Seven Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Coach

by Larry Sharp

When I was a collegiate hockey player, it never dawned on me that I might not need a coach. Not only did the coaches help me with personal skill development like skating, passing, shooting, and checking, but also how to develop my team play so together we could be successful.  Although I had good coaches and poor coaches, I always knew that I needed a coach.

Why then did it not dawn on me that I needed a coach when I was supervising 120 employees just months after graduating from university?  It was not like I had a super-mentoring boss because I did not, and I don’t think I was arrogant and thought that I knew it all.  Why did I not think I needed a mentor?

While it is true that my management career began long before Bill Gates affirmed that “everyone needs a coach”, I have often reflected on why it is that people still today think they don’t need a mentor, or a coach or consulting help?  These few thoughts are intended to help encourage business owners and managers to seek a coach, mentor or consultant.  Read more

Five Essential Reminders if you are Managing a Crisis

by Larry Sharp

I was responsible for matters related to a crisis for many years as the VP of a mid-sized mission agency. During that time I faced the challenge of evacuating an unconscious child from a high risk country, rescuing an imprisoned employee in East Asia, a mega-earthquake in Haiti, famine in Africa, automobile death of an employee in France, child abuse situations, among other similar critical incidents.

Our English word crisis comes from the Greek krisis which was defined as a “separating, distinguishing, discrimination, decision, judgment”. The sense of “decisive moment” in reference to crisis is first recorded in English in 1627 as a figurative extension of the original medical meaning. Crisis historically signified “a turning point in a disease; a sudden change for better or worse.”1

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020, as with all crises, indicates a sudden change and a turning point and has many components; however only one is treated in this article. 

A response to crisis is dependent on company policies, risk assessments and contingency training and planning, all of which prepares one for the actual crisis. Once the crisis “hits” comes the actual management with functional team roles to include the crisis manager, information officer, financial officer, consultants, and others. So then, when it comes to managing a crisis such as COVID-19, what are the managerial components, especially in light of the “decisive moment” for all of us?  Read more

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

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

Moving From Anxiety to Freedom as a Kingdom Entrepreneur

by Stu Minshew

 

Fear vs. Anxiety

Restless nights, imagining disaster scenarios, legs bouncing up and down, gulping caffeine to push through, poor concentration, irritable – Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Fear and anxiety, and their associated mental and physical markers, are extremely prevalent in the entrepreneurial world.

If you’re like me, I bet you can quickly name at least 3 fears or anxieties that you currently have about your business.

Do we have enough money in the bank?

Will our product or service sell?

What if my co-founder quits?

What if I get fired by my board?

Who’s my next major competitor?

Often, we think that once we reach our next business milestone, fear and anxiety will magically dissipate. Like me, you’ve probably found this isn’t true. In fact, each new milestone usually compounds my fears. The bigger you play, the bigger the stakes, the bigger the fears.

Success, higher profitability, and a bigger income doesn’t solve our problems and eliminate our fears. Thinking that it will is a lie Satan and our culture tells us on a routine basis. They are not bad goals in and of themselves, but when we turn them into mini “saviors”, they can have devastating effects on our mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Give It a Name

To break free from our fear and anxiety, we must begin by knowing when we are experiencing it.

Our fears often live in our subconscious, so we sometimes fail to notice when they are running the show. That’s why we need to be able to identify the mental and physical markers – insomnia, poor concentration, feeling down on yourself, jittery, eyes twitching, experiencing racing or unwanted thoughts, avoiding challenges, etc.

When you experience these markers, you’ll need to dig deeper to get to the root fears and anxieties causing them. If you are currently experiencing this, take some time to pray that the Holy Spirit will help reveal your root fears and anxieties.  Read more

Entrepreneur Mental Wellness Needs a New Story

by Stu Minshew

 

The Big Problem

As a global society, we’re having much more productive conversations about mental wellbeing. In many places, we’ve begun to normalize the struggles we all face, seek help, and encourage others to do the same. Yet some days, and in some circles, it feels like we still have a long way to go. I believe entrepreneur circles and startup communities have some work to do in this regard.

I’ve been in entrepreneur circles for many years and I wouldn’t change that for anything. But there is a problem, and as followers of Christ, we have the freedom and responsibility to shine the light on this problem. Doing so allows us to talk about it with openness and honesty in order to lovingly serve and care for our brothers and sisters who are entrepreneurs.

