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What you should know before starting your business

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I am teaching an on-line class in innovation and entrepreneurship this summer. While preparing for the class I came upon this article in LinkedIn by Betty Liu, Founder and CEO at Radiate, Inc.. For BAM startups, it seems to be a “must read.”

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

What You Should Know Before Starting Your Business

Betty Liu,Founder/CEO at Radiate, Inc.

Published in LinkedIn on July 17, 2017

Starting a business is very risky. Even though failure rates have steadily come down since the Great Recession, a new business is more likely to go under than thrive. If you're in financial services, your chances of success are as low as 42%. If you're in retail, your chances go up, but just slightly.

It may come as no surprise but the reason behind the failures rarely has to do with neglect or outside disasters. Almost all the time, it's because of managerial incompetence. Reasons range from a founder/CEO going into a business for all the wrong reasons (i.e going into business purely for the money and esteem it supposedly brings) or overspending, or to put it bluntly a total lack of focus.

So how do you make sure you're starting your business on the right foot? Below are five critical things every CEO of a new company needs to know:

1. Better to be alone than hiring the wrong team: When you start a business, you need to have a strong team around you. The problem is founders become so desperate for a team to prove they have a viable idea that they often rush into hiring co-founders. Chances are you're better off staying alone until you find the right people, don't hire the wrong person just to have a warm body next to you. Whatever is bothering you about the person off the bat is going to get even worse, not better. When I talk to founders they often joke about their relationship with their co-founders seeming like a "marriage". And when you are spending an uncomfortable amount of time with people that you trust implicitly, believe me it can seem pretty darn close to it.

2. Sitting on a product too long: Last year I had the chance to host a lunch for Eric Ries, the bestselling author of The Lean Startup, whose basic theory is businesses have to test and test their idea or product before it's fully ready. Conventional wisdom suggests you should research and hone your product before fully launching it; Ries' argument is that you waste valuable time on a product that might not even fit the market. Your best bet is to test the product out first on customers and get their feedback, then use that feedback to refine your product. While his method doesn't guarantee success, he says it will certainly guarantee fewer failures.

3. Know the difference between Overspending and Underspending: Unless you're a Wall Street firm with an outside facing business, you need to forget the fancy office. A few desks in WeWork in the beginning will do. Instead, invest your limited resources in something consumer-facing such as a great looking logo or premium-looking website. CEOs have to understand where to spend and where to keep costs low. Having a fancy foozball table, or that in-house dog-walking service just to make your employees feel like they're working for a cool company? Forget it. Keep it lean for as long as you need to.

4. Keep your board small: This really applies to founders who've sought outside funding. Scott Kurnit, the founder of About.com and Keep.com, says no startup wants to or needs to start off with a big board. You may think it looks impressive but it will inevitably become a headache. Scott's half-kidding but real advice is to find a friend with low net worth and put him or her on the board—that way, if the company one day gets sued, nobody can claim a significant reward from board members. The CEO should always be on the board but not the co-founders; that leads to very awkward and uncomfortable situations later.

5. Establish your culture early: Culture is not a feel-good thing you should do; it's a thing you absolutely have to do. A company culture is vital to the success and well-being of your growing staff. It's critical for hiring talent and it also forms the foundation by which the founders interact. A good culture can be the difference between a successful business and a not-so successful business. As customers/employees/investors we all want to align ourselves with a great business and feel like that company culture mirrors our own. And if we don't feel like that well, try looking for that recently deleted app on your phone, Uber.

Want to become a great leader? Check out Radiate! We deliver curated expert advice from the top CEOs. Try us out for free by joining here.

7 BAM startup principles contemplated while salmon fishing in Alaska

Saturday, August 05, 2017


I recently went fishing with my daughter in the Kenai river of south-central Alaska – first for king salmon, then for the famous sockeye (red) salmon. Fishing was slow so I began to contemplate parallels to the world of Business as Mission (BAM) startups.

1. Love what you are doing.

There were maybe 50 men and women with sockeye gear that day, wearing in hip waders and standing knee deep in the river for as far as we could see. They were loving it, even those who caught nothing. They were out-of-doors, full of anticipation of new fish stories and fresh salmon for dinner.

So too, if you don’t love business, turn your heart and time toward something else. Entrepreneurs love it; and entrepreneurs’ team members love being on board for the ride. If you do not love the hard work, the anticipation of God doing the unexpected or the challenge of the unknown, business startups are not for you.

