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Entrepreneurial principles observed in three elementary school girls

Friday, July 13, 2018
elements of success

Yesterday on my daily walk, I rounded a corner to the sound of a young girl playing her guitar. She wasn’t bad for a 10-year-old so I crossed the road to listen more closely and found her two younger sisters busy selling their product – homemade cookies.

I doubt that they understood the term “lean startup”, and for sure they had never heard of Eric Reis, Ash Maurya or any of the other gurus of the 9 segments of the lean canvas.1 I wished my university class from this past spring session could see the positives and negatives of this little business startup.

Quality Product: It is tough to find homemade cookies nowadays and my city is fairly affluent with plenty of discretionary money, especially residents in this area. So, they had hit upon a viable product. The girls did have some commercial bagged popcorn for sale but there was no customer interest – the customers wanted the homemade stuff.

Customer segments: It appeared they understood the importance of a strategic location right on the Burke Gilman Trail where hundreds of joggers and bikers pass daily. Old boys like me stroll slowly by and young bucks sail past on bikes built for this 14-mile former rail bed. They knew many of us would love the idea of taking home kid-friendly star and moon homemade cookies with sprinkles.

Problem to be solved: I asked them what motivated them, attempting to draw out their value proposition. They readily replied they were broke and needed some cash for summer spending. At one dollar a cookie, I decided to keep my cash outlay to five of the sprinkle cookies for the five grandkids back in my house and forego purchasing the chocolate chips. I might have doubled my order if the proceeds had been going to a good cause such as the homeless of our city; something these little entrepreneurs might have considered more closely.

Cost - Revenue Structure: The kids’ sales forecast indicated a high margin as the cost of the ingredients was pennies on the dollar; however, they discovered that baking cookies is labor intensive. They had been working in a hot kitchen all day the day before. There was no other overhead to speak of since the grassy shade provided a welcome break for the runners and kept the product safe from ants and mosquitoes.

Marketing: The kids were pretty much on target about the demand side of economics, but discovered how hard the supply side was, with the labor-intensive baking. I was willing to agree to their pricing model, as a treat for the grandkids at home. The older girl playing the guitar was an ingenious marketing technique and provided for a good conversation while deciding on which cookies to buy and how many.

Organization and Operations: It was pretty clear that the 8-year-old was in charge. She answered my questions and made recommendations when I asked what they thought my grandkids would like. The older girl had musical talent, so she was well qualified to display her skill for the benefit of the business. The seven-year-old served as a much-appreciated gopher.

Sales Strategy: Their plan was for each customer to buy one or two cookies and walk away eating them, but they were unprepared for contingencies. When I asked for a bag for my five cookies since I had a good walk ahead of me, they had none; but a good attitude ensued and the youngest girl ran to her mother and returned with zip lock bags.

I came home to my five grandkids aged four to ten. Before they each got one of these cleverly decorated cookies, we discussed the little business which I had visited and with delight I listened as they brainstormed what entrepreneurial activity they could generate. Of course, it was not long until one of them said, “Grandpa will you help us?”

The following website suggests that children can be prepared early on in life to think with an entrepreneurial mindset and parents and grandparents can help.

1. Cut the allowance
2. Encourage entrepreneurial activities
3. Be a mentor
4. Teach basic bookkeeping
5. Teach your kid to fish


1. Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup. Random House, New York, NY. 2011.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Important stakeholders for a BAM startup

Friday, July 06, 2018
the words start up with finger pointing upwards
This reprint from the Business As Mission website is an important reminder of the important stakeholders for kingdom startups. Each should be recognized and served with excellence and integrity.

We asked a team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners creating business plans. For this post we asked them about key stakeholders in the business planning process.

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in a business. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organizations that are affected by the activity of the business. – BBC

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. We also asked business woman Julia to share about a stakeholder she has found helpful in her business in Mongolia. Read more about them below.

Here are 12 stakeholders they mentioned, there are others:

1. Investors – owners, bank or investment company
2. Business people – in companies working cross-culturally in your business or industry
3. Business consultant – someone with specialist knowledge
4. Colleagues – management and staff
5. Customers – those likely to be your clients
6. Suppliers – of essential materials and services for your business
7. Community – local society and also the physical environment
8. Cultural expert – someone with insight into engaging with local community
9. Government official – someone who can give you insight and be an advocate for you
10. Body of Christ – local church community, mission organizations and supporting churches
11. Spiritual advisor or mentor – someone with wise counsel you can be accountable to
12. God – the most important stakeholder


Who do you feel it is essential to engage with as you develop a business plan for a BAM company? Why are these particular stakeholders so important?

