Posts

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever: A Response

by Ross O’Brien

Like Mats Tunehag in his original article Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever, I hope that one day followers of Jesus whom God has gifted for business will naturally recognize their vocational call to the marketplace as a call to fulfill the missio Dei, the mission of God.

God’s purpose in the world is to redeem all creation from the effects of sin and restore all creation back into right relationship with himself. As followers of Jesus we have the blessed privilege and responsibility of co-working with God in this mission. I agree with much of what Mats say in this article and in general.

However, I question a few points, which reflects some of my own mental pilgrimage on BAM.  Read more

Marketing and Customer Service through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s value chain as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also sought to use the tool as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this third part of the series, we examine marketing and service, the final two primary activities in the value chain.

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Operations and Outbound Logistics Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In Part 1 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. We looked at Inbound Logistics as one of the primary activities in the value chain.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. After all, while our names might be on the legal documentation as “owners,” we realize that the business belongs to God and we are co-laborers with him in restoring creation throughout the marketplace.

In the second part of the series, we continue to examine the primary activities of the value chain, this time focusing on operations and outbound logistics.

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Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

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Identifying and Maximizing BAM Success Factors Part 1

By Paul Harrington

In this new series on ‘BAM Success Factors’ we invite guest authors to share what they consider the key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. To open up the series, Paul Harrington gives us an overview of the most important BAM success factors he has identified through research. 

BAM Success Factors Part 1: Professional and Technical Considerations

Starting a new career in a part of the world that is not your cultural home is a big undertaking for anyone. For those who wish to use their businesses as a means through which God can reach the world, the challenge can be even greater. Everyone involved in the Business as Mission movement wants to make sure that every practitioner that takes the bold step of setting up a business with Kingdom values in a new context succeeds. Thankfully, many of the keys to success for BAM practitioners are known and have been validated by scholarly research.

BAM practitioners aren’t the only group of people who live and work outside of their home countries. Many companies and governments, including the military, as well as mission agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) send their employees to work around the world. While government and military techniques do not necessarily provide insight into how BAM practitioners can succeed, research done by and for private employers, NGOs, and mission agencies provides insight into the factors that lead to successful deployment of their personnel and have relevance for BAM practitioners.

Success means different things for different people. Since business as mission is a unique discipline with defined goals that might include the fourfold bottom line – achieving the financial goals of the owners of the company, social impact goals of the community in which the business works, goals to protect and enhance the environment, and spiritual impact goals – success in a business as mission enterprise can be measured.  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

Do You Have Clear KPIs for Your Kingdom Business?

by Larry Sharp

What if Jesus was your boss? What if he was the chairman of your board? What if you reported to him each month for your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?

What would he expect that those KPIs would be? How would he measure how you are doing?

A wise owner or manager continuously keeps his KPIs in mind. He knows that accountability is a key factor in driving results. So it is with God as the owner of our businesses because Kingdom business owners see themselves as stewards.

KPIs should be clear, short and understandable to everyone in the business. They should be measurable and uncomplicated. Either you achieved them or you didn’t; they are not fuzzy.

Profitability

We expect secular entrepreneurs to think profit margins and growth. But what about Kingdom business owners? Yes, definitely. Jesus himself established a KPI for profit as a measure of success when he told the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30). He made it clear that everyone is entrusted with wealth in unique proportions. In his example he told of one who received five bags of gold and he doubled it; another received two and he doubled it. Both were commended because they “put their money to work.” Jesus said, “Well done.”

On the other hand, one person received one talent and did nothing with it. We might have thought Jesus would have said: “…oh well, he is just not a business guy!” No – he also was expected to be profitable and when he did not even invest the gold in low-interest accounts, he was called “wicked”. 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

4 Resources to Help You Decide What to Measure

BAM companies have a lot to learn from the social enterprise movement. One of the things that social enterprises have been thinking about for a long time is: How do we measure more than the financial bottom line? Here are 4 resources that will help you think about metrics more holistically and give you tools to measure your impact.

 

B Corps Impact Assessmentmeasure what matters

B Corps advocates for measuring what matters most: the ability of a business to not only generate returns, but also to create value for its customers, employees, community, and the environment. Use B Corps online tool to assess how your company performs against dozens of best practices on employee, community, and environmental impact. Compare your company’s impact with thousands of others. Create a plan to improve your company’s practices, and help your staff implement them easily using the Best Practice Guides.

 

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Lessons from the Edge: Ingredients for Sustainable Success

Insights from a BAM Practitioner 

‘Andrew’ was in business in China for 8 years and now consults to other BAM companies.

Finding a good fit for you is critical
This business is what you will be doing day in and day out, so it’s really important that you have an idea that you feel passionate about, that you understand how it’s a good fit for you and your goals. Is it a good business for your personal strengths? Business as mission can be really, really hard and finding that good fit will see you through many challenges. If you get into a business just because you have to, it can end up feeling like drudgery.

Don’t do it by yourself
It’s important to have good partners. Build a team or find a partner that has complementary skills to your own. Find partners locally that can work with you, whether it’s locals or other foreigners. I don’t think I would have made it in my own business if I didn’t have a key partner working with me, we kept each other going when the going got rough. Get good people around you and have the right people in the right roles.

Engage advisors
Find good mentors, consultants or advisors. That could look like having regular contact with consultants, finding a specialist mentor, or setting up an advisory board. Advisors might be other business folks in your local context, either foreigners or consultants that are further down the road than you, or local business people. They might be business people, lawyers and other experts from your home church network. One model that we’ve seen work well is to engage several different people from your home church from the beginning of the business. They would help with planning, make some site visits, get to know the local context and the difficulties, so that they can give business advice that is helpful for the situation.