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.

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.

Corporate Governance


Corporate governance refers to the overall control of a company’s actions. Several key stakeholder groups are involved in governing the corporation.

  • Managers occupy a strategic position because of their knowledge and day-to-day decision making.
  • The board of directors exercises formal legal authority over company policy.
  • Stockholders, whether individuals or institutions, have a vital stake in the company.
  • Employees, particularly those represented by unions or who own stock in the company, can affect some policies.
  • Government is involved through the laws and regulations.
  • Creditors who hold corporate debt may also influence a company’s policies.

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.

Just About Money


Strictly defined, money is anything generally accepted in exchange for goods and services. To be used as a medium of exchange, money must be acceptable, divisible, portable, stable in value, durable, and difficult to counterfeit.

Acceptability: To be effective, money must be readily acceptable for the purchase of goods and services and for the settlement of debts. Acceptability is probably the most important characteristic of money: If people do not trust the value of money, businesses will not accept it as a payment for goods and services, and consumers will have to find some other means of paying for their purchases.

Divisibility: Given the widespread use of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in the United States, it is no surprise that the principle of divisibility is an important one. With barter, the lack of divisibility often makes otherwise preferable trades impossible, as would be an attempt to trade a steer for a loaf of bread. For money to serve effectively as a measure of value, all items must be valued in terms of comparable units—dimes, for a piece of bubble gum, quarters for laundry machines, and dollars (or dollars and coins) for everything else.

Portability: Clearly, for money to function as a medium of exchange, it must be easily moved from one location to the next. Large colored rocks could be used as money, but you couldn’t carry them around in your wallet. Paper currency and metal coins, on the other hand, are capable of transferring vast purchasing power into small, easily carried bundles.

Stability: Money must be stable and maintain its declared face value. The principle of stability allows people who wish to postpone purchases and save their money to do so without fear that it will decline in value. Money declines its value during periods of inflation, when economic conditions cause prices to rise. Thus, the same amount of money buys fewer and fewer goods and services.

Durability: Money must be durable. The crisp new dollar bills you trade at the music store for the hottest new CD will make their way all around town for about 18 months before being replaced. Were the value of an old, faded bill to fall to line with the deterioration of its appearance, the principles of stability and universal acceptability would fail. Although metal coins, due to their much longer useful life, would appear to be an ideal form of money, paper currency is far more portable than metal because of its light weight. Today, coins are used primarily to provide divisibility.

Difficulty to Counterfeit: To remain stable and enjoy universal acceptance, it almost goes without saying that money must be very difficult to counterfeit—that is, to duplicate illegally. Every country takes steps to make counterfeiting difficult. Most use multicolored money, and many use specially watermarked papers that are virtually impossible to duplicate.

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.

Inflation and Disinflation


Fiscal policy is related to inflation, which occurs when the prices of goods and services rise steadily throughout the economy. Although many factors (such as increases in the prices of imported goods) contribute to inflation, government borrowing is major factor. When the government borrows great sums of money to bolster the economy, the total amount of money circulating tends to increase. With more money chasing the same quantity of goods and services, inflation increases too.

Theoretically, the government is supposed to pay back its debt during inflationary times, thereby taking some of the excess money out of the economy and slowing inflation to moderate level. This system worked throughout 1950s and 1960s, but during the 1970s, inflation kept building. By the end of the decade, prices were increasing by almost 14 percent a year.

Inflation of this magnitude brings an unproductive mind-set. People become motivated to buy “before the prices goes up,” even if they have to borrow money to do it. With greater competition for available money, interest rates increase to a level that makes business borrowing riskier and business expansion slower. Businesses and individuals alike begin spending on short-term items instead of investing in things like new factories and children’s education, which are more valuable to the nation’s economy in the long run.

Because of the peculiar psychology that accompanies high inflation, slowing it has always been difficult. In addition, the causes of inflation are complex, and the remedies can be painful. Nevertheless, several factors conspired to bring about a period of disinflation, a moderation in the inflation rate, during the 1980s.

Whether inflation will remain under control is debatable. The country is still vulnerable to outside shock. Bad weather could jack up food prices, and political upheavals could limit the supply and boost the price of vital raw materials. Also, government efforts to stimulate the economy could rekindle inflation. When the economy slumps, the government is inclined to increase the money supply, which tends to drive prices up.