Mats Tunehag:
First list all the stakeholders, and make sure God is one of them. Secondly, try to understand how your business will affect various stakeholders, and possibly have positive impact on them. How will you / the business serve them? Thirdly, realize that the business is accountable to many stakeholders, but in various ways and degrees. Some will be formal and direct. Others informal and indirect. How will you be accountable to them? Examples of stakeholders: Investors, Staff, Customers, Suppliers, Community, God.

Garry: 
There are three people that you should certainly engage:

1. Business person – Someone that has already done the business you are interested in doing. Often new potential business owners see the world through rose colored glasses. This is actually an essential quality of any business person – you have to believe that success it at least possible. But you also have to find out what is actually required to do this business.

2. Cultural expert – Someone who is familiar with the culture. Roles, responsibilities and attitudes towards work are not necessarily the same from one culture to another. Evaluating your own expectations and then linking them with local expectations is essential. Not recognizing this is like launching a perfectly good brand new boat into mine-filled waters. You’ll be fine for a while, but sooner or later you’ll hit a mine and there goes your new boat to the bottom of the ocean.

3. Spiritual advisor or accountability person – BAM is not merely an exercise in business practices. You will be under attack. Learn from others what to expect and how to deal with it. This kind of mentor is the hardest person to find. Many mission agencies don’t yet truly understand BAM, so relying on them for this support, while certainly a good first step, should probably not be your only resource in this area.

Larry Sharp:
I would suggest that if the “would-be BAM practitioner” is an entrepreneur or business owner it is mandatory to engage with the following persons:
  • Your investors – people who take an equity position usually have something to say about one or more elements of the business.
  • A business consultant who has experience in one or more of the following: your product; your country; business startups, or experience in success or failure. No startup should be without consulting help.
  • Another similar business owner doing business cross culturally. I usually recommend that you visit another company which is functioning and is very similar to what you hope to accomplish, no matter where it is in the world – though it should be cross-cultural.
Julia:
We involved our local official (responsible for the district we work in) in our plans. This is the lowest level but also grassroots level government official. She appreciated our communication with her and that we didn’t only go to the high level offices. We related our goals to improve the lives of young people and workers with the healthy environment we aimed to create. She was on board from the beginning and made much of our set up smooth by her advice. We try to touch base once a year and keep her in the loop if we make changes that might affect or reflect on the district.

Any tips for engaging with those stakeholders? Any wisdom to share or best approaches?

Larry Sharp:
One tip to start with is to ask for their wisdom and experience. Most people feel valued when you ask them questions and have a spirit of wanting to listen, learn and apply what is learned. Secondly I have found developing an advisory team to be productive. For example, an advisory team we set up for a company in North Africa has someone from the home church, a consultant, an investor, and a successful owner of another company in the country. Another thought would be to have a regular phone or skype call with people like this (stakeholders) to share your hard things and good news and ask for their thoughts. They know you are the owner and are doing BAM in another culture and they know you will have to sift through their input, but you will likely pick up some pearls of wisdom from their life and business experience.

Garry:
Mentors and advisors are busy people. When I owned my own business I would get random phone calls from young people asking to come and chill with me for a while during the busy business day so we could discuss their future. I would say to myself, “What are you talking about? I’m up to my neck in alligators trying to keep this place going and you want to come and waste my time? I don’t think so.” However, I have mentored many young people. Here’s how we would find each other: I would look for young people that appeared to have the initiative, training, had done some preliminary work on their idea and also demonstrated the potential to accept advice. Therefore, if I did spend my valuable personal time with them then there was at least a chance that it was not time wasted and might even prove to be beneficial.

Mentors, don’t grow on trees. You have to search them out. Ask people in your circle of acquaintances who they recommend for advice and mentoring. Your approach is also very important. Be prepared. Don’t start off a conversation with something like, “I want to start a bakery in Tuktoyaktuk (a real place), what do you think?” Do some homework about bakeries. Find out what the local bakeries in your target area do and why might there be a demand for your products and services. Think of a mentor/advisor as a car racing coach. It will go a lot better with any potential advisor if you show up with a race car instead of showing up and asking them how to build a race car so can then enter the race!

