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

Don’t Miss This: Essential Preliminary Research for a BAM Company

We asked our team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners in the beginning stages of business planning. For this post we asked them to share ideas about developing goals and vision.

Robert Andrews, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. Read more about them below.

What kinds of preliminary research or on-ground preparation would you emphasise as particularly important to someone planning a BAM company – especially in a cross-cultural context?

Robert Andrews

A business plan is intended to help you work through the key issues you will face in running your business and should include all of the factors that have critical importance. It should addresses the design of the product, distribution, manufacture, finance, marketing, purchasing, and capitalization. It should also address how all of these business functions fit in to the work God is doing. Read more

Startup Planning Questions: Discovering your Business Model

by Larry Sharp

This is Part 2 of a two-part post, read Part 1.

What is the business model?

I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
– General Dwight Eisenhower

I am not a big fan of complex business plans in the early stages, but prefer to develop a business model typical of the lean start-up strategy.1 Don’t get me wrong – proper plans are necessary in time especially to qualify for a business loan or to record key research, but at an early stage I prefer modeling that is hypothesis driven. This mind-set should be intuitive to the entrepreneur and be at the heart of the consultant’s strategy.

Business founders should begin with a search for a business model which is driven by a hypothesis which can be tested in the marketplace of customer need. The model canvas contains a series of theories or good guesses which must be tested. These are sketches of how the company anticipates creating value for the customer. Read more

Startup Planning Questions: What to Do Before the Launch

by Larry Sharp

 

What is the opportunity?

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
– Benjamin Franklin

IBEC’s first consultant and later CEO, Ken Leahy drilled into me, “You do not have a business if you do not have a customer”. Since then the key question for me is to identify a meaningful business opportunity early on. Vision is important, but it cannot be the key component at the beginning. Do you have a customer? What is the problem to be solved? The answer can be derived from research and counsel, but it is important to determine the need for the product before moving too far toward planning and product development. Some call this the value proposition and it articulates why customers need the product or service. With no need, customers will not pay, and without sales, there is no business.

A couple planning to start a business in a large Asian country came to us with an idea. They planned to make wedding dresses in the country at a low cost and market them in the USA for considerable profit. The idea sounded good to everyone they discussed the idea with. Fortunately, they retained a consultant who pushed them in the direction of robust research and analytics. The day when everyone realized there was no ‘business opportunity’ here, there was sadness and tears – it seemed to be the death of a dream! Read more

How to Develop a Vision and Goals for Your BAM Company

We asked our team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners in the beginning stages of business planning. For this post we asked them to share ideas about developing goals and vision.

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. Read more about them below.

What advice would you give a new BAMer about developing a vision and mission plus goals/objectives for a company?

Larry Sharp
I am not so big on ‘vision’ initially (though it ultimately is important) but I am more interested in ‘opportunity’. Is there an opportunity to sell a product or provide a service? Is there an opportunity to reach a people group with discipleship? Is there an opportunity to transform a community? I would start there and when answers emerge, a vision and purpose should be articulated – and from there some goals for reaching the vision.  Then I would bounce my ideas on the vision – purpose – goals continuum off of some experienced BAMers. I have had many long-time BAM practitioners tell me that they welcome people to “come and see” and ask questions.

Mats Tunehag
Remember that 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 Christians just doing social enterprise. BAM always considers God as a stakeholder who has a vested interested in multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders. Read more

12 Stakeholders You Should Engage in Your Business Startup

We asked a team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners creating business plans. For this post we asked them about key stakeholders in the business planning process.

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in a business. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by the activity of the business. – BBC

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as  teach and write on BAM. We also asked business woman Julia to share about a stakeholder she has found helpful in her business in Mongolia. Read more about them below.

Here are 12 stakeholders they mentioned, there are others:

  1. Investors – owners, bank or investment company
  2. Business people – in companies working cross-culturally in your business or industry
  3. Business consultant – someone with specialist knowledge
  4. Colleagues – management and staff
  5. Customers – those likely to be your clients
  6. Suppliers – of essential materials and services for your business
  7. Community – local society and also the physical environment
  8. Cultural expert – someone with insight into engaging with local community
  9. Government official – someone who can give you insight and be an advocate for you
  10. Body of Christ – local church community, mission organisations and supporting churches
  11. Spiritual advisor or mentor – someone with wise counsel you can be accountable to
  12. God – the most important stakeholder

Read more

Discovering the Right Thing to Build: How to Get Started with Business Planning

by Colleene Isaacs

In every new business I have had the pleasure of being able to build, or at least participate in the process, the ultimate plan that proved successful for the business was not the original idea that got the team on board. My partners and I started out on one path and soon found in each case, for a variety of different reasons, that if we didn’t “pivot” or change course the business had a high probability of failure. Fortunately, we did change course quickly enough, such that resources were preserved and we were able to build and scale the business to a successful outcome. Other start-ups in which I participated made assumptions based on existing businesses and markets, and unfortunately never tested those assumptions. The businesses ultimately failed, because the assumptions were wrong.

I have met MBAs that have plowed considerable resources into researching and defining a business model, only to take so long and be so far off mark, they never got the business off the ground. Read more

10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating a Business Idea

By Robert Andrews

I would ask questions like these in a couple of iterations, meaning I would go through them once quickly to see if there is some clear deal breaking problem, and then again in more detail, and finally as part of the development of a detailed and researched business plan:

1. Is it a product or service that honors God?  (Helping society, is good for the environment, etc.)

2. Is the business viable? Is there a market need for the product/service? Is the market ready and able to pay for the product/service?

3. Are there ways in which the business can make a positive contribution to the needs of the kingdom in this city/country?

4. Are staff, suppliers and other essential services available?

5. Are there legal restrictions or other government regulations that would make it unworkable?

6. Do I have the skills and other resources necessary to run the business and, if not, can I get them through training, hiring, consulting or other partnerships?  (This would include management skills, technical product skills, local business knowledge, language and culture skills, just to name a few.)

7. How much capital will it take to start and maintain?  (Estimate the capital requirement. Then double it. Then double it again!)

8. What happens if it all goes the wrong way… can I afford the loss if it comes?

9. Do I have the time and energy to make this work and is my family willing to make the sacrifice with me?

10. Are there other opportunities available that will bring a better financial and/or spiritual return on my invested time, money and effort? Read more

5 Stages of the Birth of a New BAM Company

by Peter Shaukat

Peter Shaukat, CEO of Transformational SME (TSME), identifies five stages in the emergence of a new business as mission company. Each stage, from conception to launch, involves the integration of missional and commercial elements.

Preparation Stage

This is before the ‘baby is born’, the preparation that has taken place even before the business journey starts. It is about recognising what God has already done in the practitioner’s life in regards to their sense of missional call and life experiences; the tapestry woven together in their life before the BAM entity begins to be incubated. Preparation includes both business preparation and missiological preparation. What has God been doing to both missionally and professionally prepare the person, in terms of their skills and competencies?

This is where mentoring should begin: Tell me what God has been doing in your life? Tell me what your sense of call is? Tell me how God has been preparing you? The incubation process needs to begin there. The incubation of a new BAM business is the result of the process that God has already been doing before that.

Perception Stage

The perception stage is the next step. This is about gaining an understanding of what is going on in the environment that God has called you to do business as mission within; and what God wants to do through the business. What is going on in that environment in commercial terms? What are the needs? What is the market? What is the specific missional element? What is the missional calling to the people group? How is God raising up your business? The perceiving stage addresses the question: What is your business going to be about, commercially and missionally? This is the beginning of the gestation stage of the new business. Read more