Jeff started a successful internet website which provided for his family in the USA. He loved the action so much that he decided to start an IT company in an Asian nation to provide jobs, see if he could be profitable there, and be the incarnation of Jesus in a place where He is not known. Even though it is hard going he loves what he is doing.

2. Be prepared.

One should see these fisherman with all their equipment – hip waders; specialized vests with every imaginable fishing gear in the pockets, rods and reels worth hundreds of dollars, a net and a little bonker to kill the 7-8 pound salmon. And the right bait for the fish – wet coho flies for sockeye; lures and eggs for king salmon; and eggs for silver salmon.

Business owners, managers or specialists in startups must be prepared. They need to know their industry, both in North America and abroad, understand the customer and be able to utilize the business model canvas. They have to be prepared to live and function in another culture and language, all the while providing a solution to the customers’ pain point and problem so as to deliver value. And just when one thinks there is a measure of political or economic stability, one must pivot and move toward other markets. Yes, one must be prepared for all of this and more.

IBEC usually recommends being successful in the homeland, or at least learning to do in North America whatever one intends to do overseas. There is no substitute for the preparation accomplished where the waters are calm, before the trouble of the international or overseas sector.

3. Location. Location. Location.

This all-important advice never grows old. For fishermen it means being where the action is. King salmon fishermen learn the patterns of the river, the temperature and the depth because the fish move according to their sensors and experience. Fishing is location driven.

Likewise in business, location is important for many reasons. We provided coaching for an outdoor recreation company in Africa. After much time, funding and experience it was discovered that the location of the kick-off city was poor in relation to the clients’ target destination. It simply took too long to get to the tourist location. The business continues but has had a major pivot.

I coached several micro-enterprises in the Ukraine long ago. One startup hopeful was determined to locate in a section of the city which was low income and poorly trafficked. It took much observation and discussion to convince the owner to move her ideal location to some place more likely to connect with the customer.

4. Study and understand the conditions.

Fishing on the lower Kenai river requires understanding of the tides. Migratory salmon tend to flood into the river on an incoming tide. There is little point in fishing near the end of an ebb tide. The fish are schooled up offshore waiting to come in with the tide.

IBEC uses CIA Factsheets and World Bank sites such as http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings. This helps the consultant and the owners to understand variables which exist everywhere. Ethics variations must be studied carefully as one balances USA laws, foreign laws and personal ethics with “how we do it here”.

One business in a former Soviet republic came to an abrupt end because of failure to understand cultural nuances related to contract law. The owner of an agriculture project assumed his duly negotiated and signed contract meant his farm product would go to market, but culturally it was only meant to be a suggestion and the business failed as the vegetables rotted in the fields with no transportation to markets in the city some hours away.

5. Timing is critical.

Sockeye salmon return to their Alaskan streams of origin at certain times in the June-August period. Coho salmon return later to the Kenai river and its streams, usually August to October. It is futile to try to catch a coho in June, or a king salmon in September. Timing is everything.

A successful business in western India was marketed to quilters in North America and in the UK. The quilters in these areas meet at specific shows and it is critical to meet them there and provide the specialized tour offerings. The overseas artisans provide an incredible experience for which the client is willing to pay and the client is more likely to take interest in the tour company’s product offering at a show than via other forms of media. Timing is critical to the marketing and sales cycle.

6. Have an end goal.

For some fishermen catching their limit, or a bigger fish is the goal. Interestingly some fishermen meet their goal even if they catch no fish. I came upon a lone fisherman one time on the bank of a river and said casually, “How is fishing?” He immediately replied, “Does it matter?” Every fisherman has some sort of goal for the day.
Startup owners and managers need to know the goal. Are you desiring a long time operational cycle because of the spiritual value of the Triple Bottom Line? Or do you wish to sell and start something elsewhere when the model turns profitable and other challenges emerge?

It is important to keep the Triple Bottom Line as a goal. Owners want a profitable and sustainable company that creates jobs for people in a needy area and a business which allows owners and managers to incarnate who Jesus is.

Owner David Nord had a goal of diversifying into several other countries after a successful parent company in China became self-sustaining. Consequently he is seeing the Triple Bottom Line realized in many countries in central Asia.

7. Know how to close the deal.

I have seen many fishermen hook into fish in the river and even bring them close to the boat or the bank only to lose them due to failure to keep the line taut. There is much more to fishing than simply getting them to bite the bait. The job is not truly done until the fish are safely in the cooler.