Mats Tunehag:
When engaging with investors please make sure that you and the investors appreciate the purpose and the nature of a BAM business. This includes embracing multiple bottom-lines and multiple stakeholders. For all of us in general but for investors in particular we need to understand the difference between a Wall Street concept and a BAM Street Concept.

When engaging with the church and mission agencies remember that BAM is not doing business with a touch of ‘churchianity’. We also need to understand that we cannot convert anyone or force a spiritual impact. In the words of the apostle Paul: I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. Prayer is essential with God as our prime stakeholder. We must be prepared for another day, week, year, and decade in the business, as we constantly and intentionally shape the business for God and people – for many stakeholders and for multiple bottom-lines. God may in his wisdom and time use our professionalism, excellence and integrity in business to bring people to himself. For further glimpses on what we are to do and what we can expect God to do, as we do BAM, see Business as Mission: Chronos and Kairos. A Biblical worldview on time is essential.

***

Larry Sharp is the Founder and current Director of Strategic Training and Partnerships of a Business for Transformation (BAM, B4t) consulting firm, International Business and Education Consultants. Larry served 21 years in Brazil and then 20 years as Crossworld VP of Operations and as Vice President of Business Partnerships. He is currently a VP Emeritus and consultant with Crossworld. Since 2007 he has devoted energies toward Business as Mission (BAM) and currently is a consultant on BAM and education themes. Larry travels within North America speaking and teaching in conferences, colleges and churches on themes related to Business As Mission (BAM, B4t) and missions. His travels abroad relate to BAM, crisis preparation and management, and team building.

Mats Tunehag serves on the European Economic Summit Steering Committee and is the Senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission. He is the co-editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission and currently the co-chair of BAM Global. He also serves with a global investment fund based on Christian values that helps SMEs to grow in size, profitability and holistic impact in the Arab world and Asia. Visit MatsTunehag.com for more resources from Mats.

Garry is a retired businessman who has been mentoring small businesses for the last 20 years. He has been involved in cross cultural business activities for the last 10 years and has visited 20 countries during that time. Garry and his wife are doing small business training and funding in a restricted access country in Asia. Having started, grown and sold his own business he understands the trials, potential pitfalls and necessary success factors of day to day business activities. He continues to learn and share about the cross cultural aspects of business and especially the need to learn about and manage expectations in the local cultural context.

Julia has been a business owner in Mongolia for 12 years.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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“Let freedom ring” for victims on this Independence Day

Saturday, June 30, 2018
American Flag & Firework Sparkler
I recently received a memo from a former employee who married and went with her husband to Asia to start a business in the red-light district of a major city. The value proposition was to provide baked goods and gourmet coffee to the international market by training and hiring employees coming out of the trafficking and prostitution industries.

The start-up business has become successful and they are now opening a second café in another area of the city and hiring seven more former sex victims. Their total number of employees will now total forty. We call businesses like this freedom businesses because they bring freedom to those trapped in modern slavery which is propelled by organized criminal activity. This dehumanization of up to 40 million slaves worldwide today includes the trafficking of boys and girls for purposes of exploitation, sex slavery, family abuse of women and children, and labor exploitation. It exists in every major city in North America and the world.

While listening to a short YouTube video of my friend describing the expansion efforts, a pop up on the sidebar showed country star Martina McBride singing her hit song, Independence Day. As 1995 CMA Song of the Year with over half a million in CD sales and millions of YouTube viewers, it is a catchy song often played around Independence Day. Yes, the context of the story happens on Independence Day, but the song writer’s intent was to highlight the issue of wife and child abuse, and the need to be “free” from such bondage.

The goal, suggests the song, is to “…let freedom ring” and “…let the weak be strong…” McBride is doing her part to bring awareness to the colossal problem of victimization of the weak of this world. There is an economic supply and demand side to the issue. The demand size reflects the evil-driven desire for exploitation, or for sex, or easy money. On the supply side is poverty, unemployment, disempowerment and even starvation. Desperate lives many times take desperate steps to survive.

As pointed out in blogs on this site in the month of May, there is a place for those who are rescuing and restoring those enslaved or trafficked, but the only real way to break the systemic cycle is “for profit businesses” which provide an alternative solution. We can do something about the supply side. We can “let the weak be strong” with job creation and thus let freedom ring.

Second in the 3-part Freedom business series: Note the diagram at the end and envision your place.

