Startup Planning Questions: Discovering your Business Model

by Larry Sharp

This is Part 2 of a two-part post, read Part 1.

What is the business model?

I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
– General Dwight Eisenhower

I am not a big fan of complex business plans in the early stages, but prefer to develop a business model typical of the lean start-up strategy.1 Don’t get me wrong – proper plans are necessary in time especially to qualify for a business loan or to record key research, but at an early stage I prefer modeling that is hypothesis driven. This mind-set should be intuitive to the entrepreneur and be at the heart of the consultant’s strategy.

Business founders should begin with a search for a business model which is driven by a hypothesis which can be tested in the marketplace of customer need. The model canvas contains a series of theories or good guesses which must be tested. These are sketches of how the company anticipates creating value for the customer. Read more

Startup Planning Questions: What to Do Before the Launch

by Larry Sharp


What is the opportunity?

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
– Benjamin Franklin

IBEC’s first consultant and later CEO, Ken Leahy drilled into me, “You do not have a business if you do not have a customer”. Since then the key question for me is to identify a meaningful business opportunity early on. Vision is important, but it cannot be the key component at the beginning. Do you have a customer? What is the problem to be solved? The answer can be derived from research and counsel, but it is important to determine the need for the product before moving too far toward planning and product development. Some call this the value proposition and it articulates why customers need the product or service. With no need, customers will not pay, and without sales, there is no business.

A couple planning to start a business in a large Asian country came to us with an idea. They planned to make wedding dresses in the country at a low cost and market them in the USA for considerable profit. The idea sounded good to everyone they discussed the idea with. Fortunately, they retained a consultant who pushed them in the direction of robust research and analytics. The day when everyone realized there was no ‘business opportunity’ here, there was sadness and tears – it seemed to be the death of a dream! Read more

How Can We Plan for Spiritual Impact?

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


Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Talking about having a Spiritual Impact Plan (SIP) can be a controversial topic. One response that comes back loud and clear when discussing this is, “How can you plan for the work of the Holy Spirit?” There is some truth in this – how can we know what the spiritual outcomes are going to be? We certainly have more control over the inputs. Jesus himself, in Matthew 28:19, told us to do several specific ‘input activities’: go, make disciples, baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach. Before doing any of these things we are surely expected to use our heads and think about how best to do them based on our own and the company’s  talents and abilities, our personal and corporate circumstances, the cultural situation we find ourselves in and the overall business goals the company has. Thinking about these things and writing them down is, in essence, a Spiritual Impact Plan. While it is the Holy Spirit that has control over the outcomes, we do get to work alongside and co-labour with the Lord. Therefore, this SIP should perhaps more accurately be SIDTOP – Spiritual Inputs with a Desire Towards Outputs Plan – just kidding! Seriously, planning is absolutely something you should be thinking about, including the spiritual dimension. Otherwise, why are we doing the BAM thing? Read more

How to Develop a Vision and Goals for Your BAM Company

We asked our team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners in the beginning stages of business planning. For this post we asked them to share ideas about developing goals and vision.

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. Read more about them below.

What advice would you give a new BAMer about developing a vision and mission plus goals/objectives for a company?

Larry Sharp
I am not so big on ‘vision’ initially (though it ultimately is important) but I am more interested in ‘opportunity’. Is there an opportunity to sell a product or provide a service? Is there an opportunity to reach a people group with discipleship? Is there an opportunity to transform a community? I would start there and when answers emerge, a vision and purpose should be articulated – and from there some goals for reaching the vision.  Then I would bounce my ideas on the vision – purpose – goals continuum off of some experienced BAMers. I have had many long-time BAM practitioners tell me that they welcome people to “come and see” and ask questions.

Mats Tunehag
Remember that BAM, is not a technique. It is a worldview and a lifestyle. It is about following Jesus in the marketplace – to the ends of the earth – loving God and serving people through business.

BAM is not Christians just doing social enterprise. BAM always considers God as a stakeholder who has a vested interested in multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders. Read more

12 Stakeholders You Should Engage in Your Business Startup

We asked a team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners creating business plans. For this post we asked them about key stakeholders in the business planning process.

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in a business. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by the activity of the business. – BBC

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as  teach and write on BAM. We also asked business woman Julia to share about a stakeholder she has found helpful in her business in Mongolia. Read more about them below.

