What Is Your Personal Business Model?


Doing business is inherently personal.  The discipline of business also has creative tools to help us think about and implement our call to be good neighbors and good stewards of God’s creation.  One of those tools is the Personal Business Model Canvas.  (Note: See http://businessmodelyou.com/ for the genesis of this idea.)

Questions to Ask Yourself


  • Who will you help (Customer Segment)?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?  Why?  What motivates you?
  • How are the people in that Customer Segment currently solving the problem?  (That is, who are your Competitors and what are the Substitute Products?)
  • What solution are your providing?  What is unique about it?  What are you communicating to your customers (Value Proposition)?
  • How are communicating to your “customers” (Channels)?
  • How do you and your customer interact?  That is, what are you doing to build a Relationship? (Ultimately that is one of the primary tensions between loving our neighbor and trying to scale — make multiple sales.)
  • How do you measure success–what is your bottom line?  What intermediate metrics do you use to measure success along the way?

Operations (Production)

  • What exactly do you do (Activities)?  What are the essential tasks that have to be completed to serve your Customer/Neighbor?
  • What do you need to do those tasks?
  • Who helps you (Partners)?


  • What does it Cost you? What is the Structure of those Costs?  How leveraged are you?
  • What do you get in return for what you do (Revenue)?  Is there more than one revenue stream?  (Note that there is both qualitative and quantitative revenue.)

Operations (Management)

  • What can you do to the “system” that will result in more “throughput” – more Customer Problems solved, more of what you get? (Revenue)
  • What can you do to reduce what you need to do what you do (Inventory)?
  • What can you do to reduce the costs (both qualitative and quantitative) of what you do? (Expenses)
  • How can you scale?  What are your main Operating Plan Milestones?


  • How much funding does your business generate?
  • What funding do you need to fill in the gaps and meet your milestones so that you can solve more problems?

Trinity Business Logic


We empower students to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.  We do this via Trinity Business and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment.

  • Trinity Business: The Trinity Business program is unique in that it is…
    • Entrepreneurial and Experiential: Nothing in our work excites us more than to see students discover their gifts and become impassioned about a cause.  This happens when students lead and faculty coach.
    • Innovative and Integrative: In innovative ways we seek to integrate our faith in our business disciplines, the liberal arts with our business disciplines, and our business disciplines with each other.
    • Specialized and Strategic.  Trinity Business is unique in that it offers student specialized degrees in Accounting, Entrepreneurial Management, Finance, and marketing.  It is teaches students how to be Strategic Critical Thinkers.
    • Immersed in Chicago.  We seek to transform society.  But we do that by first seeking to understand ourselves, others, and the world.  Chicago is our world.
    • Grounded in Vocation.  We do what we do because as Christians we believe God calls us to do these things.  We desire to do so in love, mercy, and humility.
  • CECE: The Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment is unique in that it seeks to create a ladder to meaningful employment:
    • Support Interdisciplinary Initiatives.
    • Support Career-focused Student Clubs.
    • Troll Scholars:
      • Consultants
      • Interns
      • Entrepreneurs


We do what we do to increase students’ knowledge of God, themselves, and the world.  That too, we believe, is our calling.



In the long-run, beginning in college, our goal is that our graduates transform culture and experience holistic well-being.  This is based on an outcome of  knowledge — of God, themselves and the world.  That outcome and impact is based on the inputs related to empowering students to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling in business and beyond.

How To Become a Functioning Team

(From Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team)

When we fail to Focus on Results, we…

  • Fail to grow
  • Fail to win
  • Lose achievement-orientated people
  • Encourage people to focus on themselves
  • Are distracted

When we Avoid Accountability, we…

  • Cause resentment
  • Encourage mediocrity
  • Miss deadlines
  • Burden the team leader

When we Lack Commitment, we…

  • Create ambiguity about goals and priorities
  • Contribute to a lack of confidence
  • Ignore “the elephant in the room.”
  • Revisit previous discussions

When we Fear Conflict, we…

  • Conduct boring meetings
  • Encourage a political environment
  • Ignore controversy
  • Fail to engage team members deeply

When we Lack Trust, we…

  • Hide weaknesses
  • Are slow to ask for help
  • Are slow to contribute
  • Hate meetings


How to Overcome The Five Dysfunctions

(From Patrick Lencioni’s Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team)

Build Trust

Trust is not the ability to predict the behaviors of others.  “Trust is all about vulnerability.  Team members who trust one another learn to be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears…Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple—and practical—idea that people who aren’t afraid to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy, and more importantly, makes the accomplishment of results an unlikely scenario” (p. 14).

