Fulfilling a Mission But Running A Deficit? Christian Tech Firm Puts Values before Profit (Video)
Mobile Strategist Chi-En Yu describes conflicting feelings when her product was fulfilling a Christian mission but running a deficit.
Where do I start? Every day there are messes.
Goodbudget was not profitable for a long time. Many years we were running a deficit. Each year that I saw that deficit again, on the one hand there’s a part of me that’s a perfectionist and wants to succeed and wants to do everything that silicon valley says you should do like grow fast and earn lots of money and disrupt the world. There’s the part of me that wants that. But then I’m faced down with numbers that look not so pretty. They’re red, and not just a little red but a lot red. Pare that with our convictional statements that we intentionally chose a fremium model where some folks can use the product for free and other people pay a subscription, not just as a marketing gimmick but really because we feel strongly that budgeting can be reconciling work and that we want to make that available to people regardless of their income level, ability, or interest to pay.
But that’s hard, right? I’m looking at numbers that are red. Our expenses are outstripping our revenue. I had some choices, and we did as a company. We could choose to cut off the free product. We could choose to charge more to our subscribers.
At that juncture what our leadership decided to do was continue the way we had been going and opt to take the deficit possibly as a possible investment. But not necessarily. I think there was a sense that we knew that there was something good happening. If it were part of a church, you would say it’s a ministry. Out of that sense there’s something really good going here – the kinds of feedback that we’re hearing from customers – the kinds of experiences that they’re having in their relationships are good enough that it’s worth it to us to run the deficit and see where it goes.
It’s a risky business decision to do that. As it turned out, a little while later we were able to bring in more revenue and become profitable for the Goodbudget business unit. But even so, I think the leadership would have made the same decision at that time. Because of the stories that we were hearing, and the ways that we were understanding the experiences our customers were having, being served in this kind of reconciling fashion, it was a good and right choice.
This video serves as an illustration to the TOW Bible Commentary article Jesus is Tempted to Abandon Serving God (Luke 4:1-14).