR says the key is focusing on transformation and results – and also caring about people being involved and fostering a connection among themselves that makes them excited to stick around.
When you build a community following this process, you’ll be able to successfully grow a business because, as JR has seen time and again, the community takes on a whole life of its own.
“You build a community of raving fans, of people that are excited to talk about you and what you have to offer, and it makes it where you are not even the face anymore,” he explains. “But people are more excited about the environment you’ve created than just about you, and you’re going to grow more naturally that way.”
Stop Chasing Sales
Success, however, can be a double-edged sword. Just last year, JR found himself getting lost in the business of making money, chasing sales and dollar amounts, and forgetting to put God first in his business. “I was really good at closing the sale, but I was forgetting about my clients,” he recalls. “And it was not feeling good to me.”
After praying for God to remove toxicity and replace it with the people and focus he would need to fulfill the mission God had for him, JR found himself going through a transformation period that he likens to boot camp: being broken down so God could build up something new.
During that time, JR lost his entire sales team, along with several clients and thousands of dollars in monthly revenue. On top of all that, he was hospitalized with COVID for nearly a week and also experienced severe anxiety. But, through that process, JR was prompted to confront where he was placing his trust and to give it all back to God.
While JR says this is still a work in progress, he’s come to a much better place now, where he’s able to trust that God will bring the right opportunities into his life and remove what doesn’t belong. Instead of chasing money and sales, he’s more focused on living out his faith in everything that he does.
As JR’s story shows us, if you’re feeling salesy or pushy – if you know in your heart that something in your business isn’t right – it’s probably true. You probably need to take a step back and evaluate whether your focus is on God and trusted Him to provide or on making money for yourself.
And part of trusting God to provide means letting people come to you for help, and giving without the expectation of receiving. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proactive in marketing, but it does mean that your focus should be more on making connections and serving people’s needs than on selling for the sake of selling.
“You’ve got to prioritize your heart and why you’re doing what you’re doing,” JR concludes. “And you need to serve people, because people are watching. When people are seeing what you’re doing, they’re what they’re going to see if you’re consistent with your messaging and what you’re doing. They’re going to watch how you live your life. And if it aligns with what they do, they’re going to reach out to you. So just believe and have faith and do it.”
So ask yourself: do you trust that if you’re doing what God has called you to do – that is, to show up and serve people – that He will take care of you? The answer to that question will shape the actions you take – or don’t take – and whether you’re able to grow a business that thrives.
Always Be Prepared
To further illustrate the importance of trusting God, JR shares a story from his time in Iraq that serves as a daily reminder to him that God has a purpose for his life.
The day was February 7, 2007, and JR recalls feeling uneasy from the time he woke up that morning. As was his habit, he prayed verses from Psalm 91 as he went about his day. Then, while standing at a checkpoint and talking with a fellow Marine, he started hearing an almost audible voice urging him to find the chaplain he had spoken to not long before.
JR ignored the voice for a few minutes, until he felt himself getting inexplicably nauseated. Unable to ignore the prompting any longer, he walked away from the checkpoint, pausing only to greet his Sergeant Major who moved to stand in the exact place JR had just been.
That was when a suicide bomber set off a blast that killed the Sergeant Major – and would likely have killed JR if he hadn’t left to find the chaplain. Unlike others in the vicinity, JR emerged unscathed.
What’s more, he later learned that his mother had received a prophecy at church not long before the incident that her son would experience something terrible, but would be protected and untouched.
JR identifies two main lessons from the experience. The first is the importance of being in tune with the Holy Spirit, because, in his own words, “you never know when He’s going to tell you to move.”
The second lesson has more to do with what it takes to grow a business: “In our lives, and in our business, we are going to get ambushed. We are going to have different things that are going to throw us off guard. And in today’s society, what are we battling now, COVID, definitely destroyed many different businesses. People losing jobs, family members dying, employees having to quit – the way that we do business and life completely changed, and we all got ambushed. But the way that we respond is everything.”
Thinking back on the bombing, JR describes how the Marines responded automatically due to their training: “We were all able to respond without thinking and be able to do our job, even through the midst of chaos. And the only way we were able to do that was because we were prepared and we were ready.”
Of course, in life and in business, we can never be 100% ready for any possible circumstance, but we can do our best to prepare by focusing on the fundamentals to build and grow a business – making connections and serving people – instead of jumping straight to the income.
“In life, we’re going to go through different things,” JR says. “And those who are going to succeed are those who put in time and work, who went through trials and put in the blood, sweat, and tears to prepare themselves for those difficult days. And those who don’t, they’re not going to know how to maneuver when times get tough.”
What Is Your CREED?
So where do you begin? How do you take the message God has given you and use it to grow a business or ministry that is successful, impactful, and God-honoring?
JR believes the first thing you need to understand is your CREED: what is the one thing you are most committed to, that you will be resilient in pursuing, even through the most difficult times, and that you will discipline yourself to complete with excellence?
“Life isn’t easy,” JR reminds us. “It’s hard. It’s a battle. We are going to get ambushed. But we need to go back and remember why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place.”
If you’re ready to build and grow a business with excellence, start by identifying why you want to do it, and who you’re called to help – and reach out to those people. Plant the seeds, then water them, and trust God to produce a bountiful harvest.
Hi, my name is JR Spear and I’m the founder of CREED Consulting… Since my return from the hot desert of Iraq in 2007 I’ve built four multi-six figure businesses ranging from the fitness and martial arts industry, marketing and advertising, to consulting…
My mission is to arm solopreneurs with the right tools and resources needed to grow their business, giving them the direct path to bypass the struggles I had to endure so they can achieve the life and business they desire…
Since 2017 I have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs 2x, 5x, even 10x their businesses by implementing the proper STEPS (Structure, Technology, Efficiencies, Processes, and Scalability).
I’ve presented to audiences both large and small in a variety of different settings and contexts. As a presenter, I will use personal stories, and life experiences to not only make a point but to keep your audience engaged and listening. They will leave with practical and applicable steps to take with them beyond that session.