Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Teen Challenge's BAM Thrift Store Profiled on Fox 13 Memphis

Check out Teen Challenge's BAM Thrift Store in Memphis, Tennessee, profiled recently on the local Fox station. Work is such an important part to a successful recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, especially when combined with Teen Challenge's bedrock belief in the power of faith.

Monday, September 9, 2019

For a long time there has been a hole in international development and business as mission in the area of sales training.

I was excited to be introduced to the Whitten & Roy Partnership recently over lunch by one of its consultants. There are so many great organizations implementing ideas in the developing world that are not realizing their full marketing potential because of a lack of training in sales tactics or a sub-par sales plan. I've had many long conversations with a sales professional friend discussing the need for high-quality help in this area. A well thought out sales approach in developing communities can even be a force for bringing about systematic change in disadvantaged communities:

This company is redefining sales tactics for the base of the pyramid

SAN FRANCISCO — Scott Roy, co-founder of an international sales consultancy, was doing research for a potential client in Cambodia when he heard about a sales tactic he found appalling.
A team tasked with selling toilets to families would roll into villages with a set of latrine components. In order to close the sale, one person made up a threat, warning that government inspectors would fine the family if they did not have a toilet, Roy said. Toilets are just one of the products and services that can deliver real benefits for rural households in low- and middle-income countries, but all too often organizations overlook the importance of the sales approach.
Many people think sales is about talking someone into buying an item they do not want or need, but those strategies are neither ethical nor effective, say Scott Roy and Roy Whitten, founders of the international sales consultancy Whitten & Roy Partnership.
They have seen worst case scenarios. But they have also seen how sales done right can help organizations that seek to improve the lives of the poor get their products and services to the last mile. That is why they are working with clients in the international development community on an important shift from product-led pitching to problem-led selling.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Belay Venture Partners Program Selects First Founder

I’m excited to announce that Belay Enterprises has chosen Brittany Marlett as our first participant in the Venture Partners Program. Brittany's business, A Child’s Best Interest, is a home-based day care facility that started last year while participating in the Change Agency, a community development program of Denver area Cross Purpose. After completing that program, she quickly grew her company to its max capacity where she is serving six kids a day in her home. 
And now she has big plans for her business. Over the next year, she wants to expand from her house into a day care facility. That will require her completing additional state-mandated training as well as obtaining financial investment in order to secure a new center.

Belay’s Venture Partner’s Program is excited to help her through this process. We have identified five mentors who have agreed to meet with her monthly to coach her on the various aspects of running a growing business. They plan to start by assisting her in refining the business plan for strategic growth into the new facility. I am especially excited that one of the mentors has significant experience running her own day care center and is also a certified trainer for the State of Colorado. 

Are you interested in being a mentor? Though Brittany’s cohort group is full, we are close to selecting other participants for the program that will be matched with coaches. This will be a unique opportunity for business leaders to use their business gifts and talents to impact the community for the gospel. We are looking for entrepreneurial Christ-following business people with a track record of success and a desire to use their talents to assist kingdom start-up businesses. Business mentors will also be encouraged to make an investment in our revolving donor advised fund that will be used to resource the founder business loans.  Let us know you are interested by visiting here.

We are also continuing to accept applications for our new program. Do you know an early-stage founder who might be interested? We are seeking Christian entrepreneurs with new ventures from the idea stage to up to 2 years old, that desire to transform lives. If you are interested in learning more, visit here.

At Belay Enterprises, we are passionate about the life-changing potential of start-up businesses being founded by followers of Christ. Join us as we seek the flourishing of our communities through gospel-centered businesses.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

If You Are a Creative Person You Need to Create.

And if you are an entrepreneur, your creativity is your superpower.

But as your venture grows, your time for creativity declines. The tyranny of the urgent takes away your ability to think up new approaches and work "on" the business instead of "in" the business.

The flip side of this problem is the creative entrepreneur who has a million ideas and is always planning something new but never able to start. Over and over, I’ve seen that the most creative people have the hardest time focusing and deciding which idea to pursue.

So for any entrepreneur running a business, there is a creative sweet spot where one continues to be innovative but not paralyzed by the abundance of possibilities.

