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Business Solutions to Human Trafficking

By Mats Tunehag, with input from Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag

In the 1700’s the slave trade was widely accepted and legal. It was, in fact, a backbone of the economy of the British Empire. It was a big, organized and transnational business.

William Wilberforce and the Clapham group decided to fight this evil trade. They chose to attack the systemic issue – the legality of slave trade and slavery. To that end they organized a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted the dehumanizing trade.

They could have chosen an easier route of awareness campaigns and a boycott of sugar from plantations in Jamaica, but they knew such initiatives in themselves would not free the slaves or bring about lasting change. The feel good factor may have been higher, but the long-term outcomes would have been meager.

Charity and justice

Today the slave trade and slavery are illegal, but not dead. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is a lucrative and evil business. Just like Wilberforce and his colleagues, we need to ask what the systemic issue is today – and we need to go beyond charitable actions to fight for justice.

We visited St. Andrew Catholic Church in Clemson, South Carolina early 2016, and their vision statement[1] struck us:

“Charity” is the generosity that alleviates needs that are immediate. “Justice” is the process by which generosity configures our ways of providing education, delivering health care, doing business, and creating laws that lessen the need for charity. There will always be immediate needs even in the most just of worlds.

Charity is the more attractive generosity. We see immediate results for the better and we enjoy – here and now – the gratification that comes from doing good. Justice is less attractive because it usually calls for personal and communal change, and we are creatures of habit.

We often respond to needs and global issues through non-profit charity models. But the danger is that some may have more of a PR function sprinkled with feel good factors, rather than dealing with systemic issues and root causes.

Wilberforce and the Clapham group were not popular; they worked against an institution – slavery – that was broadly accepted. Today, taking a position against human trafficking is among the easiest things you can do. The world will applaud you! But how can your stand free slaves and restore human dignity?

Root cause to human trafficking

We need to identify root causes to human trafficking. One answer is unemployment. Places with high unemployment and under-employment become high-risk areas, where traffickers trick and trap vulnerable people looking for jobs. Thus we cannot talk about adequate prevention of human trafficking unless we include the need for jobs with dignity.[2]

We must also answer the question: out of trafficking and into what? Jobs with dignity provide a hope for sustainable freedom to survivors. Effective prevention and restoration require jobs. Who can create jobs with dignity? Business people.

Big, organized and transnational

Human trafficking is a huge and hugely profitable crime, connecting criminal organisations around the world. It is big, organised and transnational. On the other side, most of those combatting trafficking are in the non-profit sector; and the charities responding are often small, local and poorly connected. We need to develop strategies and initiatives focused on business solutions to human trafficking, and they must have the capacity to be (or become) big, organised and transnational.

Business solutions: BAM & the Freedom Business Alliance

In 2012, the Business as Mission Global Think Tank assigned a working group to explore business solutions to human trafficking. The group identified businesses that aim at providing solutions to human trafficking, particularly by providing jobs for prevention and restoration.[3]

Called freedom businesses, these businesses exist to fight human trafficking. There are several types of business that fit into this category:  businesses that create jobs for survivors of exploitation would be the most familiar.  Other workplaces hire vulnerable people in order to prevent exploitation, or aggregate products from these first two and bring them to new markets. Because employment is an important aspect of human dignity, freedom businesses offer opportunities to people whose main qualification is the need for a job.[4]

The Think Tank group produced a groundbreaking report: A Business Takeover: Combating the Business of the Sex Trade with Business as Mission.[5] Excerpts from the report reinforce the crucial role of business:

Freedom businesses are uniquely positioned to strike at the economically driven foundations of the sex trade. By combining the necessary components of economic productivity and holistic ministry, the staggering numbers of people caught in the trade can be reduced through the powerful response of freedom business.

Traditionally, businesses have been relegated to participating in anti-trafficking work as the funding source for the work of nonprofits. However, business as mission (BAM) entrusts businesses with much more than simply funding nonprofit work; the business itself becomes the vehicle of change. As such, both nonprofit and for-profit strategies are integral to success in anti-trafficking work.

Business and nonprofit work can come together in anti-trafficking work to focus on job creation, increasing the employability of individuals who have been victimized by human trafficking, and in their subsequent aftercare.”