On this Independence Day, let’s give our thoughts, prayers, and expertise to solutions which help freedom businesses. You can be a part of capitalizing such businesses, providing expertise through consulting and coaching, and we can educate ourselves today. Dare to get involved! Take a step to “let freedom ring” for someone enslaved today.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Business As Mission metrics in Togo, West Africa

Friday, June 22, 2018
red peppers growing in field
As I sat down at my computer to write a blog about Business As Mission metrics using some grids from my university class on business startups, I opened a letter from a friend living in Togo, West Africa. It was passed on to me by IBEC consultant Rick Buddemeier. I realized that here was a story demonstrating the theory of my textbook. Why write about theory when there is a real-life, right-now narrative?

For an entrepreneur, startup metrics are very different than those for an established company. Rather than measuring against a business plan, startup owners are looking for feedback on whether their business model is working. A lean startup business model canvas is a simple blueprint which points to a customer, and includes data reflecting a clear understanding of the problem to be solved, proof of concept, customer validation, unique value proposition, risk analysis and the like. Sooner or later typical metrics of a scaling businesses emerge.

On the missional half of the business are metrics such as significant spiritual conversations, time getting to know and love people, numbers studying the scriptures, committed followers of Jesus, and group meetings for fellowship, study and teaching.

Levi graduated from the Missionary Training Institute of Togo last year and moved to a region where relocated families had recently settled. Most everyone is Muslim, unreached with the Gospel, and very poor. But Levi is not a typical “missionary” in west Africa. He is a pepper farmer who brought pepper to the region and is expanding his enterprise to cultivate more land and hire more employees. He supports his family and the worker families.

People see that Levi cares about them and their success. He now develops quality seed which he sells to the new farmers and he serves as a consultant for them. He has won the respect of the people in Mango as he has regular contact with the them on a day-to-day basis. There is no secular-sacred dichotomy for Levi as he lives out his Christian values in a holistic manner in the marketplace. He not only shares verbally who Jesus is, but he lives who Jesus is.

Work is ministry for Levi. “This is in fact a typical example of how we want our African Christians to use their work as ministry, a means of financial support and also a way to meet the needs of the community they serve. When needs are met, hearts will be opened and disciples made. They should be trained to use their work on the field to reach the unreached people. With the gospel in one hand and their work in another, they are able to come in contact with their communities especially in Muslim areas” says my friend Kawashi in an open letter.

Metrics for business? Yes – paying customers for the pepper, scale allowing for more fields and employees, increased profits and market share, etc.

Metrics for mission? Yes – significant conversations on a regular basis; Muslim friends who appreciate him, young people who are studying the Bible, and a church of 20 adults plus children.

Business As Mission (BAM) is real business (profit, job creation) and real mission (making followers of Jesus and stewarding God’s creation). Levi is doing just that in Togo. BAM can be done anywhere in the world, and IBEC’s vision is to help those who are committed to seeing it happen.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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The most successful sports business start-up of all time – 4 reasons why

Friday, June 15, 2018
ice hockey teams around goal

A start-up is a fledgling business enterprise. The American Heritage Dictionary suggests it is “a business or undertaking that has recently begun operation.” A start-up is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed,” says Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker. 

IBEC has been working with start-up companies since its beginning in 2006 and so all of us are keenly interested in what makes for success in a business start-up. But it is not common at all that a sports franchise is among successful start-ups, especially one that becomes successful very quickly.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the premier ice hockey league in North America and the grand finale of each season is the awarding of the Stanley Cup, named from Canada’s Lord Stanley in 1892. It is the oldest existing championship trophy of any pro franchise. This year, the Eastern Champion Washington Capitals played an unlikely opponent, the Western Champion, Vegas Golden Knights. 

But the Golden Knights are a start-up; an expansion team which did not exist two years ago. After their inception in June 2016, and one year of preparation they began the hockey season in early October 2017. Everyone including their owners expected it would be 3-5 years before they would be a team to contend with. But by May 2018, they had become the most successful expansion team in the history of sports and were vying for the coveted Stanley Cup.

They had finished the regular season with the fifth best record of the 31 teams in the NHL and had posted a 12-3 record in the post-season before the Stanley Cup finals began on May 28. How can this be?

There are at least four reasons for the success of this team in the desert.

