More About Company Boards and How to Build Them

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

We must first determine what type of Board you are inquiring about. Usually, an Advisory Board is used to give strategic advice on a narrow topic. A Board of Directors, on the other hand, is who the CEO is accountable to. They give advice on a broader range of issues. This position has some legal responsibilities and Board members on large companies can wield considerable power since they hire and fire the CEO.  This is highly unlikely in a BAM company, however. 

Let’s talk for a minute about a Board of Directors. You should have such a Board. You, as CEO, need to be accountable to someone outside the company that has direct experience in what you are doing and can likely spot a potential pitfall before you can. Otherwise, it is more likely that you will make a significant mistake – and we all do – and there will be no one to help guide you through a particularly tricky situation. Read more

BAM Job Opportunities in the Middle East and South East Asia

Job Opportunities

IT Manager – Web Essentials in Cambodia

Passionate about developing software and developing people? We are looking for an experienced Systems Engineer to fill the role of IT Manager in our Phnom Penh based team. You will play an integral role in designing, optimizing, and building the systems, processes, and standards for the company’s physical and virtual infrastructure and development environments. Working with a motivated and young team of Cambodians, you will drive the improvement our IT infrastructure through automation, to increase reusability, stability, transparency and security. Our team tasted the benefits of a DevOps environment last year and we are looking for someone who is passionate about DevOps to lead this change within our production team. The IT Manager leads by example, is hands on working with the team, mentors team members, sets clear goals and prioritizes activities based on business requirements. We know you will build life-long friendships and be a part of a rewarding vision to build up people to live out their God-given capacity within a fun and challenging environment. 

Download detailed job description

Contact Web Essentials Read more

Making Sense of the World of Metrics

Measurement and metrics can be deceptively simple. We pick an aspect of our business and ask some basic questions about it, for example:

  • How many tables did each of the servers take care of each day?
  • How many sales calls did each of the sales staff make each day?
  • What is the company’s net profit each month?
  • How many people viewed our latest Google ad last week?
  • Which of our products gives the highest profit and which gives the lowest?

Answering such questions can help a manager understand a bit more about the business, however, there is a lot more to establishing metrics than simply asking and answering a few questions. It matters a great deal that we ask the right questions, that we get correct answers in a timely fashion and that we analyze the answers carefully then apply what we have learned.

Why are you measuring?

Metrics can be used for a variety of reasons. Purpose drives design, that is the design of the measure changes depending on how it will be used. Sometimes the desire will be to assess the state of the business for a one time decision that needs to be made. Other times the goal will be to establish a base and ongoing input for process improvement and management.  For example, a loan company will likely make an assessment of the business for a simple yes or no answer to the question “Is this company capable of repaying the loan?” Or an outside owner may want an answer to the question “Is management accomplishing its objectives?” However, an internal manager is likely to ask questions such as “Are we on track with our sales plan and if not, how can we get back on track?” The manager’s question is likely to be a process question, looking for diagnostics. The investor’s question is to make a one-time decision. The outside owner’s question falls somewhere in between, sometimes it would be a matter of replacing the manager and other times—one hopes—it would be aimed at helping the manager improve performance. Read more

Measuring the Impact and Performance of BAM: Intro to Metrics

Business as mission is hard. Very hard! Missionaries with little business experience but plenty of vision start businesses and struggle. Experienced business people start businesses in new countries or cultures and struggle. Too many business as mission (BAM) companies wander in the desert aimlessly. They need a compass to guide them—something to remind them of their direction and tell them if they are on track. Well designed and implemented metrics can help.

Metrics are measures. They are like the control panel on a car—the gauges, lights and dials that tell you how fast you’re going, how much fuel is left and whether you’re headed for trouble. You can drive a car without a fuel gauge or a speedometer, but you will likely run into serious trouble before too much time has passed.

Measures can be numbers, stories, graphs, or generalized reports. These metrics provide an insight into what’s really going on inside the operation. That matters to all who are working hard to see the business achieve its purpose—to glorify God. Read more

An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. Read more

Patrick Lai on Mentoring [Book Excerpt]

One of the 11 building blocks of BAM or Business for Transformation (B4T) is “having a good mentor.”  Patrick Lai writes about this in his new book, Business for Transformation – Getting Started new on Amazon this month. Here’s an excerpt on this key topic.

Mentoring – Accountability

My wife has been known to say, “I love ministering. I just wish it didn’t involve people.” Every one of us is a sinner. We each have areas of temptation and sin. We need spiritual elders who will walk alongside us to assist us in maximizing God’s glory in and through us. In many situations, peer accountability is fine, but my research shows peer accountability is less effective than elder accountability. I think this is because peers leading one another are like the blind leading the blind.