This report catalyzed the launch of the Freedom Business Alliance (FBA)[6], a global trade association that believes business can be a powerful tool in the holistic restoration of individuals and the transformation of their communities. FBA aims at providing business training and mentoring, industry research, networking opportunities, information, resources and marketplace connections.

In January 2016, the Freedom Business Alliance was invited to engage business leaders from companies like Coca Cola, Life Shape, Oracle, Anthem, Randstad, Deloitte, SalesForce, Delta Airlines, and Infosys who wanted to use their business experience and corporate infrastructure to combat human trafficking.  FBA presented the corporations with on-ramps for engagement, including:

allowing employees to do pro-bono consultation with freedom businesses;

employing vulnerable people in every place they do business;

training freedom businesses in business skills; and

becoming financial supporters of the Freedom Business Alliance

Freedom Business Forum 2017

Freedom businesses exist because jobs with dignity are a primary need for prevention of human trafficking. They are also necessary to bring restoration to survivors of modern day slavery. The Freedom Business Alliance exists to help freedom businesses – these and others – to succeed.

To that end the Freedom Business Forum was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in late August 2017.  FBA hosted 138 people from 28 countries to network with other freedom business leaders and access business training and expert consultants. The event was designed as a ‘one stop shop’ for strategic solutions to the challenges facing freedom business, and an opportunity to build community for the freedom journey.

Review concept of return on investment, ROI

As we acknowledge the importance of both financial capital and investors, we also need to review the concept of ROI. The most prevalent paradigm is a Wall Street concept.

Simply put, Wall Street is relatively one-dimensional: it is about money. Investors put money into a business, with the hope and expectation that they will get more money back – in the shortest time possible. It is a two-way street: money goes from investor to business, and then back from business to investor. This is not bad or evil, but we need to think bigger, beyond the traditional ROI.

Wall Street vs. BAM Street [7]

We need to move from Wall Street to BAM Street. Business as Mission is about seeking a positive impact on multiple bottom-lines for multiple stakeholders through business.

BAM Street recognizes the importance of investors, business owners and operators, but also values other stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers, family, church, community, creation, and ultimately, God.  BAM Street is multi-dimensional. Besides financial capital, we are intentional about putting other kinds of capital into a business: intellectual capital (for example, through mentoring) and spiritual input (for instance, prayer).

BAM Street is more of a roundabout than a simple two-way street.

Roundabouts have multiple entry and exit points. I may put money into a BAM or freedom business, but the financial return (part or whole) may go to some other entity in the BAM eco-system. Part of the profit can go the community, to profit-sharing schemes or into investment in other BAM companies.  BAM Street engages people and groups with diverse resources to use business as a blessing – on many levels and for many stakeholders.

BAM Street and solutions to human trafficking

The global BAM movement needs more financial capital, and so do freedom businesses. But more money is not enough if we just think and operate on a Wall Street concept. Should we settle for Wall Street, or should we move towards BAM Street? With the latter model we can see more and different kinds of capital invested in businesses, with more returns to more stakeholders.

Freedom and restoration of human dignity can be returns of BAM Street investments, and the Freedom Business Alliance may serve, in part, as a “BAM Street stock exchange”.

Movements of societal transformation[8]

Fighting human trafficking through business solutions is necessary but it is not a quick fix. We are seeking a good and lasting change, a holistic transformation on a macro scale.

Throughout history there has been movements of societal transformation. We can mention the Protestant reformation, Wilberforce and the abolitionists, the suffragettes, and the civil rights movement in the US.

Looking at these movements, one can observe some common themes. The groups often started as a small minority with a shared vision and common values. They connected with one another, built a critical mass, and had a commendable tenacity.

The freedom business movement has the potential to become a movement of societal transformation. The vision is clear and the values are shared. Although small, they have taken significant steps via the Freedom Business Alliance to build critical mass. You are of course invited to join the freedom movement!

Doing BAM and growing freedom businesses to bring freedom and achieve societal transformation is not instant coffee: take a few bits of BAM thinking and a desire for freedom, stir into a business and voilà: transformation. No, societal transformation takes time. We want to set a stage and serve our generation in such a way that it will be a blessing for many generations to come.

