Business Response Plan: From Intensive Care to Recovery

In Part 1 of this blog, we identified four stages you can take to proactively lead your organization through the uncertainty and down the road to recovery.

Once you have taken care of the most urgent tasks in the “Emergency Room” phase, it is time to start treating your business to lead it towards longer term stabilization, recovery and repositioning.

2. Moving through Intensive Care

Main Priority: Address the unhealthy areas in your organization and enlist the larger organization in your response.

Establish stakeholder communication plan

During times of uncertainty, increased communication is vital.

Who are your key stakeholders?

How often should you be in contact?

What is the best media and approach?

Implement employee care & development plan

During times of crisis, more care and attention is needed, and development challenges are available.

What current needs are your employees facing?

Who can you give development challenges to?

How can you build your culture during this time?  Read more

Business Response & Recovery Plan to COVID-19

A process to lead your organization through uncertainty and down the road to recovery

If your business has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend taking immediate action. Don’t “wait and see” what might transpire.

We have identified four stages you can take to proactively lead your organization through the uncertainty and down the road to recovery.

Our Core Assumptions

  • The spread of this pandemic will lead to major disruptions in almost every industry.
  • A “wait and see” approach could be destructive –prepare for the worst and hope for the best
  • No one can predict the future. A systematic and agile approach is needed.
  • Every customer and employee is experiencing some level of stress, anxiety, or fear. Strong values-based leadership is needed
  • No business will remain the same. The disruption will create opportunities for retooling or repositioning for those that are proactive.

 

1. Getting Started in the Emergency Room

Main Priority: Help your leaders and organization recognize the urgency of the times, align to secure the safety of stakeholders and stop the financial bleeding.   

Here are some activities for the “Emergency Room” stage of a crisis:

Rally Key Leaders

 Rally key leaders with a wake-up call and clear sense of urgency

 Avoid inaction and a “wait and see” approach

Key Questions to Answer:

What is a realistic picture that recognizes there is no certainty on when things will improve?

What will need to change with your communication and meeting cadence?

Set a Baseline

 Determine clear financial picture around cash flow, profit/loss, etc

 Identify cost cutting measures

 Determine worst case scenario for supply chain, project schedules, and other operational critical areas

Key Question to Answer:

How deep can your cuts go without inhibiting your ability to recover once stable?  Read more

Three Things I Learned During the Epidemic of 1974 That Apply to BAM in the Pandemic of 2020

by Larry Sharp

In the early 1970’s I was living, along with my family, in the Brazilian Amazon port city of Belem where I was the administrator of a school for children of expatriates. The Amazon Valley Academy is a K-12 school following an American curriculum but also in the 1970s and 80s taught a German program for grades 1-10 and tutored British O-level classes.

In the spring of 1974, we noted children getting ill in unusually high numbers and eventually it was determined that Hepatitis A had struck the community. We were forced to close the school and it did not re-open for five weeks.

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice.

But in those days, the doctors did not know any of that. In fact, they theorized that the condition might be caused by a mosquito. And so the government epidemiologists set up tests in the community and on campus to capture and test mosquitos; meanwhile the children from our three boarding homes and others from the community were required to stay home and rest since there was no known cure and no vaccination.

After five weeks had passed most students seemed to be returning to normal health so we decided to re-open the school and most of the children returned. But then another emergency – most of the teachers got sick – yes – Hepatitis A. What should we do now?

There were a few teachers and myself (I was the high school principal at the time) who had escaped infection. As we sat around one evening thinking and praying through some options, one of the math teachers came up with an idea. “Let’s take high school seniors and juniors and use their strengths to teach the middle school students” he said. We settled on Charles to lead the science teaching team, John to lead the history team, Bruce to lead the math team and Anita to lead the English language team.  Read more

BAM vs COVID: Stories of Innovation and Our Unique Contribution

by João Mordomo

In part one of this post I introduced the idea that BAM can help defeat COVID if we have the right focus: Looking Up, Looking Back, Looking Around and Looking Ahead. In this second part, I’ll talk more about our posture and what that looks like in practice, i.e. telling some stories of innovation amidst the crisis.

Posture

Remember the agape love I mentioned before? How does a BAMer put agape into action through business? What should be their posture?

We could talk about agape again, or being a Christlike servant (Phil. 2:3-5), or depending utterly upon God, but those relate to all Christians in general and the question here relates to BAMers in particular — or more broadly, to Christian entrepreneurs. What is different about us?

When God looks at BAM practitioners, who are created in His image, what does He see that is, in many cases, different than in the lives of other believers? The answer relates to the fact that many BAMers are, by nature, entrepreneurial and/or innovative. They look around and see things that others don’t. Everyone can see the problem of COVID-19, but not all will see solutions. Everyone can all battle COVID-19 in a general way, but BAMers can do it very specifically.

That is the posture of a BAMer or Christian business leader: “I’m a problem solver. I’m made in God’s image to innovate and come up with solutions that don’t occur to other people.” Or, “I’m an entrepreneur. I see solutions that others may also see, but they are not willing to take the risk to make the solution a reality, and I am.”

