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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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