So too with business. IBEC only really began to take off when current CEO, Bob Bush came to us with a marketing background. He understands the customer and the value of persistence and various products to offer the client. Business is all about customer wants and once those are discovered it is all about serving those demands. Business includes all elements of the business cycle and marketing is something which every owner must focus upon.

These seven reminders are not new, but when fishing was slow one day it provided an opportunity to reflect and remember some important principles.

Serve Jesus where you are

Monday, July 31, 2017


T
Dave Kier is an IBEC Board member and CEO of DFS Feed in Iowa. He writes a daily devotional for his more than 200 employees. I am privileged to be allowed to read them; one of which is reproduced here with his permission.

Feedback from a recent Business as Mission conference I attended revealed a desire from many to know more about how to be a Christian in business. Recently I read an article about our Secretary of Education where the author was almost appalled that she speaks of emphasizing biblical values in education. She and her friends even had the audacity to call themselves “believers”, yet there is an army of us believers in government, education, the medical community, serving in nursing homes and all throughout every field in the marketplace. Millions of us get up and go to work to serve Jesus and others and yet the young people are asking how they can live out their calling where they are. Yes, it’s concerning that they ask, but I am deeply humbled and excited that they are. Maybe this is the generation that will make the greatest impact for Jesus in this world.

How do I live out my calling here?

What would you tell a young person asking this question but to be strong in their faith, first and foremost. Go deep with Jesus taking serious the teaching of Paul where he said “…whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. (I Cor. 10:31)”. Be diligent in your work, but also remember to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15)”.

Remember every day to “…always give thanks for all things. (Eph. 5:20)”. Ignore the temptation to think it is every man for himself but rather “do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Matt 7:12)”. Jesus said to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you (Matt 6:33)". Never forget, no matter how lean the times, that the first fruits of your day belong to the Lord as does the first fruits of your income. Humbly declare Him by your actions and by your words. Be wise but do not be silent.

Being a Christian in the marketplace

We met with two different companies this week. One we meet with every so often but we didn’t know the leaders in the other company very well. Still, we opened our time with prayer asking the Lord to guide us. No one has ever been offended but almost always someone will say “Thank you”.

Being a Christian in the marketplace is being who you are. Why hide who you are? If you are a child of the King, you don’t need to be brash about it but for sure you aren’t ashamed of it – are you? Don’t let the world and its threats intimidate you. Live for Jesus wherever you are. Speak up for Jesus wherever you are, not to make “brownie points” with Jesus but because you love Him and you love your fellow man or woman. It is a tremendous privilege, and responsibility, to serve Jesus in the marketplace.

Business as Mission – how about results?

Sunday, July 23, 2017


The facts of this story are real and true; but due to security issues, names have been changed.

As I travel around the US and Canada, I am often asked, “are you seeing any results for all your work with Business as Mission?” In short what they are demanding is “Show me the money”. It is a good question and they have a right to know.

I have visited Asian Business Company (ABC) twice. ABC is in a country considered to be “unreached” with the truth of the gospel. While visiting I spent time observing and interviewing several of the thirty or so employees and spending extended time with the owners, Chris and Simon. I have seen the value this job-creating manufacturing firm brings to the community and in the personal lives of the workers. I have seen the profitability and sustainability grow over the past 14 years. I have interacted with six different consultants who have applied their wisdom to ABC.

Three years ago Simon hired a manager of production, Mr. M. Not only has Mr. M proven to be a valued employee and effective manager, but he has taken an interest in spiritual issues, expressing a desire to learn more of who Jesus is. He diligently read the scriptures strategically place on the factory walls. He began to ask questions and he participated in prayer times and it gradually became clear that he was seeking the truth.

Simon has met many times with Mr. M and recently he affirmed his desire to live out his life in relationship with God. He is now following Jesus.

The is not the beginning of the story and certainly it is not the end. Now all four senior managers of ABC have come to faith and are following Jesus. Several others are new and growing believers.

But it doesn’t stop there! There are even more needy areas in Asia – more impoverished and more spiritually unreached and Simon and Chris have long had a vision to extend their company to some of those places. And now as I write this, they are deploying a long-term staff member and Jesus follower to a high risk, unreached area. He will be serving ABC as a sales representative, but more importantly he will be representative of Jesus in that area.