BAM, freedom business, and the Olive Tree

We can learn from the olive tree. Many of us think in terms of two kinds of olives: green and black. But there are a thousand or more varieties! In the BAM movement we are not just two categories: business people on the one hand, and church and mission people on the other. Instead, we are part of a greater eco-system of investors, bookkeepers, prayer partners, entrepreneurs, academics, human trafficking experts, theologians, marketing and sales people, and many others.

After planting, it takes about twenty-five years before an olive tree bears edible fruit. But once it starts bearing fruit, it can produce olives for two thousand years – or more! Olive trees are intergenerational blessings.

The modern BAM movement and the freedom business movement are still young; we are in some ways still within the first 25 years of the life of an olive tree. We do see some fruit, but are eagerly awaiting more.

In this stage of growth, the BAM olive tree needs care and feeding; the strategic and intentional investment of time and resources.  We want to build a movement that can bring the good and lasting “fruit” of transformation, and we know that this will take time. In the meantime, we hold tenaciously to the vision of freedom as we build BAM communities and develop the Freedom Business Alliance.

We embrace the promise that God will bless us so we can be a blessing – in and through business – in our generation and for many generations to come.

 

 

[1] Find out more about the vision of the St. Andrew Catholic Church in Clemson, South Carolina: http://www.saclemson.org/a-parish-vision

[2] Mats wrote a longer article in 2015 which elaborates on human trafficking, a root cause and business solutions: http://matstunehag.com/2015/05/17/human-trafficking-and-freedom-through-enterprise/

[3] Jennifer describes the development of the Freedom Business Alliance in an interview, see http://businessasmission.com/fba-interview/

[4] Jennifer gives an introduction to freedom businesses in this video vignette https://vimeo.com/152460926

[5] The BAM Global Think Tank report on BAM and Human Trafficking: http://bamglobal.org/report-trafficking/

[6] Make sure to watch the FBA introductory video at http://www.freedombusinessalliance.com

[7] Mats wrote an article on the issue: http://matstunehag.com/2015/06/24/wall-street-vs-bam-street/. There is also a short two minutes video: The Wall Street model is too limited; we need a more broad and impactful BAM Street concept: https://vimeo.com/152713984

[8] See also Mats’ article on BAM, the olive tree and movements of societal transformation from 2013: http://matstunehag.com/2013/05/08/bam-the-olive-tree/

Mats TunehagMats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for 20 years. He is the Senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission. He is the co-editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission and currently the co-chair of BAM Global. He also serves with a global investment fund based on Christian values that helps SMEs to grow in size, profitability and holistic impact in the Arab world and Asia. Visit MatsTunehag.com for more resources from Mats.

Freedom Through Business: Hold Fast to Your Dream

by Mats Tunehag

My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in August. The focus was freedom! Freedom from slavery and injustice, and freedom to live in truth, enjoy beauty, create wealth and share goodness. This is the story of freedom business.

We know that jobs with dignity are a primary need for prevention of human trafficking. It is also a must to bring restoration of survivors of modern day slavery.

That’s why freedom businesses exist, and the Freedom Business Alliance exists to help freedom businesses succeed.

To that end the Freedom Business Forum was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in late August. It was the first global gathering of its kind, and about 140 people from all continents participated. It was a great mix of people and talents, all committed to true freedom through business, with all their hearts and minds.

Freedom business is hard, but necessary. And some are called to it, and as Pope Francis says: “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.  It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” 

The concluding keynote address at the Forum was held by one of my heroines, Annie Dieselberg. She runs a freedom business in Bangkok. Her calling is clear and her commitment exemplary. Her challenging freedom business journey is reflected in a most inspirational speech. Here’s Annie:

Hold Fast to Your Dream

My children recently decided they needed to make some money. Secretly they began creating products and then they laid them out on the table and announced their store was open. They invited mom and dad to come and to make purchases. What they had created was paper bookmarks, origami, and drawings, which they had priced at around 10-20 baht each. My husband and I each chose a couple of their products and my kids proudly pocketed their income with plans for an outing to the nearest 7/11. They had figured out that earning money was purchasing power and the ability to make choices.

Most of us, if not all of us, at young ages, became aware of the power that money has to give us choices in life. Most of us probably came up with innovative ideas of how to make some money to gain choices that our parents were not providing for us. From lemonade stands, to car washes, to babysitting, or mowing peoples’ lawns, there was in us a desire to create money, because money is purchasing power and gives the ability to make choices. The ability to choose is not something to be taken for granted. It is something that comes with freedom.

