Starting a Business

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There is no doubt much to be said about this within a YWAM context. It may interest us because there are times when setting up a new team will be similar or the same as starting a business. Sometimes we may need to help start new businesses because the new Christians are poor or because God has called us to help the poor! Here are some notes gleaned from a session with Professor Bill Bolton.

Find Christians in a nation and ask to set them up in a 'support network' to support Christian ministry. Bill Bolton had a connection with a group that provided cash for a facility. Can then access funds from international sources. ie leverage finances. Lend money unsecured. Work with the economically active of the poor. Advertise in the local newspaper and those who come have to make a business plan. Made 300 loans unsecured and have no bad debts. Usually about $2000. Each business has a mentor and is in contact each week. Loans are 6 months and interest-bearing. If it is multiplied develops an economic base. In Moscow there is a great business incubator run by the Mennonite Development Agency. Outsiders see the trust that the Christian.

Need the people, business opportunity and finance. The weak link is the finance. Been doing research in the coal fields of Derbyshire; hardly anyone owns their own home; never taken a loan out from the bank. Hopelessness is great here in Britain too. [Read up on "friendly societies"]

Ran an engineering course at Cambridge. Added an extra year on financing. Idea came of going through the process practically in setting up a business. Set up the model---grandma had £5000 to lend and had a friendly bank manager to bounce ideas off. Had to prepare the whole business and present it to a group of experts. 10-20% were natural entrepreneurs. Some set up companies during their breaks. One couldn't come back to complete his final year! Two asked Bill to supervise them for a short while as they set up a business.

Discovered incubators in the US. Approached St John's college to set up the innovation centre.

Can't discover entrepreneurs, must reveal them. And then give specific training for those who show up. Include an entrepreneurial element in each school. Get two sorts of people interested: those who want to do it and those who want to help others do it. The supporters are useless; as soon as they leave the thing falls flat. They create a dependence culture. In the Highlands there are a number of government workers who are trying to set up an enterprise culture but without success. Bill has been doing it. The secret is intervention and not support. Support is; "When are you going to get your business plan done?" Intervention is; "Can you do it in 4 weeks."

Developing teams. Helped Wycliffe set up highly motivated short term teams of British university students to solve linguistics problems overseas.

WIN---Worldwide Incubation Network.

  • may not all be Christian but could provide business link between all the businesses associated.
  • involved in the leader of the incubators---career route for incubator managers and keep the quality up.
  • need an intervention team to turn it around. Experts tend to muck it up.
  • have a team to set the incubators up.

Bill's Model---Team-Based Business

Subtle area to make work well.

Ought to be able to start a business quicker and more easily if it is done in a team. Reveal the entrepreneurs and release them from the strictures of university training. Can't do it on a training programme. In Derbyshire a group were asked if they could start a company making gaskets. They got together a team and did it. They couldn't repeat it in other places because they set up training programmes to prepare the people. Bill cancelled the training and it worked. Training attracts those interested in training.

Here are the stages through which the model progresses.

  1. do economic mapping in a new area---identify gaps in business. And what sort of people are surplus in the area.
  2. do a business profile
  3. run an entrepreneurial development workshop with interested people. Full-time in one or two weeks, part time 3---6 months. The entrepreneurs should stand out.
  4. give different routes to specialist training. One man band, go and work for someone else or team-based business. Another one would be to pick up people who want to grow their own business. They would have done the foundation course. And spin off businesses---the business they work for doesn't want them anymore. They can't afford the overhead but want the product.

Need to do academic research to develop these programmes in new areas. It will produce training material for the courses. Must produce training material and operational manual. Then it can be franchised or passed on.

Do lots of economic assessments---half a dozen locations. Don't start it in a difficult place. Not all assessments lead to a programme.

Diagram 1:1 Starting Business, Team Dynamic

Graph is in quadrant. Bottom left is very difficult. Build team first and then introduce it to the opportunity. Route is bottom left, upper left, upper right. From then launch out into business. Plot this graph in the initial assessment but start work launching those in the upper rights quadrant.

As you do it in a region will find different groups---some good teams, some good ideas.