Helping Entrepreneurs Turn Ideas Into Startups

by Stu Minshew

It is such a privilege that the Lord calls His people walk alongside Him as He advances the gospel to the nations. Today, more than ever, business is powerful tool that He is using around the globe. As a Christian entrepreneur, I am extremely excited to see all that He is doing.

As the BAM movement continues to gain momentum, I see two key growth opportunities that I believe will lead to greater impact. First, let’s make it easier for entrepreneurs to turn ideas into successful startups. Second, creating strong communities of support for startup businesses must become a top priority. Let’s see how we can make progress in accomplishing these two tasks.

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Three Female BAM Owners Tell Us Their HR Stories

Three female BAM owners share their Human Resource stories from around the world – from Mongolia to Turkey to Puerto Rico! People issues can make or break a BAM company. Listen in to these real-life experiences.

hospitalityJulia in Mongolia – Hospitality Industry

Keeping staff steady has been a major challenge! We have had a 10 year saga of people leaving just when we have them trained or half trained. We have also had struggles with people who don’t show up for work, some legitimate, some not. Many have had pressure from family to get work elsewhere for a better salary. This is understandable as many of my workers, mostly young people aged 19-24, are the only providers for their families, parents, and siblings. But what I don’t understand is why they often quit before they find another job!

On the other hand, we have had a pretty good success rate building staff loyalty by setting up flexible schedules that were doable for mothers and students. We have tried to prioritize strong families and build staff schedules that are hand-tailored to their needs. They stay on because no other business takes these things into consideration. We have built very loyal workers from this. Read more

The Risk of Making Assumptions When Hiring Christians

By Jim Nelson

Making the right hiring decisions is crucial to a company’s well-being. From a BAM company perspective, I have sought to hire local Christians to work for me. By our shared faith, we can understand each other better and seek Kingdom values in the company and surrounding community. If proper research, interviewing and trust building is cut short, the consequences I have experienced have been less than ideal. Here are a few stories of lessons I learned in hiring Christians to work for my business.

Caught Off-Gaurd

In 1999, I had a chance to open an office in a new business area. An older Chinese Christian recommended I hire Zhang, a Chinese Christian who could speak the local dialect. I interviewed him on his business thinking and agreed to let him manage the office. I felt the older Chinese Christian who recommended him knew about his faith, so I did not bring up the topic during the interview.

Zhang then hired two local Christians to join the team. I learned that the local Christians he hired did not own Bibles so we eagerly provided them. We assumed all were Christian and ethical to run the business. The business soon had trouble and I realized that Zhang could not be trusted. We found he had stolen a few hundred dollars. I let him go.

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Millennial Insights for the Intergenerational Workplace

Every year, millions of “millennials” (born between 1980-1996), are entering the workforce. A recent extensive Gallup Report on millennials reports that there are over 70 million millennials in the U.S. alone, making up 38% of the U.S. labor force. Without a doubt, employers will increasingly need to know how to best work with millennials in the years to come.

Unfortunately, many employers and leaders feel they do not understand the millennial generation or how to maintain their loyalty in the workplace, concluding that millennials are an “uncrackable code” or even a lost cause. This does not have to be the case. Here are some common themes among millennials as well as practical insights about how to strengthen communication with them:

Millennials…
  • Are highly relational. Having grown up in an era of social networking and instantaneous feedback, millennials are accustomed to constant communication. Work environments that have hierarchical, top-down leadership and only focus on the task (while neglecting social aspects) are unappealing as compared to work environments that are collaborative and communicative.
  • Want to have purposeful, meaningful work. Millennials are very purpose and values-driven in terms of where they want to be employed. Many are not just looking for positions that can earn them an income; rather, they want meaningful work at companies that align with their personal values and passions. They seek out jobs that offer the best options to hone their skill sets, give them opportunity for advancement, and resonate with what they find important.
  • Appreciate honesty and transparency. Millennials appreciate coworkers and supervisors who can offer honest feedback and be transparent in addressing challenges. Additionally, as determined by CliftonStrengths, two of the top five strengths among millennials are Learner and Adaptability, which demonstrate their teachability when they receive reviews and critique.

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10 Critical Human Resource Challenges in Business as Mission

We asked 25 BAM Practitioners one simple question:

What have been the most important HR issues in your BAM business experience?

Here are the Top 10 issues that they mentioned the most:

 

1. Finding the complete package

Recruiting and hiring people with the right mix of business skills, character formation and mission-motivation.

The biggest issue is finding employees who are followers of Christ and have the skillset required for the job. I usually run into people who have one or the other of these two qualifications, but seldom have both. – Joseph, India

2. Cultural differences

Dealing with different cultural norms between expat staff or business owners and national staff, that significantly impacts the business operations.

It can be tough to implement systems and policies with people who believe all standards can be moderated or ignored. Learning employees’ real opinions in a high context language group is a challenge, where it is a cultural norm to say only what is expected or desired. – Robert, Turkey

3. Disappointment over Christian staff

Finding that Christians hired into the company do not have the right work ethic, competencies or even expected moral standards.  Read more

8 Unexpected Questions from Investors

by Patrick Lai

Lions and Martyrs are entering the colosseum to do battle. The Lions are investors, hungry to invest in solid BAM/B4T businesses. They hope to make money, as well as create new opportunities for the Good News among the least reached. The Martyrs are starting new businesses in spiritually, and some cases, economically difficult locations. The Martyrs are coming to lay it all on the line, praying not to be eaten alive. They are hoping to tame a Lion or three and bring each Lion, along with their expertise and their money, into their start-up business.

