Product Life Cycle


Once the market has emerged and a firm has decided to enter, it must still contend with uncertinities in the products in the market. The marketing literature offers a parallel to the technology life cycle: the product life cycle. A product has four predictable stages with distinctive characteristics, marketing objectives, and strategies. The introduction stage starts when the new product is launched. Sales are low, costs per customer are high, profits are negative, customers are largely lead users, and competitors are few. In the growth stage, sales rise rapidly, costs per customer start to drop, profits start rising, and the number of customers also increases. In the maturity stage, sales peak, costs per customer are low, profits are high, and the number of competitors is stable. In the decline stage, sales start to decline, costs per customer increase, profits arte declining, and the number of compititors is also declining. These characteristics call for specific strategies. For example, in the introduction stage, a firm’s objective is to create product awareness, and product strategy is to offer a basic product. The demand in each market is fulfilled by a seriies of different generations of products, with the first one introduced at the emergence of the market.

 

The main drawback in using the product life cycle to reduce uncertainty is that number of stages and duration of each vary from product to product. It is also difficult to tell when a stage starts and ends. In any case, they provide some regularities to help a firm know when and what to invest in an innovation.

 

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

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Leveraging better Payment Terms


Negotiating better payment terms is always easier if a company has some bargaining chips. The party with the most to lose or the most to gain is always on the defensive; therefore, the secret to successful negotiating is to develop leverage that forces the other party into one or the other of these positions. Other than not meeting payroll, only two conditions might create circumstances more detrimental to a company on the brink of failure than to a creator: (1) being evicted from the building that houses the business, and (2) not receiving critical materials and services to keep the business going.

 

Not much can be done about either situation. A business must be housed, and it must have materials and services to make and sell products. That’s why landlords and critical suppliers top the payment priority list. Some leverage can be achieved, however. Most lessors would rather work out an extended payment arrangement than go to the expense and aggravation of a formal eviction. As long as the renter’s market holds, deferring rent payments for at least several months should be a real possibility. That’s not a permanent solution, but it does provide some breathing space.

 

It might be possible to leverage critical suppliers to gain better terms. The threat to go to a competitor usually brings even the most recalcitrant supplier to terms. In most cases, a supplier has more to lose (the overdue amounts plus legal costs to sue) or gain (future sales) than a debtor company does. At least making suppliers think that’s the case is good negotiating ploy.

 

Assuming that you have taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your personal assets, the worst thing that can happen is that you will be forced to liquidate the business. Granted, this can be a blow to any entrepreneur’s ego. It might also reduce personal income for a while, however, once the liquidation is over, you can always begin again. As long as creditors believe that they have the most to lose, you’re in driver’s seat. The ultimate creditors’ threat is to force the company into bankruptcy. By making it clear that this won’t hurt and that other plans for the future are in the works anyway, such leverage vanishes abruptly.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Impeccable Venture Types


Two concepts that appear to have a major bearing on long-term prosperity of a business are the notion of ‘distinctive competence’ and ‘market share.’

 

A company with larger market share in its particular line of business gets more practice in performing that business than a company with a smaller market share and consequently should be able to develop through that practice a higher level of competence. At the same time, by having a larger market share a company enjoys economies of scale—quantity discounts on purchases, thinner spreading of advertising costs, and justification for greater investment in tooling and automation and for more research and development. Consequently, it has an advantage in lowering unit costs, which in turn can allow it to lower prices and thereby outsell the competition to gain still more market share, and so forth. There are research data that indicate both that more sharply defined competence, often as a result of narrower specialization, leads to greater growth, and that larger market share leads to higher profits.

 

In evaluating prospective venture ideas it therefore makes sense to as, “What will the company’s distinctive competence be?” in other words, what will it be able to do better than other companies can and why? It also makes sense to ask what share of market the company will have as compared to competitors. If it seems likely to have only a very small share of market and competitors enjoy larger shares, then it will need either some major performance improvement such as a significant special innovation or else a lot of financing to increase its share and be able to survive.

 

One ideal approach is to begin early in a new industry. When the industry is small, it should be possible for the new company to obtain a significant share without having to be large to do so. As the industry grows, the company can then grow with it, still maintaining its market share, with consequent high profits. This type of enterprise is ideal not only from the entrepreneur’s point of view, because the company prospers, but also from a funder’s point of view, because rapid growth of the company will create a profitable application for capital to expand the company’s capacity to handle increasing business. Thus to capture a major market share at the opening stage of a new industry is an ideal pattern for a growth-oriented venture.