This is not the first example of outreach to faraway places by employees and former employees of ABC - and by God’s grace it will not be the last. There are many more stories of God at work in the past 14 years. And all because Chris and Simon took leave of a comfortable life in North America and began a startup business in Asia – a business committed to profitability, to job creation and to making disciples of Jesus.

I tell those questioning that “it doesn’t get any better than that!” But it does take time; it takes prayer; it takes capital and it takes a whole team – both in North America and abroad. Thank you God!

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) - is it BAM?

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Recently I watched a “60 Minutes”1 documentary describing the phenomenal rise of Chobani Yogurt to become the top selling yogurt brand in the United States. Founded in upstate New York in 2005 by Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya without outside investors, Chobani is a charming feel-good story of entrepreneurship.

The story seems to have all the components of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which is a corporation's initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the company's effects on environmental and social well-being as well as the economic financial outcomes. The term generally applies to efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups.

Despite examples of abuse and attempts to deceive the public, generally CSR is a good thing, based in part in the philosophy of the Triple Bottom Line, a term coined by John Elkington in 1994. A CSR-responsible company develops its policies, programs, standards and principles in accordance with:

People – what is good for the human capital and the social good. Such is true at Chobani. “From the beginning I tried to treat everybody right,” Ulukaya said in a speech last month. “We paid everyone well above minimum wage. Everybody in our plant gets the same holidays as everybody in the office. Our entire company — hourly or salaried — would get full health care, retirement plans.”

Not long ago Ulukaya offered 10% of the company ownership to his 2,000 employees. But perhaps the most interesting decision was to hire legal refugees in his New York and Twin Falls, Idaho plants. Today more than 600 refugees have jobs. Says Ulukaya, “The No. 1 thing that you can do is provide them jobs. The minute they get a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee.”

Profit – without question Chobani is a profitable company, and is valued at over $1 billion today. The owner understands the customer and creates value for all stakeholders. Such value-creation has been translated into profitability and sustainability.

Planet – the third bottom line is concern for the environment and the health of people. The mission of Chobani to have “better food for more people” translates into the use of natural ingredients, more protein, less sugar and ultimately a healthier lifestyle, illustrated in this partnership with McDonalds: http://www.chobani.com/nutritioncenter.

Cows are not treated with rBST and animal welfare is an ethical and moral imperative. All of creation is important to Mr. Ulukaya and Chobani.

This certainly is good. It is good CSR; it is a good business model. But is it BAM?

Business as Mission (BAM)

BAM often talks of the Quadruple Bottom Line, with the 4th item being the all-important commitment to be a Kingdom Company and ultimately a Great Commission Company. All of the above-mentioned components of CSR are great and important but a Business as Mission company requires the owner and management to operate the company with Biblical principles and for the glory of God.

Rundle and Steffen in Great Commission Companies define such as “…a socially responsible, income producing business managed by Kingdom professionals and created for the specific purpose of glorifying God and promoting the growth and multiplication of local churches in the least evangelized and least developed parts of the world.”2

BAM company leaders “…make it known in their personal and professional daily speech, actions, lifestyles, management styles, decisions and testimonies that they are ardent followers of Jesus and are doing their best to conduct all aspects of the business in a manner worthy of the gospel.”3 Thus BAM companies incarnate the life of Jesus and proclaim the gospel verbally when there is opportunity.

The result – more and more people become followers of Jesus; lives (and ultimately communities) are transformed. This is a 4th “bottom line” and an essential one.
IBEC believes in CSR and we love stories like Chobani. But our work is in the direction of Business as Mission; Kingdom companies producing Jesus followers.

1 CBS 60 Minutes, April 6, 2017,  Chobani founder stands by hiring refugees. 
2 Rundle, Steve & Steffen, Tom. Great Commission Companies, InterVarsity Press (2011), p. 45.
3 Johnson, C. Neal.  Business as Mission, InterVarsity Press (2009), p. 280.


Sight for Souls – medicine as a business

Saturday, July 08, 2017


Not long ago, I was talking with Ken Leahy, former IBEC Director and board member. He was giving me an update on the for-profit Discovery Eye Institute (DEI) in Ethiopia (owned by Sight for Souls in the USA). Ken is the treasurer of DEI and along with Gwen Rapp provided IBEC consulting services for DEI.

Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide, affecting 41 million people, most of them in the world's poorest countries. Children are the most frequently infected by trachoma which, if untreated, causes a painful and irreversible blindness by age 30-40.

