Suggested BDA Meeting Format
This document contains suggested guidelines for the format of a BDA meeting. The
format may vary, depending upon the group conscience of its members, using D.A.’s
Fourth Tradition as a guide. The Fourth Tradition states that “each group should be
autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or D.A. as a whole” and therefore
this format is suggestive only.
Many groups choose to open their meetings with a prayer such as the Serenity Prayer or
with a few moments of silent meditation.
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change
the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.
Usually the Chairperson, Secretary, or another trusted servant starts the meeting,
welcomes everyone, and then introduces himself or herself by saying, “Hello. My name is
______________(first name only) and I am a compulsive debtor and business owner.
Welcome to the _____________ (name of group) Meeting of Business Debtors
Some groups ask all members to go around and introduce themselves by first name.
At this point meetings usually read information about BDA:
Business Debtors Anonymous (BDA) is a distinct and dynamic–but not separate–part of
D.A. created to focus on the recovery of members of the fellowship who are business
owners. Together, members of BDA support one another in applying the D.A. principles
and tools when owning and running a business. BDA is a part of Debtors Anonymous, a spiritual
program based on the Twelve Steps as adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous.
Some groups pass around and read aloud the D.A. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The following additional tools for Business Debtors Anonymous are read by the person
who is leading.
Additional Tools for Business Debtors Anonymous
1. We keep separate professional and personal financial records and bank accounts.
2. We write annual one-year business plans with definable and accountable goals and
3. We keep clean, orderly and accurate financial records, including Accounts
Receivable, Accounts Payable, Cash on Hand, Inventory, Assets, and Outstanding
Debts, and put all tax and bill due dates on our calendar.
4. We pay ourselves a salary including benefits, medical insurance, vacations and sick
5. We remain mindful that dollars spent should generate revenue and compare prices
before making purchases.
6. We maintain clarity about the overhead and profit margins of every product or
service we sell.
7. We pay our bills and invoice our clients promptly.
8. We put all our business agreements in writing and write our own Letters of
9. We notice the competition but don’t worry about it. We learn from our competitors
and trust that it is an abundant universe with more than enough for everyone.
10. We detach from difficult personalities and poor paying clients and put principles
11. We bookend before and after making commitments and difficult business decisions
12. We are willing to be in charge and responsible for our business. Professionals such
as accountants, lawyers and consultants who work for us are not our higher power.
After the readings, announcements of any special rules, such as no smoking or eating,
will often be made.
At this point, groups will ask newcomers to the program and the meeting to introduce
themselves by first name only so that they can be especially welcomed.
The Chairperson, Secretary or another trusted servant will read “Getting Started.”
4. Getting Started
Based on experience BDA recommends the following actions be taken toward recovery
from incurring debt in business.
1. Stop incurring unsecured business debt one day at a time.
2. Attend meetings regularly.
3. Get phone numbers from other members. Call with questions and for support.
4. Get a sponsor and start working the Twelve Steps. A sponsor is someone with more
experience in working the Twelve Steps, and who has been practicing the principles of the
BDA program in their personal or business life.
5. Begin keeping your numbers. Regularly record your expenses and income. It is
suggested that your income and expenses covering at least one month be brought to
your first Pressure Relief Group (PRG).
. Get a Pressure Relief Group. Many of us come into the rooms of BDA with serious
financial pressures from which we have had little or no relief such as unpaid bills,
creditors and unpaid taxes. A Pressure Relief Group is comprised of two people with
experience in working the Steps who can offer hope, possible options for relief, and
solutions based on their experience.
Some meetings focus specifically on the issues of a newcomer in the BDA program.
Although the format for such a meeting can vary, we find it helpful to expose newcomers
to the Steps and Tools of the DA program.
5. Seventh Tradition
The Treasurer will make the following announcement in accordance with D.A.’s Seventh
Tradition: “Every D.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside
Announcements from the meeting’s trusted servants and participating members can be
made at any time during or after the sharing, depending on the group’s conscience and
the timing of the meeting.
The Literature Chairperson will announce the availability of meeting lists and literature
(which some groups offer free to newcomers).
The Secretary encourages newcomers to speak to other members and exchange phone
numbers before leaving the meeting.
Some groups ask if any members are celebrating an anniversary in BDA or other special
occasions (such as 90 days of not incurring unsecured debt one day at a time). In
addition, some groups encourage beginners to share the number of days they have of not
incurring unsecured debt, until 90 days are reached.
At this point a speaker is introduced and asked to share his or her experience, strength,
and hope with the group. This usually involves explaining what happened before the
speaker came to BDA, how the speaker found BDA, and what it has been like since
coming to BDA.
The length of the speaker’s sharing depends on the meeting format. At designated
speaker meetings, the speaker may have a half hour or more, while at discussion
meetings he or she may have perhaps ten or fifteen minutes.
At discussion or topic meetings, when the speaker is finished, the meeting is then open for
sharing from the group. Sharing is generally by show of hands and the speaker calls on
people. Other practices include round robin (going around the room) or each person
calling on another when finished (tag).
In BDA we do not engage in cross-talk (members interrupting or directly addressing
another sharer). In some speaker meetings, sharing by the speaker is followed by a
question and answer period.
9. Closing Statement
The Chairperson or Secretary of the meeting will normally thank the speaker.
Many meetings close with a reading of the Twelve Promises of DA followed by group
members joining hands and saying a prayer.