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sick business idea #907.98

I’ve got a dream to build a business that employs homeless people.

This idea came to me a week or so ago after meeting David, a homeless guy here in Nashville. I’ve made it a point to, at the very least, acknowledge with a nod or hopefully just talk to people asking for help on the sides of roads, instead of looking at my phone pretending like they don’t exist. I’m so guilty of that, but I truly do believe that they have just as much worth as I do because they were created in the image of God. All that to say, I didn’t have any money to give David, so I just asked him, “what’s your situation?” He said he’s got some mental problems, has a daughter who’s living with some church friends, and is looking for work. I told him that I’d pray for him as the light turned green, then went on my merry way.

Some friends of mine and I read through¬†Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give. One thing that it encourages is instead of giving someone money, giving someone who needs the extra money work, basically outsourcing something that you normally do yourself, but could pay someone to do like mowing the lawn. I thought that was so cool. The point of doing so was for 2 reasons: 1) to provide for someone’s need 2) to dignify them by creating good work for them to do. I immediately thought: “Wow. That’s pretty pitiful, having to create a job simply to make someone feel good about themselves.” This is truly pitiful unless Ecclesiastes 2:24 (ESV) which says, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good…” is true. Then creating work serves those same 2 purposes: 1) to make them money to provide for their needs 2) to give them the opportunity to tell themselves that their labor is good. Another translation (NLV) says, “find satisfaction in their work.”

So, here’s my sick business idea #907.98: I’m thinking about starting an email list serve in which the only requirements for being on it are: you agree to donate $1 towards the idea that I’m about to explain, and that you must share this post on facebook or retweet it until 10,000 people have signed up. Part of it’s a social experiment to see if by barely inconveniencing people (I’d bet most people are willing to give $1 towards something super cool and hopefully really helpful and share/retweet), we can do a lot of good. The other part, which is really the only part, is to put all of the $10,000 towards helping one homeless person. I’d also want anyone that has ideas as to how best to spend the money/people they recommend I talk to, etc. to be able to share those with everyone. Why not enlist as many people’s help as possible to help one homeless person? Think about the good that could come from that!

So, if you’re interested in this, email me for now at saying that you’re interested and sharing any thoughts/advice/connections you have to help one homeless person here in Nashville. I feel very ill-equipped in terms of knowing how best to help one homeless person, but I know that with your help we can figure it out. Consider yourself on a start-up with a bunch of people where everyone contributes something super simple/small. I think this has some potential, y’all. I’m thinking as people start signing up, I’m going to reach out to the author of¬†When Helping Hurts, Brian Fikkert to get his thoughts. We’ll also need to identify the homeless person we’d like to put this money towards. Y’all, let’s do whatever, after pulling all of our collective tools together, it takes to help this person. If that means giving it to them in cash, great! If it means buying them some things, giving them the rest. If it means we invest in something on their behalf, cool. Whatever it is, I’m a big believer in Bill Veeck’s marketing philosophy: you’ll get more people’s attention giving 30,000 ice cream sandwiches to 1 person, than giving 30,000 people 1 ice cream sandwich. In other words, we could give 100 homeless people $100 each, but let’s try investing $10,000 in 1 homeless person. Next time, we’ll try another way!


check out @sickbusinessid2 for me sick business ideas that I hope you’ll do.

p.s. just for funzies, every sick business idea # corresponds to the most significant # from my day. Today, Grace and I put $907.98 towards my student loan debt. That much closer to being debt free, baby!!

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