The Power of a Story: Orality in Business

By Howard Partridge

While attending a very high level, exclusive leadership training, we were taken to the largest independent advertising agency in the U.S.

We were taken on a tour of the massive, modern office space inhabited by over 700 employees that included a gym that would rival any local health club, nap rooms, and most importantly the large, open stairwell that connected all the floors of this modern building.

The stairwell is the one and only place that all 760 team members can all be together. There is a catwalk that is prominently suspended in the middle of the open stairwell where the company news is shared. This is where potential clients are brought to be introduced, it’s where the good and the bad is shared. And, this is where stories are told.

In order to effectively tour the company, our group of about a hundred was broken into small groups of ten people. A staff member named Emily led our tour. She told story after story about their culture, why they do what they do, and why it was important. I was impressed that she was so passionate about the stories, the culture and the meaning behind everything they do. Read more

5 Leaders Give Advice for Starting BAM in the Hospitality Industry

In the first half of 2017, we will periodically run short series looking at BAM companies in different industries. We start with business as mission in the hospitality industry, sharing insights and stories from experienced company owners.

We asked BAM owners in the hospitality industry:

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in BAM and wanting to run a hospitality business? 

The barrier of entry to this industry is quite low and hence not very difficult to set up, however keeping it running profitably is a real challenge. Many mission-minded Christians may first consider a non-profit model which in many cases will fail eventually due to financial difficulty. If anyone is seriously considering running a hospitality business as BAM, the dedication to the business and its excellence are vital to success and longevity. Great products and services are keys to maintain brand loyalty and by themselves are great testimonies and tools of evangelism. By winning the pre-believers’ stomachs, that’s already a big step closer to winning their hearts for Christ! If you have a big passion for people, then you’ve got to have a big passion for this industry as well, because you need to invest a lot of care and love into the products and your team. If you do that effectively, then the food that you serve on a table will be so stunningly good that will deeply move and touch people in their hearts. – VL, Restaurant in East Asia

I would ask, “Is this really something you are passionate about?” Often people think of starting a cafe because it’s a familiar kind of business or they enjoy cooking. However, they may not consider what a full time job it is running a hospitality business. It’s not a 9 to 5 kind of business, you will work evenings and weekends, and always holidays! If you love to cook and serve people and you get satisfaction from working hard doing that, then you will be energised by it and running the business will give you life. However, if it doesn’t give you life, if you aren’t passionate about it, it’s not a good idea to start. Along with that, staff your weaknesses. No one person can be a great entrepreneur, a great manager and a great cook or barista or host – so whichever of those you are your strengths, take that role and form a core team to cover areas where you are weaker. – Josh, Hospitality Consultant in USA & Asia Read more

What are the Advantages of Doing BAM in the Hospitality Industry?

In the first half of 2017, we will periodically run short series looking at BAM companies in different industries. We start with business as mission in the hospitality industry, sharing insights and stories from experienced company owners.

We asked BAM owners in the hospitality industry:

What are the advantages of being in the hospitality industry when it comes to doing BAM?

The hospitality industry is a great option when it comes to doing BAM, especially when food is involved. Having a meal is an essential human need, and so is shelter. As a service provider, you meet those basic needs and provide a common space for people to gather in a very non-threatening way – especially helpful in gospel-sensitive countries. Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding when he turned water to wine, he also fed thousands with five loaves and two fish, he ate at Zacchaeus’ and Matthew’s houses, and the Bible gives us an account of his last supper with his disciples, as well as many other examples of having meals together. There is a saying that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and it is so true! – VL, Restaurant in East Asia Read more

New Year’s Resolutions? 3 BAM Owners Share Their Goals for 2017

On New Year’s Sunday my pastor asked for a show of hands of all the people who made New Year’s Resolutions. Out of a crowd of 500 people, he counted only three. I was surprised at the extremely low number. Back in the day, everyone seemed to talk about it. Maybe we have finally faced the fact that bad habits don’t turn off when the new year turns on! Gym memberships mentally expire in February, diets last until the next dinner invitation, To Do lists remain undone… although all start with the best intentions.

Even if New Year’s Resolutions are facing extinction, articulating hopes for the year ahead and setting realistic goals definitely should not be – certainly not for BAM company owners! We thought it would be fun to hear from some hard working vision-filled business people who have a lot at stake for reaching their goals this year.

For a business, setting and reaching goals is essential for company health and growth. Business goals that encompass the four bottom lines of business as mission will impact staff, customers, suppliers and the community broadly. The goals shared below are a snapshot from the longer list of goals each company has for the year. Read more

Really! Work is Worship

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Patrick Lai

The Hebrew word “avodah” (ah-vod-ah) is translated in the English Bible for both work and worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God receives work as worship done unto Him. Put simply: work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.

In building a theology of work we need to begin with God’s Word and God’s words.  The Hebrew word avodah is central to understanding God’s view of work and worship. This noun עבדה (avodah), occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Testament. The root verb עבד (avad) occurs 289 times in the Bible, mostly in the qal form. This does not include the substantive form, עבד (eved), which occurs an additional 780 times in the Old Testament.  The עבד word group is translated throughout the English Old Testament in three main ways: Read more

Why Do BAMers Give Up & Go Home? The Top 4 Reasons for BAM Attrition

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Staff Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

We asked seven BAM mentors to share the reasons for BAMer attrition that they most commonly see. By attrition we mean negative factors that erode a BAMers ability to stay in their job and thus cause them to leave their location or their company – these could be gradual or cataclysmic.