Ethiopia is particularly severely affected, making up 30% of trachoma cases in all of Africa. In fact, trachoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the country.

Trachoma is a completely preventable and treatable cause of blindness. Blindness and severe pain can be prevented through a safe, affordable surgical procedure that costs only $40 per patient.

Founder John Kempen provided an update a few months ago and he refers to “…so many years of planning and work.” Ken provided much of the financial planning and work for what now is a clinic with 9 staff plus doctors - and with doors open for about six months. Read this from Dr. Kempen:

It was a great start to the day. Seeing an old man sitting in a wheelchair with an eye patch on reminded me that my partner, Dr. Emebet, had been doing surgery yesterday, only the second surgery since we had started the full scale Discovery Eye Center after so many years of planning and work. As I took his patch off, there was a slight pause, and then a startled look came into the man’s face followed by a big smile and he started looking around the room. “God’s blessings be upon you!” he proclaimed. It is traditional for a “shee-mah-gee-lay” (an elderly, respected man) to bless the young, especially when he is happy. The blessings rained down this time.

He began to talk. He was a Korean war veteran, apparently one of not so many who had survived battles back in the 1950s, and he showed me a picture of himself as a well-dressed young man exploring Tokyo ten days after leaving the war zone. Since we are working in partnership with the Korean Myung Sung Christian Medical Center, which was inspired by the thankfulness the Koreans have toward those who saved them from falling under the dictatorship of the Kim family in North Korea, it was especially poignant to begin our launch with this particular gentleman. Yesterday, he had been blind—like about 500,000 other people in Ethiopia, limited to the ability to tell whether the light in the room was on or off. Today, before we even put any eyedrops in to wash the mucous away, he was already seeing 20/40. What a change! And not uncommon with cataract surgery, especially among those whose eyes have been neglected as with so many here who have little access to care, even in Addis Ababa.

I was heartily encouraged, since it meant both that our hard-won equipment for planning the surgery was working well, and our new staff members were using it properly. I wasn’t surprised by that, but it is exciting to see the fruit of that labor and the promise of more to come!

This little incident, one among many patients, was God’s blessing to remind me and all of our team (now four ophthalmologists, two optometrists, and four nurses) a little bit about why we had come to Addis Ababa and given up alternatives that the world might see as better. It is such a blessing to work in a time when much can be done for so many using the skills and equipment God has provided through his people.

Please pray for us now, as we make the welcome transition from the new foundation of a clinic with a great deal of capacity to employing that capacity to bless people and to shine the light of God’s saving grace in this land, which has for more than 1,400 years been a front line against the aggressive expansion of our neighboring religion. In particular, we would like to begin doing outreaches to the poor around the city, and gradually expanding outward into the nether regions of Ethiopia, which provide a lot of opportunity to partner with churches in bringing physical and spiritual sight to the blind.

There remain all kinds of challenges and stresses with the work, expectations, and of our family living in a very different situation. Most of these are great opportunities that we have sought for years and for which we praise God. Nonetheless, they still require strength, grace, and wisdom along with a healthy dose of elbow grease.

Please pray with us:
  • That the project can be adequately funded during the startup period of operating at a deficit
  • That we can successfully wade through the bureaucratic jello to bring in all the remaining equipment (some progress there recently, praise God)
  • That we can build partnerships and strategies to make the most of the spiritual opportunities that come with the dramatic physical benefit we can provide to many, as the parallel between restoring physical sight and being opened to the light of the gospel was one of the main reasons I chose this profession in the first place!
John Kempen

DEI is inspired by the self-sustaining Aravind Eye Care model, developed in India. Here are a couple of videos one of which shows some of the beneficiaries of the surgeries and the other video is provided by Mrs. Kempen showing the heart of this social business enterprise.

10 Ben Franklin quotes for business owners

Sunday, July 02, 2017


Historian Richard Morris suggests that there are seven key Founding Fathers.  Predictably they are John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. If you are an entrepreneur or a business owner, you may identify most with Benjamin Franklin. Arguably he may have been the most successful inventor, entrepreneur and business person of the group.

On this Independence Day weekend, reflect on these ten quotes of Ben Franklin and apply them to your business initiative (or personal life). And thank God for the republic.

1. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

2. Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

3. He that rises late must trot all day.

4. Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.