Businesses Creates Change

Business, and entrepreneurship in particular, can be and have been powerful change agents for God’s Kingdom. For thousands of years, business has transformed communities, cities, nations, and the globe. It has helped pull millions of people out of poverty.

Sadly, business has also had its share of greed-fueled disasters that have negatively impacted thousands of people, or even whole populations. Thankfully, these instances only represent a small portion of the history of business. The global story of business is filled with examples of positive impact. It has been used to drive development, education, and innovation. For those following Jesus, it creates opportunities to join His work to usher in the Kingdom. 

I see glimpses of God’s Kingdom in the world of entrepreneurship. The vast majority of Christian entrepreneurs I know are deeply committed to making a difference. Are they looking to make a profit and have more control over their schedule? Absolutely! But they also believe their product or service is glorifying God and improving their lives of their customers.

Many seek to improve the lives of their employees and point them to Christ. Others use the freedom created by entrepreneurship to transform their family or community. It may take on many forms, but Christian entrepreneurs are helping usher in God’s Kingdom.  Read more

Procurement and Technology Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been 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. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this sixth and final part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Procurement and Technology.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

The Role of Business Leadership Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

This article picks up where we left off last year in the series on Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

As we continue examining the way the value chain analysis can be useful, we need to keep in mind that these activities do not operate in isolation or for their own purposes. The activities in one functional area impact other areas and must be coordinated to help the company achieve its overall strategic objectives.

For example, if a firm takes a differentiation strategy in which its products, services, brand and marketing messages are unique from its competitors, then every functional area must seek to add value to achieving that objective of uniqueness. A company like Apple spends significant money on R&D, quality components and exceptional advertising to set its products apart. Primary activities including inbound logistics (sourcing components), production (quality control processes), and sales and marketing (advertising) must all support this objective, as well as the support activities of procurement (spending the necessary money to ensure differentiation) and human resources management (hiring, training, evaluating and compensating the kind of employees who will maintain the standards of excellence needed).

Read more

Practicing Jubilee Through Entrepreneurship

by Stu Minshew

Last week, I shared how Michael Rhodes and Robby Holt’s new book, Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give, challenges readers to consider ways to provide employment opportunities for those on the margins of society. Throughout the world, we are surrounded by those in need. Many individuals, and even entire groups of people, live on the margins of our society, including racial or ethnic minorities, low-income communities, single moms, the elderly, and those who have served time in jail.

As Christians in business, we are called to provide opportunities for those on the margins to build equity and take part in Christ’s abundant provision for His people.

My last post discussed shifting from a soup kitchen mentality to a potluck mentality, equipping us to more effectively walk alongside those on the margins.

Today, I want to explore another concept from Practicing the King’s Economy, unpacking what the Bible says about equity and the concept of Jubilee. As Christians in business, we are called to provide opportunities for those on the margins to build equity and take part in Christ’s abundant provision for His people. I’ll also discuss specific ways that entrepreneurship can create pathways to equity for those on the margins.

Jubilee and Restoration

To show God’s plan for everyone to have an equity stake in His economy, Rhodes and Holt go to the Book of Exodus. When the Israelites disobey and are sent to wander the desert for forty years, God uses this time, not only to discipline them, but also to show them what His economy should look like. As He provides manna, God shows them that He is a God of abundance and provides enough for everyone. At the same time, those who try to store up more than they need find it rotten and full of maggots the following day.  Read more

How Startup Success Starts with You

by Stu Minshew

Highlights from the Archives

Success Starts With You

Why would a post on starting and growing your business focus on YOU? A good product or service is all it takes, right? While it is important to have a good product or service, the most important factor in the success or failure of your business is you!

Most businesses don’t fail because of poor products or fierce competition. They fail when finances are mismanaged, passion is lacking, and expectations are unrealistic. By starting with an in-depth look at yourself – including your passions, strengths, weaknesses, expectations, and financial literacy – you can take the critical first steps to launching a successful business.

Identify and Test Your Assumptions

We all have an idea of what our successful business will look like in the future. At this point, that picture might be a little blurry if your business is only a concept. However, getting a clearer picture of that vision is important for your success. It is going to provide you with a general target for how you grow your business.  Read more