Getting Started: Essential Metrics for your BAM Company

Every business is unique, metrics need to be tailored to the company to reflect the company’s unique goals, context and challenges. That said, there are certain metrics which should be monitored as a minimum by any business. These essential metrics are all aimed at ensuring the owners of the BAM company are able to answer for themselves the key questions:

  • Are we doing what we set out to do?
  • Are we being responsive to God’s call and the Spirit’s leading?
  • Do we have the cash we need to operate and meet our commitments and is it likely that we will continue to be solvent in the coming year?
  • Are we being good stewards of the money that has been invested with us?
  • Are we caring for and developing our employees?
  • Are we damaging or helping the environment?

Not every business needs dozens of charts and numbers to answer these questions. In many cases the answers will be obvious. However, a few carefully selected, measured and reported metrics can help bring clarity. The following list contains recommendations for how to cover these questions. 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

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

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

7 Creative Ways Practitioners Integrate Business and Mission

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for the spring of 2015.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

We are launching a new series on the topic of ‘Integration of Mission and Business’. A defining characteristic of a BAM company is that it intentionally integrates mission with business. But what does that look like in practice? What are some creative ways that practitioners work out their goals for spiritual impact, alongside their commercial, social and environmental goals?

We asked a small group of practitioners to share what they do in the business context that moves them towards their missional goals and spiritual impact. This could be something they did when establishing the company, or practices they do on a regular basis in the day-to-day life of the business. The practitioners shared a diverse range of specific practices, but there were some common themes. These seven ways to integrate business and mission stood out:

Keep Purpose Front and Center

Keeping the purpose, vision and objectives of the company at the forefront emerged as a key principle. This is important all the way through the life of the company, from the planning stages and goal setting, to evaluating those goals and choosing measures, to on-boarding processes for new hires, to daily communication with employees. Read more

Business as Mission: Chronos and Kairos

by Mats Tunehag

Originally published on MatsTunehag.com, reposted with kind permission.

Business as Mission, BAM, is not a technique. It is a worldview and a lifestyle. It is about following Jesus in the marketplace – to the ends of the earth; loving God and serving people through business.

  • BAM is not doing business with a touch of ‘churchianity’
  • BAM is not Christians just doing social enterprise.
  • BAM always considers God as a stakeholder who has a vested interested in multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders.
  • BAM must be underpinned by a Biblical worldview, informing our planning, operations and evaluation.

One very important aspect of worldview is time. This has implications on what we can do and what God does. Read more

Good Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Business

Choosing a Business:

What do you like to do? If you are enthusiastic about a particular business, it will help keep you going in the tough times.

What do the local people need or want? Go to your proposed location and live there for a while.  Talk to people.  No business will succeed unless there is a felt-need in the potential customer base and you must understand that need, it may be different than you think.

Can you make money at this business? Look at how much you can sell your product or service for and how much it costs to produce or provide it.  Typically you have to sell something for twice what it costs you in order to stay in business. Don’t give your product and services away, you’ll go out of business quickly and it helps no one in the long-run.

This is not an easy process – 80% of all businesses fail before five years. Read more