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7 Markers for a Kingdom Business: A Framework for Entrepreneurs

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Courtney Rountree Mills

A quick framework to help entrepreneurs learn how to integrate their faith life with their business life in a practical way.

Let’s face it. Life is hard enough as an entrepreneur. The whole world always seems to be resting on your shoulders. The pressure to succeed is immense. After all, if you don’t, you let down not only yourself and your family, but also your staff and their families! What gets you through the pressure? Mainly prayer and the passion you have for your business. You love the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It energizes you more than almost anything else. Sometimes thinking about your business becomes more like an addiction – you could work on or think through challenges you face all day, every day and never feel like you are completely caught up.

The only thing you care about more than your business is your relationship with Jesus and your family. Still, it seems your business ends up taking over your prayer life and family life, too. You keep hearing about how you should live an integrated life, but you have no practical idea how to achieve this. You hear people around you using the phrases “Kingdom Business” or “Missional Business.” These sound great to you, but you don’t even know what the definition of a Kingdom Business is. Measuring your business’ Key Performance Indicators is easy, but how do you measure your KPIs when it comes to integrating your life as a believer and business owner? This article provides a quick framework to help entrepreneurs live out their faith in their business. This is a topic that resonated most with the 450 entrepreneurs we have accelerated who were asking the same question. Most of this is not material I wrote. Rather, it is a compilation of some of the best material I have found on living out business as mission. Read more

Important Issues to Consider in Financial Planning

by Colleene Isaacs

Let me start by saying, I hate dealing with financials! In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to think about or plan for the financial aspect of doing good business. Or better yet, I would have some really smart CFO-type deal with it, and be done with it. Unfortunately, as far as I know, we don’t live in that world. So just like everyone else, we have to do the financial “due diligence” (homework), necessary to do business well. There are a lot of great resources to assist as you begin your planning process, particularly when it comes to the financial matters of business. One suggestion I would make is save yourself a lot of grief, and apply a template like the “Business Model Canvas” to your planning process (see the book Business Model Generation.)  This model follows a somewhat lean startup methodology, and is a great way to visually scan and plan for all the aspects of business planning and design. 

Let’s really focus on some things you should be thinking about financially when you start the business start-up journey – a journey that is a very winding road, never a straight path!

Expect the Unexpected

A general principle is start with Plan A, but always have a back-up plan(s). You only have a limited insight into what the future will bring. You may be faced with geo-political situations, product development delays, weather, material sourcing issues, local permitting requirements and delays, transportation issues, broken equipment, etc. that you were not expecting. Any of these external elements, can severely impact planning and business execution schedules, as well as the finances required to support those activities. Just know that wherever there are opportunities for something outside your control to fail, there is a real possibility that it will.  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

BAM Endurance: Principles and Habits for Long-term Fruitfulness

One of the foundations of business as mission is that the company must be profitable and sustainable – otherwise how can it be a business long-term? We know that making sales, maintaining cash-flow and reaching profitability are a non-negotiables for BAM company health. Commercial success is critical.

But what else besides commercial success is vital to the endurance of a BAM company – or indeed to the BAM practitioners who run it?

Endurance vs Attrition

Missionary attrition is a term adopted by ‘member care’ experts to describe missionaries quitting the field earlier than planned and the factors that contribute to that. There is much we can learn from the wider mission community about the causes and cures of stress and attrition, however, when you add a commercial operation into the mix, there is an added layer of complexity.

What are the stressors common to business as mission that wear down a company’s chances of long-term survival? What causes practitioners to give up and go home? What causes BAM attrition, and conversely, what helps BAMers endure? Read more

7 Markers for a Kingdom Business: A Framework for Entrepreneurs

by Courtney Rountree Mills

A quick framework to help entrepreneurs learn how to integrate their faith life with their business life in a practical way.

Let’s face it. Life is hard enough as an entrepreneur. The whole world always seems to be resting on your shoulders. The pressure to succeed is immense. After all, if you don’t, you let down not only yourself and your family, but also your staff and their families! What gets you through the pressure? Mainly prayer and the passion you have for your business. You love the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It energizes you more than almost anything else. Sometimes thinking about your business becomes more like an addiction – you could work on or think through challenges you face all day, every day and never feel like you are completely caught up.

The only thing you care about more than your business is your relationship with Jesus and your family. Still, it seems your business ends up taking over your prayer life and family life, too. You keep hearing about how you should live an integrated life, but you have no practical idea how to achieve this. You hear people around you using the phrases “Kingdom Business” or “Missional Business.” These sound great to you, but you don’t even know what the definition of a Kingdom Business is. Measuring your business’ Key Performance Indicators is easy, but how do you measure your KPIs when it comes to integrating your life as a believer and business owner? This article provides a quick framework to help entrepreneurs live out their faith in their business. This is a topic that resonated most with the 450 entrepreneurs we have accelerated who were asking the same question. Most of this is not material I wrote. Rather, it is a compilation of some of the best material I have found on living out business as mission.

Kingdom Business: The Definition

First, what is a Kingdom business? The best definition I found is one I slightly adapted from Acton School of Business in partnership with Gateway Church:

A kingdom business is an enterprise directed by the Holy Spirit and managed by a godly leader that uses its time, talent, and money to meet the spiritual and/or physical needs of the community around them to advance God’s purpose.

