Designing Strategies


Corporate strategy shows how a complex organization achieves its mission, while the business strategy shows how each business within the corporation contributes to the corporate strategy. These strategies typically include decisions about shared values and beliefs; industries to work in; amount of diversification; businesses to start, acquire, close or sell; type of products to make; organizational structure; relations with customers, suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders; geographical locations, and targets for long-term profitability, productivity, market share, etc.

Consider three factors while designing strategies:

  1. The mission, which gives the overall aims and context for other decisions.
  2. The business environment, which includes all factors that affect an organization but which it cannot control, such as:
    1. Customers—their expectations and attitudes;
    2. Market—size, location, and stability;
    3. Competitors—the number, ease of entry to the market, their strengths;
    4. Technology—currently available and likely developments;
    5. Shareholders—their objectives, returns on investment, profit levels;
    6. Other stakeholders—their objectives and amount of support;
    7. Legal restraints—trade restrictions, liability and employment laws;
    8. Political, economic and social conditions—including stability, rate of growth, inflation, etc.

The business environment is similar for all competing organizations, so to be successful you need a distinctive competence.

  1. The distinctive competence, which includes the factors that set your organization apart from the competitors. If you can design new products very quickly, innovation is a part of your distinctive competence. A distinctive competence comes from your organization’s assets, which include:
    1. Customers—their demands, loyalty;
    2. Employees—skills, expertise, loyalty;
    3. Finances—capital, debt, cash flow;
    4. Products—quality, reputation, innovations;
    5. Facilities—capacity, age, value;
    6. Technology—currently used, planned;
    7. Suppliers—reliability, service;
    8. Marketing—experience, reputation;
    9. Resources—patents, ownership.

The strategic plans show how the organization can achieve the mission.

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.

Designing Strategies


Corporate strategy shows how a complex organization achieves its mission, while the business strategy shows how each business within the corporation contributes to the corporate strategy. These strategies typically include decisions about shared values and beliefs; industries to work in; amount of diversification; businesses to start, acquire, close or sell; type of products to make; organizational structure; relations with customers, suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders; geographical locations, and targets for long-term profitability, productivity, market share, etc.

Consider three factors while designing strategies:

  1. The mission, which gives the overall aims and context for other decisions.
  2. The business environment, which includes all factors that affect an organization but which it cannot control, such as:
    1. Customers—their expectations and attitudes;
    2. Market—size, location, and stability;
    3. Competitors—the number, ease of entry to the market, their strengths;
    4. Technology—currently available and likely developments;
    5. Shareholders—their objectives, returns on investment, profit levels;
    6. Other stakeholders—their objectives and amount of support;
    7. Legal restraints—trade restrictions, liability and employment laws;
    8. Political, economic and social conditions—including stability, rate of growth, inflation, etc.

The business environment is similar for all competing organizations, so to be successful you need a distinctive competence.

  1. The distinctive competence, which includes the factors that set your organization apart from the competitors. If you can design new products very quickly, innovation is a part of your distinctive competence. A distinctive competence comes from your organization’s assets, which include:
    1. Customers—their demands, loyalty;
    2. Employees—skills, expertise, loyalty;
    3. Finances—capital, debt, cash flow;
    4. Products—quality, reputation, innovations;
    5. Facilities—capacity, age, value;
    6. Technology—currently used, planned;
    7. Suppliers—reliability, service;
    8. Marketing—experience, reputation;
    9. Resources—patents, ownership.

The strategic plans show how the organization can achieve the mission.

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.

Disadvantages of Sole Proprietorship


What may be seen as an advantage by one person may turn out to be a disadvantage to another. The goals and talents of the individual owner are the deciding factors. For profitable businesses managed by capable owners, many of the following factors do not cause problems. On the other hand, proprietors starting out with little management experience and little money are likely to encounter many of the disadvantages.

  1. Unlimited Liability: The sole proprietor has unlimited liability in meeting the debts of the business. In other words, if the business cannot pay its creditors, the owner may be forced to use personal, non-business holdings such as a car or a home to pay off the debts. The more wealth an individual has, the greater is the advantage of unlimited liability.
  2. Limited Sources of Funds: Among the relatively few sources of money available to the sole proprietorship are a bank, friends, family, or his or her own funds. The owner’s personal financial condition, then, determines his or her credit standing. Often the only way a sole proprietor can borrow for business purposes is to pledge a car, a house, or other real estate, or other personal assets to guarantee the loan. And if the business fails, the owner may lose the personal assets as well as the business. Publically owned corporations, in contrast, can not only obtain funds from commercial banks but can sell stocks and bonds to the public to raise money. If a public company goes out of business, the owners do not lose personal assets.
  3. Limited Skills: The role proprietor must be able to perform many functions and possess skills in diverse fields such as management, marketing, finance, accounting, bookkeeping, and personnel. Although the owner can rely on specialized professionals to provide advice, he or she must make the final decision in each of these areas.
  4. Lack of Continuity: The life expectancy of a sole proprietorship is directly related to that of the owner and his or her ability to work. The serious illness of the owner could result in failure if competent help cannot be found.
  5. Lack of qualified Employees: It is usually difficult for a small sole proprietorship to match the wages and benefits offered by a large competing corporation because the proprietorship’s level of profits may not be as high. In addition, there is little room for advancement within a sole proprietorship, so the owner may have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified employees.
  6. Taxation: Although it is considered that taxation is an advantage for sole proprietorships, it can also be a disadvantage, depending on the proprietor’s income. Under current tax rates, sole proprietors pay a higher marginal tax rate than do small corporations. The tax often determines whether a sole proprietor chooses to incorporate his or her 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.

The Most Important Personal Asset


Obviously the real answer is common sense. But if you don’t have it already, you probably never will, and there’s nothing I can say here that’s going to change that.

Common sense aside, then, the most important asset in business is a sense of humor, an ability to laugh at yourself or the situation.

Laughter is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business tension, and you want to be the one who controls it. If you can point out what is humorous or absurd about a situation or confrontation, can diffuse the tension by getting the other party to share your feeling, you will be guaranteed the upper hand. There are very few absolutes in business. This is one of them, and it will never fail.

A sense of humor creates one of the most favorable long-term impressions. A single humorous, self-effacing comment can immediately let someone know that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and that is the sort of thing that people remember.

It is also the best way to start a meeting. You don’t need to have them rolling in the aisles, but a mildly pleasant remark at the outset will create the right atmosphere for everything that follows. Humor is what brings back perspective, which, next to profits, is the easiest thing to lose in 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.

Thinking Before Signing a Franchise Agreement


A franchise agreement is a legally binding contract that defines the relationship between the franchise and the franchiser. Because the Agreement is drawn up by the franchiser, the terms and conditions generally favor the franchiser. You don’t necessarily have to agree to everything on the first go-round. Maybe you can negotiate a better deal. Before signing the franchise agreement, be sure consult an attorney. Here are some tips you must consider before signing the agreement:

  1. Are your legal responsibilities as a franchisee clear? Are your family members similarly obligated?
  2. Who is responsible for selecting the location of your business?
  3. Is the name or trademark of your franchise legally protected? Can the franchiser change or modify the trademark without consulting you?
  4. Has the franchiser made any oral promises that are not reflected in the written franchise agreement?
  5. What are your renewal rights? What conditions must you meet to renew your agreement?
  6. Do you have exclusive rights to a given territory or could the franchiser sell to additional franchisees who would become your competitors?
  7. Under what terms are you allowed or required to terminate the franchise agreement? What becomes of the lease and assets if the agreement is terminated? Are you barred from opening a similar business?
  8. Under what terms and conditions are you permitted or required to sell some or all of your interests in the franchise?
  9. Are you required to buy supplies from the franchiser or other specified suppliers? Under what circumstances can you choose your own suppliers?
  10. Has your attorney studied the written franchise agreement? Does it conform to the requirements of Government rules?

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.

Codes of Ethics for Financial Executives


Financial Executives International (FEI) recommends that all senior financial professionals adhere to a strong ethical code of conduct, sign it annually, and deliver it to their company’s board of directors. Fr many years, members of FEI have signed such a code, in an effort to commit to its principles. Senior financial officers hold an important and elevated role in corporate governance. As members of the various management teams, they are uniquely capable and empowered to ensure that all stakeholders’ interests are appropriately balanced, protected, and preserved.

FEI’s code provides principles to which members are expected to adhere to and to advocate. It embodies rules regarding individual and peer responsibilities, as well as, responsibilities to employers, the public, and other stakeholders. Violations of EFI’s Code of Ethics may subject the member to ensure, suspension or expulsion under procedural rules adopted by FEI’s Board of Directors. The code states that all members of FEI will:

  1. Act with honesty and integrity, avoiding actual or apparent conflicts of interest in personal and professional relationships.
  2. Provide constituents with information that is accurate, complete, objective, relevant, timely, and understandable.
  3. Comply with applicable rules and regulations of federal, state, provincial, and local governments, and other appropriate private and public regulatory agencies.
  4. Act in good faith, responsibly, with due care, competence and diligence, without misrepresenting material facts or allowing one’s independent judgment to be substantiated.
  5. Respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of one’s work except when authorized or otherwise legally obligated to disclose. Confidential information acquired in the course of one’s work will not be used for personal advantage.
  6. Share knowledge and maintain skills important and relevant to constituents’ needs.
  7. Proactively promote ethical behavior as a responsible partner among peers, in the work environment and the community.
  8. Achieve responsible use of and control over all assets and resources employed or entrusted.
  9. Report known or suspected violations of this Code in accordance with the FE Rules of Procedure.
  10. Be accountable for adhering to the Code.

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.

Company Objectives


Objectives, the ends or results desired by the organization, derive from the organization’s mission, which describes its fundamental purpose and basic philosophy. A business’s objectives may be elaborate or simple. Common objectives relate to profit, competitive advantage, efficiency, and growth. Organizations with profit as a goal want to have money and assets left over after paying off business expenses.

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.

Mergers and Acquisitions


Regardless of what form a business takes—be it a sole proprietorship, partnership, or a corporation—the chances are reasonably good that its form will evolve over time. Companies of all sizes and types achieve a variety of objectives by merging, dividing, and restructuring. The terms most often used to describe all of this activity are mergers, acquisitions, and leveraged buyouts. The difference between a merger and an acquisition is fairly technical, having to do with how the financial transaction is structured. Basically, in a merger, two or more companies combine to create a new company by pooling their interests. In an acquisition, one company buys another company (or parts of another company) and emerges as the controlling corporation. The flip side of an acquisition is a divestiture, in which one company sells a portion of its business to another company. In leveraged buyouts one or more individuals purchase the company (or a division of the company) with borrowed funds, using the assets of the company they’re buying to secure (or guarantee repayment of) the loan. The loans are then repaid out of the company’s earnings, through the sale of assets, or with stock. Leveraged buyouts do not always work.

Mergers and acquisitions represent relatively radical ways in which companies are combined. On a more modest scale, businesses often join forces in alliances to accomplish specific purpose. In a joint venture, two or more companies combine forces to work on a project. The joint venture may be dissolved fairly quickly if the project is limited in scope, or it may endure for many years.

A consortium is similar to a joint venture, but it involves the combined efforts of several companies. Cooperatives also serve as a vehicle for joint activities. In a cooperative, a group of people or small companies with common goals work collectively to obtain greater bargaining power and to benefit from economies of scale. Like large companies, these cooperatives can buy and sell things in quantity; but instead of distributing a share of the profits to stockholders, cooperatives divide all profits among their members.

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.

Identifying Company Weaknesses and Resource Deficiencies


A weakness is something a company lacks or does poorly or a condition that puts it at a disadvantage. A company’s internal weaknesses can relate to a) deficiencies in competitively important skills or expertise, b) a lack of competitively important physical, human, organizational, or intangible assets, or c) missing or weak competitive capabilities in key areas. Internal weaknesses are thus shortcomings in a company’s compliment of resources. A weakness may or may not make a company competitively vulnerable, depending on how much the weakness matters in the market place and whether it can be overcome by the resources and strengths in the company’s possession.

Sizing up a company’s resource capabilities and deficiencies is akin to constructing a strategic balance sheet where resource strengths represent competitive assets and resource weaknesses represent competitive liabilities. Obviously, the ideal condition is for the company’s strengths/competitive assets to outweigh its weaknesses/competitive liabilities by an ample margin—50-50 balance is definitely not the desired condition.

Once managers identify a company’s resource strengths and weaknesses, the two compilations need to be carefully evaluated for their competitive and strategy-making implications. Some strengths are more competitively important than others because they matter more in forming a powerful strategy, in contributing to a strong market position, and in determining profitability. Likewise, some weaknesses can prove fatal if not remedied, while others are inconsequential, easily corrected, or offset by company strengths. A company’s resource weaknesses suggest a need to review its resource base: What existing resource deficiencies need to be remedied? Does the company have important resource gaps that need to be filled? What needs to be done to augment the company’s future resource base?

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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