Making a business work is incredibly satisfying and exciting. Even when a business fails, a resilient entrepreneur gets up and goes at it again having learned from their first experience. Business is an incredible process where creativity, tenacity, risk and hard work can bring financial fruit and a broad impact. God instructs man in Genesis 1 to be fruitful and multiply, to work the land, to create and increase. I believe business falls under this mandate – and what an amazing process to be involved in! I am also quite passionate about training. I believe that preparation and training can be the difference between failure and success, and I am all about hedging towards success. This is particularly true for the entrepreneur starting a business in an emerging economy of the world where there is so much to learn and so much to consider. A good entrepreneur should always be learning: from experience, from success and failure, and from others. I have seen firsthand the added value that training brings to the entrepreneur as I’ve been involved in the dynamic process of intensive training courses.
In the context of training, the entrepreneur gives time to focus on the greater and deeper meaning behind what they intend to do by asking the why questions. Why business? Why here? Why a language institute? Why coffee exporting? Others involved in the training process also ask good questions, without personal history or relational risk. Sometimes the entrepreneur has not considered their situation from all angles and the lecturer, the business coach or the classmate asks the right question.
A deliberate time of preparation provides the opportunity to drill more deeply into the details of a business plan. We know from many scriptures that planning is an honorable and worthwhile endeavor. In Luke 14 Jesus asks ‘for which of you intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he as enough to complete it?’ In the context of training, the business concept, the projections, the numbers are all examined and developed. Dead-ends and fruitless effort can be avoided and money saved in the future. The value of having others join you in your business development process can be the key to taking a successful next step.
One of the key lessons from becoming a learner is that we need to be learners! As an entrepreneur enters a new environment, city or culture their attitude should be as a learner: asking questions, observing and seeking understanding. Indeed, as a rule for life Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2 to imitate Christ’s humility. Living in Asia, I find I am constantly the one who needs to understand and the one who has the most to learn. Grasping this lesson can make you personally and can also make your business. There are many ways to continue on as a learner, however the essential work of research, cross-cultural understanding and honest evaluation of your own world-view can be accelerated in the context of training and preparation.
No person is an island. One of our highest recommendations to entrepreneurs planning to work in emerging economies is to form a team, either to consider going with others or to quickly find those with a common vision and join together with them. One of the most rewarding aspects of a training course is the relationships that are built. Many find that their calling and passion is affirmed for the first time as they find themselves amongst a group of like-minded people. During the training process there is constant exchange of ideas and networking and many times the ground is prepared for future partnership. For the entrepreneur, training provides an intensive opportunity to extract key lessons and great value from those who have gone before them. Training provides a “pause” to reflect, plan, observe and network.
Mark leads the Business as Mission Resource Team in Thailand and works with Thai coffee growers to get their high quality but unknown coffee onto the world market. He has been leading training courses for 18 years and iBAM training for 4 years. For more information see www.businessasmission.com