We have created this BAM Idea Evaluation Flowchart Tool to help you think through your potential BAM idea. We have found that each of these questions are helpful to consider as your assess a possible business idea.
How to use this tool
For each and every BAM idea that you are considering, we would recommend that you work through these questions. We have found it helpful to work with a business coach or mentor as you process your thoughts. Some of these questions are simple while others will require a little bit of research. Take your time! It is better to disqualify potentially weak ideas rather than waste your precious energy and time.
Can I download the BAM Idea Evaluation Flowchart Tool?
Absolutely! If you prefer to work offline OR email it to a friend, you can DOWNLOAD THE TOOL HERE.
Step #1: Is the idea WELCOME by the host culture?
One of first things you need to consider is whether your new business idea would be welcomed by the host culture. If any part of the community takes a stand against your new venture, it will be very difficult to make any progress. For example, if you offer a “Bible based” curriculum or a “pork sandwich”, your business idea may not be welcomed. Being welcomed by the community is a “must have” first step.
IF YES, then move on to Step #2
IF NO, then you need to ask yourself if there is a possible “pivot” of your business idea that will be welcomed. If you are able to “pivot” your idea, then you can move on to step #2. If you cannot “pivot” into something welcomed, then you should NOT pursue this business idea.
Ask yourself: Why is it not welcomed? Will people want to shut your business down if you proceed? Is it offensive to the culture.
Step #2: Is the idea NEEDED by the host culture?
It is always a good idea to build a business around solving a problem! If you host culture “needs” your solution / product to solve their problem, it will be much easier to sell your service. For example, if your city is having electricity outages, there is probably a need for light and alternative power…think candles, generators or powerbanks.
IF YES, then move on to Step #3
IF NO, then you can still move to Step #3…but it will be important that they “want” your idea. Remember, there is a difference between a “need” and a “want.”
Remember: Sometimes your host culture “needs” your product / service but they don’t know it yet. You may need to educate them on the need.
Step #3: Is the idea WANTED by the host culture?
Sometimes you bring a business idea that is not necessarily a “need,” however, the community wants it. Whenever you focus on a business or service that requires disposable income, your business will probably fall in the category of a “want”.
IF YES, then move on to Step #4
IF NO, then you should NOT pursue this business idea
Ask yourself: Do people have disposable income to spend on this “want”?
Step #4: Do you have a business CHAMPION?
As you look to start a new business venture, it is vital that you have a business champion. The business champion could be you OR someone else on your team.
“We don’t have a formal definition for a BAM champion but we know it is a key person that leads the venture. They are the one who takes responsibility for the success of the business. They are the one who is willing to get the job done. The BAM champion does not have to be the team leader. Actually, in most cases we would recommend that the champion NOT be the team leader. The champion is a vital part of the church planting team but may have a slightly different gift set than others.” – Who is your Business as Mission Champion
IF YES, then move on to Step #5
IF NO, then you should see if you can find a business champion. If you can find a business champion, then you can proceed with the idea, but if you can’t find a business champion, then you should NOT pursue this business idea
Ask yourself: Is there someone on your team who can play the role as a business champion? Is there someone on God’s team?
Step #5: Does the champion have EDUCATION or TRAINING?
It is a good idea if the business champion (or even some of your team) have education or training in the proposed business sector. Perhaps you have a university degree or have done some formal training…either is a great help. For example, you may have a degree in tourism OR a CELTA English certificate.
IF YES, then move on to Step #6
IF NO, then you should make sure the government does not require an official diploma or certificate to open / run this business. If you are required to have specific education or diploma, then you should NOT pursue this business idea. If you are not required to have education or training, proceed to the next step.
Remember: In some countries, for specific industries, you are required to have a master’s degree to open the business.
Step #6: Does your champion or team have EXPERIENCE in the industry?
Experience is always helpful when starting a business. Does your champion have experience working in or running this type of venture?
IF YES, then move on to Step #7
IF NO, then you should consider finding an internship (6 months – 1 year) in an existing business like you plan to start. Fro example, if you want to start a coffee shop, find a successful existing coffee where you can work or volunteer to learn the process. If you can’t find an internship or a place to get experience, proceed with caution.
Remember: Lack of education and experience do not necessarily disqualify your business idea, but I would proceed with great caution.
Step #7: Does your champion or team have PASSION for this business?
Passion could be the “X-factor” when it comes to your champion. We have seen times when passion for an idea or a problem has driven the “inexperienced” into a successful business. Passion is important.
IF YES, then move on to Step #8
IF NO, then ask yourself if there is any other possible way to gain access to your host country. If there is another way, then stop and pursue that way. If there is no other way to gain access, then pursue this idea with the Lord’s strength.
Ask yourself: Can you take a job, get a retirement visa, become a student, etc…
Step #8: Is there COMPETITION already in the market?
Before jumping into any new business, you want to analyze the exiting market. You should do some research to see if there are already competitors in the market.
IF NO COMPETITION, then move on to Step #9
IF THERE IS SOME OR LOTS OF COMPETITION, then you will want to ask yourself if there is space for another business in the market. You will need to consider if you are able to “beat out” the competition. If you feel like there is room for another business & you can beat out the competition, then proceed to Step #9. If there is NO space for another business & you can’t beat the competition, then you should NOT pursue this business idea.
Ask yourself: Is competition welcomed by those in your potential industry? Do you have something that will set your business apart from the competition?
Step #9: Do you need government LICENSING or approval?
