Part 2: Entrepreneurs, business developers…or both?

Last week Dave Kier surfaced the question of “Leadership” versus “Followership”.  He drew a distinction between the founder (or entrepreneur) in a business and a manager.  He talked about leaders and followers.  In Part 2 of this theme we consider the importance of all types in the development of a Kingdom business team.

Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller, Outliers, says, “No one — not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.”  He makes the case that success has a high correlation with the opportunities offered and the people in our path.  As an example he cites the teacher who allowed Bill Gates unlimited access to a time shared terminal in 1968.  That teacher created a differentiation for Mr. Gates and gave him the boost he needed for greatness.

Gladwell continues, “The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”  We often think of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.  But do we credit the impact of Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes?  Of course Steve Jobs had his Steve Wozniak and John Sculley. Walt Disney had Roy Disney, Fred Harmon and Margaret Winkler.  Bill Gates had his high school buddies Paul Allen, Ric Weiland and Kent Evans and college friend Steve Ballmer.

Dale Losch in his book, A Better Way – Making Disciples Wherever Life Happens, talks about the whole body of believers and differing roles in business start ups.  He refers to “ground-breakers” — pioneers who are ready to be agents of change (p. 125).   These are the entrepreneurs who seek out opportunities and strategies.  Their new ideas, methods, directions and opportunities break new ground— for the business and for making disciples on the spiritual frontiers.

Losch continues by describing the “business developer” — men and women who have the ability and experience to develop and grow profitable and sustainable business opportunities.  They have exceptional business, organizational, human resource or leadership skills. They strive for results and are accountable for both the business growth and for making disciples.

Entrepreneur Ernesto Sirolli suggests that God has never created a person who can do all of the following: “make it; sell it; and keep track of the money.”  He continues to make the case for a business team to fulfill the dream of the entrepreneur. 3

So what does this mean for Business as Mission start ups?  Just as “it takes a whole village to raise a child,” so it takes a team to start and grow a business.  It takes leaders and it takes followers; it takes all kinds of people of character; people with capacity to learn and grow and work together.

Good to Great author, Jim Collins, refers to insuring having the “right people on the bus.” Collins insists that “great vision without great people is irrelevant” and he says great companies define the right person as a person with character and innate capabilities, that being more important than knowledge, background and skills.  But the point is — a bus with a visionary driver is not accomplishing much unless there are people on the bus — the right people!

Let us determine as we build Kingdom businesses that we take the time and care for everyone necessary for success.  Most people will not be the boss or the entrepreneur or the leader; they may be the accountant, the IT expert, the marketer, the language and culture expert, the product developer and so on.  We are in this together — for business success and for Kingdom results.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

1  Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers: The Story of Success, Little, Brown and Co., 2008
2  Losch, Dale. A Better Way:  Making Disciples Wherever Life Happens, UFM International, 2012
4  An African proverb
5  Collins, Jim. Good to Great.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2001

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