 

A second ideal type of venture is one that captures a major share of an existing but more mature industry. The major share will generate high profits, but if the industry, because of its maturity, is not growing, then the company will not have to grow in order to maintain its market share. This will mean that it will not need external funder. From a funder’s point of view it is not particularly attractive. But from entrepreneur’s position it is, because the profits will not have to be plowed back but can rather be taken as salary, dividends, and other benefits. The trick, of course, is to capture a major share in an existing industry, and this can be done by choosing a very small industry to start in, by entering through purchase of a going concern that already has a respectable share, or by entering with a strong innovation or other competitive advantage.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Legal Fiction or Economic Reality?


Knowing the cost of your operations, however, is not enough. To compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global market, a company has to know the costs of its entire economic chain and has to work with other members of the chain to manage costs and maximize yield. Companies are therefore beginning to shift from costing only what goes on inside their own organizations to costing the entire economic process, in which even the biggest company is just one link.

The legal entity, the company, is a reality for shareholders, for creditors, for employees, and for tax collectors. But economically, it is fiction. Thirty years ago the Coca Cola Company was a franchisor. Independent bottlers manufactured the product. Now the company owns most of its botling operations in the United States. But Coke drinkers–even those few who know that fact–could not care less. What matters in the marketplace is the economic reality, the costs of the entire process, regardless of who owns what.

Again and again in business history, an unknown company has come from nowhere and in a few short years overtaken the established leaders without apparently even breathing hard. The explanation always given is superior strategy, superior technology, superior marketing, or lean manufacturing. But in every single case, the newcomer also enjoys a tremendous cost advantage, usually about 30 percent. The reason is always the same: the new company knows and manages the costs of the entire economic chain rather than its costs alone.

A powerful force driving companies toward economic chain costing will be the shift from cost-led pricing to price-led costing.

It will be painful for most businesses to switch to economic chain costing. Doing so requires uniform or at least compatible accounting systems at companies along the entire chain. Yet each one does its accounting in its own way, and each is convinced that its system is the only possible one. Moreover, economic-chain costing requires information sharing across companies, yet even within the same company, people tend to resist information sharing. Despite those challenges, companies can find ways to practice economic chain, costing now.

Whatever the obstacles, economic chain costing is going to be done. Otherwise, even the most efficient company will suffer from an increasing cost disadvantage.

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 contact http://www.asifjmir.com

The Drive for Speed


The time culture can impose unrealistic deadlines upon those who are charged with the responsibility for delivering improvements. When a supply chain is involved, the single company may be no more able to achieve a tangible impact upon the external environment than it can deliver all the value that is sought by a final customer. When others are involved, there is likely to be bargaining and negotiation.

Environmental initiatives should not result in the pressure for speed or response driving out the lonh-term thinking that is required. Assuming results are required, these might best be achieved as a result of flexibility within the framework of a longer-term relationship.

Today’s craze can be tomorrow’s memory. Too many managers assume that trends will continue longer than subsequently turns out to be the case. With many environmental and social policies taking taking many years to have a significant impact, companies face a dilemma similar to that encountered by those seeking to change attitudes and behavior. By the time the outcomes initially sought have been achieved, the requirement may have changed. Will there be a backlash when people count the costs? Will they become bored? Will certain lobbies go the way of the skateboard as possible become more aware of the lack of achievement in relation to fundamental problems?

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 contact Asif J. Mir.

Supply Chain Management


That’s about all parties directly or indirectly involved in fulfilling a customer request is said to be performing under supply chain management. It not only includes the manufacturer and suppliers, but also transporters, warehouses, retailers, and customers. It includes all manufacturing functions involved in receiving and fulfilling a customer request. they include new product development, marketing, operations, distribution, finance, and customer service. Supply chain is dynamic and involves the constant flow of information, product, and funds between different stages. This implies that customer is an integral part of the supply chain. The primary purpose for the existence of any supply chain is to satisfy customer needs, in the process and thus generating profits. Supply chain activities begin with a customer order and end when a satisfied customer has paid for his/her purchase. it thus enwraps images of product or supply moving from suppliers to manufacturers to distributors to retailers to customers along a chain. The planning for supply chain involves expert planning and putting together many aspects of functions, process and operations. My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations, makes them relevant, and suggests solutions for succes. For details please contact Asif J. Mir