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7 best practices for BAM startups

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Earlier this year I tried to consolidate the material that exists on the subject of ‘Best Practices for BAM Startups’.  These seven items are not necessarily comprehensive and complete, but hopefully they will be a help to organizations and individuals starting down the pathway of Kingdom entrepreneurship.
  1. Work with an entrepreneur.   Though such people are few and far between, it is important that the business be led by someone who “sees” opportunities and who can start something and has the drive to succeed.  They must be selected carefully and they must work with the team and their coach.
  2. Tap into training and coaching/mentoring. Training may involve incubation or specialized training in a robust definition of BAM, the Triple Bottom Line, principles of business success, cultural issues, capitalization issues, integration of ‘business’ and ‘mission’. Mentoring is often the difference between success and failure.
  3. Don’t go it alone. Entrepreneur Ernesto Sirolli affirms that God has never created any one person who can “Make it”, “Sell it”, and “Keep track of the money”.  The leadership team must be carefully chosen and learn to get along with the entrepreneur and the coach.  These are often called business developers.
  4. Work from a plan.  Even a lean startup entrepreneur needs a business model. As things proceed, a standard business plan (including financial projections) must be written and followed (along with the appropriate pivots).  Aligned with the business plan will be a robust ministry plan providing intentional and practical steps to blessing the community, living out Kingdom values, sharing the faith and the making of disciples.
  5. Establish legal and financial clarity.  It is mandatory that there be clear ownership, appropriate financial and tax reporting, and strict adherence to legal regulations.  Standard capitalization methods should be utilized such as personal skin in the game, equity positions, or loans (which must charge interest).
  6. Foster accountability.  Accountability is important even in entrepreneurial startups.  At some point the business should form an advisory board or some similar form of accountability.  This board will review risk assessments, contingency plans, financial projections, future goals and regular reporting financials, and provide prayer support amongst other things.
  7. Find the right business and focus.  BAM startups must have a strong commitment to finding the “right” business for the unreached and underdeveloped customer of the community.  Research and a “learning” mentality are essential.  For a BAM business to be sustainable and to succeed long-term, it must be become a profit-making, disciple-making social enterprise – achieving the Triple Bottom Line.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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5 things that prove old dogs CAN learn new tricks

Saturday, October 17, 2015

You don't usually hear from me directly, but today I'm going to step out from behind my role as IBEC blog beautifier (and editor and social media marketing specialist) and let you in on a secret:

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks!

The proof is in the five new share buttons at the bottom of this blog – buttons that will enable you to easily share an IBEC blog via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and email. In the world of blogging, these share buttons are the dog tricks equivalent of "Sit. Stay. Come." But they've been missing from the IBEC blog and this week a training conference for Social Media Success inspired me to learn a new trick (new for this old dog, or young pup as the case may be in terms of my web page coding experience). 

The course I took didn't teach me how to add these buttons. I had to seek the expertise of HTML pros and get my hands dirty with some trial and error experimenting to learn that – much like the BAM entrepreneurs do when they enlist IBEC's help.

But the course did remind me why I should add these share buttons: to help you be part of expanding the Business as Missions / Business for Transformation movement. All of us in the BAM business building world know how challenging this work is AND the divine impact it has on lives around the world. If you've been reading Larry Sharp's weekly IBEC blogs, you know what a great source of BAM/B4T/Kingdom business building/emerging markets entrepreneurship know-how they are! 

Sharing articles that resonate with your experience and heart for expanding the Kingdom through business can help others  to catch this vision too. You never know who you might be inspiring or encouraging. You never know who might become that next BAM entrepreneur or that next Freedom Business supporter or that next IBEC consultant. That's one of the things I love about my role at IBEC! 

You can also be an advocate for BAM by encouraging people to subscribe to IBEC's weekly blog email (IBEC Insights) and our quarterly newsletter (IBEConnect). The subscription sign-up is at the bottom of each blog, this one included. Finally, do let me know if you find any glitches in these share buttons as you begin using them; it's all part of the process of continuous improvement, serving you...and serving the Lord.