In business, most reporting is done verbally, face-to-face. Bosses meet or communicate with their direct reports daily. We want to both see and hear that the work is being done and being done correctly. In business, people do not write up reports about themselves. Whether we are Christian or not, when we write up reports about ourselves, we are revealing only what we want to tell. And if we are honest, most of us view our work and ourselves better than we really are. Read more

The Role of an Advisory Board for a BAM Business

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

When we hear the word “board” most of us think of large corporate Boards of Directors. A Board of Directors in a joint stock company in most jurisdictions is the legal voice of the owners and is responsible to them for giving strategic direction to the company and for selecting and monitoring company management. This sort of board has the authority to hire or fire the general manager and is the highest decision making body short of the general assembly of all the owners. But there are other types of boards as well. 

Advisory boards differ from boards of directors primarily in that they do not have the legal authority to enforce their decisions. Advisory Boards are used around the globe for different purposes and can be boards of key customers, boards of technical experts or, as is common for many BAM companies, non-binding management advisory boards. Read more

Staying on Track: Metrics and Accountability for BAM Companies

How are we doing? How do we know how we’re doing? These are two important questions for all businesses!

One of the most commonly mentioned fruitful practices for BAM practitioners is to have solid input from either mentors or an advisory board, or both. These are the people that will help keep a BAM company on track. Alongside people, systems for measuring and evaluating progress are needed. BAM companies will stay on track as they set goals and then hold themselves accountable to those goals, measuring and evaluating progress as they go.

Many Counsellors

No BAM practitioner is an island! BAM companies are part of a web of relationships, with clients, suppliers, employers and stakeholders of all kinds. Part of that web is the support network that the BAM practitioners have around them. BAMers need what I think of as 360° support – and that includes different people who will give them coaching, mentoring and wise counsel on various aspects of their BAM objectives. Read more

Business on the Frontiers: Creating Jobs in Nepal

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. We are currently highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Staff Pick” for the spring of 2015.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

A landlocked nation hedged in by the Himalayas, Nepal is an isolated frontier. With high shipping costs, an unstable government and corruption cascading from the top down, Nepal presents a challenging climate for incoming foreigners to start a business – to put it mildly. Yet there are huge needs and opportunities. There are deep labour issues, with low minimum wages, a societal caste system that gives little hope for advancement, and 40% of the workforce currently unemployed. Many are vulnerable to the deceptive promises offered by human traffickers, whose main target is children from ages 5 to 14 years. Hundreds of thousands of Nepali migrants are already working as migrant laborers in the Middle East, often in dangerous or abusive situations. There is a great need for employment and job creation in Nepal.

Jimmy and Donna

Donna saw Nepal through the eyes of an 8 to 16 year old as she lived out these formative years in Kathmandu with her missionary parents. Returning to the United states she got her Bachelors degree at the University of Colorado and later took classes at Harvard, with a view to eventually work in the nonprofit world. Jimmy grew up in an Air Force family, attended the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and went on to graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Jimmy and Donna met on a spring break mission trip while Jimmy was at USAFA in Colorado. Altogether Jimmy had 7 years of active duty service, including an assignment teaching at the Air Force Academy. During that time, they also volunteered at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training center.

Peter and Marit

Peter’s business story begins with chickens. It was the chickens he raised and sold on a farm growing up, to make his own money, that helped develop his mind for business. From those small beginnings, the seed for business grew and after high school Peter ran a small construction company. Read more

Do Economic Incentives Matter? A Nosey Economist on BAM Financing

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. We are currently highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for the spring of 2015.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

Interview with Dr. Steve Rundle

Steve, I know you have been doing some interesting research on BAM in the last few years, can you briefly describe what you have been looking at?

As an economist, I’ve always been interested in the relationship between the structure and governance of a company and its performance. Since the 1990s, when I first started meeting people who were combining business and missions, I naturally asked lots of nosey questions about the company’s financing, revenues, profits, and so on. I was especially intrigued by the role venture capital might play in funding businesses that were not only extremely risky, but were being managed by people who, in many cases, admitted that they weren’t too concerned about profits and that in fact they would be satisfied with just breaking even. I was not surprised to discover that no venture capital firms existed in this space, at that time. Most of these businesses were either donor funded, or in some cases funded with the help of one or two “Angel Investors.”

But this raised lots of new questions about the performance of these businesses. What are the expected outcomes, and how are practitioners incentivized to achieve those outcomes? Practitioners who are affiliated with a missionary sending organization may be discouraged from being too serious about business for fear that it will distract them from their ministry goals. One way to remove that distraction is to require the practitioner to raise donor support, in which case they will not be dependent on the business for income. This might sound logical at first, until you start meeting other BAM practitioners who are entirely dependent on their businesses for their salaries who are having an incredible impact. So I wanted to look at this more carefully by comparing the outcomes of people who drew 100% of their income from donors with those who are 100% business supported. Read more