Are our beliefs stunting our businesses?

By Dave Kahle

“For my whole life, I was led to believe that we were the richest country on earth. Now, I see that we are the poorest. It’s like my whole life has been wasted.”

This comment comes from John, the 80-year old father of one of our Albanian foster children, who was visiting the USA and our home for the first time in his life. He had lived his whole life under the communist government of Albania – one of the most oppressive in the world — and was now venturing out of the country for the first time. We couldn’t help but feel for him. He had been led to believe a lie, and that belief shaped his actions and his attitudes, and organized his life. Now, at an age where there was little to be done about it, he regretted his life lived in accordance with a belief that turned out to be false.

While not nearly as poignant and heart-breaking as John’s experience, we all allow the same thing – false beliefs – to impact our thinking and therefore, our businesses and our lives.

For the past 30 years, I have served as a sales consultant, trainer, and speaker. I have worked with at least 459 businesses and served thousands of others in seminars and speaking engagements. In all of this experience in the trenches, I’ve made some observations about what it takes to build a successful, thriving business – and what hinders the growth of those businesses who have the potential for great things, but languish in mediocrity.

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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

Three Stories: How BAM Goals and People Goals Fit Together

We asked company leaders to share how their goals as a BAM company fit with their goals for their people, and how that influenced their business planning and development.

Three BAM practitioners share from very different industries on how their strategy for their staff connects with their overall strategy to be a Kingdom-focused company.

IT Company in South Asia

We work hard to manage expectations upfront that the company exists only because of Jesus and has been dedicated to bringing glory to God. So 100% of our staff are aware of our high level BAM goals in that sense, but mostly just the around 15% of believers connect fully. The other 85% connect to our Kingdom goals of renewing our industry, providing meaningful work, raising up leaders worth following, and so on.

We spent years passionately praying for, discussing and trying to understand God’s purpose for the business. Saying that a business exists to make money is like saying I exist to breathe oxygen and keep blood flowing through my body to stay alive. We all have a purpose and calling as individuals and I believe we do as businesses as well.

We continue to seek and refine our purpose. It is an evolving thing with God revealing new layers and aspects, again, just like us as individuals. So in our early startup phase we spent an absurd amount of time navel-gazing, trying to understand the “WHY” and our employees saw this and see it today. They know they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Most of them acknowledge that Jesus is an important part of the company even if they don’t agree or like that. They know we don’t have it all figured out and fail often. But they have seen the process of us passionately seeking God, doing our best to follow God and simply asking them to, “Follow us as we follow Jesus”. Read more

Interview with Two Business Leaders: Developing People in Your Company

Dream with me. You opened your business two years ago. Your cash flow situation is simply amazing. Clients are knocking down your door to give you business. The surrounding community is praising your efforts in meeting their felt needs. Local leaders see your business as an asset to the city. You have plenty of time to put your feet up due to your amazing staff. You have all the right people doing all the right jobs.

OK, now you can wake up. That was just a dream! It’s actually pretty much every business owner’s dream.

How do you begin to make that dream a reality? Whether you are a new business owner beginning to write your plan, or a seasoned BAMer re-evaluating your plans, don’t forget to include ‘people development’. Your people are potentially the most valuable asset you have.

Jim Collins famously wrote about making sure you have “the right people on the bus“. While this is absolutely true, I believe, having a plan to further develop those people is also critical. With a focused people development plan some of your “right” people will become even more “right” – more than you could have imagined.

We interviewed two business leaders to find out about their approach to people development. We asked them each the same three questions about how they intentionality grow their people and what they have learned about staff development. 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

Business Planning Part 3 Introduction: Financial and People Planning

We start a new series on The BAM Review blog this month that will focus on developing your business plan: Financial and People Planning.

In previous series we have covered Business Planning Part 1: Introduction to Business Planning and Business Planning Part 2: Product and Market. In Part 3, a new series that will take us up to the middle of December, we will focus on two essential elements in the business planning process: money and people!

Show Me the Money

Crunching the numbers and working out financial projections during the planning stage is a major part of discovering whether your business model is viable or not. Until you start to work out your costs, price points, sales forecasts, cash flow projections, break even point and so on, your business idea will remain just that, an idea. Even if you don’t need to present your plan to outside investors, you will still need to create a financial plan so that you know whether your business model can ever be profitable and how much working capital you will need to sustain it through launch. Read more

What Makes a BAMer? Identifying and Deploying the Right People for BAM Companies

Interview with Peter Shaukat

With 15 years of experience recruiting for, mentoring, and investing in BAM companies all over the Arab world and Asia, Peter has a unique perspective into Human Resources for business as mission. We asked him to share his insights on recruitment and hiring for BAM companies.

What skills are BAM companies typically looking for?

Virtually any! Management skills in various business disciplines are needed. Those with good financial management skills and experience are almost always in short supply. While bookkeepers can often be found aplenty, ‘Chief Financial Officer’ type skills are another matter. Founding entrepreneurs often lack the business building skills and experience of general management of the sort that a COO or CAO brings to the table.

Marketing and/or especially sales skills and experience are highly sought after. Often an SME-sized BAM company will have some national talent on this, but to trade well internationally they require those with expat credentials for (at least perceived) credibility, access to networks, and marketing/sales channels, etc. These are often in short supply.

BAM businesses often need specific technical and/or professional skill-sets which are particular to the business in question. For example, an environmental consulting company to the textile industry in Bangladesh needs experienced chemical, industrial or systems engineers, while a civil engineering company in Pakistan will be looking for a civil or mechanical engineer or architect. An educational business in Yemen looks for qualified teachers or other education specialists whereas an agribusiness in Iraq requires an agronomist, and so on. Read more

10 Characteristics BAM Recruiters Are Looking For [Infographic]

BAMer Ingredients

Created by Evan McCall for The BAM Review.

With thanks to Peter Shaukat – The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer.

The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer

Interview with Peter Shaukat – Part 2

With 15 years of experience recruiting for, mentoring, and investing in BAM companies all over the Arab world and Asia, Peter has a unique perspective into Human Resources for business as mission. Continuing our interview, we asked him to share what he sees as essential characteristics of a BAMer.

Tell us more about those character traits or criteria that you identify and look for in a potential BAMer.

This is where the rubber hits the road. We have developed an interesting questionnaire for potential BAM practitioners which get to some of these criteria. Here are ten of the top ranking criteria in our experience:

1. Well-rounded thinking
We look for a genuine, thoughtful understanding of work as ministry, with the experience and capacity to grapple with ethical issues, able to live with a certain degree of ambiguity – i.e. they are not black and white in their thinking.

2. Servant leaders
BAM practitioners, fundamentally, are called by God to a ministry of exercising servant-leadership in the marketplace – the arena which is, in our time, the most influential, agenda-setting nexus of human activity.  Understanding how to be an agent of redemption and transformation in such a context – and bringing some tangible experience to the table in doing so – is indispensable. Read more