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A Journey into Freedom Business: One Woman’s Pre-BAM Story

While many of our readers are post-business plan, trying to figure how to fully implement what’s on that sacred document – making payroll, brokering deals, marketing to clients etc. – there are many other readers still in the ‘dreaming phase’. Perhaps seeds were planted years ago that left a deep imprint on their purpose and direction and since then these pre-BAMers keep taking notes, asking questions and scoping out the market for their product – praying and preparing for the day when the light turns green.

When I first met Rebekah at a BAM conference in 2013, her desire to network and learn from others was immediately obvious. Her gentle yet determined spirit and unyielding passion for vulnerable women keeps her pushing forward to this day. We met together again recently and she updated me on where her BAM journey is up to.

Sharing Rebekah’s story highlights what goes through heart and mind in the lead up to the birth of a BAM company. The hopes and fears, the longings and motivations, the voices of encouragement and discouragement, and the vision that keeps us moving.

When did the idea of you starting a BAM business first take root?

I was on a community development project for two years and saw the underlying problem of people needing jobs. The lack of employment or sub-standard pay in the region resulted in uneducated daughters being sent out to work. In the area I live and work in I did research on human-trafficking. I visited communities that were affected by the problem. I saw girls with little education being trafficked or lured into the big cities with the promise of jobs. I joined a team with the focus on after-care for little girls who came out of the trauma of trafficking. Now looking forward in time, I know that long-term these girls will become women who will still need good jobs. Read more

New Year’s Resolutions? 3 BAM Owners Share Their Goals for 2017

On New Year’s Sunday my pastor asked for a show of hands of all the people who made New Year’s Resolutions. Out of a crowd of 500 people, he counted only three. I was surprised at the extremely low number. Back in the day, everyone seemed to talk about it. Maybe we have finally faced the fact that bad habits don’t turn off when the new year turns on! Gym memberships mentally expire in February, diets last until the next dinner invitation, To Do lists remain undone… although all start with the best intentions.

Even if New Year’s Resolutions are facing extinction, articulating hopes for the year ahead and setting realistic goals definitely should not be – certainly not for BAM company owners! We thought it would be fun to hear from some hard working vision-filled business people who have a lot at stake for reaching their goals this year.

For a business, setting and reaching goals is essential for company health and growth. Business goals that encompass the four bottom lines of business as mission will impact staff, customers, suppliers and the community broadly. The goals shared below are a snapshot from the longer list of goals each company has for the year. Read more

Why Do BAMers Give Up & Go Home? The Top 4 Reasons for BAM Attrition

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 “Staff Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

We asked seven BAM mentors to share the reasons for BAMer attrition that they most commonly see. By attrition we mean negative factors that erode a BAMers ability to stay in their job and thus cause them to leave their location or their company – these could be gradual or cataclysmic.

Here are the top four factors the BAM mentors shared and some observations about each one:

1. Commercial failure

As expected, the most commonly cited factor was commercial failure. This covered a very broad area, but there were two strong themes within this category: money and market.

“Money” included both inadequate capitalisation and lack of financial control leading to cashflow problems. “Market” included lack of adequate business planning to determine whether there is a market for the product or service, and lack of ability to pivot to changes in the market.

Sometimes it’s a failure to do suitable and effective research and planning. Is there a need for the product or service? Simple as that. – DS

I’ve got a couple of businesses that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, and I think it’s problematic. And, in these instances, because they aren’t the type of owners who are the typical risk takers, they don’t make decisions to change their business model easily. – NH Read more

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

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

Two Company Leaders Look Back: Financial Planning Highs and Lows

When we have a major decision to make, we often ask those around us for input. Sometimes we follow that advice and other times we don’t. Occasionally we might look back and wish we had followed the advice we received from others. Hindsight is a beautiful thing!

Drawing on the wisdom of others can be helpful and the benefit of hindsight is illuminating. With those two things in mind, we asked a couple of well established BAM leaders for their advice about financial planning. We asked them to share what has been fruitful and has enabled them to grow companies that are doing well. We also asked them to share the lessons they’ve learned the hard way and what they would do differently in hindsight.

Hospitality Company 

Company A is a Hospitality company with 125 employees, it has two owners and was established 12 years ago.

What financial planning have you done to grow your company to the place it is today?

The growth of our company over the past five years has been quite substantial. We have seen our revenue increase 475%, and our earnings grow 540%. Though our financial planning was not the driver of that growth, it was certainly the foundation. Without the steps we have learned and taken over the years, we would not have been able to facilitate the amazing growth we have seen.  Read more

Cash Flow Mishaps: Stories from BAM Practitioners

We asked BAM practitioners to share their insights about cash flow. Here are 6 mini-stories of BAMer ‘cash flow mishaps’ or near misses!

[Read Part 1: 10 Cash Flow Tips and 10 Red Flags from BAM Practitioners]

6 Cash Flow Stories

One cash flow mishap we’ve experienced is significantly underestimating cash needs to service a period of significant growth. This can happen when long lead time raw materials are needed, with up-front payment. It can also happen when financing growth requires organisational learning and capacity building, it then takes extra time to ramp up production, and the working capital cycle is longer than expected. Another real danger is when a series of smaller mishaps all happen at the same time, for instance low quality raw materials, late delivery of materials, late payment by customers for finished products. Each of these on their own are manageable, but create a serious issue when stacked together. We have been able to develop some cashflow forecasting tools using MS Excel which give us visibility on future cash needs, including graphs, which feed into weekly reporting. This has been invaluable to us. – MH, Manufacturing, Asia

 

A few years ago I led a new initiative at our company to build a software product for retail banking. I was hoping that the recurring revenue from product sales would offset the erratic cash flows that are typical of a project-based software company. A project team of eight members spent 18 months building the product and we spent another year having a sales team sell the product. For a small company like ours the outflow of funds in this experiment resulted in a major blow to our cash flow for a couple of years. What I learned from this costly mistake is that a project oriented service company is not automatically good at being a product sales company. They are two different types of organizations with different team structures and competencies. – Joseph, IT, India/USA

Read more

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