5. The US constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself.

6. A penny saved is a penny earned.

7. I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.

8. To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.

9. Never confuse motion with action.

10.  Work as if you were to live a hundred years.  Pray as if you were to die tomorrow. 

5 entrepreneurship lessons from Wilbur and Orville Wright

Saturday, June 24, 2017


I recently traveled to Brazil which required a total of 48 hours in airports and on airplanes, so I bought David McCullough’s recent book The Wright Brothers and loaded it on my kindle. I thought I needed an old-fashioned story closer to my generational understanding. I had just designed curriculum for a West Coast university on Kingdom entrepreneurship and all the case studies I used were of high tech companies – Google, Groupon, Adroll, and ICPBio. I wanted to relax a bit.

I found it amazing to read details of the life of these two brothers, sons of a Brethren minister with values and insights easily comparable to modern Kingdom inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs. Five principles are worth highlighting.

1. They valued and demonstrated diligent, persistent, hard work.

John T. Daniels was one of the few who watched that first controlled flight in December 1903. Daniels, who took the famed photo of the event, reported, “It wasn’t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense. They put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea.” McCullough states of Wilbur, “…he was driven by a will of iron which drove him in his work.”

It took four years before that day at Kitty Hawk – years of failed inventions, delays, accidents, disappointments, constant study, and ridicule, just to fly a few feet on a sandy beach.

The Dayton newspaper reported the success to be because of “…their grit, their persistence, because of their loyalty to conviction, and because of their indefatigable industry…”
The same can be said today in a world so different from 1903. Entrepreneurs still need the qualities of persistence, diligence, hard work and conviction.

2. They believed in study, research, learning and taking their time.

The parents of Wilbur and Orville encouraged curiosity and made sure there were plenty of books around so the boys learned to value learning. They read incessantly the works of Leonardo da Vinci, George Cayley, Octave Chanute, Otto Lilienthal and Samuel Langley, trying to determine the value of what other pioneers had learned and to improve on former discoveries. It was amazing how they studied the flight of birds for years.

The brothers took their time with experiment after experiment resulting in chaos, accidents or defeat, as they labored on - reminding me of Edison’s oft-quoted statement, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” When they could not find a gasoline engine which met their specifications, they built their own and then carved their own wooden propellers.

After Flyer I at Kitty Hawk, it took another two years to develop Flyer III which flew 852 feet and was the first useable airplane – powered, sustainable and controllable. McCullough quotes a local source in reference to Wilbur, “…the devotion of this preacher’s son to his calling was very like that of a gifted man dedicating his life to a religious mission.”

3. They used their own money and believed in being frugal.

While the brothers used their experience and profits from the bicycle business, and lived simply, the Smithsonian and Samuel P. Langley was spending $50,000 of government funds in an unsuccessful attempt to develop powered aircraft. In contrast the Wright brothers accomplished the flight of Flyer I on Dec 17, 1903 at a cost of one thousand dollars.

Entrepreneurs often are better off using a bootstrap method which means using their own resources. According to a Wells Fargo/Gallup study1 most new ventures today are started with less than $10,000.

This perspective is not only valid from an entrepreneurial perspective but from a Kingdom viewpoint. Alan Barnhart explains how he and his family learned to live simply so excess profits could be used for Kingdom purposes. How he developed safeguards is an interesting and useful argument. His 17-minute talk is well worth the time:Alan Barnhart - God Owns Our Business.

4. The brothers were humble and character driven.

After a few initial successful inventions, older brother Wilbur learned the value of teamwork and the equal partnership with his brother Orville. Though he remained the leader of the two, he began to write with a “we”. He included Orville in letters from France while preparing to demonstrate to the French how the airplane worked; he valued the opinion of Orville and others.

For years, and even after the first flight, nobody really seemed to care. There was little public interest in their efforts; with the first to show such was the French when military officers came to Dayton to see what was going on. The US public and the US government showed little interest, for more than five years after Kitty Hawk. While disappointing, the brothers labored on to improve on the airplane, all the while living simply and humbly.

After a demonstration at Le Mans, France in August 1908 they became celebrities. People would ask them how to succeed in life and Wilbur once responded, “Pick a good mother and father and grow up in Ohio.” Their lives were dominated by modesty, virtue and selfless efforts. They maintained childhood values such as remembering the Sabbath, keeping reporters and officials often waiting for Monday while the brothers refused to work on Sunday.