Freedom allows for choice, which can be used for good or for evil, for self entirely or for the good of others.

My older daughter Kristina was a nanny for a very wealthy and prominent business family. One day my daughter and the 3 year old were discussing friends. The wealthy family traveled so much that she didn’t have any friends to play with. The 3 year old announced, “That’s okay, I will buy friends.”

This 3 year old already understood that money was power. From her worldview she could get anything she wanted with money. She is too young to understand the negative consequences of misuse of money and power, especially when it comes to relationships.

The business of prostitution and sex trafficking makes billions of dollars of profit for people with evil and selfish goals. It preys on vulnerabilities of people who have few choices in life and turns them into slaves and commodities. It is an obscene abuse of power and of wealth. The dreams of the victims to gain income for their families and improve the quality of life, quickly turns into terrorizing nightmares that scare away their dreams.

Prior to working with women in prostitution, I mostly viewed the business world as the other side – where greedy and selfish people used money used for privilege and exclusivity while ignoring or exploiting the vulnerabilities of the poor. I made the mistake of dismissing business as a whole.

Somewhere around 2003 however, I was introduced to Business as Mission and I began to see the strength of business and the opportunity for individual, community, and global impact.[1] I realized that it wasn’t business or making money that was evil and self-serving, but the misuse of that privilege. I realized that the creation of business, is a key to sustaining freedom, by providing survivors life-giving choices.[2]

I am a survivor… I have survived being a pioneer in the freedom business movement. In 2005, my team and I began NightLight Design Co. Ltd. The story I have told many times over is a humble beginning with one girl over a coke at McDonalds learning to make a necklace. She needed a job and I promised her one so with a prayer and a leap of faith we began. Though I had 5 years experience working with survivors, I did not have any professional business experience. Being a pioneer in the field I had no mentors that could guide me in creating or operating a freedom business.

Initially visiting business people’s advice lacked awareness of the challenges of working with survivors. Mission groups came through with advice on addressing the spiritual or emotional needs, but their advice lacked the understanding of the business side. I quickly discovered that we were pioneers with a big machete in hand, hacking through the jungle vines. We would encounter valleys and mountains, we would get hit in the face with branches, bit by spiders and snakes, trip and fall on our way to find the path. It was messy and it was and is an adventure.

The business took off quickly with a lot of excitement. By the third year we had 88 women employed. I made a hasty and foolish promise to God that I would not reject anyone who came our way for help. It was a promise I couldn’t keep. As other organizations began to emerge with similar businesses and the market quickly became saturated, we began to realize that our model was not sustainable.

We came to a crisis point a few years ago. The negative voices thundered in my head and I began to cave in and doubt the vision that I had believed came from God. I almost quit. I almost gave in to shutting down the business. At about that time Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag[3] came through with encouraging news about the launching of the Freedom Business Alliance[4] and instilled some hope back in me.

Around the same time, God gave me a vivid dream that was a clear warning against aborting the vision. I decided to take a stand and rather than give up we did some re-structuring to save a failing business. That restructuring began to turn things around.

Freedom businesses are hard.

Recently my family was returning from vacation at the beach when my 6 year old daughter asked, “How do you get a hotel?” Wow, what a loaded question. Now that I have been in business, I began to list many of the steps from planning, to investment, to design, to construction, interior decorating, restaurant set up, menu, guest services, staffing, and marketing.

By the time I was done listing I concluded that it is a huge project that involves a lot of work. My daughter was not anywhere near as overwhelmed as I was and announced, “I am going to have a hotel.” What was it that made her decide she wanted a hotel? It was her positive experience. She had made the connection albeit naïve, that having a hotel could give people, including herself, a positive experience. She had a dream.

I had a dream of a business that would employ survivors and give them a positive experience. I really had no idea what I was really getting into, but I had a dream and in spite of the challenges I was not going to give up.

Since 2005 we have seen 175 women come through the holistic employment program of NLD and NLF. The women are employed in an environment of faith, hope, and love that they have never experienced before.