Here are 12 stakeholders they mentioned, there are others:

  1. Investors – owners, bank or investment company
  2. Business people – in companies working cross-culturally in your business or industry
  3. Business consultant – someone with specialist knowledge
  4. Colleagues – management and staff
  5. Customers – those likely to be your clients
  6. Suppliers – of essential materials and services for your business
  7. Community – local society and also the physical environment
  8. Cultural expert – someone with insight into engaging with local community
  9. Government official – someone who can give you insight and be an advocate for you
  10. Body of Christ – local church community, mission organisations and supporting churches
  11. Spiritual advisor or mentor – someone with wise counsel you can be accountable to
  12. God – the most important stakeholder

Read more

Discovering the Right Thing to Build: How to Get Started with Business Planning

by Colleene Isaacs

In every new business I have had the pleasure of being able to build, or at least participate in the process, the ultimate plan that proved successful for the business was not the original idea that got the team on board. My partners and I started out on one path and soon found in each case, for a variety of different reasons, that if we didn’t “pivot” or change course the business had a high probability of failure. Fortunately, we did change course quickly enough, such that resources were preserved and we were able to build and scale the business to a successful outcome. Other start-ups in which I participated made assumptions based on existing businesses and markets, and unfortunately never tested those assumptions. The businesses ultimately failed, because the assumptions were wrong.

I have met MBAs that have plowed considerable resources into researching and defining a business model, only to take so long and be so far off mark, they never got the business off the ground. Read more

Integrating Spiritual Impact Through Company Values

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


Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Psalm 127:1-2 NIV)

I would be hesitant to create a separate plan that speaks to spiritual impact within my business, rather I would look at how every aspect of my business is structured and operated to provide the space for spiritual impact to occur. It’s my belief that corporate culture and how culture is articulated and modeled daily creates the opportunity for spiritual impact to occur within your organization. The Bible is clear in expressing that the world will know followers of Christ by our fruit – fruit is manifested through actions.

Integrating Spiritual Impact through Values

When you think of spiritual impact within your business you are really speaking to the culture of the environment and how culture is lived out daily between management, employees, customers and vendors. At the core of culture are the values which drive your organization. How those values are communicated within and without the organization establish the foundation for spiritual impact. Your values represent your philosphical views as well as well as your organizational priorities and sense of purpose. Your values will directly impact your mission, goals and objectives. What will be key is understanding and defining how these values integrate into the daily work life of your employees. Read more

7 Key Elements of a Business Plan [Infographic]

Business Planning Infographic BAM

Created by Evan McCall for The BAM Review


10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating a Business Idea

By Robert Andrews

I would ask questions like these in a couple of iterations, meaning I would go through them once quickly to see if there is some clear deal breaking problem, and then again in more detail, and finally as part of the development of a detailed and researched business plan:

1. Is it a product or service that honors God?  (Helping society, is good for the environment, etc.)

2. Is the business viable? Is there a market need for the product/service? Is the market ready and able to pay for the product/service?

3. Are there ways in which the business can make a positive contribution to the needs of the kingdom in this city/country?

4. Are staff, suppliers and other essential services available?

5. Are there legal restrictions or other government regulations that would make it unworkable?

6. Do I have the skills and other resources necessary to run the business and, if not, can I get them through training, hiring, consulting or other partnerships?  (This would include management skills, technical product skills, local business knowledge, language and culture skills, just to name a few.)

7. How much capital will it take to start and maintain?  (Estimate the capital requirement. Then double it. Then double it again!)

8. What happens if it all goes the wrong way… can I afford the loss if it comes?

9. Do I have the time and energy to make this work and is my family willing to make the sacrifice with me?

10. Are there other opportunities available that will bring a better financial and/or spiritual return on my invested time, money and effort? Read more

How to Approach a Spiritual Impact Plan for Your Business

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

Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

A business plan is intended to help you work through the key issues you will face in running your business and should include all of the factors that have critical importance. It should addresses the design of the product, distribution, manufacture, finance, marketing, purchasing, and capitalization. It should also address how all of these business functions fit in to the work God is doing.

The spiritual impact of the business is one of the key objectives for a BAM business and as such it ought to be integrated in planning right from the beginning. Much like marketing or distribution, you can’t possibly have all the answers when you start to plan, and likely you won’t have many of the right questions either, but as you flesh out your vision of the business you and your partners will see questions that need to be answered which drive you to find answers.  And in finding those answers you will discover deeper questions. That’s the process that moves a good plan forward. Read more

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