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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

Succession Planning: How Do We Plan for Our Exit?

Our panel of mentors regularly answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing about succession planning and having an exit strategy… But when should I be thinking about this? How does it tie in with leadership development in my team?

~ Thinking Long-term

Dear Thinking,

Start the Beginning with the End in Mind

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. – Philippians 3:15-16 MSG

Every life experience has a beginning and an end. The multiple stages of parenting is a fairly accurate depiction of this truism. First-time parents know, even in those first days of newborn-nuzzling, they must one day release that child. The busyness of the initial parenting season blurs the reality of inevitable separation. When the eventual becomes the reality, the detachment process can be palpable. As painful as this process can be, if it doesn’t happen, the child will most likely never continue to develop into a fully productive, self-sufficient individual.

Similarly, one can view the life-cycle of a business and its founder in the same manner. For founders, the early stages require us to do just about everything. We build and test product, we market and sell, we provide customer service, we make coffee, we clean toilets, and we take on any and every unenviable task, if seen as advancing our vision. Our “new baby” is solely dependent on us. For some in this stage, we can’t even leave the “baby” for fear we will return to a mess at best, or a dangerous situation at worst.  Read more

When Should I Be Thinking About Succession Planning or Exit Strategy?

Our panel of mentors regularly answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing about succession planning and having an exit strategy… But when should I be thinking about this? How does it tie in with leadership development in my team?

~ Thinking Long-term

Dear Thinking,

None of us will last forever. Every manager and every employee someday will move on, either to another job or another company or to retirement or to death. If Jesus returns shortly then the calculation is different, but it is a pretty good bet that no one will be in the same job 80 years from now.

Some people are pretty comfortable playing things as they come and responding to problems as they arise. Often that works. But it’s really a wiser move to have some plans in place, especially for key positions. If something unexpected happens to a key employee it’s not at all a sure thing that you will be able to find a replacement in a reasonable time. In our work we have seen expatriate managers suddenly blocked from entering the country or suddenly have a spouse announce he won’t live in the country any more. Kids get serious illnesses or require therapy that is not available locally. We have also seen national managers suddenly decide their family will be better off if they relocate to a wealthier or safer country. In most of the cases I can remember the decision was sudden and unexpected and the consequences were very hard for the company, sometimes fatal.  Read more

4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer

Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. – Philippians 2:15-16 (The Message)

I love how The Message renders this exhortation from Paul in Philippians. The more traditional ‘shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life’ is brought to life as an encouragement to be a breath of fresh air to people, showing them what good living is in relationship with the living God.

What a reminder and challenge for each follower of Christ that our own relationship with the Lord is central to our mission! For how can we be a breath of fresh air to others and help people glimpse the living God if we are not experiencing that vital life and connection in our own lives? But we live in the real world with real businesses to run. How can we be ‘light-giving’ when we are under great stress, dealing with the pressures and realities of running a company, often in hostile or difficult circumstances?

This is the question that we put to 12 BAM practitioners. We asked them about the greatest challenges to nurturing or maintaining their spiritual health as a BAMer. We also asked them what had been their most useful habits, practices or resources for nurturing spiritual health. Read more

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

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

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

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

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up the spring and head into summer we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for the summer of 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

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