One of my heart stories that drives me is a woman I met when she was still in prostitution. She told me that sometimes she did not know if she was still a human being so she cut herself. She said if she saw blood and felt pain she knew she was still alive, still human. When she started making jewelry at NightLight she said to me, “Annie, I used to catch myself with my head low because I was so ashamed of who I was and what I was doing. Now I catch myself with my head up high because I am proud of what I am doing.”

Today that same woman is on staff managing the materials department. She teaches new women and expat groups how to make jewelry. She now has power of choice in her life and she is choosing to make an impact in her community.

Freedom businesses are about the business of restoring that hope, of restoring the power to choose, of redeeming the value of life, and the ability to make money for good and positive impact. Freedom businesses give people the chance to dream again, to believe in a future that has quality of life.

I believe many of you are starting out or in a stage of the dream where it feels hard and honestly when we hear the presentations of some of the very successful businesses it can feel overwhelming. We wonder how we will ever get to that measure of success. We wonder sometimes if we can legitimately call ourselves a business in comparison. We resonate with Kerry’s[5] description of heart-driven decisions. But honestly, none of us here are only heart people. We all have a little of the brain at least. And brains, you all have at least some heart. Otherwise none of us would be here at this forum.

The Freedom Business Alliance is in fact an intersection of the two. If we were all heart, we would be content just working at a soup kitchen or a relief agency. If we were all brain we would probably be doing business completely oblivious to the crying demands of survivors. All of us are here because we either have big hearts with growing business brains, or big business brains with growing or enlightened hearts. We all dream of a world where business has a great social impact and provides jobs, freedom, choice, and quality of life to survivors, their families, and their communities.

Langston Hughes wrote, “Hold fast to your dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” The women we encounter in the sex industry are broken-winged birds who cannot fly, birds caught in cages, bought and sold and with each sell they lose sight of themselves and their dreams.

  • Freedom businesses open up the cage doors and bring the broken-winged into a place of security, of love, of healing, and of hope.
  • Freedom businesses give women back their dreams and through freedom businesses women are given back their ability to fly. Hold fast to your dreams!
  • Freedom business founders and leaders, hold fast to your dreams! I cannot promise it will be easy, but with each bird, each woman, who flies again, we forget the costs, the labor, the sacrifice, and we celebrate life and freedom.

Keynote address at the Freedom Business Forum [7], Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Delivered August 23, 2017 by Annie Dieselberg, NightLight [6]

Annie’s bio:  Working with women in prostitution since 2000, Annie began NightLight in 2005 to provide prevention, intervention, and holistic restoration to women at risk or escaping sexual exploitation.  Annie has a passion to see women and children freed from the sexual exploitation of prostitution and trafficking, to see their lives transformed holistically, and to see the global church and community working together to free, heal, and restore all who have been broken and wounded through the sex trade.

Annie’s story has been featured in the book, Not For Sale, by David Batstone, and the documentary, Furious Love, by Darren Wilson.

****

Notes added by Mats Tunehag / MatsTunehag.com

[1] See http://bamglobal.org/ and http://businessasmission.com/

[2] See BAM Global Think Tank Report: “A Business Takeover: Combating the Business of the Sex Trade with Business as Mission.” http://www.matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BMTT-IG-BAM-and-Human-Trafficking-Final-Report-October-2013.pdf

[3] Jennifer & Mats Tunehag visited Annie in Bangkok in February 2015

[4] http://www.freedombusinessalliance.com/

[5] Kerry Hilton also spoke at the Freedom Business Forum. He runs a freedom business: http://freesetglobal.com/

[6] http://www.nightlightinternational.com/

[7] http://www.freedombusinessalliance.com/forum

Mats TunehagMats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for 20 years. He is the Senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission. He is the co-editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission and currently the co-chair of BAM Global. He also serves with a global investment fund based on Christian values that helps SMEs to grow in size, profitability and holistic impact in the Arab world and Asia. Visit MatsTunehag.com for more resources from Mats.

Business as Mission: An Expression of Biblical Integrity

by Mike Baer

The word “integrity” has been bandied about so much over the last decade or so that it has practically become meaningless. Politicians are described in their self-serving advertisements as men or women of “integrity.” We like the word. It’s right up there with “tolerant”—another empty term. In fact, who could argue with someone who was tolerant and had integrity. He or she would be a postmodern super hero.