In the past month, I’ve had contact with several outstanding Christian entrepreneurs with this kind of posture, putting agape into practice through business. I want to tell you about three of them, two of which I am closely associated with.

Practice: Stories of Business Leaders in Action

My Pillow

I’ll start with Mike Lindell and his US-based company called My Pillow. I don’t know Lindell personally, though I would describe My Pillow as a Kingdom-focused company. Lindell is outspoken about his Christian faith, and it seems to drive him with respect to how he runs his business. He’s an example of a Christian entrepreneur and business owner willing to jump into the COVID-19 battle immediately, and not without cost to his business: he recently shifted 75% of his manufacturing capacity to the production of medical masks, to the tune of 50,000 per day! He looked around, saw the need, trusted God, and jumped into the battle with the resources at his disposal. Why not take a minute to do the same thing? Look around. Perhaps God will show you how to get into the battle against COVID-19 with the resources you already have stewardship of.  Read more

BAM vs COVID: Look Up, Look Back, Look Around and Look Ahead

by João Mordomo

To paraphrase Sun Tzu, we can win every battle if we know our enemy and know ourselves. But what happens when we don’t know our enemy well? COVID-19 is a case in point. The “facts” are slippery and constantly changing. We don’t really “know” what we think we know!

One thing we do know is that we are in a battle against a killer, and it’s real. One way or another, COVID-19 is killing people, jobs and economies. Another thing we know is that BAM is especially well-positioned to help now in the midst of the battle, and help later in the aftermath. How should BAMers respond right now?

On the basis of what we know. BAM can help defeat COVID if we have the right focus, posture and practices

Focus

In part one of this two part post, I’ll first talk about our necessary focus. We need to look up to God and look back at history first, and then look around and ahead. In part two I’ll talk about posture and practices and share a few real stories about how Christian entrepreneurs are responding. 

Look Up (to God)

COVID-19 is not a surprise to God. He means to use COVID-19 for the common good, the specific good of His children, and His glory. (See Gen. 50:20 and Rom. 8:28.) And Job, with authority, assures us that God “can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (42:2). (See more thoughts on this here)

Rejoice in this, rest in it, and take action because of it!

Look Back (at History)

There have always been plagues and pandemics. It’s instructive to remember how Christians in the early church responded in situations even worse than ours. In The Triumph of Christianity, Rodney Stark reminds us that during the two great plagues of AD 165 and 251, the “truly revolutionary principle” that drove members of the early church to respond sacrificially, even to the point of death, was “Christian love and charity”. The early church grasped agape — sacrificial love — and lived it out. While a third of the Roman Empire was perishing, and physicians were fleeing the cities and priests were abandoning their temples, true “Christians claimed to have answers and, most of all, they took appropriate actions.”

Look Around (for Needs)

Christians — all of us — must look around at immediate needs and take appropriate actions to win the battle against COVID. These actions are usually very simple and related both to how we conduct ourselves (by abiding by the generally applicable rules and guidelines pertaining to COVID, for example) as well as to how we look out for those around us (such as the priest in northern Italy who practiced agape by giving up his ventilator on behalf of a younger patient, and dying as a result). 

However, BAMers have a very specific and special role to play in the battle against COVID, right now. The relief and development analogy is applicable here. Immediately after a natural disaster, we respond with relief aid. Later on, we invest in development. Right now, BAMers can respond with their “relief hats” on, by looking around for immediate needs that they can meet. That could range from taking a financial loss by not firing or laying people off, to re-tasking a workforce and/or retooling a factory to produce personal protective equipment.  Read more

What Advice Would You Give to BAMers Going Through Covid-19?

by Sam Cho

What advice would you give to BAM entrepreneurs going through the Covid-19 crisis?

I asked this question to various experts in business and mission in my network (mainly in the Korean BAM network). Twenty people responded with advice, including several BAM practitioners, several entrepreneurs, four business professors, a missiology professor, and two top-level executives at global companies. 

What follows is a summary of their opinions and advice. We hope it is helpful for BAM practitioners in the current situation.

Survive and Learn

  • Increasing liquidity is critical. Survival can rightfully be the main theme during this period. Discounting the price of services and products only to cover overhead cost is just fine. You do not have to make profit during this period but just to make money enough to float. Discount accounts receivable is an option too in order to attain cash. Negotiate your accounts payable with your suppliers to cut down the amount owed for better liquidity.   
  • It may pay off to make an extra effort to search for government support packages like long-term loans, subsidies for foreign ventures or extensions of payback periods. Don’t overlook this possible opportunity. If your loan is on a variable-interest rate, try to renew the loan on better terms. 
  • If you survive this time, you need to earn a lesson about risk management. Many companies usually have a one-month cash reserve in the case of no sales coming in. Running a BAM business abroad means relative lack of available financial resources in difficult times. Remember that often when it rains, it pours – and not just during crisis like Covid-19. Building up a three-month cash reserve is a must; you may need more depending on the volatility in the area and industry you are in. 
  • Many BAM missionaries and tentmakers working under a mission agency often do not have (enough) donation-based support and rely on their living from business or job income, which is positive. However, for times when business is difficult, it might be advisable for Mission Agencies to build a common contingency fund or encourage more fundraising for these workers.

