Am I a Business Builder or Entrepreneur? Identifying Your Place in a BAM Team

by Peter Shaukat

Business as mission is communitarian and team-oriented, not individualistic. Beyond considering the individual characteristics that BAMers need, I would then ask, “What does the business team need to have in their overall profile?”

I think of the business team in a matrix model. One axis maps character, competence and charisma. Along the other axis is the type of person or skill needed. Those types would range right from the entrepreneur, along to managers and business professionals, and then those professionals with technical or specialist skills that the business needs.

Entrepreneurs and business builders

When you start out in business you are doing everything. Theoretically that is flawed, but it’s the reality in a brand new startup. You are not going to have perfection in your team and all the right people in the various roles from day one. But you want to move along a dynamic pathway, to break out those functions into different roles as quickly as possible.

If you are going to do business as mission well, the business needs more than one person with a good idea. You can’t start a BAM company without an entrepreneur, but likewise, you can’t continue a BAM company with only an entrepreneur! Almost as soon as the company starts you are going to need other kinds of people, ‘business builders’.

In our experience for every entrepreneur starting a BAM business, we need about 10 ‘business builders’ who will carry that company forward. Business builders include both managers and workers with skills and talents in the main business disciplines (finance, HR, production, and so on). It also would include those with specialist or technical skills according to the industry – if it’s a bakery, someone who can bake, or for an software business, someone who can code.

This 1:10 ratio is partly due to the fact that, by nature, many entrepreneurs have an itch to move on to the next thing, and without the backfill of business builders, the company never attains sustained traction and growth. It is also because circumstances of all kinds arise that necessitate relocation or other alterations to the game plan; again a sustained team will enable a business to weather these adverse developments.

Am I an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs themselves vary enormously, across a very broad spectrum, from a more mild entrepreneurs, to “triple-A-type” entrepreneurs-on-steroids! There are some common elements, but also a whole lot of variety.

When I think about entrepreneurship and applying it into world of BAM, I see two things required and typical of most entrepreneurs:

1. There is market-oriented innovation or invention

Entrepreneurs see what the market needs; they anticipate a need in the market and combine that with what they see around them in order to put together a product or service. It involves either inventiveness, finding something that hasn’t been there before and bringing it to market; or innovation, taking an already existing product and delivering it in a dramatically different way – often with customer service as the key differential.

In some parts of the world we have quite a narrow stereotype of entrepreneurship and what that involves these days. However, in a BAM context I think innovation and inventiveness can happen in a wider range of sectors and industries, especially where customer service is so lacking. For instance, starting a school that delivers an excellent education would be highly innovative in some parts of the world.

2. Wiring for leadership

Secondly, the entrepreneur is an individual willing to stand up and take responsibility for a community, a company, that together says it is going to serve the market by bringing a value-added product into play. These needed entrepreneurs have that innate wiring for leadership.

Leaders help people envision the future and how to get them there. Managers on the other hand help people cope with complexity and change. When you are a growing business you are immediately confronted with change and complexity and managers are particularly gifted in knowing how to navigate that and leading others through it. So as the business builds, changes and develops, the entrepreneurial gift is not required to the same extent. Entrepreneurial types often leave startups quickly and move on.

Building a Team

All this means that the entrepreneur needs to be building a team around themselves from the launch. Often companies stutter from the beginning or have limited growth, and it’s because the entrepreneur doesn’t recognise that she or he needs other gifts and skills around them. Once the business is established, a significant challenge can be finding those that can take over ownership and leadership succession planning.

In virtually every successful BAM business we’ve seen there is visionary leader and a second individual that is playing a key role in helping keep the business on the rails. Psalm 68 verse 6 says that God sets the solitary in families. I paraphrase that to say ‘He sets entrepreneur alongside a steady hand’. So the real question for the long-term success of the business is, how durable is that relationship?


This post was originally published on The BAM Review in January 2016 and is reposted here as part of the ‘People Planning’ series.

Peter Shaukat has lived and worked in a professional and business capacity for over 30 years throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America and is a pioneer in the business as mission movement. He currently consults on business as mission all over the world and is the CEO of a global investment fund for BAM enterprise in the Arab world and Asia.

More from Peter Shaukat:

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

The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer


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