Carolyne Hart, Director of Social Media and Digital Marketing, IBEC Ventures

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Reclaiming lives: a lighthouse in a dark place

Monday, October 12, 2015

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”    Albert Einstein

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about values and outlined the values of IBEC Ventures. I believe that every business has values, but more than that – they should clearly articulate their values and seek to live by them and operate their business by them.

Last month I received a letter from Jamie, a former employee of mine who is operating (together with her spouse and a team) a café in a large Asian city where they are able to employ women who have been victimized by the sex trade. Now they have jobs and Jamie says, “All the women who joined us last year are still walking with us – growing day by day."

One of the things that impressed me was that the café sets itself apart with an emphasis on its values, one of which is to “…create community by highlighting and promoting the arts in our café. This includes a weekly stand-up comedy night, “…and we have hosted three concerts which have packed us out and drawn media attention…and we have a poetry night.”

All of this and much more has raised the attention of the American consulate which sees the café as a place of community and a promoter of love and justice.  Now they want a branch of the café in the consulate itself.  Why?  They live out the values of their calling. They are a lighthouse in a dark place and are proclaiming works of justice as they reclaim lives.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

Five Essentials for Entrepreneurs in the Startup Phase

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Patrice Tsague, president of the Nehemiah Project is a gifted and experienced godly entrepreneur.  He writes a weekly devotional which I appreciate very much.  I thought this one was a good one to pass on to the IBEC readership.  He shares Five Essentials for Entrepreneurs in the Startup Phrase. 1   These essentials provide a good start for a wise man in the Kingdom business life cycle.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. – Proverbs 13:22

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 4:7

Are you beginning your new venture well? What are some essentials that a biblical entrepreneur should think about in the startup phase of a Kingdom business life cycle?

Every business, like a new building, is built piece-by-piece, brick-by-brick. In the startup phase, there are 5 “BRICK” essentials that an entrepreneur should use as he or she begins their journey:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. An entrepreneur should be driven by a vision – he or she is able to see what could be, given sufficient resources, opportunity, and effort – and they begin the new venture with that vision in the forefront of their mind.
  2. Review your cash flow daily. In business cash is king. Cash flow is crucial to any new business and should not be ignored – pay attention to your pro forma cash flow statement. Avoid cash issues by having an aggressive collection policy. Collect payments up front as much as possible.
  3. Identify and intentionally live out your values. These values, if lived well, will shape the culture of your organization. Identify and write down your values even if your new business consists of just an idea, you and the Lord. Is it common knowledge that your industry follows a corrupt business practice? Commit to doing things the right way in that area. Put your list on your smartphone background, or on the wall next to your desk.
  4. Commit to building a three-generational business. Scripture tells us that a righteous man leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren. Like Abraham, who managed a successful ranching business that Isaac and Jacob inherited, a biblical entrepreneur should approach a new venture with succession in mind and a commitment to building something that will last at least three generations.
  5. Know your exit strategy. How long do you plan to run the business? What kind of business are you starting: a lifestyle business that will provide income for your household, or a company that you hope to sell in a few years? How and when will your investors receive a return on their investment?
The startup phase is a fun phase for the entrepreneur. There is the thrill of a new idea, the risk of the unknown, and many possibilities. It can also be a dangerous phase, with too much optimism and hope and not enough resources to fuel the business. Without adequate capital and business planning, a new venture can end quickly. In this phase, it is important for the entrepreneur to stay focused on the vision while building in a wise and practical manner, counting the cost as he or she begins.

An entrepreneur is sure to run into many problems during this phase. When this happens, it is important to pursue peace first! Most entrepreneurs, when faced with a problem, immediately begin to go after the solution. Their fear and anxiety may lead to the wrong solution, which may make the problem worse. Pursuing peace — not the absence of problems, but a state of complete trust in the sovereign will of God – empowers the entrepreneur to equip himself or herself with confidence that God will provide an answer. Once peace is present, the mind is clear to think clearly and wisely about a solution.

My prayer for you today is that you would enjoy the startup phase, being filled with wisdom, peace, and the Holy Spirit as you begin the journey of stewarding your business.

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IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission