Last week we shared four of the eight principles to consider when starting a BAM startup. They were Purpose, Principles, People and Problem. This week we look at Product, Process, Place and Passion.
Think about it. Everything that exists started somewhere. Adam and Eve were in startup mode when God gave them jobs to do. Where did they start when God said “…work and take care of the Garden”? How about naming the animals? Where did they start? And so on until today – innovations and businesses all start somewhere – in someone’s productive mind; in a garage in the middle of the night; in a music studio experimenting for the right notes and instruments; even in a laboratory by accident.
We live in an innovation and entrepreneurial era, and BAM certainly has that component to the Quadruple Bottom Line of job creation, profitability, creation care, and social/spiritual transformation. On the other hand, there are many ways to accomplish a goal. I have learned over the years with IBEC coaches and through personal teaching, that certain foundational rules are essential.
The eight “P” labels, which have been split up into a two-part series, might help us remember a BAM EOS.
Continuing the issue of who the customer is… if the customer is local, such as for a bakery, the tests need to be made to determine needs for one or more customer segments. If it is an export market, a feasibility study will help to determine viability.
It is helpful if the leadership has experience in the product and skills to help in the decision-making and ongoing maintenance of the production. A friend opened a real estate business in East Asia and felt comfortable doing so because of US experience in real estate, and his language and culture expertise partly due to his marriage to a citizen of the Asian country.
As the BAM ecosystem matures, training and internships are emerging to provide pre-startup experience. For example, Jonathan Pascual heads up a coffee shop training in conjunction with the BAM Coffee consortium. This is located in Atlanta and is highly recommended.
Example: I remember two couples said they loved coffee and wanted to sell coffee in Nepal. We had quite a time helping them determine that it is not about them but about the customer. They went ahead anyway, and soon, things failed. On the contrary, a couple started an English school in East Asia with a highly trained and successful English teacher as leader. They tested the market and found high demand. The school was profitable when I visited some years ago.
This “P” has to do with the operations and systems for delivering the product. I was at a restaurant this week with 12 others and when we went to pay our bill, the credit card system did not work and only a few of us had cash. Things were confusing and representative of a bad process. Operations is critical.
On the HR side of things, a safe and enabling work environment is important to a BAM company. There should be an atmosphere of trust and a focus on learning and growth. I once had about 40 employees in an office in Pennsylvania. I told them all that my goal was for them to be better equipped for the workplace when they left our employ than when they started. I meant for that in terms of skill as well as ability to demonstrate values and an integration of faith with their work.
Example: The operational process should be documented, trained for, and followed diligently. I observed that in a leather product factory in Asia. The process started with the ordering of leather in rolls and concluded with excellent quality bags for the export market. Each department had a supervisor and quality control. Even small operations need to give attention to operations and faith, while valuing issues and systems.
“Location – Location – Location” is an old adage often used in the real estate industry, but it is an important concept for all businesses. Not only is the question relevant for customers, but also for the supply chain/labor pool, and community resources like quality of life/education opportunities.
If the business is a retail business on site, such as a coffee shop or bakery, the research demands a clear and thorough understanding of the community. However, if it is the export of sports equipment, decisions might surround export costs and availability of raw materials.
Example: A high end international bakery in Vietnam chose a location near embassies and international schools in the capital city, and is quite successful. In a negative example, a rock- climbing company in North Africa failed because the base of operations was too far away from the target climbing mountains.
It is possible to start and operate a business without this ‘P’, but having passion goes a long way toward enabling success. A business owner in Africa calls this the ‘X-factor’, by which he means, …an unknown or hard-to-define influence; a factor with unknown or unforeseeable consequences.” I think of it as having heart because it is part of the business leaders fabric, his DNA. In the Freedom Business Industry, we see many founders who have a real heart for those enslaved and feel hopeless. The owners of businesses have a real passion for their release and survival.
Example: I have met business owners in Africa, India, China, Indonesia, and elsewhere who can’t wait for each day, because they get to help people out of poverty, create a new product, or watch an employee grow into a transformed life. Passion goes a long way to make difficulties and challenges palatable and more easily overcome.
These foundational rules are important in every startup. They surface in the literature of Entrepreneurial Operation Systems (EOS) and certainly are important in the economy of God and the core BAM Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL) values of profitability, job creation, creation care and social/spiritual transformation. All are essential and the risk of failure will be mitigated by care given to each of the “Ps” – Purpose; Principles; People; Problem; Product; Process; Place and Passion.
Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures