Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Operating Leverage


It is a financial thought quite similar to break-even analysis. Both fixed and variable costs are used in the production and marketing of products. The higher the operating leverage, the faster the speed of increase of total profits after the sales crosses the break-even volume. Likewise, those firms with high operational leverage will suffer losses at a faster rate after the sales volume drops under the break-even point.

Organizations with high operating leverage gain more from sales from organizations that have low operating leverage. Organizations with high operating leverage are more responsive to drop in sales volume, losses will occur at a faster speed.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Retail Trends & Strategies


  • Better market positioning: This involves more careful identification of market segments and providing service superior to that of competition.
  • Market intensification: This involves clustering more stores in the same metropolitan area and contiguous markets.
  • Secondary markets: Expansion will be increasingly focused on secondary markets  of under 100,000 population because there may be less competition from larger retailers, and costs, such as wages, may be lower.
  • Differences in store size: Retailers will have a more flexible portfolio of different sized stores depending on the size of the community and existing retail competition. More use of second-hand space will occur because this can result in savings of 30 percent or more in rent.
  • Productivity increases: The application of central checkout, self-selection, and low gross margins to areas of trade where these techniques have not been used before will occur. Look now at toy supermarkets, home-decorating centers, and self-service shoe stores.
  • Fewer product options: Product lines will increasingly be consolidated, and new product development will be cut back.
  • Service growth: Services retailing will continue to grow as a percentage of total retail sales. Services already represent about 50 percent of the gross national product.
  • More mergers: Increasingly, smaller and weaker firms will be absorbed as more retail outlets struggle to survive.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Bureaucratic Management Approach


The roadblock stems from management’s reluctance to push profit and decision-making responsibility on with too many management levels and high-paid support people. The real contributions of most corporate, sector or group level marketing, advertising, manufacturing, planning or R&D activities cannot be to line management responsibilities and too costly to justify their existence. We have not been able to find proven profit contributions that offset the costs involved.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Discounted Cash Flow


It is a useful conception from Discounted Cash Flows that they are future cash flows expressed in terms of their present value. The discounted cash flow technique employs this reasoning by evaluating the present value of a business’s net cash flow (cash inflows minus cash outflows). A simplified view of cash flow is “cash flow from operations,” which is net income plus depreciation charges, because depreciation is a non-cash charge against sales to determine net income. The present value of a stream cash flows is obtained by selecting an interest or discount rate at which these flows are to be valued, or discounted, and the timing of each. The interest or discount rate is often defined by the opportunity cost of capital—the cost of earning opportunities forgone by investing in a business with its attendant risk as opposed to investing in risk free securities

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Talking about Bookkeeping


Everyone knows intuitively, if not experientially, that good bookkeeping is good business. If you don’t keep track of your business’s money matters—what comes in and what goes out—you will be in the dark as to how well or poorly your business is doing, and hence how well or poorly you’re handling certain aspects of the business. After all numbers do not lie. If they indicate that all is well, you’ll be able to capitalize on your success by, if nothing else, continuing to do with confidence whatever you’re doing right. If the numbers reveal that all is not well, you will be able to take appropriate measures to solve problems which if left unchecked could land you in failure zone. Just as with certain physical diseases, early detection means early cure and increased chance of survival. Lastly, it goes without saying that slipshod recordkeeping can cost you time, anxiety and even money when tax time rolls around. In sum, while its understandable that people are inclined to avoid and neglect bookkeeping matters, its fundamentally inexcusable.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Good Pricing Decisions


Pricing decisions draw on many areas of marketing expertise. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape the market, including competitive  interactions, technology and consumer psychology. Sometimes these forces interact and are likely to put downward pressure on prices, such as substitutes, technological advances, price-driven competition, customer experience, and changes in internal focus, such as sales forecasts. Customer makes it difficult to raise prices, as repeat customers’ ability to perceive incremental value of a company’s product or service diminishes over time, especially as substitute or competitive products emerge. Increased internal expectations in the form of expected sales increases or new budgets can send prices on a downward spiral. Customer price sensitivity may also serve  to keep prices in check, especially in the presence of available competitive substitutes or among a company’s marginal customers.

Even in a deflationary economy, there are opportunities for keeping prices from dropping or even for raising prices. However, customers must perceive that these enhancements deliver a genuine, meaningful benefit, or they will continue to seek lower cost alternatives.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Business Financial Strategy


Financial strategy examines the financial implications of corporate and business-level strategic options and identifies the best financial course of action. It can also provide competitive advantage through a lower cost of funds and a flexible ability to raise capital to support a business strategy. Financial strategy usually attempts to maximize the financial value of the firm.

The trade-off between advancing the desired debt-to-equity ratio and relying on internal long-term financing via cash flow is a key issue in financial strategy. Many small and medium-sized companies try to avoid all external sources of funds in order to avoid outside entanglements and to keep control of the company within the family. Many believe that only by financing through long-term debt can a corporation use financial leverage to boost earnings per share, thus raising stock price and the overall value of the company. Higher debt levels not only deter takeover by other firms (by making the company less attractive), but also leads to improved productivity and improved cash flows by forcing management to focus on core businesses.

A very popular financial strategy is the leveraged buy out—a company is acquired in a transaction financed largely by debt—usually obtained from a third party, such as an insurance company or an investment banker. Ultimately the debt is paid with money generated from the acquired company’s operations or by sales of its assets. The acquired company, in effect, pays for its own acquisition. Management of the leveraged buy out is then under tremendous pressure to keep the highly leveraged company profitable. Unfortunately the huge amount of debt on the acquired company’s books may actually cause its eventual decline by focusing management’s attention on short-term matters.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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