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.

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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.

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.

Nourish your Dream Seed


Think some more about your tomato seed. It is an excellent seed, the soil is well prepared, and you have planted it. But to grow and pay off with good-tasting tomatoes, the seed needs nourishment – sunlight, fertilizers, and water.

Your dream seed also requires nutrition – imagination, encouragement, and ideas – to grow and make you prosper. In the US alone, some two million businesses are started each year but only a small fraction succeeds. In one way or another, neglect is the main reason.

Those who make their dream of financial independence and prosperity grow in a multi-level marketing business. The basic idea – the dream seed has all the potential you need. Other people make it work. People who aren’t any smarter or better than you are.

Once the dream is planted, feed it. Attend seminars. Go to school if necessary. Join trade associations. Talk to successful people. Read.

Let other success-minded people help you. Birds of flock together. That rule always stands. So, if you want to make a large income and accumulate wealth, affiliate with people who are comfortable earning large incomes and who are determined to acquire even more net worth. You become like the people you associate with every day. If your circle of friends is people who are resigned to mediocrity and the whatever-will-be-will be philosophy, in time you will be one of them. Your dream will die, your vision will shrink, and your spiritual death will come.

As you grow your dreams, surround yourself with people who are positive. Positive people want you to win, to achieve, to enjoy the good life, to find genuine satisfaction, and to make a contribution to others.

Negative people want you to accept life as it is, to be content with boredom and mediocrity, to be satisfied with a small income, and to miss out on the rewards that come from helping others.

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 Disclosures


Giving stockholders more and better company information is one of the best ways to safeguard their interests. The theory behind the move for greater disclosure of company information is that a stockholder, as an investor, should be as fully informed as possible to make sound investments. By law, stockholders have a right to know about the affairs of the corporation in which they hold ownership shares. Those who attend annual meetings learn about past performance and future goals through speeches made by corporate officers and documents such as the company’s annual report. Those who do not attend meetings must depend primarily on annual reports issued by the company and the opinions of independent financial analysts.

Historically, management has tended to provide stockholders with minimum information. But companies now disclose more about their affairs, in spite of the complicated nature of some information. Stockholders therefore can learn about sales and earnings, assets, capital expenditures and depreciation by line of business, and details of foreign operations.

Corporations also are required to disclose detailed information about directors, how they are chosen, their compensation, conflicts of interest, and their reasons for resigning in policy disputes with management.

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.

Deficit Budget


If you do not earn enough to cover your expenses and show some profit, then you have to consider what to do about it. There are four possibilities:

  1. You can raise your rates, something that, ironically, freelancers seem most reluctant to do, it is the first thing most business owners would think of doing in such a situation, if they possibly could.
  2. You can increase your workload. This is feasible in some fields and not in others. Most editors, for example, cannot learn to edit any faster, and their income is limited by how much they can physically accomplish. On the other hand, you may subcontract, that is, hire someone to work for you and take part of his or her earnings. This works especially well if you can find someone to train who wants to learn you trade. You can also often subcontract with colleagues when they are in slow periods.
  3. You can expand into related kinds of work that pay better or that you can do faster. One editor, learned to do indexing. Fewer people have indexing skills compared to the number who copy-edit, and the hourly rate for indexing is higher than for copy-editing and proofreading.
  4. Finally, you can reduce your expectations. While freelancers can do and earn a healthy living, free-lancing will probably not make you rich. As a general rule, unless rare luck strikes, or you are willing to expand through subcontracting or finding new and more lucrative areas in which to work, your income will probably not soar dramatically. On the other hand, it should rise steadily, and it must keep pace with inflation.

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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