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The Ingredients for a Healthy Business Team Part 1: Business Story

‘Team troubles’ were one of the top 4 reasons BAM mentors gave for practitioners giving up and going home. The ability to build effective teams and work through difficult team dynamics is therefore crucial for the sustainability of BAM companies. In this interview, we talk to Luke, a BAM business owner living in the Middle East, about his business story and what ingredients make for healthy business teams.

Luke, you have a company in the Middle East that offers corporate team building experiences. What lead you into that business?

My professional background is in engineering and engineering requires a high degree of collaboration. There is a strong need to work in effective teams. Then early on in my career, I worked on some projects in the Middle East that got me interested in the dynamics of business and recognising how companies create employment and other benefits for communities.

Over 20 years ago, we got involved in youth ministry with a mission organisation. As part of their training, this mission uses a very intensive week-long personal and team building exercise. Trainees are put under extreme pressure to see how they cope in a team situation. Our experience with that opened my eyes further to the need for healthy team dynamics. Mission workers spend months, maybe years, preparing to go overseas, but if their team falls apart, they may have to come home.

I realised I’d had years of training as an engineer and I didn’t just want to give all that away. I was learning lessons about effective teams myself and becoming motivated to help others be effective. Alongside that, I felt drawn to do business at a heart level. So I had a sense of calling to business, but  it was also becoming a personal passion. I was praying and asking God, “What should I do, youth ministry with this mission organisation or business and engineering?” When God spoke he said, “It’s AND, not OR – do both.” Read more

So What Shall We Do Tomorrow? How We Have Endured

One day down

Sleep deprived, stressed, hiding in the office to cry, then pulling it together and working hard physically, attempting to speak a foreign language, smiling at potential customers, doing everything for the first time, from start to finish, from nerve-wracking open to exhausted and exuberant close. We did it! There was cash in the drawer to prove it. Success!!! We made it through… Day one.

We arrived home near midnight, our three small boys in tow. As we straggled through the door, my husband turned to me and said, “So what shall we do tomorrow?”

I stopped. I stared at him. Then I’m pretty sure I laughed. Barely.

All the focus for years and months had been to start a business. Now it was started. We were worn out, but the real work had just begun.

Later we learned that starting a business is like having a baby. In so many ways. One moment it appears unbelievably fragile. The next moment it’s screaming its lungs out in a show of robust strength. Helpless. Demanding. Exceedingly needy!

There was one American woman who understood this business-baby analogy before we did. She visited us the first day at the shop, congratulated us, and gave us a lasagne. Read more

10 Habits for Maintaining Physical Health: Tips from BAM Practitioners

We are connected, whole human beings and our physical well-being is connected to our spiritual, mental and emotional well-being – as well as giving us the energy needed to keep our business running. Finding good habits to keep you physically healthy will be a great investment into your long-term BAM endurance.

We are all different but we can all find out what gives and what takes energy. Then we make systematic decisions to have more of the situations that give energy in our everyday lives. – HS, Europe/Middle East

Many of the helps to physical well-being that are identified below are nothing more than common sense. We are certainly not going to win any prizes for breakthrough health advice! Yet taking care of ourselves, our spirit, intellect, emotions and body, can be the first thing to be neglected when life is stressful. It’s important to revisit the basics.

Don’t miss Part 1: BAMers in Shape? The Ups and Downs of Staying Physically Healthy

The Good Habits

Here are 10 good habits for physical health that BAM practitioners have found helpful:

1. Find an exercise routine you can do anywhere

I do some exercise before going to bed. push ups and pull ups. I do a little bit of exercise in our yard as well. All of this helps. – Daniel, Haiti

Read more

BAMers in Shape? The Ups and Downs of Staying Physically Healthy

In our series on BAM Endurance, we are discovering how BAMers don’t just survive, but thrive for the long-term. As well as keeping their companies in good financial shape, how do BAM practitioners themselves stay in shape and pay attention to nutrition, sleep and exercise. We asked 12 BAMers about the main challenges to their physical health and what habits and resources keep them going.

The Challenges

Here are the challenges to physical well-being that were commonly mentioned by BAM practitioners:

Long Hours and Constant Pressure

Long working days and difficulty taking breaks is a very real threat to physical health, especially in the long-term. This kind of relentless schedule is almost par for the course for an entrepreneur in start-up phase. However the long-term sustainability of ‘burning the candle at both ends’ should be seriously considered.

Physically the amount of hours spent in a startup that often exceeds 60 hrs per week is challenging. Growing a company is always a constant battle. My experience is that when you are in the middle of it you are devoted and full of energy, but of course in the long run you pay the price. I need to be certain that this is what I am supposed to do, to make it worth the cost. Every one of us are burning down our candle for something and that is okay. We just want to know it is the right thing! – HS, Europe/Middle East Read more

5 Ways to Nurture Spiritual Health: Tips from BAM Practitioners

In Part 1 we shared 4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer: insights from 12 BAM practitioners on challenges they’d experienced to their spiritual well-being. In Part 2 below, find out how these BAMers actively nurture their relationship with the Lord.