5. They changed with the times.

They did not stop with the French demonstrations in 1908 and the fame and fortune which ensued at that time. They continued to improve upon their inventions, to start an aviation company and to lean hard into the legal and financial world of patents, contracts, lawsuits and corporate growth. They continued to set new records for height and duration and provided demonstrations for high government officials in the USA and Europe, flying before the kings of Britain, Spain and Italy.

They established the Wright Company in 1909 and developed a training school and a test flight program near Dayton. Many of the students of Orville became famous Americans such as Hap Arnold and Eddie Stinson. While Wilbur died in 1912 at a young age of 45, Orville lived until 1948 and was an ambassador for aviation his entire life, serving on many boards and government agencies. He also restored the Wright Flyer I, which today is on display in the Smithsonian.

Inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs in the 21st century look very different from Wilbur and Orville but some principles remain such as hard work, life-long learning, frugality, character and keeping up with the changing times.


1. Siriwardane, V, (September 20, 2010). “How to Build a Bootstrapping Culture.” Inc., www.inc.com/guides/2010/09.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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12 daily habits of an exceptional leader

Monday, June 19, 2017


"Everyone wins when a leader gets better" - Bill Hybels

Have you every read a blog or an article and you say, "I wish I had written that!" Well, this is one for me. I immediately thought I would pass it on, even in a world where it seems everyone has something to say about leadership. Travis Bradberry truly writes worthwhile stuff and this is no exception and with amazing quotes.

Even though we have all read good stuff on leadership, some things we need to be reminded of, because certainly a Kingdom business needs the best of leaders.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

12 Daily Habits of an Exceptional Leader

Dr. Travis Bradberry
TalentSmart, President and ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0,’ Coauthor
05/14/2017 07:44 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2017

One of the most popular Dilbert comic strips in the cartoon’s history begins with Dilbert’s boss relaying senior leadership’s explanation for the company’s low profits. In response to his boss, Dilbert asks incredulously, “So they’re saying that profits went up because of great leadership and down because of a weak economy?” To which Dilbert’s boss replies, “These meetings will go faster if you stop putting things in context.”

Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time explaining the specifics of what they do that makes their leadership so effective.

Great leaders change us for the better. They see more in us than we see in ourselves, and they help us learn to see it too. They dream big and show us all the great things we can accomplish.

Great leadership is dynamic; it melds a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole. Great leadership is also founded in good habits. What follows are the essential habits that exceptional leaders rely on every day. Give them a try and see where they take your leadership skills.

1. Effective Communication

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” —Joseph Priestley

Communication is the real work of leadership. It’s a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. You simply can’t become a great leader until you are a great communicator.

Great communicators inspire people. They listen. They create a connection with their followers that is real, emotional, and personal, regardless of any physical distance between them. Great communicators forge this connection through an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs.

2. Courage

“Courage is the first virtue that makes all other virtues possible.” —Aristotle

People will wait to see if a leader is courageous before they’re willing to follow his or her lead. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show courage themselves when their leaders do the same.

For the courageous leader adversity is a welcome test. Like a blacksmith’s molding of a red-hot iron, adversity is a trial by fire that refines leaders and sharpens their game. Adversity emboldens courageous leaders and leaves them more committed to their strategic direction.

Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line. They follow the safest path—the path of least resistance—because they’d rather cover their backside than lead.

3. Adherence to the Golden Rule +1

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” —Jon Wolfgang von Goethe

The Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated – assumes that all people are the same. It assumes that, if you treat your followers the way you would want a leader to treat you, they’ll be happy. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.

Great leaders don’t treat people how they themselves want to be treated. Instead, they take the Golden Rule a step further and treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Great leaders learn what makes people tick, recognize their needs in the moment, and adapt their leadership style accordingly.

4. Self-Awareness

“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” —Latin Proverb

Contrary to what Dilbert might have us believe, leaders’ gaps in self-awareness are rarely due to deceitful, Machiavellian motives, or severe character deficits. In most cases, leaders—like everyone else—view themselves in a more favorable light than other people do.

Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, a skill that 90% of top performing leaders possess in abundance. Great leaders’ high self-awareness means they have a clear and accurate image not just of their leadership style, but also of their own strengths and weaknesses. They know where they shine and where they’re weak, and they have effective strategies for leaning into their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses.

5. Passion

“If you just work on stuff that you like and are passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.” —Mark Zuckerberg

Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. So are boredom and apathy. No one wants to work for a boss that’s unexcited about his or her job, or even one who’s just going through the motions. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them.

