Business as Mission: Where social impact and profit, and much more, converge

Post first published on the IBEC Ventures Blog, reposted with kind permission.

Some people find it confusing to read about socially conscious business, social entrepreneurship or values-driven business. Isn’t business just business – driven by profit margins acceptable to shareholders? What’s all this talk of values, social impact and community development?

For the past decade or so it has become increasingly popular to talk about social purposes, meaning that some entrepreneurs have a motive beyond profitability. They want to solve social problems and bring a positive return to society. Big corporations sometimes address this through the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and business startups sometimes call themselves social entrepreneurs meaning they start businesses which inherently provide for maximum job growth in their area, or they hire the marginalized in the community, or they take gigantic steps to benefit the community by helping solve problems that exist in the community, or all of the above. Some entrepreneurs are driven by a cause, like a software developer eager to provide a better way for people to connect.
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Friday Links: Posts and Resources on Social Enterprise

Every Friday we connect you with some of our recent favourite links. This week:

Posts and resources from the social enterprise movement

The Future of Social Enterprise in 2015 – Fast Company

The social enterprise space has definitely come of age in recent years, growing by leaps and bounds and gaining momentum even as you read this. But there’s no denying that it gets harder from here… I am wresting with how we more clearly define the space without creating a silo for social enterprise and losing sight of the real victory: a time when every business is mission-based with social impact and environmental protection at its core.

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Business as Mission: The Global Movement Today

Mats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for nearly 20 years. When he visited The BAM Review office recently, we asked him a few questions about the business as mission movement.

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’. Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally. Read more

Who is a BAMer? Five Sketches from Around the World

Who is a BAMer? What does ‘business as mission’ really mean? Not very much without a human face and real stories of the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to build a business. At the heart of every Kingdom-focused business there is that small team of dedicated human beings, carrying their personal passions and experiences, determined to start businesses that will bring sustainable change. Here are five that are making a difference in very different circumstances around the world.

Scroll through the slides and read more about each story below.

 

  • Famous Ray’s

    With a passion for the Burmese, biking and burgers, Ray and Candace Ward are creating jobs in the border town of Mae Sot in Thailand.

  • Forever Crystals

    When she took over a family jewelry company Merari discovered that business could have a greater impact on the community and globally.

  • TL Made

    Artistic skills and experience in eCommerce enabled the TL Made team to come together to meet some of the needs in the Tenderloin, San Francisco.

  • Quality Coffee

    Ben’s passion for coffee grew into a coffee shop and restaurant chain in the heart of Asia, that in turn grew into a barista training and coffee importing business.

  • English School

    The need to start sustainable business activities alongside high demand for English in the local community led Tati and her team to start an English School in the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Lessons from the Edge: Inspired by Quality Coffee

Insights from a BAM Practitioner

‘Ben’ has spent a decade and more of his life in the specialty coffee industry. He has an unwavering passion for quality in coffee that has grown into a pursuit of quality in all aspects of his life – in business, in mission, and in relationships.

The quality of relationships in the company matter as much as the quality of the product.
In a sense, the quality of care for one another in the company is an equally desired product of the business. Let reconciliation have a major role in the company culture. Concepts we teach, like forgiveness, kindness and so on, become real and implanted in a persons character, in the context of relationships. This is where the real meaning of those company values comes alive.

Intentionally embody the mission in all aspects of the business.
I have realized that my mission is not to bring people into the church, but to help them to see Jesus. When Jesus’ values are synonymous with the company values, corporate life together becomes a training ground for life in the gospel. Business is a place where the values that Jesus embodies are taught and lived out through daily business life together.

Do business with excellence and ask God to show you all that he has intended for it. 
It is important to take business seriously and see it as something to be honored and stewarded as a gift from God, to be used for his purposes. It is important to invest my utmost into it and hope for the most from it. God designed business to create wealth and so I need to have a healthy view of money and wealth. To hope for success and growth is good!

Friday Links: Posts and Resources from the Business World

Every Friday we connect you with some of our recent favourite links. This week:

Posts and resources from mainstream business publications

The 4 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read This Year – Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, I’ve made it a point to use all resources available to me to make sure I’m running my company to the best of my ability and considering all perspectives. Of course, this includes talking with my mentors and teammates, as well as getting consistent feedback from my customers. What I’ve also found extremely valuable is taking the time (which I know is hard to find) to sit down and read.

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10 Guiding Principles for Business as Mission

A good business as mission business will, by definition, have many of the characteristics of any well-run business. A kingdom business must be profitable and sustainable just as any other business. Integrity, fairness and excellent customer service are characteristics of any good business, not just a business as mission venture. As such, while important, those characteristics will not by themselves necessarily point people to Christ. A kingdom business begins with the foundation of any good business, but takes its stewardship responsibilities even further.

What follows is a list of principles that should underpin a business as mission business. First we list the basic foundational principles that must exist in any good business. Following that are the principles that distinguish a good business as mission business.

Foundational Business Principles

1.  Strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long term

Profit is an indication that resources are being used wisely. It indicates that the product or service being produced and sold does so at a price that covers the cost of the resources, including the cost of capital. For most businesses, profits are fleeting, and never a sure thing. It is common for businesses to experience periods of low profit, and even negative profit. Thus it is important to take a long-term view of profitability. Occasional windfalls are often what will sustain a company through periods of financial losses. For that reason a well-managed business will use extreme care when considering whether and when to distribute profits. Profit, and its retention, is not necessarily an indication of greed. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Evaluating a Business Opportunity

Twice a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentors,

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

~ Business as Mission Newbie

 

 

Dear BAM Newbie

First and foremost, set your goals according to the principle, “Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Then, ask God for guidance into a business ministry of His choice for you, wait for His answer with a listening heart and mind. Third, allow God to choose life and business partners who identify with your God-given vision and mission objectives by asking everyone who wants to be an investor or active partner in the business whether they understand, agree and fully embrace the vision God has given you. – Joseph Read more

Questions for Business Building

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

When I first heard this question my reflex response from 30 years experience of running a business was… When will I get my investment back, what is the percentage return on investment and what is the risk?!

My more considered response is to ask three initial questions. There are obviously many other issues but these are those I consider the most significant:

First Question – What is the purpose of this business and what is my real motivation for taking on this opportunity to build a business?

I would ask myself, what am I really focused on – my vision, mission and strategy to bless the nations. I would consider the eternal rather than short-term goals for the business and would seek to discover how the business could sustain itself having once outgrown me and my start up team. Read more

Considering the Business Opportunity

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

Probably the most important aspect of pursuing a business opportunity is to first determine whether you are the right person for the job. I would recommend you do a personal assessment (be honest with yourself, there’s a lot at stake here), and ask yourself if you have the skills and passions necessary to build this specific type of business. Beyond that, do you have what it takes to live through the highs and eventual lows that you know will occur through the normal course of operations? Evaluating your readiness, and determining if your unique skill set maps to those required by the business should be at the top of your checklist, as you prayerfully and thoughtfully determine the worthiness of the project ahead of you.

As a potential entrepreneur, it is easy to get excited about any new business opportunity. So much in fact, that an entrepreneur can quickly lose his objectivity and become blinded to the potential pitfalls associated with the business. Many of us foolishly consider that if an opportunity exists, it must be the open door God wants us to walk through. Keep in mind that just because a door is open, doesn’t mean its the right door for you. While venturing into any new business can be daunting and filled with uncertainty, it can also be a time of exhilaration, not to mention a lot of fun. But do yourself a favor before you journey into the unknown; check your motivations. Know why you are doing this, and know the risks before you take the jump. Read more