In some countries, you might be required to have official licensing to operate your business. For example, to run a hotel, you will need official approval from the ministry of tourism. Make sure you know the process for licensing or approval.
IF NO LICENSING OR APPROVAL IS NEEDED, then move on to Step #10
IF LICENSING IS NEEDED, then make sure you have everything you need to get the approval. Talk to a lawyer or accountant to get an exact list of the requirements. If you don’t have everything you need, don’t pursue this business. If you DO have everything to get approval, then proceed to Step #10
Remember: You might need a diploma, professional license, years of experience, financial capital, local partner etc…
Step #10: Will your business allow you to EMPLOY locals?
One of the things we have realized over the years is that employing locals is considered a huge blessing by the community. Not every business has the ability to employ, but it is a good thing to consider.
IF YES, then move on to Step #11
IF NO, then ask yourself if it is super important to the government or community that you employ locals. If it is NOT important, then proceed to Step #11. If it is important, you can still proceed to Step #11, but consider ways you might add one or two employees.
Ask yourself: Will you be seen as blessing the community if you bring employment?
Step #11: Will your business thrust you into natural RELATIONSHIPS?
We all want to have relationships so that we can share the Good News of Jesus. Some businesses provide more natural relationships through their service providers or clients. For example, an export business might give you access to a number of artisans who make your products to export.
IF YES, then move on to Step #12
IF NO, then ask yourself WHEN, WHERE and HOW will you meet people to build relationships. Make sure you have a plan in place. If you can’t figure out how to build relationships, then DO NOT proceed with this idea. If you DO have a plan, then proceed to Step #12
Remember: You can meet people in your neighborhood, at cafes, through a club, at your kid’s school… Just have a plan!
Step #12: Will your business provide ACCESS (visas) for other Kingdom workers?
This step is NOT vital but it is important to consider. Is your business going to provide a strong identity for just you OR are you looking to provide others access through your business? Ask yourself if you need to provide access for other Kingdom workers.
IF YES, then you will want to ask yourself: How many people will I need to run this business? Does it make sense to have this many people in the business?
Remember: Make sure you have the right people to run the business…not just warm bodies. Be careful not to have too make people that it brings suspicion.
IF NO, then ask yourself: Are you sure you can run this business alone? Is there any way to do this as a team?
Since there is no right answer for this step, please proceed to Step #13
Step #13: How much financial CAPITAL is needed to start this business?
Now we will move onto the financial side of your business. There is no real right or wrong answer for this question, but you will want to consider the different possible responses to: How much financial capital is needed to start this business?
IF LOW (Less than $10,000), then ask yourself if a low financial capital makes sense to the government & local friends? Do you have enough capital to successfully launch and sustain this business?
IF MEDIUM ($10,000 – $75,000), then ask yourself: Do you have enough capital to successfully launch and sustain this business? Does my capital amount to the numbers of owners make sense?
Remember: A guideline we use is $15,000 – $20,000 of investment capital per owner
IF HIGH ($75,000 +), then ask yourself: Do you have enough capital to successfully launch and sustain this business? Is there a less expensive way to get the same results?
Remember: Sometimes it is better to go with low risk using a simpler business model.
Step #14: How much REVENUE can your business generate?
Now let’s talk about revenue. Since you are just evaluating an idea you won’t have exact numbers for projected revenue. That said, it is important to consider a few of the different models. For more information on this topic check out: Business as Mission Models: Pros & Cons. How much revenue can your business generate?
IF NEVER BREAK EVEN, then ask yourself if you want to keep investing money year after year. Personally, I would not pursue this type of business model..but it is up to you and your philosophy.
IF YOU WILL BREAK EVEN, then ask yourself if that amount of revenue is enough to appease the government. Some countries require proof of income to renew licensing and visas.
IF YOU WILL PAY LOCAL LEVEL SALARIES, (to the foreigners and your local employees) this is considered the BAM sweet spot. We encourage all businesses to shoot for at least this amount of revenue.
IF YOU WILL PAY FOREIGN LEVEL SALARIES, (to the foreigners) this is fantastic but not required.
Since there is no right answer, proceed to Step #15
Step #15: What is your SUPERPOWER (Unique Value)?
As you start your new business, it is super important to know what sets you apart from your competition. What is your superpower? What is your unique value? What sets you apart?
IF YOU KNOW YOUR SUPERPOWER, then move on to Step #16
IF YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR SUPERPOWER, then spend some time brainstorming & coming up with your unique value. This is super important. If you can’t think if a superpower or unique value, I would discourage this business idea.
Step #16: Do you have a COACH or MENTOR?
Check out this article: 4 Reasons You Need a BAM Mentor . Do you have a coach or mentor?
IF YES, then move on to Step #17
IF NO , then we would highly recommend you find someone to be your mentor.
Remember: It is important to find a BAM mentor who not only understands business but also understands cross cultural ministry.
Step #17: Is your idea REPRODUCIBLE or can it be FRANCHISED?
One final question we like to ask is: Is your idea reproducible. The reason is because there is a huge need for business creation in these creative access countries. If you can come up with a model that others can easily reproduce, that will be a huge blessing for the kingdom.
Next Step! Time for a business plan
Once you have gone through the 17 questions above and you still want to pursue this business idea…now it is time to make a business plan. Before you just jump into a “good idea”, doing your due diligence of writing a business plan is important. Talk to your mentor or coach to help you through the business planning process.