6. Humility

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” —C.S. Lewis

Great leaders are humble. They don’t allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they won’t ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.

7. Generosity

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” —John Maxwell

Great leaders are generous. They share credit and offer enthusiastic praise. They’re as committed to their followers’ success as they are to their own. They want to inspire all of their employees to achieve their personal best – not just because it will make the team more successful, but because they care about each person as an individual.

8. Infectiousness

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.

9. Authenticity

“Just be who you are and speak from your guts and heart – it’s all a man has.” —Hubert Humphrey

Authenticity refers to being honest in all things – not just what you say and do, but who you are. When you’re authentic, your words and actions align with who you claim to be. Your followers shouldn’t be compelled to spend time trying to figure out if you have ulterior motives. Any time they spend doing so erodes their confidence in you and in their ability to execute.

Leaders who are authentic are transparent and forthcoming. They aren’t perfect, but they earn people’s respect by walking their talk.

10. Approachability

“Management is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.” —Tommy Lasorda

Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insight, and ask good questions is destined for failure. By ensuring that they are approachable, great leaders facilitate the flow of great ideas throughout the organization.

11. Accountability

“The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.” —Michael Armstrong

Great leaders have their followers’ backs. They don’t try to shift blame, and they don’t avoid shame when they fail. They’re never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up.

12. A Sense Of Purpose

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” —Ken Kesey

Whereas vision is a clear idea of where you’re going, a sense of purpose refers to an understanding of why you’re going there. People like to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders give people that feeling.

Bringing It All Together

Becoming a great leader doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate all of these traits at once. Focus on one or two at a time; each incremental improvement will make you more effective. It’s okay if you “act” some of these qualities at first. The more you practice, the more instinctive it will become, and the more you’ll internalize your new leadership style.

Want to learn more from me? Check out my book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

A tale of two poultry farms

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Trivia Question:

What do these countries have in common: Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, South Sudan and East Timor?

Answer:
All are new countries since 2000!

And the newest of them is South Sudan which is also the poorest. Imagine this landlocked country with 12.2 million people (and 60 major ethnic groups), newly independent in 2011, as arguably the poorest in the world and...
  • …was too broke last year to celebrate its 5th year of independence.
  • …has only 130 miles of paved roads and 154 miles of railroad.
  • …the GDP is $1700 per annual capita (#213 in the world).
  • …has a subsistence economy with 78% of the population in low productive or unpaid agriculture.
  • …40% of the entire population is urgently in need of food.
  • …with the highest maternal mortality in the world.
  • …with only 27% over the age of 15 able to read or write.
  • …38% of the population must walk 30 minutes one way or more for drinking water while 80% have no access to toilet facilities.
  • ...a civil war displaced over 2 million people between 2013 and 2015.
Where would you start?
Countries like this start at the bottom of the ladder – agriculture. People cannot develop when they are starving. So along comes an evangelical church in South Sudan with a vision to meet human need in the name of Jesus with Bright Hope Animal Farms of South Sudan.

The goal is to produce high quality eggs and whole chickens as a source of protein; to generate a revenue stream thus reducing dependence on Western aid; create jobs and allow pastors a source of income so they can continue to be a spiritual ray of light in a very dark place.

This is Business as Mission (and the Quadruple Bottom Line of disciple-making, job creation, profitability and stewardship of resources). This is the kind of business that IBEC consultants love to help.

What will it take?
Challenges like this need capital, expertise and prototypes. They need IBEC coaches to provide financial projections, a capitalization plan and management consulting. Bright Hope Animal Farms is off and running with its first building. They await funding for 2000 layers and 1000 broilers. The need: $93,000.

And a prototype has been developed and is operating in Kenya, Place of the Wind Poultry Farm. They began operation in April 2015 and now two years later they are finally breaking even. Initial losses are typical of startup operations so IBEC consultants who have developed a case statement, business plan and financial projections are pleased with progress. The business is very close to meeting objectives.

Startup needs
It is an amazing feat in North America to be nearing financial profitability and bottom line objectives by the third year. It takes capital; it takes vision and takes the right people. It takes good modeling and a great business plan; and it takes good expertise and counsel.

IBEC considers it a privilege to participate as consultants with these projects. You too can help by praying, helping with funds which are still needed, or offering to coach this or another project like this.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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