Here are the top four factors the BAM mentors shared and some observations about each one:

1. Commercial failure

As expected, the most commonly cited factor was commercial failure. This covered a very broad area, but there were two strong themes within this category: money and market.

“Money” included both inadequate capitalisation and lack of financial control leading to cashflow problems. “Market” included lack of adequate business planning to determine whether there is a market for the product or service, and lack of ability to pivot to changes in the market.

Sometimes it’s a failure to do suitable and effective research and planning. Is there a need for the product or service? Simple as that. – DS

I’ve got a couple of businesses that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, and I think it’s problematic. And, in these instances, because they aren’t the type of owners who are the typical risk takers, they don’t make decisions to change their business model easily. – NH Read more

7 Markers for a Kingdom Business: A Framework for Entrepreneurs

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Courtney Rountree Mills

A quick framework to help entrepreneurs learn how to integrate their faith life with their business life in a practical way.

Let’s face it. Life is hard enough as an entrepreneur. The whole world always seems to be resting on your shoulders. The pressure to succeed is immense. After all, if you don’t, you let down not only yourself and your family, but also your staff and their families! What gets you through the pressure? Mainly prayer and the passion you have for your business. You love the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It energizes you more than almost anything else. Sometimes thinking about your business becomes more like an addiction – you could work on or think through challenges you face all day, every day and never feel like you are completely caught up.

The only thing you care about more than your business is your relationship with Jesus and your family. Still, it seems your business ends up taking over your prayer life and family life, too. You keep hearing about how you should live an integrated life, but you have no practical idea how to achieve this. You hear people around you using the phrases “Kingdom Business” or “Missional Business.” These sound great to you, but you don’t even know what the definition of a Kingdom Business is. Measuring your business’ Key Performance Indicators is easy, but how do you measure your KPIs when it comes to integrating your life as a believer and business owner? This article provides a quick framework to help entrepreneurs live out their faith in their business. This is a topic that resonated most with the 450 entrepreneurs we have accelerated who were asking the same question. Most of this is not material I wrote. Rather, it is a compilation of some of the best material I have found on living out business as mission. Read more

Am I a Business Builder or Entrepreneur? Identifying Your Place in a BAM Team

by Peter Shaukat

Business as mission is communitarian and team-oriented, not individualistic. Beyond considering the individual characteristics that BAMers need, I would then ask, “What does the business team need to have in their overall profile?”

I think of the business team in a matrix model. One axis maps character, competence and charisma. Along the other axis is the type of person or skill needed. Those types would range right from the entrepreneur, along to managers and business professionals, and then those professionals with technical or specialist skills that the business needs.

Entrepreneurs and business builders

When you start out in business you are doing everything. Theoretically that is flawed, but it’s the reality in a brand new startup. You are not going to have perfection in your team and all the right people in the various roles from day one. But you want to move along a dynamic pathway, to break out those functions into different roles as quickly as possible.

If you are going to do business as mission well, the business needs more than one person with a good idea. You can’t start a BAM company without an entrepreneur, but likewise, you can’t continue a BAM company with only an entrepreneur! Almost as soon as the company starts you are going to need other kinds of people, ‘business builders’. Read more

Hiring: What to Think About at the Business Planning Stage

by David Skews

An organisation may consider many things as of particular value to their business – such as, reputation, market exposure, industry leadership, intellectual property etc – but the one thing on which all of these depend is top quality staff.

Whether one or many people, your team have the potential to make or break your business. Consequently, identifying, recruiting and retaining the best people is a top priority as soon as a business begins to grow beyond a one-man band.

Many businesses are started by just one person with the drive and enthusiasm to grow the business. Invariably those people also possess other business skills, but never every skill that is needed. Consequently, brutally honest self-assessment is needed to identify significant shortcomings, which will then help in deciding the additional skills needed.

Such self assessment will inevitably require input from other trusted and respected people. Some shortcomings are best addressed by outsourcing tasks, which can be a lot less hassle than employing people directly. However, eventually, it becomes necessary to actually hire people to fill the gaps.

When hiring, it’s good to have some firm priorities in mind before interviewing. For example, integrity should always be at the top of the list. The most experienced and capable candidate will become a serious liability if they cannot be trusted. Absolute integrity can never be guaranteed but it should be a primary aim. Read more

A Mentor Writes on People Planning: Building Your Team

by Mike Baer

There is no more important decision you will make in your BAM startup than the formation of your team. Actually, it’s several decisions rolled into one: Who? What? When? How?

Who? By this I mean simply hire the best and never settle. Many BAMers hire those most in need, buddies, fellow missionaries, etc. only to find out that they’ve loaded up their ship with deadwood. In such cases, failure is almost certain. Hire the most qualified people (technically and spiritually) as you can.

What? Over time there will be standard, key functions you will need. You will need a solid financial manager/CFO type. You will need a solid operations manager/COO type. You will need a solid sales/CSO type. And, of course you will need the people to actually do the work of the work—the store clerks, the factory employees, the computer programmers, etc.

When? My rule of thumb is to hire as few as possible while still getting the work done. Over-staffing is a path to disaster. In your business plan you will have at least three phases of staffing:

Phase 1: the absolute minimum necessary to open your doors. Who and how many will it take to make your first widget or serve your first cup of coffee? Read more