They built a sense of community. The infamous Las Vegas shooting took place six days before their hockey season opened on October 6, and the players immediately identified with the pain of the city. As they reached out helping people, volunteering with civic groups, and honoring survivors at the games, they became a rallying point for the city and a pathway to healing. As the only pro team of the city, and one that wanted to belong to the citizens, they were determined to win big for the people. They became the heroes of Las Vegas.

The story reminds me of BAM kingdom business entrepreneur, Bill Job, who built a successful business in Asia. He once told the city leaders, “I want to help you be successful…I want you to be proud of me and my business.” God honored such a community focus. It was not all about him or one or two people – but about the community and its people.

They coalesced as a team. The players joked among themselves about being misfits. When the NHL approves an expansion team, the new team gets to pick a player from all the other teams, but the other teams can protect 11 players each, which means every player selected was not one of the top eleven protected by their former team. Not a good feeling.

But they decided there was only one way forward, to play as a team and work together for success. With the exception of goal tender, Marc-Andre Fleury, there were no superstars. No player finished this first season as one of the top twenty-point getters in the league, but four players had sixty or more points in a balanced team effort. It was a teamwork in the truest sense.

Start-up experts, Nager, Nelsen and Nouyrigat suggest that what matters most in building a start-up team are complementary skills, clear and aligned interests and energy and enthusiasm.1 BAM teams need to strive toward each of these.

Smart player selections. General Manager George McPhee and owner Bill Foley did an amazing job of seeing what others could not see. They saw potential in thirty “unprotected” guys, some of whom had not been given a chance as yet. Coach Gerard Gallant had been fired a few months earlier by his former NHL team and hidden gems like William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault turned out to be keys to the team’s success.

Every BAM business needs someone with the ability to see potential in others and give them an opportunity. Former Apple VP, Guy Kawasaki, says, “There is one thing a CEO must do, it’s hire a management team that is better than he is. If there is one thing a management team must do, it’s hire employees who are better than it is.” Kawasaki goes on to say this requires at least two things of owners and managers; humility and self-confidence.2

A key leader emerged. Marc-Andre Fleury was a decorated 3-time all-star goalie from the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he helped them to win three Stanley Cups. As an experienced and successful star player he proved to be the leader and a stable foundation for his new team. The “misfits” rallied around him in every game.

Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "He's such a character guy. He's the first guy to say last night, 'I'm going to be better and I can be better,' but he's been outstanding. We're here because of him, and we know that. We've got a good team, we play a solid game, but Marc-Andre Fleury, he's the backbone of our hockey team.”

Military leader Bernard Montgomery spoke in these terms, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.” And in the words of Jesus, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (MK10:43)

Well the Golden Knights did not win the Stanley Cup this year but their story is one of a lesson-filled year. As with the Knights, Kingdom businesses need to serve the community, work as a team, make wise decisions and recognize and promote leaders.

1. Nager, Marc; Nelsen, Clint; Nouyrigat, Frank. Startup Weekend – How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation. Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

2. Kawasaki, Guy. The Art of the Start. New York, NY. Penguin Group, 2004.



Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC re-posts on the top Business As Mission website

Friday, June 08, 2018
dice with the word blog spelled out

I find it curious and interesting to know what others consider to be important. One of the ways I try to understand that curiosity is by considering requests for re-posting items which have originated on the IBEC Blog.

Business As Mission is probably the most read BAM website out there and within the last six months these IBEC blogs have been requested from the IBEC site and subsequently posted there. Perhaps they are worth reading if you missed them the first time. 




Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Seven ways to insure your customer feels he is king (or she is queen)

Friday, June 01, 2018
teamwork written on chalkboard

I ran across the old German adage, “The customer is king” while preparing for a university class I teach on innovation and entrepreneurship. While it is true that understanding the customer is much more complex than a generation ago, and the metaphor may be a tired one, it is increasingly accurate today.

Professor Robert C. Wolcott of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University points out that the king customer paradox reminds us that the customer drives the economy with his more and more access to products and choices; while at the same time increasing the competition, and invading our privacy. Consumer-focused companies respond to our desires while “…pursuing deeper insights into our location, preferences, even needs we didn’t know we had.”1 Such is the paradox of king consumer today.

My wife expects an Amazon package the next day after ordering it at bedtime the evening before, but she doesn’t like it that they know where we live, predict her preferences on the site and drool with anticipation as to what she might order. Yes, customer service has changed greatly in recent times, but at the same time it has not changed at all. Customers still want to be cared for.

