Are We Drifting? The Dangers of Secularization for a BAM Company

The Problem

While we can talk about the dangers of “mission drift” or the “secularization of BAM businesses”, I would argue that it is not really the mission that drifts, nor do businesses, come to think about it!

Recently, while talking to the owners of a failed start-up I was advised that the reason the “business failed” was that there was not enough customers to buy their products. I mused, “How was that the business’s fault?” You may accuse me of being too particular about the use of language. However, our use of language can sometimes be a mask that causes us to deceive ourselves. Sometimes it is easier to blame “something”, anything, before fully examining ourselves.

I would argue that any “drift” or “secularization” for a BAM company is more likely to be our drift from our personal relationship with God and His people, over any external influence.

So why did that business fail? It would help if we could apply the “5 Whys” method for getting to the core issue. We can apply this method anywhere, whether it to our mission, our business, our marriage, church, school etc. Some people ask 6 or even 7 whys, like I have here:

  • Why did the business fail? (failed to plan)
  • Why did the market move? (markets do)
  • Why did you not see that before? (failed to research)
  • Why did you not do the research? (failed to appreciate the importance of research)
  • Why did you feel it was not necessary? (sales, quality, environment, staff were taking my time)
  • Why did you fail to prioritize? (failed to take time for the important things)
  • Why did you not do the important things? (failed to balance life)

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So What Shall We Do Tomorrow? How We Have Endured

One day down

Sleep deprived, stressed, hiding in the office to cry, then pulling it together and working hard physically, attempting to speak a foreign language, smiling at potential customers, doing everything for the first time, from start to finish, from nerve-wracking open to exhausted and exuberant close. We did it! There was cash in the drawer to prove it. Success!!! We made it through… Day one.

We arrived home near midnight, our three small boys in tow. As we straggled through the door, my husband turned to me and said, “So what shall we do tomorrow?”

I stopped. I stared at him. Then I’m pretty sure I laughed. Barely.

All the focus for years and months had been to start a business. Now it was started. We were worn out, but the real work had just begun.

Later we learned that starting a business is like having a baby. In so many ways. One moment it appears unbelievably fragile. The next moment it’s screaming its lungs out in a show of robust strength. Helpless. Demanding. Exceedingly needy!

There was one American woman who understood this business-baby analogy before we did. She visited us the first day at the shop, congratulated us, and gave us a lasagne. Read more

Succession Planning: How Do We Plan for Our Exit?

Our panel of mentors regularly answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing about succession planning and having an exit strategy… But when should I be thinking about this? How does it tie in with leadership development in my team?

~ Thinking Long-term

Dear Thinking,

Start the Beginning with the End in Mind

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. – Philippians 3:15-16 MSG

Every life experience has a beginning and an end. The multiple stages of parenting is a fairly accurate depiction of this truism. First-time parents know, even in those first days of newborn-nuzzling, they must one day release that child. The busyness of the initial parenting season blurs the reality of inevitable separation. When the eventual becomes the reality, the detachment process can be palpable. As painful as this process can be, if it doesn’t happen, the child will most likely never continue to develop into a fully productive, self-sufficient individual.

Similarly, one can view the life-cycle of a business and its founder in the same manner. For founders, the early stages require us to do just about everything. We build and test product, we market and sell, we provide customer service, we make coffee, we clean toilets, and we take on any and every unenviable task, if seen as advancing our vision. Our “new baby” is solely dependent on us. For some in this stage, we can’t even leave the “baby” for fear we will return to a mess at best, or a dangerous situation at worst.  Read more

When Should I Be Thinking About Succession Planning or Exit Strategy?

Our panel of mentors regularly answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing about succession planning and having an exit strategy… But when should I be thinking about this? How does it tie in with leadership development in my team?

~ Thinking Long-term

Dear Thinking,

None of us will last forever. Every manager and every employee someday will move on, either to another job or another company or to retirement or to death. If Jesus returns shortly then the calculation is different, but it is a pretty good bet that no one will be in the same job 80 years from now.

Some people are pretty comfortable playing things as they come and responding to problems as they arise. Often that works. But it’s really a wiser move to have some plans in place, especially for key positions. If something unexpected happens to a key employee it’s not at all a sure thing that you will be able to find a replacement in a reasonable time. In our work we have seen expatriate managers suddenly blocked from entering the country or suddenly have a spouse announce he won’t live in the country any more. Kids get serious illnesses or require therapy that is not available locally. We have also seen national managers suddenly decide their family will be better off if they relocate to a wealthier or safer country. In most of the cases I can remember the decision was sudden and unexpected and the consequences were very hard for the company, sometimes fatal.  Read more

10 Habits for Maintaining Physical Health: Tips from BAM Practitioners

We are connected, whole human beings and our physical well-being is connected to our spiritual, mental and emotional well-being – as well as giving us the energy needed to keep our business running. Finding good habits to keep you physically healthy will be a great investment into your long-term BAM endurance.

