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An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

This December marks 8 years of regularly posting content on The BAM Review Blog. This month we are sharing some past posts on practical BAM topics that you might have missed.

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. Read more

9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment

Read this classic blog from our Archives, first published on The BAM Review blog in February 2016 and republished for the Summer Series 2022.

Here are 9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment that have been themes shared over and over by experienced BAM practitioners and mentors. These are principles and practices observed over years of listening to BAM pioneers, writing BAM stories and collecting information about how to do BAM. Many of these Keys have been shared by BAMers and BAM leaders over the last few weeks as we have explored the topic ‘Launching Out and Landing Well’ – they come out in the stories, snippets, and teaching we’ve shared, as well as in the BAM Think Tank research we’ve been drawing on.

1. Walk with God

Abide in Christ. It’s essential to be connected to the Vine, a growing disciple of Jesus, if we are to bear fruit! That means spending time listening and talking to God in prayer and being attentive to His calling and direction for your life. It means growing in Godly character as you are rooted in His word, and opening up to spiritual input from others. Prayer is mentioned over and over by BAMers as a foundation stone for BAM in practice, at all stages: preparation, launch and continued growth. Having a sense of call and leading from God is another often cited core driver for BAMers. Spiritual formation through discipleship and teaching is a life-long pursuit – whether through books, sermons, devotional materials, courses, retreats or intentional relationships. Making yourself accountable to peers or elders that will challenge you to grow in Christ-like character is another way to keep soft and open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read more

An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

We are revisiting some of the classic material from The BAM Review blog on governance, accountability and the support that a BAM practitioner needs around them to thrive.

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Tensions in Integrating Business and Mission?

Three experienced BAM mentors answer a common question: how do you deal with seeming tensions in integrating business and mission?

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am feeling some tensions as I begin to integrate mission and business goals together in my business operations. What tensions have you felt and how have you overcome them? What practical tips or principles have you found helpful?

~ Tense in Tashkent

Dear Tense,

This is a great question and a common one. You are in good company!

First, let’s think through where the tensions may be coming from. For example, if your business partners or key managers are not believers or do not understand Kingdom Business that creates one set of tensions. Or, if you are burdened with the hangover of the “sacred-secular divide” that creates an entirely different set of tensions. Another source of tension is simply not being sure how to do solid business planning with a missions or kingdom purpose

Second, let’s think through each option.

My Partners/Managers Don’t Get Kingdom Business
If there isn’t alignment on this foundational part of your business at this time don’t despair. Take a discipling approach – patient education and demonstration can go a long way to helping your team see the eternal picture. Perhaps some reading and discussion meetings. Perhaps video training. And lots of prayer. Lots of prayer.

I’m Not Comfortable with Integration… Not Totally
We all struggle with the remains of the destructive illusion of sacred vs. secular. The good news, though is that since it’s an illusion it only exists in the mind. Soaking your mind in the truth of Scripture and some excellent writing/teaching is the answer. Books like Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller and Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem are great places to start.

Read more

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

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

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

Unleashing the Whole Body of Christ to Reach the Whole World

Matt was thrilled to finally share with his Southeast Asian neighbors all the opportunities to serve them through his social work. He described how he could dig wells for access to clean water, build schools, or hold food and clothing drives to bless their community. To his surprise, his friends told him he was wasting his time. They didn’t want any of that. Instead, they desired access to western markets through Matt’s connections. One friend said, “In this way we can produce a product, sell it to the West, and make money for ourselves. Then with our own money we can choose how to meet the needs of our community such as food, clothing, shelter, and education, instead of having you westerners tell us what we need.”

Matt took this curt response as a sign of genuine friendship and prayerfully considered their advice. Sensing this was the Lord’s will, Matt and his wife Amy left their social work behind and set up an essential oil distillery to harvest local Southeast Asian plant oil; a product highly sought after in the West. This small for-profit manufacturing business provided employment to many farmers throughout the rural countryside and as a result, positively impacted the lives of hundreds of indigenous unreached people. To date, nearly a thousand of these precious people have responded to Jesus Christ in an area that previously had not known His name!

Business for Transformation

God orchestrated this wonderful story of redemption through the dynamic combination of both spiritual and economic ambition. Matt had a background in agriculture, Amy knew chemical engineering, and they both longed for salvation to come to the unreached. All they needed was the candid response of a local friend to help them put all the pieces together into the beautiful concoction of what we at OPEN call Business for Transformation (B4T).

B4T is the strategic use of business and professional skills for the purpose of bringing economic and spiritual transformation to communities among least reached peoples. B4T is the glorious mixture of apostolic zeal to preach the gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20) together with the ancient understanding of work (Genesis 2:15), a God-imaging activity that He receives as worship. (See more here, here, here, and here). 

Read more

9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment

As we count down to the BAM Global Congress in April 2020, we revisit some of the key issues that we want to address when we gather together. These 9 keys are all themes, workshops and practical steps that we are intentionally focusing on at the Congress 2020 and we invite you to join us!

Here are 9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment that have been themes shared over and over by experienced BAM practitioners and mentors. These are principles and practices observed over years of listening to BAM pioneers, writing BAM stories and collecting information about how to do BAM. Many of these Keys have been shared by BAMers and BAM leaders over the last few weeks as we have explored the topic ‘Launching Out and Landing Well’ – they come out in the stories, snippets, and teaching we’ve shared, as well as in the BAM Think Tank research we’ve been drawing on.

1. Walk with God

Abide in Christ. It’s essential to be connected to the Vine, a growing disciple of Jesus, if we are to bear fruit! That means spending time listening and talking to God in prayer and being attentive to His calling and direction for your life. It means growing in Godly character as you are rooted in His word, and opening up to spiritual input from others. Prayer is mentioned over and over by BAMers as a foundation stone for BAM in practice, at all stages: preparation, launch and continued growth. Having a sense of call and leading from God is another often cited core driver for BAMers. Spiritual formation through discipleship and teaching is a life-long pursuit – whether through books, sermons, devotional materials, courses, retreats or intentional relationships. Making yourself accountable to peers or elders that will challenge you to grow in Christ-like character is another way to keep soft and open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read more

12 Stakeholders You Should Engage in Your Business Startup

TOP 5 BLOGS IN 5 YEARS

This month we are celebrating 5 years of publishing weekly blogs on The BAM Review and sending out bi-weekly emails!  To celebrate, we are re-posting the TOP 5 most read blogs from the past 5 years for your reading enjoyment.

We asked a team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners creating business plans. For this post we asked them about key stakeholders in the business planning process.

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in a business. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by the activity of the business. – BBC

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as  teach and write on BAM. We also asked business woman Julia to share about a stakeholder she has found helpful in her business in Mongolia. Read more about them below.

Here are 12 stakeholders they mentioned, there are others:

  1. Investors – owners, bank or investment company
  2. Business people – in companies working cross-culturally in your business or industry
  3. Business consultant – someone with specialist knowledge
  4. Colleagues – management and staff
  5. Customers – those likely to be your clients
  6. Suppliers – of essential materials and services for your business
  7. Community – local society and also the physical environment
  8. Cultural expert – someone with insight into engaging with local community
  9. Government official – someone who can give you insight and be an advocate for you
  10. Body of Christ – local church community, mission organisations and supporting churches
  11. Spiritual advisor or mentor – someone with wise counsel you can be accountable to
  12. God – the most important stakeholder

Read more

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