what can i offer

Business as Mission: What Do I Have to Offer?

by Larry Sharp

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

This question is sometimes asked me by North American kingdom business persons who own or manage businesses: “What can I offer as consultant, advisor, mentor or coach?”  It is a natural question for business persons living and working in a very different context from a business startup in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

What is business anyway? Is it not something like this: an organization with appropriate management that provides a good or service and is created to earn a profit, serve customers and create jobs, community value and increase wealth? That is universal. Followers of Jesus have an integrated kingdom perspective in all they do (1 Corinthians 10:31) so they operate businesses for the glory of God. Faith is integrated into daily work.

A person who has owned a small or medium-sized business (or has worked in the management of such) has likely learned a great deal about one or more of the following. The things that have been learned can be passed on in a consulting, coaching, teaching or mentoring venue.

Entrepreneurial Ability
  1. What are the hurdles faced in starting something from nothing?
  2. How did you go about finding your niche in the business world?
  3. How does one identify risk takers – or how did you experiment and take risk?
  4. Can you help someone know if they “have it or they don’t”?
 Strategic Thinking and Planning
  1. Can you help a person to think clearly, looking for business opportunities?
  2. How do you find the information you need for decision making?
  3. Can you help a person frame out their idea within the components of business?
  4. Can you walk through a simple business plan with someone who has never done it?
  5. Can you help envision who the customer is and what he might pay for product?
 Management of People
  1. Do you know how to find good people?  Can you teach that skill to someone?
  2. What have you learned about HR laws that you can pass along?
  3. Can you teach conversational coaching so they process answers rather than just being told?
  4. Do you know “best practices” for getting people to produce in a positive work environment?
  5. Can you help someone with personal time management?
 Product Development
  1. In a changing world, can you teach someone to keep their product viable in the marketplace?
  2. Have you learned to experiment without assuming too much financial loss?
  3. Can you teach someone to produce and sell your particular product?
  4. Can you teach someone the basics of business “research and development”?
  5. Can you teach someone how to learn from the experience of others?
 Marketing
  1. Are there marketing principles you have learned which you can pass on?
  2. Can you help someone understand the difference between marketing and sales?
  3. Have you used the media, sales reps, social media, ingenuity?   How?
  4. Can you teach someone how to promote their product?
  5. How do you know what ‘sells’?  How do you listen to the marketplace?  Establish pricing?
 Operations
  1. Can you ask key questions relative to insurance, benefits, salaries, accounting software, etc.?
  2. Can you teach someone how to work with an assistant?
  3. What are some tips for “getting things done in a timely way”?
  4. Can you help someone who is struggling with keeping things organized?
  5. What are signals in the business which you need to note to keep on top of things?
 Financial Oversight
  1. What are some tips for keeping in touch with the overall financial situation of your business?
  2. Can you teach someone the relevance and importance of a P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement?
  3. How do you project out for 1-3 years?  What indicators do you look at?
  4. Do you have tips for a credit strategy?  Amount to borrow?  Payback schedules etc?
  5. Can you teach someone to understand financial reporting?
Technology
  1.  Do you appreciate & understand the value of technology to your business?  Can you pass it on?
  2. Where do you go for help when you need it?
  3. How do you find, hire and keep a trusted IT person?
  4. How do you know when to implement a new IT strategy into your product line?
Legal Matters
  1. What have you learned about how to structure things for your business?  Can you pass it on?
  2. Can you teach someone ownership options, tax relevance, where to go for help?
  3. Can you teach someone how to negotiate?
  4. Can you teach “Business Law for Dummies” to help a beginner down the right path?
  5. Can you help the business start up person to ask the right questions?
 Integration of faith and business
  1. Have you learned ways to live out Jesus’ kingdom values on the work site?
  2. What have you learned about making disciples at work?
  3. Do you see your business work place as a place of ministry 24/7?
  4. Do your customers, suppliers, employees, competitors see Jesus in all you do?
 Relationships
  1. Since sometimes it is more about who you know than what you know – how does one keep up effective and productive relationships?
  2. How does a business owner keep a balance between the business detail and ‘networking’?
  3. Do your beliefs and values look the same in the daily experience of life with people?
  4. If you are not a “people person”, how have you learned to compensate for that in business?

You know more than you think!  Business owners in overseas high risk areas have lots of challenges, and many of them are the same challenges you face – you can help with the likes of the above questions – it will make a difference!

Larry Sharp is the Founder and current Director of Strategic Training and Partnerships of a Business for Transformation (BAM, B4t) consulting firm, International Business and Education Consultants (www.ibecventures.com). Larry served 21 years in Brazil and then 20 years as Crossworld VP of Operations and as Vice President of Business Partnerships. He is currently a VP Emeritus and consultant with Crossworld. Since 2007 he has devoted energies toward Business as Mission (BAM) and currently is a consultant on BAM and education themes. Larry travels within North America speaking and teaching in conferences, colleges and churches on themes related to Business As Mission (BAM, B4t) and missions.  His travels abroad relate to BAM, crisis preparation and management, and team building.