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The Importance of Language Skills for BAM and Church Planting

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

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I can see that language acquisition is going to be essential to both business and church planting efforts in my target area, but it is a lot to think about. How have you seen language learning combined with business development and start–up? What has worked? Any other tips for successfully putting together business strategy and church planting strategy?

~ Planning to Plant

Dear Planning,

We’ve seen that for 10/40 locations – such as China, India, the Islamic world – the statistics for BAMers wanting to stay more than 5 years are clear: you have to get to working proficiency in the local language!

Among PRI’s several hundred non-nationals (since 1990), 90% of those who made it to working proficiency in the local language achieved this proficiency prior to working in a job of 40 hours per week. There are exceptions to the rule, but very few BAMers get to working proficiency after starting working full-time on the field. If they do manage it, it is by bringing in a tutor from 7:30 to 9am in the morning – not recommended! Instead we recommend financial support from donors for the language acquisition period. It’s not current 2015 market reality to ask to ask the company to pay for it. Read more

More About Company Boards and How to Build Them

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

 

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,

We must first determine what type of Board you are inquiring about. Usually, an Advisory Board is used to give strategic advice on a narrow topic. A Board of Directors, on the other hand, is who the CEO is accountable to. They give advice on a broader range of issues. This position has some legal responsibilities and Board members on large companies can wield considerable power since they hire and fire the CEO.  This is highly unlikely in a BAM company, however. 

Let’s talk for a minute about a Board of Directors. You should have such a Board. You, as CEO, need to be accountable to someone outside the company that has direct experience in what you are doing and can likely spot a potential pitfall before you can. Otherwise, it is more likely that you will make a significant mistake – and we all do – and there will be no one to help guide you through a particularly tricky situation. Read more

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

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

 

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

Patrick Lai on Mentoring [Book Excerpt]

One of the 11 building blocks of BAM or Business for Transformation (B4T) is “having a good mentor.”  Patrick Lai writes about this in his new book, Business for Transformation – Getting Started new on Amazon this month. Here’s an excerpt on this key topic.

Mentoring – Accountability

My wife has been known to say, “I love ministering. I just wish it didn’t involve people.” Every one of us is a sinner. We each have areas of temptation and sin. We need spiritual elders who will walk alongside us to assist us in maximizing God’s glory in and through us. In many situations, peer accountability is fine, but my research shows peer accountability is less effective than elder accountability. I think this is because peers leading one another are like the blind leading the blind.

In business, most reporting is done verbally, face-to-face. Bosses meet or communicate with their direct reports daily. We want to both see and hear that the work is being done and being done correctly. In business, people do not write up reports about themselves. Whether we are Christian or not, when we write up reports about ourselves, we are revealing only what we want to tell. And if we are honest, most of us view our work and ourselves better than we really are. Read more

The Role of an Advisory Board for a BAM Business

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

 

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,

When we hear the word “board” most of us think of large corporate Boards of Directors. A Board of Directors in a joint stock company in most jurisdictions is the legal voice of the owners and is responsible to them for giving strategic direction to the company and for selecting and monitoring company management. This sort of board has the authority to hire or fire the general manager and is the highest decision making body short of the general assembly of all the owners. But there are other types of boards as well. 

Advisory boards differ from boards of directors primarily in that they do not have the legal authority to enforce their decisions. Advisory Boards are used around the globe for different purposes and can be boards of key customers, boards of technical experts or, as is common for many BAM companies, non-binding management advisory boards. Read more

Staying on Track: Metrics and Accountability for BAM Companies

How are we doing? How do we know how we’re doing? These are two important questions for all businesses!

One of the most commonly mentioned fruitful practices for BAM practitioners is to have solid input from either mentors or an advisory board, or both. These are the people that will help keep a BAM company on track. Alongside people, systems for measuring and evaluating progress are needed. BAM companies will stay on track as they set goals and then hold themselves accountable to those goals, measuring and evaluating progress as they go.

Many Counsellors

No BAM practitioner is an island! BAM companies are part of a web of relationships, with clients, suppliers, employers and stakeholders of all kinds. Part of that web is the support network that the BAM practitioners have around them. BAMers need what I think of as 360° support – and that includes different people who will give them coaching, mentoring and wise counsel on various aspects of their BAM objectives. Read more

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