There are three things you should do to stay in that zone:
  • Schedule time to be creative every day: You need to fight daily for space where you can explore, dream and think. I like spending an hour in the morning with my coffee and my ideas. And then I try to schedule quiet blocks of time where I can work uninterrupted on new ideas.
  • Stay focused on your mission, your purpose: It is so important to have an understanding of your own personal and organization mission as you play in the arena of your creative ideas. These give the freedom to explore new things without devolving into activity without impact or execution. Ideas are not things to be admired but concepts to guide us to further growth and new opportunities.
  • Finally, every idea finds it's power in concrete action steps: What is the one thing you are going to do today about your idea? Who are you going to call? What are you going to write down? What small step is going to bring about the future today?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

There Are Two Ways You Can Kill a Startup: Too Little Business and Too Much Business.

A couple of years ago, our five month old custom cabinet business, New Beginnings Custom Woodworks, was featured on our local news station. In our exuberance, we signed up too many customers with an unrealistic view of how quickly we could complete jobs. In less than a month, we had upset customers and significant cash flow problems as we made mistakes in our rush to complete jobs while also missing deadlines.

For any new venture, I believe there are three top factors that protect a business from failure:
  • A good fit between the product/ service and the market it serves.
  • A complete understanding of the company's cash flow position with daily projections.
  • Marketing, marketing, marketing!
In the case of our cabinet business misstep, we were able to recover our financial footing through the three key factors. Our product ultimately was a good fit with customer demand, so after apologizing and then completing jobs satisfactorily, we were able to refine our product to even better serve our customers. We simplified our business by specializing in only shaker style cabinets, speeding up our production time and allowing us to more strategically market to our customers. Finally, our grasp of our cash flow position enabled us to raise funds in time (through God’s abundant blessing) to make it through our mistake and onto the future. 

I shared this story a few years ago for an article in The BAM Review.  It's a good survey of common business as mission mistakes for people leading new ventures.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

If You Are Doing Business as Mission, You Are Doing Marketing.

This has been a big theme of this website for many years. And it is the foundation of a marketing class I’ve taught for YWAM for 5 years.

Recently, the importance of marketing came to the forefront while I gave a tour of Belay Enterprises to a friend interested in mentoring for our Venture Partners program. He is a business broker, who is hired by individuals looking to sell their businesses. And he notes that nearly all of the businesses approaching him for sale have significant room for growth in the future, simply by implementing better marketing. Effective marketing is the key to a thriving venture.

And marketing is more than advertising, as it is often, mistakenly limited. When done at its best, it is about defining the minimally viable market for your good or service and then making appropriate decisions about price, place and people. For the faith venture practitioner, marketing done well provides an opportunity to redeem the promotion piece of marketing, which sometimes gets corrupted in secular organizations by the belief that the only thing important is making the sale. When I coach new BAM entrepreneurs, it is always such a joy to them when they are able to shift their marketing paradigm from just convincing people to buy their product to a more holistic understanding of it as blessing their customers.

Are you interested in learning more? I am in the process of taking my marketing class online for individuals in the process of starting or running business as mission ventures. We are going to offer early participants a chance to demo the curriculum in the future at significant savings.  Sign up here and we will keep you up to date.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Seeking Ranch Land to Change Lives

Do you know someone with an available small plot of ranch land in the Denver area?  Belay Enterprises, has identified a great opportunity for a business that both employs and serves the refugee community in Colorado. 

A local Nepali pastor has approached us with the employment needs of his community. There are a number of older members who are struggling with learning English, which is negatively impacting their ability to find work. The pastor has also noticed that his community prefers buying whole farm-raised goats over pre-packaged meats at the supermarket. He's also discovered there is a great price spread between purchasing the goats in other states and then selling them individually in Colorado. But the difficulty with the model is finding an affordable place to ranch the goats close to Denver.

This goat business model is also an opportunity for other communities in the U.S. and in the right developed nations. Our research shows that even non-immigrant communities are increasingly demanding direct from farm meats because of the  health benefits.

Our search for ranch land is part of Belay Enterprises' efforts in its Venture Partners Program to help start-up businesses that transform lives. We are matching passionate early-stage Christian founders who desire to change lives through their businesses with mentoring groups of 3-5 business leaders. In addition, selected founders receive a start-up financial investment focused for business growth.  All together, this investment of mentoring, technical expertise, and financial resources aims to increase the impact and effectiveness of the new ventures.

Please visit here if you know someone who might be able to help out with the ranch land needs or if you want to learn more about our Venture Partners Program. 

Teen Challenge's BAM Thrift Store Profiled on Fox 13 Memphis

Check out Teen Challenge's BAM Thrift Store in Memphis, Tennessee, profiled recently on the local Fox station. Work is such an importa...