Posts

Don’t Miss This: Essential Preliminary Research for a BAM Company

We asked our team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners in the beginning stages of business planning. For this post we asked them to share ideas about developing goals and vision.

Robert Andrews, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. Read more about them below.

What kinds of preliminary research or on-ground preparation would you emphasise as particularly important to someone planning a BAM company – especially in a cross-cultural context?

Robert Andrews

A business plan is intended to help you work through the key issues you will face in running your business and should include all of the factors that have critical importance. It should addresses the design of the product, distribution, manufacture, finance, marketing, purchasing, and capitalization. It should also address how all of these business functions fit in to the work God is doing. Read more

How Can We Plan for Spiritual Impact?

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Talking about having a Spiritual Impact Plan (SIP) can be a controversial topic. One response that comes back loud and clear when discussing this is, “How can you plan for the work of the Holy Spirit?” There is some truth in this – how can we know what the spiritual outcomes are going to be? We certainly have more control over the inputs. Jesus himself, in Matthew 28:19, told us to do several specific ‘input activities’: go, make disciples, baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach. Before doing any of these things we are surely expected to use our heads and think about how best to do them based on our own and the company’s  talents and abilities, our personal and corporate circumstances, the cultural situation we find ourselves in and the overall business goals the company has. Thinking about these things and writing them down is, in essence, a Spiritual Impact Plan. While it is the Holy Spirit that has control over the outcomes, we do get to work alongside and co-labour with the Lord. Therefore, this SIP should perhaps more accurately be SIDTOP – Spiritual Inputs with a Desire Towards Outputs Plan – just kidding! Seriously, planning is absolutely something you should be thinking about, including the spiritual dimension. Otherwise, why are we doing the BAM thing? Read more

How to Develop a Vision and Goals for Your BAM Company

We asked our team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners in the beginning stages of business planning. For this post we asked them to share ideas about developing goals and vision.

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. Read more about them below.

What advice would you give a new BAMer about developing a vision and mission plus goals/objectives for a company?

Larry Sharp
I am not so big on ‘vision’ initially (though it ultimately is important) but I am more interested in ‘opportunity’. Is there an opportunity to sell a product or provide a service? Is there an opportunity to reach a people group with discipleship? Is there an opportunity to transform a community? I would start there and when answers emerge, a vision and purpose should be articulated – and from there some goals for reaching the vision.  Then I would bounce my ideas on the vision – purpose – goals continuum off of some experienced BAMers. I have had many long-time BAM practitioners tell me that they welcome people to “come and see” and ask questions.

Mats Tunehag
Remember that BAM, is not a technique. It is a worldview and a lifestyle. It is about following Jesus in the marketplace – to the ends of the earth – loving God and serving people through business.

BAM is not Christians just doing social enterprise. BAM always considers God as a stakeholder who has a vested interested in multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders. Read more

12 Stakeholders You Should Engage in Your Business Startup

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

Integrating Spiritual Impact Through Company Values

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Psalm 127:1-2 NIV)

I would be hesitant to create a separate plan that speaks to spiritual impact within my business, rather I would look at how every aspect of my business is structured and operated to provide the space for spiritual impact to occur. It’s my belief that corporate culture and how culture is articulated and modeled daily creates the opportunity for spiritual impact to occur within your organization. The Bible is clear in expressing that the world will know followers of Christ by our fruit – fruit is manifested through actions.

Integrating Spiritual Impact through Values

When you think of spiritual impact within your business you are really speaking to the culture of the environment and how culture is lived out daily between management, employees, customers and vendors. At the core of culture are the values which drive your organization. How those values are communicated within and without the organization establish the foundation for spiritual impact. Your values represent your philosphical views as well as well as your organizational priorities and sense of purpose. Your values will directly impact your mission, goals and objectives. What will be key is understanding and defining how these values integrate into the daily work life of your employees. Read more

How to Approach a Spiritual Impact Plan for Your Business

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

A business plan is intended to help you work through the key issues you will face in running your business and should include all of the factors that have critical importance. It should addresses the design of the product, distribution, manufacture, finance, marketing, purchasing, and capitalization. It should also address how all of these business functions fit in to the work God is doing.

The spiritual impact of the business is one of the key objectives for a BAM business and as such it ought to be integrated in planning right from the beginning. Much like marketing or distribution, you can’t possibly have all the answers when you start to plan, and likely you won’t have many of the right questions either, but as you flesh out your vision of the business you and your partners will see questions that need to be answered which drive you to find answers.  And in finding those answers you will discover deeper questions. That’s the process that moves a good plan forward. Read more

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball: Resolving Business Tensions

by David Skews

Tensions tend to arise when we take our eye off the ball. We need to be constantly asking the questions, Why are we here? Why are we doing what we are doing?

Because we are in business and are employing business methods, it is easy to allow our motivations to become aligned with the world’s motivations, e.g. to make profit for its own sake or only increase shareholder value. There may be nothing inherently wrong with these goals but they do not reflect the primary aims of a BAM business. The focus should be on the benefits generated for people and for pleasing God, which then results in profits and shareholder value.  When our motivations become hijacked, our priorities become distorted and tensions arise, particularly between stakeholders.

Specific actions we have found to be valuable in combating these dangers include:

Clearly define the mission, vision, values and objectives

Spend time to ensure your mission, vision, values and objectives are all very clearly and precisely defined and documented. The idea is that when tensions, arguments or disagreements arise, these clearly defined statements become the arbiters against which differing views can be evaluated. For this reason, woolly definitions are worse than useless since they are open to being interpreted and reinterpreted in different ways to suit and support whatever arguments are being put forward. It is worthwhile revisiting these definitions on a fairly regular basis, first to tighten them up where they have been found wanting and secondly to keep them at the front of people’s minds and avoid them gathering dust on the shelf. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Tensions in Integrating Business and Mission

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

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. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Hiring and Training for IT Companies

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am hiring in a more deprived, less developed context, how do I find the right people with an aptitude for IT? Any other tips and ideas you have for hiring and staff training?

~ IT Starter-upper

Dear Starter-upper,

I think there are seven keys to finding the right people with an aptitude for IT in an underdeveloped country:

  1.           Keep relationships primary
  2.           Share your motivation
  3.           Develop a very close Friend
  4.           Be a close friend to Christian expats and their NGOs
  5.           Know the owners of other local IT companies
  6.           Serve the head of the IT department at local education institutions
  7.           Empower nationals to hire other employees

I co-founded an application software company in the USA in 1991. We’ve been ‘impact sourcing’ programming jobs in Afghanistan since 2007. We currently have six programmers in Kabul helping maintain and customize our application.

My journey to Afghanistan began in 1978 as a college Senior. In August of that year, I felt that God called me to business, missions and Afghanistan. The first two calling unfolded immediately after graduation. I had to wait 24 years for Afghanistan. Read more

Things to Think About While You are Sowing

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

This is a very important question, one that leads to some other questions and observations:

  • How do you know if there is fruit?
  • Why am I not as successful as others?
  • Things to think about while sowing

Let’s talk about each of these in turn:

How do you know if there is fruit?

One of the problems with coming from the West is that we are often too short-term results oriented. This is especially true when we apply a cause-and-effect mentality to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not up to us to dictate what the work of Holy Spirit will do – we certainly must do our best in sowing and cultivating and praying but in the end we must give it over to the Lord to grow the fruit. We must do all we can in ‘preparing the soil and planting the seeds’ and let the Holy Spirit work on the person’s heart. Read more