Renew Intimacy with God and Family

  • We could lose our daily devotional routines and sense of intimacy with the Lord from the daily busy-ness of business life. Crises such as this can lead us to return our heart back to the Lord and open a door to be near to our Lord again. The Lord always responds to our prayer in trouble, even when that does not mean the survival or prosperity of our business. 
  • You can ask your friends to pray together. If you do not have a prayer group, you may start one so that you can have a group of people you can talk to and pray with. Times of trouble are really a good chance to ignite passion in the group. Like-minded businessmen or women or financial supporters from your mission or sending church members could be good candidates for the prayer group. 
  • If your business is slow or has a temporary shutdown, you can spend that time with your family. Many BAMers often lose rest and time with close ones like the spouse or children. God may want you to slow down and to come back to your loved ones. True rest can give you energy and creativity, and true rest comes from intimate relationships with the Lord and family.  

Read more

Difficult Days and Easter Promises

by Patrick Lai

Easter is easily my favorite time of the year. I am sure this Easter will be meaningful too, but unlike all previous Easters – like many of you – I will be at home as our city is in lockdown. For the first time since Easter 1886 our church, which I dearly love, will be empty on Easter Sunday as we are all meeting online. These are difficult days, but nothing compared to what Jesus endured for us 2000 years ago. In Romans 8 verses 28 to 39 God speaks to us concerning such difficult times as these…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The phrase, all things, appears three times here. In each case it refers to the difficulties Paul is facing. Consider the difficulties he was facing: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword, and even death.

In mentioning this phrase “all things” it speaks to what God will do IN and THROUGH us as we face difficulties.

Remember Easter, and in the midst of these difficulties remember that God, through Easter, promises us three things:

Read more

A Business as Mission Crisis: How Can We Pray?

by Larry Sharp

During these days of uncertainty due to the worldwide coronavirus, business startups are hurting, and many of them will fail due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This is particularly true of BAM startup businesses, which are affected in many ways.

Just today as I write this, I received an appeal from a Freedom Business in India to encourage others to buy their product on-line.  I also received a note from a person who works as an HR-disciple making person in a business in Cambodia. She is losing her visa and needs to return to the USA within 30-days due to new regulations connected to the virus.

Here are some ways to PRAY based on what we know right now:

1. For wisdom for business owners who have very little margin or capacity for downsizing and will ultimately need to make hard decisions.

2. For the poor who desperately need the jobs that BAM companies are providing, and now face job loss.

3. For innovative means of providing capital. Some of the ways may include increased donations or short-term low-interest loans to BAM businesses.

4. For God’s people in the west who have expertise and can provide a helpline; that they will make themselves available and know where their help can be best applied.

5. For innovators and inventors to have their creative juices unleashed to develop solutions which will help BAM businesses in this difficult time.

6. For leaders connected to many BAM/B4t businesses who are right now considering options for how to help – RN, PL, CS, MT, JP, RB and others.

7. That all believers will respond toward the most vulnerable in ways similar to how Christians responded in other pandemics. Check out this link.

 

Mats Tunehag has also adapted St. Patrick’s prayer to use during this time, either as a BAM company leader or to pray for others in the BAM community.

Read more

The Coronavirus Pandemic and BAM: Seven Things We Can Do

by Mats Tunehag

The effects of the coronavirus are disruptive beyond comprehension. The situation is changing by the hour. The consequences vary from difficult to dire for billions of people, and nobody knows what the timeline is for this crisis.

Media across the world updates us constantly on the negative effects on businesses and on people’s lives, so this short article will have a different focus: what can we do?

But first let’s note that throughout history the Church has a track record of serving others in the midst of major plagues and catastrophes.

The sociologist Rodney Stark has written (in The Rise of Christianity) that one reason the church overcame hostility and grew so rapidly within the Roman empire traces back to how Christians responded to pandemics of the day, which probably included bubonic plague and smallpox.  When infection spread, Romans fled their cities and towns; Christians stayed behind to nurse and feed not only their relatives but their pagan neighbors.” (Living in Plague Times – Phillip Yancy)

Why has the Church done this for centuries and why should we do it now? One fundamental reason is that we are to love God and our neighbors, and the two are connected. As Bishop Barron says: “Why are the two commandments so tightly linked? Because of who Jesus is. Christ is not simply a human being, and he is not simply God; rather, he is the God-man, the one in whose person divinity and humanity meet. Therefore, it is impossible to love him as God without loving the humanity that he has embraced. The greatest commandment is, therefore, an indirect Christology.” [1]

Many businesses are facing challenges with cashflow, lockdown, sales, having to let staff go, supply chain disruptions, bankruptcies, et cetera. So, what can we do now?

Let me suggest seven areas for action as it relates to BAM businesses and the global BAM community. We also invite you to add your suggestions.  Read more