“The idea of putting themselves at risk for the good of others is not natural, and is rarely rewarded in life…” (pp. 16, 17).

“The key ingredient to building trust is not time, it’s courage” (p.18).

Trust-building Tools

Personal histories.  “At a staff meeting or off-site, go around the room and have every member of the team explain three things: where they grew up, how many kids were in their family, and what was the most difficult or important challenge of their childhood” (p. 19).

“When team members reveal aspects of their personal lives to their peers, they learn to get comfortable being open with them about other things.  They begin to let down their guard about their strengths, weaknesses, opinions, and ideas” (p. 20).

The personal history exercise helps everyone overcome “one of the great destroyers of teamwork:” the fundamental attribution error.  “The fundamental attribution error is simply this: human beings tend to falsely attribute the negative behaviors of others to their character (an internal attribution), while they contribute their own negative behaviors to their environment (an external attribution)….“As a result [of going through the personal histories exercise], there is a far greater likelihood that empathy and understanding will trump judgment and accusation when it comes to questionable behavior” (p. 21).

Construct Conflict

Conflict: “productive, ideological conflict: unfiltered debate around issues of importance to the team” (p. 37).

“If team members are never pushing one another outside of their emotional comfort zones during discussions, then it is extremely likely that they’re not making the best decisions for the organization.”  Conflict is the median between “artificial harmony” and “mean-spirited personal attacks” (p. 38).

Tools for Constructive Conflict

“The best way is simply to talk about it.”  What is their conflict profile based on Myers-Briggs?  How was their view of conflict “shaped by their childhood or maturation process?”  “The point is that when people self-identify and publicly declare their outlook on conflict, they become much more open to adjusting it to whatever the team norms need to be established”  (p. 42).

Get Buy-In

“Let’s be clear about something: commitment is not about consensus….It’s about a group of intelligent, driven individuals buying in to a decision precisely when they don’t naturally agree.  In other words, it’s the ability to defy a lack of consensus” (p. 51).

Tools for Getting Buy-in

Commitment Clarification.  “With five minutes to go at the end of the meeting—any type of meeting—the leader of the team needs to call a question: What exactly have we decided here today?…By being extremely explicit about what has been agreed upon, a team will be able to identify discrepancies before a decision has been announced” (pp. 54, 55).

Commitment to Key Principles.  “Teams must commit to rules of engagement around timeliness at meetings, responsiveness in communication, and general interpersonal behavior.  But beyond behavior commitment, there is the commitment to other principles such as purpose, values, mission, strategy, and goals” (p. 57).

Commitment to Thematic Goals, a Common Cause.  “At any given time, all the members should know what its top collective priority is, and how they can each contribute to addressing it” (p. 57).

Practice Accountability

Accountability is “the willingness of team members to remind one another when they are not living up to the performance standards of the group…. For peer-to-peer accountability to become part of the team’s culture, it has to be modeled by the leader…. That means being willing to step right into the middle of a difficult issue and remind individual team members of their responsibility, both in terms of behavior and results” (p. 61).

“The most important challenge…is overcoming the understandable hesitance of human beings to give one another critical feedback….When teammates stop holding one another accountable, what ultimately happens over time is that they lose respect for each other, and those good feelings begin to fade” (p. 63, 64).

Tools for Practicing Accountability

Team Effectiveness Exercise.  “During an off-site meeting, or any other session where you have well over an hour available, have everyone on the team write down their answers to two simple questions about every member of the team, excluding themselves:

  • What is the single most important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that contributes to the strength of the team?
  • What is the single most important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that can sometimes derail the team?

Once everyone has finished jotting down their answers, the facilitator starts by putting the leader of the team up first” (p. 65).

Meetings and Accountability.  “First, team members must know what each of the others is working on in order to hold them accountable.  The best way to do this is…asking team members to each take no more than thirty seconds to update the team about their three top priorities that week….Second…the team must track progress against its goals and highlight any shortcomings before they become problematic” (p. 67, 68).

