4 Resources to Help You Decide What to Measure

BAM companies have a lot to learn from the social enterprise movement. One of the things that social enterprises have been thinking about for a long time is: How do we measure more than the financial bottom line? Here are 4 resources that will help you think about metrics more holistically and give you tools to measure your impact.

 

B Corps Impact Assessmentmeasure what matters

B Corps advocates for measuring what matters most: the ability of a business to not only generate returns, but also to create value for its customers, employees, community, and the environment. Use B Corps online tool to assess how your company performs against dozens of best practices on employee, community, and environmental impact. Compare your company’s impact with thousands of others. Create a plan to improve your company’s practices, and help your staff implement them easily using the Best Practice Guides.

 

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Lessons from the Edge: Ingredients for Sustainable Success

Insights from a BAM Practitioner 

‘Andrew’ was in business in China for 8 years and now consults to other BAM companies.

Finding a good fit for you is critical
This business is what you will be doing day in and day out, so it’s really important that you have an idea that you feel passionate about, that you understand how it’s a good fit for you and your goals. Is it a good business for your personal strengths? Business as mission can be really, really hard and finding that good fit will see you through many challenges. If you get into a business just because you have to, it can end up feeling like drudgery.

Don’t do it by yourself
It’s important to have good partners. Build a team or find a partner that has complementary skills to your own. Find partners locally that can work with you, whether it’s locals or other foreigners. I don’t think I would have made it in my own business if I didn’t have a key partner working with me, we kept each other going when the going got rough. Get good people around you and have the right people in the right roles.

Engage advisors
Find good mentors, consultants or advisors. That could look like having regular contact with consultants, finding a specialist mentor, or setting up an advisory board. Advisors might be other business folks in your local context, either foreigners or consultants that are further down the road than you, or local business people. They might be business people, lawyers and other experts from your home church network. One model that we’ve seen work well is to engage several different people from your home church from the beginning of the business. They would help with planning, make some site visits, get to know the local context and the difficulties, so that they can give business advice that is helpful for the situation.

 

Apples to Apples: Measuring Progress Across an Organisation

We interviewed Timothy, a consultant with a mission sending organisation that has been developing a metrics tool to evaluate businesses across their organisation globally.

How did this metrics tool come about?

I work as part of a team that consults to and supports BAM-type entities across Asia and we were looking for a way to evaluate how those entities were performing and started to develop this benchmarking tool. At the same time another region was working on a similar idea and we realised that it would be far more effective to work on one tool that could be applied globally across our organisation. We want to be able to compare ‘apples to apples’ and get a better read on what is working well worldwide.

What is the tool’s purpose and how has that shaped its design?

Well first of all we wanted it to be a tool that would help business owners identify areas in which they could grow and improve. It has to serve those on the field at the sharp end of doing business so we have tried to make it straight-forward to use and informative. For instance, we have limited the number of questions practitioners have to answer so that it is not an unwieldy time-waster. The reports are laid out in a user-friendly way using various charts and formats so that areas for growth can be quickly pinpointed. It’s a tool that we’ll use when we are consulting with individual companies as a way of focusing on strengths and weaknesses. The results will be part of the ongoing conversation with the business owners, providing a framework for accountability and planning. Read more

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

Forever Crystals: A Missional Business with Latin Flair

‘Every Crystal Has a Story’, is the tag line of Forever Crystals. Every person also has a story. Here is the story of Merari Pena and her business Forever Crystal Jewelry.

It started with her father. Merari, a native of Puerto Rico, was raised in the church and at the age of 16 she became a Christian. However it was some years later, in 2003, that she came back to the Lord, wanting to passionately follow Jesus. Although Merari comes from a missionary family, she has always been a business person. Early on in her business career Merari had a specialist advertising agency selling outdoor media space. It was out of a motivation to help her father reach his dream of going to Cuba as a missionary that she got involved in the family jewelry business.

Living from commissions on successful advertising sales, Merari had a lot of time on her hands and she offered to help manage her father’s jewelry kiosks to support him in his work in Cuba. “It really started because I had a desire to serve and do something for God. Running the kiosks was the only thing holding my father back,” she explains, “I didn’t know anything about the jewelry business when I started helping my father. For me it was an enlightening process of learning by trial and error, and just walking with God and him showing the way because I didn’t know anything about it!” Read more

More About Company Boards and How to Build Them

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

We must first determine what type of Board you are inquiring about. Usually, an Advisory Board is used to give strategic advice on a narrow topic. A Board of Directors, on the other hand, is who the CEO is accountable to. They give advice on a broader range of issues. This position has some legal responsibilities and Board members on large companies can wield considerable power since they hire and fire the CEO.  This is highly unlikely in a BAM company, however. 

Let’s talk for a minute about a Board of Directors. You should have such a Board. You, as CEO, need to be accountable to someone outside the company that has direct experience in what you are doing and can likely spot a potential pitfall before you can. Otherwise, it is more likely that you will make a significant mistake – and we all do – and there will be no one to help guide you through a particularly tricky situation. 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

An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. 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