During our October Webinars this week, Mats Tunehag had the privilege of interviewing six BAM leaders in a series of three Fireside Chats, on the themes of each day: Start-up BAM, Fruitful BAM and Long BAM.
On day one, on the theme of Start-Up BAM, Mats interviewed Annie and Peter.* Annie is the CEO of a manufacturing business in Southeast Asia and Peter is the CEO and Co-Founder of a BAM Investment Company, with experience mentoring and investing in scores of BAM businesses over 20+ years.
Here are some excerpts from their Fireside Chat Interview:
Mats: Peter, in Business as Mission we talk about having a positive impact on multiple bottom lines, for multiple stakeholders. When should you start planning for impact on the four bottom lines, financial, social, environmental and spiritual?
Peter: Think of a number line with negative numbers to the left and zero in the middle, which marks that day, the fateful day when you open your doors for business. Then the positive numbers are to the right that mark the years as time passes. I would say that you start planning for this quadruple bottom line impact at minus 3 or minus 2 years on that number line. In other words you have to start doing that, before you start trading. Once you start trading, all sorts of pressures will overtake everything else in the business.
Now planning for that doesn’t mean it will play out the way you thought it would. Being able to adjust and pivot is the reality of BAM, so you are going to need to modify those quadruple bottom line impacts, but start early.
Mats: And, how do you monitor progress towards that integrated impact?
Peter: How do you measure it? Realise that not everything can be measured quantifiably or numerically. A lot of measurement in BAM companies is qualitative, especially the relational side of things. I know many might think in terms of hard numbers when it comes to things like numbers of people that have come to know the Lord, or various other spiritual impact metrics. However, that’s very hard to do, and runs the risk of taking things into your hands and out of the hands of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean you don’t focus on those things. You can plan for and document activities that may lead to that impact. But in terms of the progress of the Kingdom in people’s lives from a spiritual point of view, largely that is out of our hands. The other thing I think you can measure is what I call redemptive impacts, on things like poverty and justice issues… We advise people to develop a very rigorous commercial plan, and also a very rigorous spiritual impact plan.
Mats: Annie, it’s easy to say ‘BAM’ but how do you do it? What have been some of your lessons learned trying to shape your company so that it serves God and it serves people? What does it really mean in daily operations?
Annie: I have four things to say about that. A mentor told me when we were preparing to move overseas 13 years ago to be prepared for God to do more in me, than through me. Of course, I didn’t like that statement. I was sure I would prove them wrong!
However, looking back, it’s really true. One of my biggest lessons from BAM is that we are who we are and our character matters, so you can’t fake your spirituality. You don’t become more spiritual when you are operating in a cross-cultural setting, it is actually even more difficult. It’s one thing if you know how to run a business in your home culture, but where you are now may be different from your home culture, and there are different things to learn and different dynamics. It’s about God’s transformational work in us. That is the first thing… BAM is about God’s transformational work in us and others get to see that.
The second is to always be a learner. No matter our age or experience. We always have something to learn…
Want to watch the whole of this interview on video?
Find out how they practice the value of being a learner in Annie’s company and the other two lessons that she has learned. Plus, more from this interview, including:
Peter, you’ve seen BAM businesses start and grow and struggle in tough places for over 20 years. What are the most common mistakes in the start-up process?
Annie, looking back, what do you wish you’d known or done differently when you started your company?
Both, what resources would you recommend for someone who wants to start a BAM business or in the early stage of a start-up?
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*Names have been changed.
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