Focus on Results

“What is it about us that makes it so hard to stay focused on results?  It’s this thing called self-interest.  And self-preservation.  We have a strong and natural tendency to look out for ourselves before others, even when those others are part of our families and our teams.  And once that tendency kicks in on a team, it can spread like a disease, quickly eroding the roots of teamwork until eventually even trust has been destroyed.  How do we avoid this?  The key lies in keeping results in the foreground of people’s minds” (pp. 69, 70).

See the Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w42Sfbh91vU

The Trust Equation

FromThe Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford






“Most professionals, when asked to talk about trust, instinctively focus on credibility and reliability….[But] trust has multiple dimensions.   I might trust your expertise, but distrust (profoundly) your motives (i.e., self-orientation).  I might trust your brilliance, but dislike your style of dealing with me (your intimacy)” (p. 70).


“Credibility isn’t just content expertise.  It’s content expertise plus ‘presence,’ which refers to how we look, act, react, and talk about our content.  It depends not only on the substantive reality of the advisor’s expertise, but also on the experience of the person doing the perceiving (p. 71).

“Among the four components of the trust equation, credibility requires a moderate amount of time to establish.  For the rational component of credibility (believability) we can examine someone’s logic, or check someone’s claims against the direct experience of others (i.e., references).  This doesn’t take long.  The emotional side of credibility (honesty) takes longer to evaluate, because it takes longer to assure oneself that all dimensions of an issue are being covered….[While] most providers sell on the basis of technical competence, most buyers buy on the basis of emotion” (p. 72).

“The best service professionals excel at two things in conveying credibility: anticipating needs, and speaking about needs that are commonly not articulated” (p. 73).

Some tips on enhancing credibility (pp. 73-74):

  • Tell the truth as much as possible
  • Don’t tell lies or exaggerate
  • Speak with expression; show you have energy
  • Don’t just cite references, introduce clients to each other
  • When you don’t know, say so
  • Do all your homework
  • Love your topic


“Reliability is about whether clients think you are dependable and can be trusted to behave in consistent ways.  Judgement on reliability are strongly affected, if not determined, but the number of times the client has interacted with you” (p. 74).

“Reliabilty also has an emotional aspect, which is revealed when things are done in a manner that clients prefer, or to which they are accustomed” (p. 75).

“Advisors who rate high on reliability will not just deliver their work on time and on spec.  Nor will they simply be consistent, even at a level of excellence.  They will also be expert at a variety of small touches that are aimed at client-based familiarity.  Sending meeting material in advance is one example; staying current on client events and names is another….Strategies for reliability include setting up a series of deadlines or opportunities to deliver discrete work product components within a short and usually agreed-upon period of time” (p. 76).

Some thoughts on reliability (pp. 76).

  • Make specific commitment to your client around small things and deliver!
  • Send materials in advance, saving meeting time
  • Make sure meetings have clear goals, not just agenda, and deliver!
  • Review agendas with your client before meetings
  • Confirm scheduled events


“The most effective, as well as most common, sources of differentiation in trustworthiness come from intimacy and self-orientation.  Both of these are relatively scarce, compared with credibility and reliability.  People trust those with whom they are willing to talk about difficult agenda (intimacy), and those who demonstrate that they care (low self-orientation)….The most common failure in building trust is lack of intimacy….Intimacy is about ’emotional closeness,’ concerning issues at hand….It is driven by emotional honesty, a willingness to expand the bounds of acceptable topics, while maintaining mutual respect and by respecting boundaries.  Greater intimacy means fewer subjects are barred from discussion” (p. 77).


“There is no greater source of distrust than advisors who appear to be more interested in themselves than in trying to be of service to the client.  We must work hard to show that our self-orientation is under control….The most egregious form of self-orientation is, of course, simple selfishness, being ‘in it for the money.’  However, self-orientatino is about much more than greed.  It covers anything that keeps us focused on ourselves rather than on our client” (p. 80).

How self-orientation shines through (p. 81):

  • A tendency to relate stories to ourselves
  • A need to finish others’ sentences for them
  • A need to fill empty spaces in conversations
  • A need to appear clever, bright, witty
  • An inability to provide a direct answer to a direct question
  • An unwillingness to say we don’t know
  • Name-dropping
  • A recitation of qualifications
  • A tendency to have the last word
  • Passive listening

Ways of ensuring self-orientation stays low (p. 82):

  • Treat your client like a friend
  • Think about the client as if you were responsible for her/his success
  • Be honest with yourself regarding level of interest; if disinterested in work, change to work that interests you more

Trust is required for long-term relationships.  Love and sacrifice of self interest are key.  Ironically, if we love ourselves, we will love and make sacrifices for others.