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.

Law in Business


A person who is involved in business is also involved in the law concerning business. Making contracts and using negotiable instruments—both of which are legal concepts—are the essence of business. Business and law were closely associated even when there were few lawyers and business managers spent relatively little time with them. The growing importance of law in business, however, is shown by the rapid increase in the use of lawyers by people in business. In recent years, the number of corporate counsel, the full-time lawyers who are employed by corporations; has been growing faster than the number in any other category of attorneys. Law firms that serve primarily business people have also been expanding at a great rate. Even the smallest businesses turn to lawyers frequently.

In the past quarter century there has been a qualitative as well as a quantitative change in the concern of business managers with law. In earlier times, business managers generally employed lawyers only in emergencies. A lawyer might be engaged if a summons to appear in court was received, if a businessperson could not collect a debt that was due, or if a supplier’s goods were defective and no settlement could be reached. Lawyers are still sought out when such things happen today. However, more and more, business managers employ lawyers to help them plan to avoid such emergencies and comply with a rapidly growing mass of legal rules imposed on business operations by government bodies. This use of lawyers by business people is called preventive law.

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.

Intuitive Leadership and Sound Business


Intuitive Leadership is a term that has come into vogue only recently. In fact, tough-minded male executives have confessed to using intuition in their decision-making. Intuitive leadership is more than simply old-style leadership with some intuition added in to guide the corporate decision. It is leadership that takes into account both (a) the executives’ appreciation of their inner resources that are available but often not used and (b) the changes in institutions and society that are accompanying the “awakening” of employees and the public at large. The term “awakening” is used to describe the general phenomenon whereby people are becoming aware that they no longer have to accept their adopted beliefs, beliefs that they developed or accepted throughout most of their lives. These beliefs can include belief in the inderiority of certain ethnic or gender groups, beliefs in the sacrosanctity of economic customs and business practices (even if they are demonstrably not good for people or the planet), belief in powerlessness before the “big system,” or belief in the limited extent of one’s own ability to create what one wants.

In view of these changes, what is sound business for the future? What do these changes mean to business people? Of one thing we can be sure: business life will be replete with challenges. Some of these challenges will stem from the global dilemmas, with growing recognition of the role business has unwittingly played in accelerating modern society’s race towards self-destruction. Some of these challenges will stem from the changing attitudes of employees and the general public—the customers. The new environment for business will emphasize innovation and will be highly competitive. To prosper in such an environment, a business firm will need to attract and hold its most creative people. To do that, businesses will have to provide a work environment that fosters creativity development.

Developing intuitive leadership in the future will not be a luxury or a passing fad; it will be the heart of business. The challenges will be great. It will be necessary to deal effectively with the increasing complexity, interconnectedness, and systematic nature of the economic system. There is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that there will be persistent problems of mediocrity, debt, trade balance, global dilemmas, and worker morale. The good news is that we have inner resources we haven’t been using—untapped resources that are quite capable of dealing with these problems.

Thus “intuition” is not just a new gimmick in management decision making. Intuition is a code word for a necessary transformation of business—indeed, of global society.

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

Release of Free Cash Flow


The project entry typically has a finite life. Its dividend policy is usually specified contractually at the time any outside equity financing is arranged. Cash flow not needed to cover operating expenses, pay debt service, or make capital improvements—so-called free cash flow—must normally be distributed to the project’s equity investors. Thus, the equity investors, rather than professional managers, get to decide how the project’s free cash flow will be reinvested.

 When project is financed on a company’s general credit, the project’s assets become part of the company’s asset portfolio. Free cash flow from the project augments the company’s internal cash resources. This free cash flow is retained or distributed to the company’s shareholders at the discretion of the company’s board of directors.

 Project financing eliminates the element of discretion. Investors may prefer to have the project company distribute the free cash flow, allowing them to invest it as they choose. Reducing the risk that the free cash flow might be retained and invested without the project’s equity investors’ approval should reduce the cost of equity capital to the project.

 The sponsor is not necessarily placed at a disadvantage under this arrangement. If the sponsor is considering additional projects that it believes are profitable, it can negotiate funding for these projects with outside equity investors. If they agree to fund any of these additional investments within the project entity, the dividend requirement can be waived by mutual agreement and the funds invested accordingly.

 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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