If you’re raising money for your company and you want to pitch potential investors and shareholders, it’s important to plan ahead for the questions savvy investors may ask.

Naturally, the Martyrs, and anyone who is seeking capital, can expect to be asked about your financial projections, timeline, the competition, your team, marketing strategy, risks, personal experiences, how much “skin” do you have in the business, and your exit strategy. Expect experienced investors to study your business plan with a fine brush and comb. Plus, investors will also grill you on your spiritual and personal life, to learn what you are made of.

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6 Reasons Why Your Vision May be Failing (And What to Do About It)

by Chris Cloud

Since there are many excellent articles on Vision Casting out there, I have decided to come at this from a different angle. My question is: Where is a vision likely to fall off the rails? I’d argue that most individuals, and most organizations, are not guided by a clear vision.

I have been a part of a few organizations that nailed it, and a few that could have achieved so much more if they had a clear vision and steered towards it. I’ve also consulted with dozens of companies regarding their brand and strategy, and inevitably vision comes up as one of the most powerful elements of growth and impact.

Without a vision, the people perish. – Proverbs 29:18

Here are some simple observations on where a vision commonly goes off the rails, and what to do about it. Note: I believe a clear vision is just as transformative, and sadly, just as rare for an individual as it is for a group or organization. So even if you aren’t leading a company, this is for you.

Where do Visions Fail?

Lack of Clarity: “What exactly is our vision?” It’s either too complicated, or it’s too ambiguous. Keep it simple enough for a 4th grader to understand. Poor vision: “we’re going to be big and successful one day”. What does that even mean? Strong vision, “We’re going to put all of the world’s information online.” (Google’s vision). It’s clear. It’s stupid simple, though it’s not easy by any stretch. It’s ambitious, almost pretentious, but it’s compelling. It conjures up visceral imagery. The old explorers were great at this. For example, Ernest Shackleton’s vision was, “To accomplish the first crossing of the Antarctic continent.”  Read more

Spiritual Relationships, Courage and Your Next Big Business Decision

By Dave Kahle

I’m facing a big business decision – whether to invest a significant portion of my retirement funds into a new venture whose financial success is hardly assured. At the same time, last week I worked with a friend who is faced with a very similar decision, whether to invest a big portion of his wealth into a new venture.

Of course, I’m going to use all the analytical tools I have accumulated over the years. We’ll create a best and worst case proforma, do all the due diligence we can on the potential revenue and costs, attempt to identify the potential risks and put in place strategies to mitigate them. All this will make the decision a bit more clear and make us feel a bit better, or worse, about the decision. I’ll recommend my friend do the same.

Unfortunately, none of this worldly effort will uncover the answer to the ultimate question: Is this what God wants us to do? If the answer is a clear and unambiguous “YES,” then all the analytics and due diligence won’t matter. And, if the answer is a definite “NO,” then all the numbers we created will prove to be inconsequential.

Acquiring that “clear and unambiguous yes” is the first challenge. There are a number of excellent books written on the subject of discerning God’s will for your life, and for the big decisions within it. We’ll save a detailed exposition of that for a later post.

Probably the most important element of discerning God’s will in your life is your personal relationship with Him. If you have lived long enough and struggled mightily enough to have entered into something approaching a conversational relationship with Him, then you’ll be secure in the direction you get from Him. If he truly is the senior partner in your business, then you should know Him well enough not to have to guess at his direction.

In a very real and tangible sense, the closer your relationship with Him the more secure you can be in the direction he points you, and the decisions that you must make along the way. Building an ever-growing relationship with God is, then, a mature and wise business strategy.  Read more

Crucial Questions for BAM Startups

Perhaps you are a Christian professional interested in starting a Business as Mission (BAM) company, and want some guidance on next steps in pursuing that dream. There is much to learn from those who have gone before you in the BAM space. Here is a list of questions you will want to consider as your pursue starting a BAM business:

Entrepreneurial Drive

In order to start a new company, you need at least one individual that has the vision for a new product or service that meets a true felt need for a specific target market.

  • Are you an entrepreneur, and if so, do you have a team of people to partner with?
  • If you are person who enjoys keeping a business running, do you know a BAM entrepreneur that you can come alongside?
Spiritual Objectives

BAM companies are differentiated from other social enterprises in that they also prioritize spiritual objectives. If you have goals to honor and reflect Christ in the workplace, you will need leadership that is committed to those goals and has the ability to carry them out. To start a truly spiritually strong company, consider the following:  Read more

BAM Job Opportunities in Asia and Europe

BAM Company Jobs

 

Director of Construction Management – Construction Company in South Asia

This construction company was established in the 1960’s by two engineers from Britain and directly employs approximately 35 staff. It seeks to model Christian service in a very challenging environment. The company is hiring a Director of Construction Management to be based in the city of Lahore. The suitable candidate will have a minimum of 10 years in the construction industry and experience in financing and tendering projects, preferably in the developing world. Engineering qualifications are required, as is appropriate professional registration. English is the language of business in this nation, however some language learning is suggested prior to joining the company. This is a paid position, although some fund raising may be required.

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General Manager – Manufacturing Company in South Asia

A challenging and exciting opportunity exists for a dynamic General Manager to lead a fast-growing and creative manufacturing operation in South Asia. The company, which currently employs 130 people, serves customers in Europe and America. The General Manager will possess strong leadership skills and be responsible for all of the day-to-day business in two rural locations. They will focus on shaping the local leadership team of Managers to help realize their potential. The role is has a fixed term contract for 2-5 years with a good local salary, plus benefits.

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