In the last two months I had to change flights and rental cars more than once due to illness and death in the family. A stark contrast surfaced on one occasion when I needed to change my flight schedule. The phone attendant at the airline was polite and answered immediately; she forgave the $200 change fee due to the death circumstances and she was very helpful in finding me a new flight.

In contrast, a major rental car agency did not respond to the phone in a timely manner, the line dropped two times and when there was a response, the agency gave a very curt reply and there was no possibility of waiving the change fee. And the cost of a new rental increased substantially.

Customer service is still just that – service - and owners and managers of business startups need to begin with principles which will be long lasting as they prosper and scale the business.

1. Provide consistent training on customer service and be sure that everyone in the company, from top to bottom, follows the same guidelines. Make expectations clear.

2. Meet with customers regularly in person or via survey to determine ways to improve. Do the same with employees, asking how they think customers can be better served.

3. Remind yourself and your staff that without customers you have no business. They pay your salary, which makes them king.

4. Use helpful comments with customers, such as “How can I help you?”, “I don’t know but I will find out.” (and actually do it), “I will keep you updated.” “I appreciate your business.”

5. Keep the customer front and center with friendly personal things like sending cards or notes on important occasions, keeping them in the loop on things important to them, always following up on a conversation. Explore ways to be more personal.

6. Listen to customer complaints and listen politely without excuses. Take responsibility and do what you can to resolve the problem quickly. Go the extra mile.

7. Give employees the right to solve problems – like one restaurant which allows the waiters to give a replacement plate if the customer is dissatisfied.2

1. Wolcott, Robert C. The King Customer Paradox: The More Empowered, The More We Lose ControlForbes Magazine, 11 Apr. 2017.



Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Three qualities of the best companies to work for

Friday, May 25, 2018
teamwork written on chalkboard

The cover article of the March 2018 Fortune magazine is entitled “100 Best Companies to Work for in 2018.”

I am always curious to know why a company is selected. I decided to take notes on the top 25 and consolidate my notes into the “most often mentioned” reasons why a company is in the top 25.

There is also a Green Star category for companies on the list of 100 for twenty years or more. It was fun to read of two in my area: REI and Nordstrom.

So, what appears to be often mentioned qualities of the top twenty-five companies on the list?

1. Involvement in Decision-making. Quicken Loans CEO, Jay Farmer hosts face-to-face meetings with employees where “no topic is off-limits.” Staff are encouraged to submit ideas on business operations. At Texas Health Resources, staff have a “lot of control over finding the best way to do things.”

At Capital One Financial, “genuine” CEO Richard Fairbank is “…focused on making sure everyone knows where we are going.” Employees at Plant Moran say they appreciate management’s “openness to new ideas and approaches.”

2. Opportunities for Staff Development. First place Salesforce uses its own software to help employees find new challenges for growth. Kimley-Horn encourages workers to explore new markets and create profit-sharing opportunities. Says one employee, “The opportunities are absolutely endless.” Financial products USAA provides up to $10,000 in tuition assistance.

Southern Ohio Medical Center grows its own talent by investing in training and promoting from within, as does Baptist Health South Florida who also puts a premium on developing its own people. REIT Camden Property Trust employees can pursue professional development through Camden University saying, “There are always opportunities to grow.”

3. Involvement in the Community. Salesforce pays employees 56 hours a year to volunteer in their community, and at Edward Jones community outreach is described as an important part of their culture. Capital One Financial associates put in 394,977 volunteer hours to causes like teaching kids to code.

Employees at Cooley, a California law firm, rave about a culture where teams take time off to accompany underprivileged kids to Disneyland. Some 33,000 Deloitte employees volunteered during the company Impact Day.

To be sure there are other factors such as perks which range in interest from strong 401k matches and compressed work weeks to being allowed to bring pets to work and yoga clubs on campus.

The report measures six components: values, innovation, financial growth, leadership effectiveness, maximizing human potential and trust. These were scored while reviewing employee surveys and a culture audit. Authors Michael C. Bush and Sarah Lewis-Kulin of Great Place to Work, affirm that the key to success is maximizing human potential and it is “accomplished through leadership effectiveness, values and trust.”