11 Metaphors for Entrepreneurs

A metaphor compares one thing to another for rhetorical effect.  I hope the following metaphors will make the journey of entrepreneurship easier to understand.

  1. Flow.  Do what absorbs you.  Consider Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s concept of “flow:” find that activity in which you are a fully immersed, feeling energized, and experiencing joy.
  2. Birds of a Feather.  Who you are, what you know, and who you know are the means of your entrepreneurial endeavor.  According to Saras Sarasvathy, the founders of Starbucks did not study market trends but their own need for quality coffee; Facebook began as a sophomoric (pun intended) social comparison tool among friends.
  3. Bird in the Hand.  Expert entrepreneurs follow an inductive approach.  Surprisingly, they don’t begin with a “situation analysis;” rather, according to Saras Sarasvathy, they begin with who they know and what they know.  Ring Cam began as a group of college students with an idea to solve a problem they understood.
  4. Jockey.  In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes it’s first Who, then What.  Idea pitch and business plan competitions, even Shark Tank have it wrong.  The quality of the people matter more than the quality of the idea.  He wasn’t alone in giving this advice. In 1957 Arthur Rock was instrumental in the creation of Fairchild Semiconductor.  In 1961 he created the first venture capital firm, and was an early investor in Intel, Apple Computer, and Teledyne.  In 2003 he gave a $25 million gift to Harvard Business School for a center for entrepreneurship. One of Arthur Rock’s maxims was that it was more important and better to invest in people than ideas.
  5. Soul.  The entrepreneurial journey is a mountain to climb.  To stay in for the long-run you need to feed your soul.  In other words, you work is bigger than you and realizing that, ironically, is not overwhelming but motivating and freeing.  Which of the world’s needs are you meeting?  What is that “still, small voice” suggesting you do?  How are you engaged in transforming culture for God’s Kingdom?  Is this a calling?
  6. Pain.  One of the tests of a calling is whether it costs you something.
  7. Patch-Work Quilt Maker.  Expert entrepreneurs are quilt-makers, according to Saras Sarasvathy.  They create their work with others, who also contribute their ideas.  Creating businesses is a tight-knit communal project.  To use another metaphor, they are business fabricators. In contrast, puzzle-makers are opportunity arbitrageurs.
  8. Building.  The most difficult thing for many people is to stop planning and to start doing.  Specifically, according to Steve Blank, one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is talking with potential customers, suppliers, channel members, investors, etc.  The expert entrepreneurs studied by Saras Sarasvathy immediately created partnerships with customers who even helped finance their business project.
  9. Lemonade.  Expert entrepreneurs leverage contingencies.   Ivory soap and 3M sticky notes were mistakes.  Amway’s founders failed when they attempted to operate hamburger stand, air charter service, and sailing businesses.
  10. Marriage.  It is impossible for two people to do enough due diligence before marriage.  Success in marriage is less about planning and more about adaptation.   Nothing is more valuable than learning and communication.  The phrase for learning and communication in business is rapid iteration.  Failure is not “not an option,” it is a reality.  You are going to make mistakes.  We don’t set out to make mistakes, but we welcome them for learning purposes.
  11. B Student.  Expert entrepreneurs thrive on EI (emotional intelligence).  The Wright Brothers may have been geniuses, but what made them so is that they never quit trying.  Want to get inspired?  Read David McCullough’s biography.

Introducing CECE

Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment

Purpose: To empower people to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.

Strategy: Complementing Trinity programs, we support Interdisciplinary Initiatives, Student Organizations, and Super High-Level Practicum Experiences.

  • Supporting Interdisciplinary Initiatives: E.g., Community Health Initiatives, Student Fundraising Initiatives, Leader and Organization Biographies, Design of CECE’s New Home, etc!
  • Supporting Student Organizations: E.g., E-Club
  • Supporting Super High-Level Practicum Experiences:
    • Troll Scholars Consultants
    • Troll Scholars Interns
    • Troll Scholars Entrepreneurs