BWAM FRUITFUL PRACTICES

INTRODUCTION

As YWAMers we share a vision to see evangelism, mercy ministry and discipleship taking place all around the world in accordance with the great commission. Over the past 20 years we have seen God raise business and business people up as a means to see His mandate fulfilled. In BWAM we are outworking our call to evangelism, mercy ministries and discipleship in companies around the world.

Below is a list of Fruitful Practices compiled over the past years by BWAM practitioners who have seen the great fruitfulness of God moving through their businesses, but have also learned from the many mistakes that have been made. This list, though not exhaustive, is designed to help other BWAM practitioners keep their business cultures conducive to effective evangelism, discipleship and mercy ministry. They are not a list of rules, our situations are too varied for that, however they are valuable recommendations from those who have gone before.  

START UP AND BUSINESS PLANNING

1. Create a solid business plan integrated with a clear ministry plan

Business plans are essential for looking ahead and considering all the challenges that may come. It is essential to have a realistic idea of whether your business model will work financially. Equally essential is to know how your ministry plan is going to integrate with the business. Who you hire, where you locate, what you produce, how you produce it, etc. should all be a result of synergy between ministry and business goals. This synergy should be given careful thought and articulated clearly in an integrated plan. 

Values – Excellence, Integration

2. Aim for profitability

With any business start up, cash is tight and profit can seem like a distant dream. However, without a clear plan to reach profitability, your BWAM model will not be sustainable or credible in the long-term, limiting fruitfulness. BWAM businesses should intend to reach profitability as soon as possible. That does not mean they will meet this goal right away, reaching profitability may require a ‘pivot’ (change in business strategy) along the way – it is however essential that profit is a primary goal.

Values – Excellence, Work

3. Commit to language acquisition and learning culture

In environments where we are starting businesses among people with a different mother tongue and culture, it is essential to take time to learn both the language and customs of the people. Having effective cross-cultural communication in the heart language of the people is a significant key into seeing the Kingdom expressed and the message heard.

Values – Excellence, Humility, Integration

4. Establish business operations where it puts you in contact with your focus people every day – customers, vendors, employees, etc.

The ability to achieve your missional goals is directly related to effective connection with people. Running a business is busy and demanding, you will have time management issues unless your business is the primary context for working out ministry goals. Building real relationships with your people in the context of your business, where they can see you living out the Kingdom of God in everyday business situations, greatly increases your chance of missional success.

Values – Integration, Work.

5. Gather input from experienced experts

There is a rapidly growing BAM movement with experienced business people and BWAM practitioners available as a resource. Connect with business people and practitioners in similar countries or business fields. Gather knowledge about fruitful business practices from general business sources and industry-specialists, as well as the BAM and BWAM community.

Values – Excellence Humility, Connection

RELATIONSHIP AND CONNECTION WITH OUR YWAM FAMILY

6. Be intentional about connecting with the broader YWAM family 

BWAM projects and their accompanying demands can be a big challenge for the other local YWAM work going on. It is recommended to create clear expectations and understanding early with the local (and, where appropriate, Area) YWAM entities and leaders. It is helpful to write down agreements and expectations from this conversation into something like an MOU – ‘memo of understanding’. This is a non-legally binding document that outlines understandings between parties. This process is helpful to clarify issues and questions at the start, and then as a tool for regular evaluation and communication.

Values –  Connection, Humility

7. Maintain fellowship with others in the BWAM Circle and in the wider BAM movement 

It can be helpful to keep connected with others in BWAM as well as our to our broader YWAM family. Attending YWAM meetings/conferences, attending the annual BWAM Summit, teaching in DTS and second level schools, are all good ways to keep that connection strong. As YWAMers we are a part of a much bigger BAM movement. We have lots to offer them and they have lots to offer us. Connecting with this larger community is a practice that promotes growth and success. .

Values – Connection, Generosity

PRAYER AND HEARING GOD’S VOICE

8. Integrate prayer into business life and operations

Prayer and hearing God’s voice should permeate both the planning and operational stages of your business. It is His business, and He is the CEO. Make prayer foundational and communicate and practice this with your team members, you staff and your customers.

Values – Integration, Work, Humility

OWNERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE

9. Start an advisory board or small group to give input from the beginning 

Put together a small group or board of trusted advisors to pray, give advice and bring valuable expertise and connections. Gathering those who share your vision, passion and are in relationship with you as a board adds an important layer of accountability and is a valuable resource. Lone rangers struggle to succeed and grow. 

Values – Humility, Connection, Integrity

10. Set the business up with personal ownership – or joint ownership with other investors –  rather than ‘organisational’ ownership

In general BWAM business should not be funded by ‘YWAM’ (as a legal entity) or considered owned by the mission. Mission organizations are not structured to contain profit making businesses, and there are usually legal constraints to this in most countries. For this reason it is best to establish your business as a separate legal entity, in keeping with local business laws, owned by you (or you and others).

Values – Integrity, Excellence

11. Invest some of your own money 

Starting a business requires passion, dedication, grit and money, all valuable investments. For some of us it is easy to have the first three but use someone else’s money. It has been observed however that investing your own money increases the investment of passion, dedication and grit and leads to an increased chance of business success.

Values – Work, Generosity

TEAM AND COMPANY STRUCTURE

12. Start with a team

A business start up is a huge endeavor in our own culture, in a foreign culture they pose an even greater challenge. Working as a team, which is one of our YWAM values, with complimentary gifts, skills and experiences, where members share and carry the responsibilities of the vision is a more effective route to success. 

