Entrepreneur


Most businesses start as a dream in somebody’s mind. An entrepreneur is a person with an idea. He or she also is someone with the energy and drive to turn that idea into a business. An entrepreneur needs these characteristics because in a young firm he or she must often do everything at once—manufacture the product, sell it, find enough money to keep going, and manage few employees.

The entrepreneur must be willing to take great risks, too, for most new businesses fail within a year. The odds against success are stiff, partly because many business ideas simply are not very good. After all, whoever wanted to buy paper dresses or quadraphonic sound. Factors that create special risks for new businesses are those over which entrepreneurs have little control. Also, technology has become highly complex and many new products—a filter to remove the salt from sea water, for example, require many years and teams of scientists and engineers to develop. Then, too, a vast array of government regulations creates additional burdens of time, energy, and expenses for owners of new businesses.

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.

Elements of Public Policy


The governmental action of any nation can be understood in terms of several basic elements of public policy. Many factors, or inputs, influence the development of public policy. Government may determine its course of action on the basis of economic or foreign policy concerns, domestic political pressure from constituents and interest groups, technical information, and ideas that have emerged in national politics. Public policy also may be influenced by technical studies of complex issues such as taxation or the development of new technologies such as fiber optic electronics. All of these inputs can help shape what the government chooses to do and how it chooses to do it.

Public policy goals can be noble and high-minded or narrow and self-serving. National values, such as freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity for citizens to share in economic prosperity—that is, high-minded public policy goals—have led to the adoption of civil rights laws assistance programs for those in need. Narrow, self-serving goals are more evident when nations decide how tax legislation will allocate the burden of taxes among various interests and income groups. Public policy goals may vary widely, but it is always important to inquire: what public goals are being served by this action?

Governments use different public policy tools, or instruments, to achieve their policy goals. In general, the instruments of public policy are those combinations of incentives and penalties that government uses to prompt citizens, including businesses, to act in ways that achieve policy goals. Governmental regulatory powers are broad and constitute one of the most formidable instruments for accomplishing public purposes.

Public policy actions always have effects. Some are intended, others are unintended. Because public policies affect many people, organizations, and other interests, it is almost inevitable that such actions will please some and displease others. Regulations may cause businesses to improve the way toxic substances are used in the workplace, thus reducing health risks to employees. Yet it is possible that other goals may be obstructed as an unintended effect of compliance with such regulations.

In assessing any public policy, it is important for managers to develop answers to four questions:

  • What inputs will affect the public policy?
  • What goals are to be achieved?
  • What instruments are being used to achieve goals?
  • What effects, intended and unintended, are likely to occur?

The answers to these questions provide a foundation for understanding how any nation’s public policy actions will affect the economy and business sector.

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.

Organizational Capabilities


If an innovation is radical in the organizational sense, incumbents have two problems in exploiting it. In the first place, since the change is competence destroying, they do not have the capabilities to exploit it. In the second place, and perhaps more important, the firm’s existing capabilities may not only be useless, they may actually be a handicap to the introduction and development of the innovation. Firms find it difficult to break their habits, the routines and procedures they had put in place to exploit the old technology. They must unlearn the old ways of doing things. New entrants, on the other hand, do not have the burden of the old technology and can go on unencumbered to build capabilities for the innovation and exploit it.

If, on the other hand, the innovation is incremental, incumbents tend to dominate since the required knowledge builds on what they already have, but new entrants would have to build it from scratch.

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.

Expanding into New Functions


A common difficulty for entrepreneurs during the growth of their business is expanding into another distinctive business function. When we read or hear about outstanding entrepreneurs we see the exponential portion of their record. The long, slow foundation building is not interesting to the investment community or the media. But the truth is there was a long period of solid building within one distinctive business function.

A new business or a young business can barely support the management, administration, and marketing it has to have to operate in one distinctive function. Different business functions require different handling in each of these areas. This imposes an additional nonproductive burden on an already overburdened revenue-generating segment of the business.

Successful entrepreneurs start the smallest possible viable business concept and concentrate on it until it works very well. They get to know more and more about their little business until they know more about it than anyone else. They become the expert about their business.

When discussing the entrepreneur’s career path they perceive growth opportunities. At this point it is very easy for them to conclude that having made this business work they can make any business work. They frequently see green pastures on the other side of the fence. The successful entrepreneurs develop and refine a business concept for the growth they will undertake. They then expand their little business. They don’t leap after someone else’s headaches. They build on their own experience and expertise.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Realigning the Organization


Organization or reorganization schemes have been proposed ad nauseam as solutions to many business problems. As a general rule, organizational changes, especially those that simply reshuffle the same names into different boxes on the organization chart, don’t improve anything. This does not mean suggesting some new organization approach that is better suited for these turbulent times. However, many organizations are too top-heavy, over-structured, and over-satisfied to be responsive to market needs and too costly to be competitive. The structure and staffing of any organization must be rigorously challenged to ensure it is really geared to accomplish the fundamental objectives of the business in as cost-effective a manner as possible. An honest evaluation of the answers to the following critical questions will provide a good function for action.

a)        Is the organization structured to serve markets or simply to manage functions and sell products? Have priority markets been identified? Does someone have primary responsibility for ensuring that the product/service package is tailored to each target market? Do mechanisms exist to ensure cross-markets? Is there any kind of a market focus in the selling organization?

b)        Are there enough discrete profit centers? Do enough managers feel the burden of full profit responsibility? Is the business unit larger than its most successful smaller competitors? Are there any big cost centers that are not assigned or allocated to someone who has a profit and loss responsibility?

c)        Are there corporate group or division staff redundancies? Do the same titles exist at different levels (e.g., corporate controller, group controller, division controller, plant controller)? If so, does it make sense? Can staff position or groups show how they actively contribute to profit results? If so, do line managers agree that these functions are worth the cost?

d)        Are there too many layers? Are there more than five layers between the business unit manager and first level workers? Are there managers with assignments limited to managing one, two, three or four people? Why? Can any of these activities be combined under one manager? Why not?

e)        Is the ratio of supporters to actual results producers satisfactory? How many people actually make a direct contribution to results (e.g., first-line sales personnel, direct hourly workers, sales order engineering and order entry workers, handlers of incoming materials, and storing and shipping personnel)? How many managers, staff, and support personnel are cheering them on? If there is more than one support person for every two producers, what do they do? How do they contribute to profits?

The questions are not new, but the answers are more important now than ever. Traditional or experience-based answers are probably wrong because conditions have changed so dramatically. Moreover, it is doubtful whether existing management can or will ever come up with the right answers, because they have vested interests and the changes needed are simply too tough for them to swallow. These organization structure questions are not as serious for many small to medium-size companies since they are not as likely to be troubled with highly structured, functionally focused organizations lacking a dedicated market orientation. However, even managers in these companies must constantly fight the natural tendency to become more structured, bureaucratic, and lethargic.

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, Line of Sight

The Blue-sky Laws


Government regulation and intervention is very pervasive in our daily lives, especially in business activities. That intervention is both supportive and restrictive. Also, it is constantly changing. The intent of government is generally to provide justice, orderliness, and fairness. A realistic observer may also perceive a governmental desire to play Robin Hood. Some entrepreneurs will find themselves the objects of Robin’s beneficence. Most owner-managers see too much of his ever-present Merry Men.

Entrepreneurs usually don’t concern themselves much with the creation and enforcement of government regulations. Being realistic, they just want to know the rules. They ask how it works and then go on about the business of building their enterprise. Because entrepreneurs need all the help they can get, they will use the rules and regulations that can in any way help the business. If the rules are not helpful they will avoid getting into a position where the rules interfere with the progress of the business. The problem for entrepreneurs is that the regulatory bureaucracy is so massive and complex that they have trouble understanding the rules.

The specialists who devote their professional lives to understanding rules and providing guidance to the rest of us must concentrate on a small segment of the rules to be able to keep up with the changes and the latest nuances in interpretation. This results in the need for many specialists. Despite the burden on time and financial resources, however, it is most prudent to obtain sufficient advice and guidance at least to avoid the wrath and interference of the regulators.

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, Line of Sight

Marketing Decision-making and Case Analysis


Skill in decision-making is a prerequisite to being an effective marketing manager. Indeed, Nobel laureate Herbert Simon viewed managing and decision-making as being one and the same. Another management theorist, Peter Drucker, has said that the burden of decision-making can be lessened and better decisions can result if a manager recognizes that decision-making is a rational and systematic process and that its organization is a definite sequence of steps, each of them in turn rational and systematic.

 Just as decision-making and managing can be viewed as being identical in scope, so the decision-making process and case analysis go hand in hand. For this reason, many companies today use case studies when interviewing an applicant to assess his or her decision-making skill. They have found that the applicant’s approach to the case demonstrates strategic thinking, analytical ability and judgment, along with a variety of communication skills, including listening, questioning, and dealing with confrontation.

 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, Line of Sight