Unfortunately, we don’t think about words much any more. We don’t dwell on what they mean. As a result, we lose the richness and power of a great concept. So, in this article, I want to spend a few moments unpacking two dimensions of integrity, especially in the context of Business as Mission.

Integrity and Ethics

When I first began teaching business in the Former Soviet Union twenty years ago, the first hurdle I had to overcome was establishing that business was legitimate in the first place. Most people viewed business as inherently corrupt and dishonest. Today’s America has very much the same opinion. And why not? We hear constant news flashes of another scandal in Apple’s China factory or fraud in CitiGroup’s financial products or theft on Wall Street, or…ad nauseum.  It is erroneous to confuse business with the business person. The person is corrupt but business is not. Nevertheless, few think that deeply and so they condemn all things business as dark, greedy and devilish.

Read more

Are You Really a Second-Class Christian?

By Dave Kahle

For much of my Christian life, I’ve struggled with a difficult and painful image of myself: I was a second-class Christian. No one ever said that to me in so many words, but a certain belief permeates our Christian culture so deeply that few Christians would ever question it:

Real ministry is defined by the time you spend in the official efforts of the church to evangelize the lost and edify the saved. This is the work that God is interested in, that He considers most important, special, and significant.

By accepting this false belief, our fruitfulness is hindered by shrinking and distorting our views of what we and our businesses can be. As a result, millions of Christians, like myself, lead lives that are far less productive than God wants. And hundreds of thousands of businesses are hampered in achieving their full potential. And that means that the Church’s influence and impact is light years away from that which it could be.

Here are some ways this belief is expressed in Christian culture:

A client recently told me that one of his salespeople left the company to go into full-time ministry. The implication was that the former employee merely ‘made a living’ when they worked for my client; now they did ‘real’ ministry – that work that is only in the context of the church.

Read more

Consequences of the Business as Money-Giver Mentality

By Dave Kahle

“Our business should just make money so that we can give it away” – that’s the message our contemporary evangelical culture teaches us. Those who look for a higher purpose in their business may find this message easy to accept but is this message actually short-sighted and missing the mark on all God has for Christian owned businesses?

There are books written advocating that the sole purpose of a business is to make money to fund religion. What if God has a much larger and full purpose for business? It is easy to conclude from the Biblical theme of giving that the sole purpose of our businesses is to give. And besides, it feels good and gives great CSR standing in the community! With so much support for the idea, it’s no wonder that most Christian business people believe it.

But is our perspective skewed?

Could it be that this giving paradigm, that feels good and seems reasonable, is actually hindering our growth and thwarting the growth of the Kingdom?

If we could unleash the potential of Christian owned and influenced businesses to see themselves as powerful entities in the Kingdom with multiple bottom lines (Social, Spiritual, Economic, and Environmental) as opposed to merely a Kingdom check-book, we could turn the world upside down. Here are some consequences of the short-sighted view of the Business as money-giver paradigm.

Consequences of the business as money giver paradigm

Consequence #1:  It elevates money to the highest priority in business.

By stating that the purpose of a business is to make money so that you can give it away, money is elevated to the highest priority in business. Now, all of the other purposes of a business — to provide community, to develop future leaders, to bless communities, to demonstrate the fullness of Christ, etc. (find the full list in The Good Book on Business) — slide down the scale and become subservient to the quest to make money. While a business should make money, that is not its highest calling. A business only achieves its potential when it steps out of the money-is-everything mentality.

Read more

6 Reasons Why Your Vision May be Failing (And What to Do About It)

by Chris Cloud

Since there are many excellent articles on Vision Casting out there, I have decided to come at this from a different angle. My question is: Where is a vision likely to fall off the rails? I’d argue that most individuals, and most organizations, are not guided by a clear vision.

I have been a part of a few organizations that nailed it, and a few that could have achieved so much more if they had a clear vision and steered towards it. I’ve also consulted with dozens of companies regarding their brand and strategy, and inevitably vision comes up as one of the most powerful elements of growth and impact.

Without a vision, the people perish. – Proverbs 29:18

Here are some simple observations on where a vision commonly goes off the rails, and what to do about it. Note: I believe a clear vision is just as transformative, and sadly, just as rare for an individual as it is for a group or organization. So even if you aren’t leading a company, this is for you.