1. Find a routine that works for you

All of the BAMers mentioned daily or weekly routines, disciplines and resources that best enabled them to talk to the Lord, to understand His word and to worship Him. Disciplines and tools such as setting aside time for prayer at a certain time, scripture reading plans, scripture meditation, devotional materials, prayer lists, contemplation, and so on, are all helpful. Consistency and knowing what works for you in a particular season are important keys.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my spiritual temperament? How do I best worship and relate to God?
  • What is God doing in this season of my life and what spiritual disciplines or tools will enhance that?
  • Where can I create space in my daily, weekly, monthly and annual routine to strengthen my relationship with the Lord and my spiritual health?

I give God the firstfruits of my time: Whenever I’m at my peak, I give that time to God. I’m a morning person, so I always start the day with him, giving him my best and exclusive focus. No social media, emails, etc to set my mind off into the world, but stilling practices including silence, solitude, reflection and prayer. I follow a plan for reading the Bible. It sounds a little basic, but by sticking to a plan, it means I have a healthy scaffold from which my relationship with God is developed and sustained. – Liam, Australia Read more

5 Reasons Why Competition is Necessary in Business as Mission

…and 5 Assumptions Why it is Not Present

 

by Michelle McDonald Pride

In a capitalistic economy, competition is spoken of freely. It is arguably a cornerstone of the free market and the way by which entrepreneurs distinguish themselves in an ever-evolving sea of technology and startups. Competition allows businesses to create loyal tribes of customers, improve products and adapt to changing market trends. It is an engine of growth for economic development.

Competition in commerce is often equated to competition in sports. This assumption places a time limit on the dueling match, mandates strict rule adherence and requires that there be a clear winner and a clear loser. After all, only one team can actually wear the pre-printed winners shirts!

Competition in Business: A Different Animal

This mentality boxes in the idea of competition and isolates it from reality. While there are many similarities, motivations and lessons to be learned from competition in sports, competition in commerce is an entirely different animal. The rules of the game are being written as it is being played. There is no definite time limit and competitors can enter the arena at any time. There are no judges to determine what is fair and the scoreboard is an undisclosed bottom line. 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

7 Things We Have Learned in 10 Years of BAM Consulting

by Larry Sharp and Gary Willett

IBEC Ventures was incorporated in 2006 as a consulting group to provide consulting services primarily to Business as Mission startups in areas where there is high unemployment, great injustice and where there a few followers of Jesus.

IBEC’s Purpose: IBEC helps build sustainable businesses through consultative expertise that changes lives and transforms communities.

IBEC’s Vision: We envision an increasing number of small-medium sustainable Kingdom businesses with our special emphasis on areas that are both economically impoverished and spiritually unreached.

So what have we learned in these last ten years? We have made significant mistakes to be sure; and we have seen some successes, but recently three of us senior leaders considered the question of what we have learned. Here are some of those lessons:

1. Business as mission should be fully integrated

We have learned that this is not business as usual, and this is not missions as usual. BAM is a based in a theology of a ‘worker God’ who created man to be a worker and a creator (Gen 1-2). He also created mankind with various ‘wirings’ and gifts and many are business people with abilities to create wealth (Deut 8:18), as an act of worship and as their unique ministry. Business is a high and holy calling and those gifted to serve the kingdom of God in this way are ministers, fulfilling their spiritual calling. Read more

The Marketing Value Proposition: The ‘Golden Rule’ in Action

by Bill Westwood

Ever since I left school in 1974 and joined the marketing department of a major (unfortunately now defunct) motor manufacturer, I have loved marketing. It was the genesis of a lifelong passion for the business world and happened to broadly coincide with the start of my faith journey too. Not that faith and business are separate journeys; it’s a partnership made in heaven. Unfortunately the business and ecclesiastical worlds that we inhabit today all too often collide in conflict and misunderstanding. For that, they are both the poorer.

I will never know whether or not I would have been a force to be reckoned with in marketing (although I suspect not) because somewhere along the way I got lost and became an accountant instead! But finance did teach me how companies worked, and when I finally got to manage a business, it was a big help having a ‘numbers’ background because it’s the numbers that tell the story of the value that a business delivers to its clients. Value fascinates me, and if you are in a frontline commercial function one of the things you learn pretty quickly is that ‘everyone understands cost, but not many understand value’. I believe that value is not only at the heart of business; I shall show how it’s also at the heart of the fundamental biblical narratives of creation and redemption too. In fact it’s at the heart of life itself. Read more

Why BAM Training is Important: Adding Value to the Entrepreneur

by Mark Plummer

Making a business work is incredibly satisfying and exciting. Even when a business fails, a resilient entrepreneur gets up and goes at it again having learned from their first experience. Business is an incredible process where creativity, tenacity, risk and hard work can bring financial fruit and a broad impact.

God instructs man in Genesis 1 and 2 to be fruitful and multiply, to work the land, to create and essentially to ‘add value’. I believe business falls under this ‘creation mandate’ – and what an amazing process to be involved in!

I am also quite passionate about training. I believe that preparation and training can be the difference between failure and success, and I am all about hedging towards success. This is particularly true for the entrepreneur starting a business in an emerging economy of the world where there is so much to learn and so much to consider. Read more