Values – Connection, Excellence

13. Everybody on a team works in the company

Teams can be defined in many different ways. Since running a business is not a part-time endeavor and the ministry goals are most effectively worked out in the context of the company, the most successful operations are the ones where the entire ‘ministry’ team contributes to the success of the business. Teams where some are working in the business and others are not often struggle to see the business succeed.

Values – Work, Integration, Connection

METRICS AND EVALUATION

14. Regularly evaluate business and ministry impact with measurables

Positive community impact, spiritual impact, environmental impact and profit are all “bottom lines” we strive to succeed at in BWAM companies. Having tools and data that help us evaluate what is working and what is not is essential to ensure we are not wasting our time. Goals for each “bottom line” should be written in a regularly reviewed business plan and measures should be chosen to evaluate progress. 

Values – Excellence, Work

MANAGING MONEY AND ACCOUNTING

15. Tithe company income as an act of generosity

Generosity is the antidote to greed. This does not mean we should give away all our profits, since profit can and should be used for many things, including reinvesting into the business. However, for us to be lead by the Spirit in giving generously is an effective way to guard against greed and keep a check on our motivations.

Values – Generosity, Integrity

16. Create financial systems that protect integrity

Handling money can be a great area of temptation and strife. Avoiding even the perception of wrong is extremely important. Create financial systems that include checks and balances, i.e. one person/accountant should not handle all financial processes.

Values – Integrity, Excellence, Humility

17. Maintain good financial records and reports 

In the business of business it is easy to get into a habit of not to keep good records. When you are small, for the short term, one can get away with simple accounting. However, once the company grows the only way to steer the business effectively is by keeping comprehensive accounts and generating regular financial reports (i.e. cashflow, balance sheet, profit-loss etc.) These reports are to your business like the dashboard is to your car. You need to keep looking at them to make sure your business is running effectively and that you are staying on track. Build these systems and checks in as early as possible.

Values – Excellence, Work

18. Initiate a financial audit every year 

Financial transparency is a safeguard against the pitfalls of handling money. An audit is an excellent tool to promote transparency and keep us above reproach. The audit should be internal at least and external if possible i.e. by board member(s), other BWAM/BAM owners, or employing an accounting/auditing firm.

Values – Integrity, Excellence, Humility

LEGAL AND ANTI-CORRUPTION

19. Seek to abide by local laws and maintain necessary registrations and submissions 

It can be tempting to shortcut bureaucracy or want to ‘fly under the radar’. However, the most successful BAM companies do not avoid the local systems, but engage with them, negotiating and seeking country-specific expertise where necessary. Seek to abide by local business and tax laws – this will support the growth of your business in the longer-term.

Values – Excellence, Integrity

20. Adopt a clear, written anti-corruption policy for all business and legal dealings

Bribery is common in many countries and tempting when it is happening all around. For the sake of your witness and legal longevity, adopting policy to deal with bribery and corruption, in line with biblical teaching, that is clear and can be modelled is essential. The message we want to convey in corrupt contexts is that we trust Jesus with our businesses. 

Values – Integrity, Integration

STAFFING AND EMPLOYMENT

21. Employ at least one person in an influential role that is a mission-minded believer

A good business is designed to grow. With business growth, our missional goals must stay in front of us. One recommended way to do this is to ensure Kingdom-minded people are mixed in with all your other staff. They will be the ones that can carry and transmit the Kingdom DNA within your company culture. A starting suggestion is to aim for at least a 10:1 ratio non-believers:believers.

Values – Integration, Work

22. Aim to employ at least 10 of your focus people group

Along with ensuring you have Kingdom-minded employees, having employees from your focus people is also a best practice. As the Kingdom is about God reaching out in relationship to people, the more people, the better. Businesses that have the potential to employ many tend to be more fruitful BWAM companies.

Values – Integration, Work

23. Pay a living wage

Be aware of the local minimum wage laws and the reality of cost of living for your employees when planning and running your business. The contexts we work in may be full of exploitation, however a Kingdom business needs to rise above that and treat employees fairly. Paying an honest, fair wage in the context is a powerful message to those we work amongst. 

Values – Generosity, Integrity

24. Actively employ, train and promote nationals/locals within key roles in the business 

A missional best practice is that local believers are more effective than anyone else at transmitting the gospel. For this reason our businesses provide us with an excellent arena to develop national leaders and give them positions of influence. BWAM companies can also effectively increase the skills and training standards in the local work-force.

Values – Work, Connection

MULTIPLICATION AND SUCCESSION

25. Have a clear plan to grow or multiply

If you business is not growing or evolving, it is dying. Market adaptation and growth is good for business, but also increases our capacity to engage more people and places. Scaling your current operation, adding products or services, adding branches or franchising/licensing are excellent ways to multiply both business success and impact. Plan to grow and strategically consider how that growth will feed your missional agenda.

Values – Excellence, Work

26. Create opportunities and roles for other mission workers

Once your company is in operation, you can create an access point for others to join. Intentionally consider how you can involve and generate opportunities for other mission workers i.e. by creating jobs for them, by expanding into new operating locations, by creating branches etc.

Values – Work, Integration

27. Be available and intentional about mentoring other YWAMers who are involved or planning to run a BWAM enterprise

With BAM being a relatively new tool in world mission, and BWAMers being a pioneering group in YWAM, those who have experience and expertise have much to offer the growth of the movement. We recommend connecting and serving others who have a similar vision and could benefit from your experience.

Values – Connection, Generosity

ENGAGEMENT IN THE WIDER COMMUNITY

28. Create opportunities or programs where employees engage with and impact the wider community 

As a business owner you have forged a place in the local community. This is a huge achievement. Engaging the whole company in the wider community through service activities, volunteering or charity work is a powerful way for people to experience your ‘Kingdom flavour’. 

Values – Integration, Generosity

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© Business With A Mission 2021

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