Where do Visions Fail?

Lack of Clarity: “What exactly is our vision?” It’s either too complicated, or it’s too ambiguous. Keep it simple enough for a 4th grader to understand. Poor vision: “we’re going to be big and successful one day”. What does that even mean? Strong vision, “We’re going to put all of the world’s information online.” (Google’s vision). It’s clear. It’s stupid simple, though it’s not easy by any stretch. It’s ambitious, almost pretentious, but it’s compelling. It conjures up visceral imagery. The old explorers were great at this. For example, Ernest Shackleton’s vision was, “To accomplish the first crossing of the Antarctic continent.”  Read more

Get Started Growing: Maximizing Startup Success

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we head into summer we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for January to July 2017.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Stu Minshew

On the theme of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. Previously we’ve covered ‘breaking through your growth ceiling’ for an established business. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 1: Get Started Growing

Starting and growing a business is a calling from the Lord. If you ask anyone who has done it, they will tell you how exhilarating it can be, but also how it sometimes seems overwhelming and impossible. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, it always requires hustle and flexibility, but taking a few simple actions can equip you to overcome obstacles to starting and growing your business to a level of sustainability.

During this series, we will explore these steps, but before we get to those, we need to discuss a few foundational points.

Foundational Point 1: Startups & Small Businesses Have Different Needs

In 2016, The Bureau of Labor in the United States shows that about 50% of businesses make it five years, while only about 30% make it past the ten year mark. If this is the reality, then starting a business doesn’t look like such a good idea.  Read more

The Postmortem of a Failure: How to Evaluate & Even Avoid Failure

by Colleene Isaacs

“Why did I fail? I did it by the book. I listened to my advisors. I corrected course based on what others recommended…”

“The business was a good idea, the timing was probably just off…”

“I knew I was in God’s will. He would provide and make it successful. How could I go wrong with Him on my side? I can’t figure out what happened…”

Does any of this sound familiar? Has this, or a variation of this, narrative been your own?

If this has been your own experience, how do you begin to dissect and understand what happened?

The Standard Reasons for Failure?

Most business experts can easily recite the top five to seven reasons for business failure. However, the reality is… the reasons for failure in any particular business cannot be summarily reduced to a quick list.

The manner in which we think about our failures is flawed, because we are flawed. Failure is multi-faceted, and complex, just like the humans who craft the scenarios in which failure thrives.  Read more

8 Counterintuitive Benefits of Failure: A Personal Story

by Chris Cloud

I’ve had many failures in my life. One of them was in business. I was partner in a healthcare related startup that launched right before the Great Recession in the U.S. We were trying to do something radical, and the market wasn’t ready. But the truth is, neither were we as company leaders. We did some things well, but we made a lot of mistakes because of our lack of experience. These circumstances eventually caused the young seedling company to go out of business.

Bottom line: we failed. I failed.

Here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned through that particular failure as I’ve reflected on it over the years.

I’m writing from a place of weakness, as I’ve made many mistakes in the way I have responded to failure – but I’ve also seen the fruit and growth that can come as a result. Before I share the 8 counterintuitive benefits of failure, here are 7 more harmful ways I have responded to failure.  Read more

We’re Only Human After All: Growing Through Failure

We take our humanity to work everyday. One day, we might fail to meet a deadline or misunderstand a client. Another day, failure might bring unrecoverable loss, the closing of a department, losing your largest account, or even filing for bankruptcy.

As failure looks us straight in the eye, we have a choice to make about how we respond. In these moments of hardship we can choose denial, blame, resentment, unforgiveness… Or we can chose to bravely take responsibility for our decisions and the impact on those around us. We can allow God to deepen our character through the roughest of circumstances.

Character Growth Spurts

No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I hope I fail today” – rather we hope not to! Yet failure, whether big or small, is part of our human existence. Indeed, it is through times of failure that our characters get a growth spurt. Hopefully, we get enough of these growth spurts early in life before the stakes get too high!

If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts. – Tim Keller

God is passionate about our sanctification. He uses work spaces to cultivate people to be more like Himself. The workplace can be a place of character development if we allow our hearts to receive the instruction. Failure, more than just about anything else, can grow hardy, rock-solid character and deeper trust in God – if we allow it to.  Read more