Ok good. We’ve defined it. Sounds pretty simple right? Now, let’s break apart this definition piece by piece to define the characteristics of a Kingdom Business. From this definition, Acton matched 6 characteristics they believe a Kingdom Business should exhibit. Each one has an associated question you can use to evaluate yourself and your business. I have slightly modified this framework to add a seventh dimension (“Reflection of God’s Character”) that I think is quite helpful. Read more

BAM is Global: Around the World in 40 Days

We are starting a new series on The BAM Review blog: Around the World in 40 Days!

BAM is a global phenomenon. No one network or organisation can claim that they started it or they are leading it. Rather God is on the move around the world, calling men and women from all continents to start businesses for His Kingdom purposes. To highlight just some of what He is doing, and emphasise that business as mission is a global movement, we will take a tour around the BAM world for the next six weeks or so. We hope you enjoy the trip!

To kick off this series, below is a repost of an interview we did with Mats Tunehag, first published in January 2015, taking a look at the global BAM movement.

Business as Mission: The Global Movement Today

An interview with Mats Tunehag

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’ Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally. Read more

BAM in Hard Places: The Challenge of Business in Hostile Environments

BAM ventures are one of the innovative ways that we are called to do mission in the two-thirds of the world’s countries that are highly corrupt and require risk management skills, sound judgement, discernment, strong leadership and spiritual maturity.

Launching and/or managing a business as mission company within a hostile environment encompasses a set of risks that are unique and varied, in contrast to the more familiar kinds of risk that most businesses encounter. By anticipating, recognising and managing these risks, a BAM team is more likely to achieve business sustainability and spiritual fruitfulness. 

The Risks That Face Us  

We are conceiving risk as falling broadly into three areas:

1. Business

2. Mission

3. Personal (including family)

Risks in these three areas can overlap and vary in intensity from situation to situation.

Understanding and managing risk in any environment is usually challenging for most business owners, but navigating unfamiliar risks within a hostile environment is part of the learning process that successful BAM entrepreneurs must navigate. Successful management of these risks requires the entrepreneur to exercise a high degree of discernment and good judgment.  Read more

Business Planning: Developing Your Product, Identifying Your Market

We are starting a new series this month on Business Planning: Product and Market. Figuring out your product or service offering is obviously at the very heart of any new business. However, it is at this crucial, early stage that many would-be BAMers go wrong by failing to properly consider whether there is a real market need – and therefore customers – for the product or service they want to sell. There is no business without a customer.

A recent blog for The Institute for Faith Work and Economics on starting a social business puts it this way: [It] is imperative to have the customer in front of your mind when starting a social business… To start a social business, you have to know what will be marketable to your target customers.

The first thing you have to do is figure out what sells – don’t start with the cause. The cause is what moves us… but, you can’t start a business around a cause.Jimmy Quach, via TIFWE

Many BAMers get the ‘cart before the horse’ – they start with a cause, or they start with the potential employees they are hoping to empower, or they think of a ‘great’ idea for a product or service that feels doable to them. However, if that idea doesn’t have a market – if there are no customers – then there will be no sales, no cash, no empowered employees, no credible business and the cause will be lost. You need both the ‘cart’ and the ‘horse’ to move forward. There is nothing wrong with having a cause, or trying to empower a certain group of employees or pursue a particular product; however you better make sure that there are customers and sales to drive that business forward towards making the impact you hope to make. Read more

9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment

Here are 9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment that have been themes shared over and over by experienced BAM practitioners and mentors. These are principles and practices observed over years of listening to BAM pioneers, writing BAM stories and collecting information about how to do BAM. Many of these Keys have been shared by BAMers and BAM leaders over the last few weeks as we have explored the topic ‘Launching Out and Landing Well’ – they come out in the stories, snippets, and teaching we’ve shared, as well as in the BAM Think Tank research we’ve been drawing on.

1. Walk with God

Abide in Christ. It’s essential to be connected to the Vine, a growing disciple of Jesus, if we are to bear fruit! That means spending time listening and talking to God in prayer and being attentive to His calling and direction for your life. It means growing in Godly character as you are rooted in His word, and opening up to spiritual input from others. Prayer is mentioned over and over by BAMers as a foundation stone for BAM in practice, at all stages: preparation, launch and continued growth. Having a sense of call and leading from God is another often cited core driver for BAMers. Spiritual formation through discipleship and teaching is a life-long pursuit – whether through books, sermons, devotional materials, courses, retreats or intentional relationships. Making yourself accountable to peers or elders that will challenge you to grow in Christ-like character is another way to keep soft and open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read more

Launching Out and Landing Well: Getting Started in Business as Mission

A to B diagramHow do people get from A to B? What propels them towards BAM? What factors help launch them out into stable, successful business as mission enterprises – wherever that might be?

We will address these questions, and others, on The BAM Review Blog this month as we delve into the topic of ‘Launching Out and Landing Well’. Here’s a preview of some of the issues we’ll cover:

Launching Well

How do we most effectively recruit and mobilise for business as mission? What are some of the challenges and opportunities we face? What are the skills and characteristics that BAM companies are looking for as they recruit? Are we recruiting in the right places and what could we do better? How do potential BAMers best develop themselves and prepare for doing business as mission? What is holding them back? Read more

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