We are all different but we can all find out what gives and what takes energy. Then we make systematic decisions to have more of the situations that give energy in our everyday lives. – HS, Europe/Middle East

Many of the helps to physical well-being that are identified below are nothing more than common sense. We are certainly not going to win any prizes for breakthrough health advice! Yet taking care of ourselves, our spirit, intellect, emotions and body, can be the first thing to be neglected when life is stressful. It’s important to revisit the basics.

Don’t miss Part 1: BAMers in Shape? The Ups and Downs of Staying Physically Healthy

The Good Habits

Here are 10 good habits for physical health that BAM practitioners have found helpful:

1. Find an exercise routine you can do anywhere

I do some exercise before going to bed. push ups and pull ups. I do a little bit of exercise in our yard as well. All of this helps. – Daniel, Haiti

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BAMers in Shape? The Ups and Downs of Staying Physically Healthy

In our series on BAM Endurance, we are discovering how BAMers don’t just survive, but thrive for the long-term. As well as keeping their companies in good financial shape, how do BAM practitioners themselves stay in shape and pay attention to nutrition, sleep and exercise. We asked 12 BAMers about the main challenges to their physical health and what habits and resources keep them going.

The Challenges

Here are the challenges to physical well-being that were commonly mentioned by BAM practitioners:

Long Hours and Constant Pressure

Long working days and difficulty taking breaks is a very real threat to physical health, especially in the long-term. This kind of relentless schedule is almost par for the course for an entrepreneur in start-up phase. However the long-term sustainability of ‘burning the candle at both ends’ should be seriously considered.

Physically the amount of hours spent in a startup that often exceeds 60 hrs per week is challenging. Growing a company is always a constant battle. My experience is that when you are in the middle of it you are devoted and full of energy, but of course in the long run you pay the price. I need to be certain that this is what I am supposed to do, to make it worth the cost. Every one of us are burning down our candle for something and that is okay. We just want to know it is the right thing! – HS, Europe/Middle East Read more

5 Ways to Nurture Spiritual Health: Tips from BAM Practitioners

In Part 1 we shared 4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer: insights from 12 BAM practitioners on challenges they’d experienced to their spiritual well-being. In Part 2 below, find out how these BAMers actively nurture their relationship with the Lord.

1. Find a routine that works for you

All of the BAMers mentioned daily or weekly routines, disciplines and resources that best enabled them to talk to the Lord, to understand His word and to worship Him. Disciplines and tools such as setting aside time for prayer at a certain time, scripture reading plans, scripture meditation, devotional materials, prayer lists, contemplation, and so on, are all helpful. Consistency and knowing what works for you in a particular season are important keys.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my spiritual temperament? How do I best worship and relate to God?
  • What is God doing in this season of my life and what spiritual disciplines or tools will enhance that?
  • Where can I create space in my daily, weekly, monthly and annual routine to strengthen my relationship with the Lord and my spiritual health?

I give God the firstfruits of my time: Whenever I’m at my peak, I give that time to God. I’m a morning person, so I always start the day with him, giving him my best and exclusive focus. No social media, emails, etc to set my mind off into the world, but stilling practices including silence, solitude, reflection and prayer. I follow a plan for reading the Bible. It sounds a little basic, but by sticking to a plan, it means I have a healthy scaffold from which my relationship with God is developed and sustained. – Liam, Australia Read more

4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer

Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. – Philippians 2:15-16 (The Message)

I love how The Message renders this exhortation from Paul in Philippians. The more traditional ‘shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life’ is brought to life as an encouragement to be a breath of fresh air to people, showing them what good living is in relationship with the living God.

What a reminder and challenge for each follower of Christ that our own relationship with the Lord is central to our mission! For how can we be a breath of fresh air to others and help people glimpse the living God if we are not experiencing that vital life and connection in our own lives? But we live in the real world with real businesses to run. How can we be ‘light-giving’ when we are under great stress, dealing with the pressures and realities of running a company, often in hostile or difficult circumstances?

This is the question that we put to 12 BAM practitioners. We asked them about the greatest challenges to nurturing or maintaining their spiritual health as a BAMer. We also asked them what had been their most useful habits, practices or resources for nurturing spiritual health. Read more