Over the last few years, I have been thinking a lot about the whole concept of BAM. As I have talked with many practitioners and mission leaders, a few common responses keep coming to the surface:
- Most of the people the Lord is calling are not business people
- Most of those who start businesses are not really equipped or qualified to launch a new business venture
- Most of the BAM businesses limp along and never really take off
- Most mission organizations want their people to only work 20 – 25 hours per week on their professional jobs
- BAM Practitioners feel guilty for spending “wasted time” on business instead of the “real thing”
- Mission Organizations and practitioners want flexible schedules so they can go on home assignment and attend mission conferences
- Most practitioners acknowledge they need business help but they don’t have money to spend on consulting
Clearly there are many obstacles that we need to overcome if we want to have impact using business as mission. Are we asking our “called practitioners” to do something that is unrealistic?
One thing I do know! When BAM is done well, it opens the door for Kingdom, social and financial impact. The overarching model is a good one, but how we implement the concept might need to be adjusted.
6 Core Components
As I have evaluated BAM ventures in different countries, cultures and contexts, I have identified 6 core components that must be in place for the business to have a good chance of success.
- Strong Business Idea – a tested idea that has the potential for growth & impact
- Accountability – oversight guided by benchmarks, measurements and feedback
- Business Plan – a thorough playbook that can be executed by the champion and their team
- Funding – suitable capital funds that will fuel a successful launch
- Champion – a key person that leads the venture; doing what it takes to get the job done
- Execution – appropriate people and work output to execute the business plan
Let’s take a deeper look at the 6 core components
Strong Business Idea
The first piece of the puzzle is a strong business idea. What do I mean by a strong idea?
I am not just talking about any idea. There are lots of good ideas, but have they been tested for potential growth, impact and cultural receptivity? In my opinion, a good business idea is one that has been tested against the 5 viewpoints. If you are not familiar with the 5 viewpoints, please find the full post here.
The next core component is consistent accountability. Businesses that have succeeded have had some sort of coaching or consulting in place during the planning and launch phases of their business.
With all of the different areas pulling at your time and energy (family, ministry, team, workplace), many starting businesses have found it hard to give enough focused attention to the business.
With good accountability, a clear plan can be established with benchmarks, monitoring and continual feedback. It is the role of the coach / mentor to help the entrepreneur establish a realistic action plan. This action plan will include each of the tasks that need to be accomplished and the due dates.
Here is the key: as long as the business owner is working on the most important steps for moving the business forward (according to the plan), the venture will be moving towards success.
A Solid Business Plan
The 3rd component that has been helpful is a solid business plan. I am not necessarily talking about a 50 – 100 page formal business plan. From my experience, as long as the entrepreneur has completed the due diligence of business planning, they have increased their chance of success.
Some business coaches prefer the lean canvas while others like a more traditional plan. It doesn’t matter to me. As long as you have thought through the key parts of your business (business concept, client, competition, etc) and developed thorough financials (startup, monthly expense, projections etc), then I think you are covered.
Remember, the business plan is not just a hoop to be jumped through. It should help you focus your business idea and give you a clear indication if it has a chance for success. The best thing you can learn from the business plan may be…not to launch this business.
The 4th component that you need in place is enough funding. From my observation, most BAM businesses are usually under capitalized. In other words, they don’t have enough money to get their business off the ground.
I like to compare the launching of a business to a small airplane taking off. In order for a small, 6 seat airplane to take off, it needs enough power and runway (distance). If the plane does not have a long enough runway, then it is impossible to get up to the right speed to fly.
The same is true for any business launch. If you don’t have a long enough runway (capital investment), then you may not have enough time and momentum to get the business off the ground.
Something we encourage: Raise enough capital (cash on hand) to cover all of the one time startup costs plus 12 – 18 months of running costs. Hopefully you will start generating income before this time period, but this ensures a nice comfortable runway for take off.
If you are wondering where to find capital investment, check out this post that covers that topic.
The 5th core component (and perhaps the most important) is making sure you have a business champion. This is more than someone owning or running the business. A champion is someone who has dedication and desires excellence. They are the driving force for making sure the business takes off.
In the airplane analogy, perhaps the champion is more like the engine (not a pilot). The Holy Spirit is the fuel that drives the engine. Without a powerful engine, the plane will never get into the air. Ok…so maybe the analogy isn’t perfect, but you get my point.
If you want a successful BAM venture, you must have a business champion.
Remember, if you work with a team, you may not want your team leader to be the business champion. You need a ministry champion and a business champion…they are usually different people with different gifts.
The final (6th) core component is the actual work side of the business…execution. This is the day-to-day job of getting the work done.
The key to execution is not only doing work, but doing the right work. You and your team need to focus on the most important tasks that will drive the business forward.
Recently I’ve heard people talk about investing 60 hrs per week into your new business. I personally don’t agree with that philosophy. It is not sustainable and can easily cause friction in the team, marriage and relationships, and your own mind.
I prefer to encourage new entrepreneurs to work 30 hours per week on their business BUT this is 30 hours of effective & efficient work. This is following the action plan and not getting distracted by the fun tasks. I am convinced if you give me 30 hours of dedicated, focused work, you can get the job done.
Putting it all together
If you are starting a new BAM business or even hoping to step up an existing venture, make sure you focus on these 6 key areas. If you skip one, you will probably find it hard to get going.
I’d encourage you to find the right idea, the right coach, develop a solid plan, get plenty of funding, find your champion and then just start executing the plan.
Oh…and one more bonus idea! Make sure you focus on marketing. You need leads (potential clients) to get the sales machine going.