All of this reminds me of a recent visit from my wife’s nephew. Upon graduation from Cal Berkley with his PhD, he took an engineering job at Google, Inc (now part of Alphabet) in its Life Sciences group, Verily. Obviously, his research development is confidential and beyond the scope of my comprehension even if he could tell me. But I was intrigued with the company perspective on the three qualities mentioned here. There is a culture for rewarding innovation and entrepreneurship.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin continue to insure a relaxed and fun work environment. Staff engineers can work 20% of their time on projects of their choosing. Ideas are allowed to come from everywhere. Many workers are picked up in company buses fully equipped with internet and work facilities and their office “playground” includes free food in 18 cafes and perks such as gyms, yoga, office physicians, and laundry services. Employees are rewarded for new ideas and encouraged to question in a “bottoms up” environment.

Employees love to work at Google where they work in small teams, receive constant feedback, and have a mission to improve the world. Gmail was born by a small team working on something they were passionate about during the 20% of “free time.” No wonder the list of Google’s discontinued products is longer than most companies’ active products. It’s in the culture of “maximizing human potential.” Employees are involved in company decision-making, have plenty of opportunities for growth and community service is valued.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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BAM Global Movement – Gort and Tunehag

Friday, May 18, 2018
compass and newspaper

While on long flights, I often bring a couple of books, my computer and postcards to write to my grandkids. Depending on how exhausted I am, I rarely read a whole book between the east coast and my home in Seattle. But this book held my attention. It is a classic. It is a “must read” for business people and for pastors and missionaries. It is available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Gort, Gea and Tunehag, Mats. BAM Global Movement: Business as Mission Concepts and Stories. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2018.

Mats Tunehag is probably the world’s foremost authority on Business as Mission. He knows the theory, the theology and the praxis for every continent. And he has been connected to the major players in the movement for more than twenty years. The book is unique in its international character and in the variety and depth of the narratives of God at work through business in hard places. For a person trying to understand BAM, this is it. For person well versed in BAM, this will encourage and provide new and creative thinking.

Here are a few quotes which intrigued me or reminded me of the value of Business as Mission.
  • "Five hundred years ago, we had a Reformation of dogma. Now we have a reformation of mission." (p. 3)
  • “It’s not only about salvation but also about bringing God’s shalom into the spheres of life in which we are involved.” (p. 11)
  • “BAM entrepreneurs realize that mission isn’t restricted to a few Christian professionals, such as pastors or missionaries. God is on a mission, and all of us are participants living out the Story of God’s mission.” (p. 12)
  • “In the book of Genesis, God commands us to work the earth and develop the culture through bringing order, work and beauty to the world, which is known as the cultural mandate. Jesus tells us to make all nations his disciples…from the kingdom perspective, planting churches and planting businesses go hand in hand.” (p. 59)
  • “There is no need for church leaders to become entrepreneurs themselves…but we can help spread the vision and view the church as a breeding place where entrepreneurs connect and where they receive support and inspiration…” (p. 58)
  • “In the biblical narratives the notion of “full time professional church ministry” was the exception, not the rule.” (p. 61)
  •  “Business is the most natural way to relate to non-Christians, to live out your faith, and to disciple people.” (p.89)
  • “Business as Mission is not a new discovery – it is for many a re-discovery of biblical truths and practices. In one sense it is like the Reformation rallying cry of ad fontes, ‘back to the sources’.” (p. 109)
  • “Wealth creators should be affirmed by the church, and equipped and deployed to serve in the marketplace among all peoples and nations” (p. 130 quoted from the Wealth Creation Manifesto)
  • “We integrate work and missions…I don’t want an excuse to get in…that’s deceptive to me. My aim is to be genuinely involved. I love agriculture and believe God desires to use all of our natural gifts and talents.” (p. 139 by a BAMer in Central Asia)
  • “If the business fails, then the mission fails.” (p. 147)
  • “Today there is still a need to state the biblically obvious: God calls people to and equips people for business. Unfortunately, this is still a farfetched idea in many churches, mission conferences, and theological seminaries.” (p. 170)
  • “Charity is the generosity that alleviates needs that are immediate. Justice is the process by which generosity configures our ways of providing education, delivering health care, doing business, and creating laws that lessen the need for charity…” (p. 183 quoted from a church in South Carolina)
  • “We call upon the church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as businesspeople in the world – among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.” (p. 200, from the 2004 Business as Mission Manifesto)


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Three freedom businesses – a mini case study

Saturday, May 12, 2018
girls walking

Part 3 of a 3-part series on human slavery and freedom business

Last week we stated that the vital re-integration element for addressing the problem of human trafficking, particularly sex slavery, is an important complement to rescue and restoration. While in Cambodia recently we interviewed and observed seven businesses which were working hard to develop solutions with for-profit businesses. Three of them are highlighted here.

Jars of Clay is a restaurant with two locations in Phnom Penh and features Cambodian and western menus. It was started in 1998 by a missionary from the UK who dreamed of providing a safe place for helpless women with no life skills. Current owner and manager, Jen came as a 16-year-old rescued young girl. In 2007, the missionary left the sustainable operation in the hands of 8 original girls including Jen.

Today there are two restaurants, one in the Russian market area. There are 30 staff in this independent and sustainable operation. The missionary chose the name “Jars of Clay” from the biblical passage in II Cor. 4:7. The girls physical bodies are like jars of clay, in all shapes and sizes. They are beautiful, unique, functional and house a godly treasure. The ministry exists to bring girls to understand this.

The leadership takes a team approach to helping girls overcome the dysfunction of their trafficked past, provide training, learn who Jesus is, and develop the skills of the restaurant business. Jen emphasized that once healing begins they help them build confidence, leave the past behind without pity for themselves and realize a home in the Jars of Clay family.

Jen sees Jars of Clay as belonging to God and she is a steward for him. The profits are not theirs; they belong to God and they are plowed back into the business for improvements. The graduates of the program often go on to better jobs. One is the director of an NGO, another manages another restaurant. Almost all reintegrate into society and are able to support themselves. Many come to faith in Jesus as their Savior.

Sak Saum started fifteen years ago with 12 abused kids which were acquired from the Ministry of Social Affairs in Cambodia. The name, Sak Saum is a Khmer term meaning to restore and remake as new with dignity, value and beauty. The original group, mostly girls, were released to a church which built a dorm for the children. A program was developed to restore these children and create a desire to change. For those who want to change, the process of teaching life and employment skills begins.

The goal today is to create a nurturing, empowering, restorative program which facilitates vocational training in sewing products and community development. The large property outside the city of Phnom Penh provides for prevention through playgrounds, community programs and a local “watch program”, education for victims who want to change, restoration through job training, and justice by working with local authorities to bring perpetrators to justice.

The company is known for its creativity, individualized craftsmanship, and excellent products which are shipped to more than 15 countries and 30 US states. Products are not mass produced and so each is the result of creative minds, crafted as a tangible product representing a changed life. Skills are discovered and developed in design, quality control, business savvy, leadership and entrepreneurship.

The current trend is to reduce the number of employees working in the larger factory and to empower individuals to work with freedom and dignity at home; with the trainers and quality control personnel working in the factory, called a design center. Want to learn the many ways to wear a hua? Watch: http://saksaum.com/about/

Founder/operator Ginny Hanson sums it up: “Without choice, it is not love, without love there is no change.”

Outland Denim This company is in Kampong Cham, about a 3-hour drive northeast of Phnom Penh. It was started seven years ago by James Bartle, an Australian entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of trafficked women through employment, while making a profit. He entered the fashion world of denim with a steep learning curve after traveling to Asia to see how the trafficking industry worked and to envision how he could provide a sustainable career path to victimized women.

There is a strong commitment to preparing each of the 40 seamstress employees with all the skills of the factory. Each person learns every aspect – every machine and every detail on a pair of jeans – the denim, the thread, rivets, buttons, belt loops, zippers – all are meticulously and artfully produced and reviewed. The high-end product is no regular jean - with retail prices in North America starting at $195 per jean.

Outland Denim is strongly committed the verifying the ethical sourcing of all items in the supply chain. Each item is checked for its social responsibility and environmental impact. For example, a company representative recently traveled to Turkey to check on the denim which is sourced a one particular location in that country, making sure it is using organic cotton and other approved processes such as natural indigo dyes which are less toxic. Every item from the thread to the denim, to the dyes, zippers, buttons, rivets, leather patches and washing process is guaranteed to not be exploitive and the most socially and environmentally responsible as possible.

The women take pride in their work and we noted on the finished products, the leather patch had a simple statement under the Outland name, “This jean handcrafted by …… (name of person)”

We were impressed how the owner in Australia and the managers in Cambodia, Caleb and Katie, relied on the importance of prayer, with many stories of how God directed them in creative entrepreneurial ways, as they relied on Him. Certainly, God is blessing this establishment to the “greater glory of God.”



Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission