Sole Proprietorships


Sole proprietorships, businesses owned and operated by one individual, are the most common form of business organization. Sole proprietorships are generally managed by their owners. Because of this simple management structure, the owner/manager can make decisions quickly. This is just one of many advantages of the sole proprietorship form of business.

Ease and Cost of Formation: Forming a sole proprietorship in relatively easy and inexpensive. In some countries, creating a sole proprietorship involves merely announcing the new business in the local newspaper. Other proprietorships, such as barber shops and restaurants, may require state and local licenses and permits because of the nature of the business. No lawyer is needed to create such enterprises, and the owner can usually take care of the required paperwork.

An entrepreneur starting a new sole proprietorship must find a suitable site from which to operate the business. Some sole proprietors look no farther than their garage or a spare bedroom that they can convert into a workshop or office. Computers, personal copiers, fax machines, and other high-tech gadgets have been a boon for home-based businesses, permitting them to interact quickly with customers, suppliers, and others. Many independent salespersons and contractors can perform their work using a notebook computer as they travel. E-mail and cell phones have made it possible for many proprietorships to develop in the service area.

Secrecy: Sole proprietorships make possible the greatest degree of secrecy. The proprietor, unlike the owners of a partnership or corporation, does not have to discuss publicly his or her operating plans, minimizing the possibility that competitors can obtain trade secrets. Financial reports need not be disclosed.

Distribution and Use of Profits: All profits from a sole proprietorship belong exclusively to the owner. He or she does not have to share them with any partners or stockholders. The owner decides how to use the profits.

Flexibility and Control of the Business: The sole proprietor has complete control over the business and can make decisions on the spot without anyone else’s approval. This control allows the owner to respond quickly or competitive business conditions or to changes in the economy.

Government Regulation: Sole proprietorships have the most freedom from government regulation. Most government regulations apply only to businesses that a certain number of employees, and securities laws apply only to corporations that issue stock. Nonetheless, sole proprietors must ensure that they follow all laws that do apply to their business.

Taxation: Profits from the business are considered personal income to the sole proprietor and are taxed at individual tax rates. The owner pays one income tax.

Closing the Business: A sole proprietorship can be dissolved easily. No approval of co-owners or partners is necessary. The only legal condition is that all loans must be paid off.

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.

Private Enterprise


Private or free, enterprise is the economic system. It means that most of the country’s goods and services are provided by privately owned firms that compete with a minimum of government controls. The private enterprise system has six key characteristics:

  1. Private Ownership of Property: most businesses, land, minerals, buildings, machinery, and personal goods are owned by people, not by governments. This ownership is the right of people. It is an incentive to work hard to acquire and care for our own property. This sort of incentive contributes to the economic growth of the country.
  2. Freedom of choice and limited government: Freedom of choice allows businesses to select the products they produce, hire and fire employees, compete for customers and supplies, and make and dispose of profits. Freedom of choice also allows consumers to buy whatever products and services they are willing and able to buy from whichever firms they choose. Freedom of choice implies a limited amount of government intervention in the area of private enterprise. In a free enterprise system, government sets the” economic rules of the game” by establishing basic laws and regulations that ensure society’s welfare. But within the context, individuals and organizations are left largely free to pursue their own interests and inclinations.
  3. Consumer sovereignty: Consumers rule; the more carefully they make their decisions, the more clearly the economy will reflect their needs. The more money you spend in the marketplace, the greater your influence.
  4. Profits: Profits make businesses responsive to consumer wants. Profits are also a good indicator of where to expand and how to compete better. As a shop owner you can also compare the overall profits with past results or with profits of other businesses to gauge how well your shop is doing. Profits are the clearest standard of performance available to a business. But consumers often misinterpret business profits. They also don’t always understand how profits direct a business’ efforts. And consumers usually substantially overstate how high business profits actually are.
  5. Competition: Most business leaders believe their industries are highly competitive. But the term “competitive” has many meanings. Pure, or perfect, competition exists in an industry when 1) there are many firms of about equal size, 2) all firms produce the same product, 3) each firm can enter or leave the industry when it wants, and 4) all firms and customers are well-informed about prices and availability of products. No industry completely satisfies all these conditions, although some come close. Most industries operate under conditions of imperfect competition. This means they satisfy some but not all the conditions of pure competition.
  6. Productivity: Productivity is essential to the economy, whether it means designing faster microcomputers or better-testing toothpaste. Increased productivity helps offset inflation and keep prices down. Productivity is defined as real output (the value of the product independent of price changes) per working hour, and it is usually written as a percentage.

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.

Distinguishing between Tasks and Responsibilities


Make sure people understand the difference between the responsibilities of their jobs and the tasks that must be performed in order to fulfill those responsibilities.

If a person receives a laundry list of tasks instead of a list of major responsibilities, he will have difficulty understanding how the job contributes to the accomplishment of the department and company goals. He may also restrict his activities to the list of tasks instead of the overall job to be accomplished.

A comprehensive list of responsibilities, as opposed to a detailed list of tasks, provides the person with a larger view of the job. It also gives people more freedom in deciding how to  go about fulfilling the responsibilities of the job and meeting the established goals and objectives.

This is not to say that the manager shouldn’t delegate tasks to the people who work for him. In some cases the manager should be quite specific as to what tasks should be performed in fulfilling the responsibilities. As a general rule, the more authority a person has and the greater the responsibility, the more freedom he should have in determining the tasks he will perform.

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

Involving Employees


To be successful when facing multiple tasks, often on multiple projects, more employees at all levels will need to delegate some of their activities and responsibilities to other organizational members. This means that employees are going to have to be give certain amounts of authority to make decisions that directly effect their work. Even though delegation was once perceived as something that managers did with lower levels of management, delegation will be required at all levels of the organization—in essence, peer delegation, or using influence without authority.

In addition to being required to take on more responsibilities, employees will be expected to make decisions without the benefit of the tried-and-true decisions of the past. And because all these employees are part of the process today, there is more of a need for them to contribute to the decision-making process. In most organizations, the days of autocratic management are over. To facilitate customer demands and fulfill corporate expectations, today’s employees need to be more involved. Group decision-making enables these employees to have more input into the processes, and greater access to needed information. Such actions are also consistent with work environments that require increased creativity and innovation.

Another phenomenon of involving employees will be an emphasis on work teams. The bureaucratic structure of yesterday—where clear lines of authority existed and the chain of command was paramount—is not appropriate for many of today’s companies. Workers from different specializations in an organization are increasingly required to work together to successfully complete complex projects. As such traditional work areas have given way to more of a team effort, building and capitalizing on the various skills and backgrounds that each member brings to the team.

Involving employees allows them an opportunity to focus on the job goals. By giving them more freedom, employees are in a better position to develop the means to achieve the desired results.

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

Development and Corporate Objectives


Development activities ought to reflect the situation and circumstances of a company, its business objectives and its key priorities. For example, there is little point in a company building hypothetical team skills without addressing the following:

  • The purpose of the team. For example, a bid team might require specific bidding skills such as defining value in customer terms.
  • Where team members are located. People in virtual teams may be widely scattered and they may need special training.
  • The role of groups and teams in the management of change, the management culture and management style must be supportive.
  • The clarity of the goals given to teams, and the relevance of their priorities to business objectives. People need to understand the broad boundaries within which they operate in terms of goals and priorities.
  • The discretion given to teams, and the extent to which people are given the required freedom to act.
  • The commitment of senior management to team work, and especially cross-functional and inter-organizational team work. They must be dedicated to ensuring that decisions are taken as close to the customer as possible, and people are enabled to do what is necessary to add value for customers.
  • Prevailing attitudes, such as the extent to which people feel part of teams. Empowered team work should be pervasive, rather than the isolated experiment.
  • The management cadre. Managers should counsel and coach, value diversity, and foster and encourage teamwork, collaborative activities, self-development and group learning.
  • How open people are, and the degree of trust and confidence they have. People need to feel they are able to take initiatives without being paralyzed by fear of the consequences.
  • Existing performance within teams, the tools shared within teams, and the approaches and support in terms of technology and process available to them. For example, there should be relatively open access to relevant information.
  • Rewards and performance management. This should be supportive of, and should recognize, team work, the acquisition of team skills and the exhibiting of role-model behavior.

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

Firm Value and National Wealth


The wealth creation process of a nation cannot be seen separately from that taking place at the industry level. Hence, unless a nation is able to unleash the value creating potential of each organization, its over-all progress in this context will be significantly hampered. Incidentally for each firm to maximize its wealth creation potential, the need for private ownership of capital and well defined property rights in all sectors of an economy cannot be over-emphasized. Private sector business organizations will ensure that their managers are held accountable for the way they use the company assets, and the outcome thereof. When the firm level ownership is diffused (as in the cases of public or joint sector companies) and the majority ownership is predominantly with distant and impersonal state, there is no incentive for intra and inter-organizational cooperation for mutual benefit including wealth creation.

Since the wealth creation process of a nation is synonymous with that of its organizations, macro policies of governments of nation states must facilitate evolution and development of organizations that are focused, market driven, efficiency and change seeking, nimble-footed, and also capable of building and leveraging capabilities, all required to create wealth not only for their shareholders, but also for other stakeholders, including the government. For such value creation to take root within an organization, the external context must be right—market economy, healthy competition, transparent regulations, strong institutional frameworks in all public policy areas, clear intellectual and other property rights, freedom to access information and high ethical standards. If a nation is state is not able to put in place the required public policies in these areas and also no effort is made to simultaneously enhance managerial capabilities to create value, its wealth creation effort will always remain sub-optimal.

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 Changing World of Business


The poor performance of star companies in the 1980s and 90s, both MNCs and domestic, has amply demonstrated their susceptibility to under-perform in the face of rapid and marked changes in technology, competition and customer expectations. It is not that all these companies lacked resources, capabilities or competent managers to anticipate and assess the impending changes and initiate proactive action; what they lacked was concern on the part of their managers to enhance the shareholder value of their respective firms on a sustained basis. As a result, this value got diverted to the customers, employees, competitors and suppliers of the company. While it is well known that a firm needs to develop distinctive capabilities and also build a strong network with its key stakeholders to enhance its value creating potential and appropriation of value this created, what really happened in case of most of these unsuccessful firms was that one or more of the stakeholders gained at the expense of the shareholders. The proponsity of managers to take operating, investment and financial decisions without any concern as to how such decisions can affect their shareholders led them to pursue strategies and investments that were ill-conceived and poorly executed, thereby systematically destroying the capabilities and equity developed over the years.

We should argue how the outcome of such a tendency can be detrimental to not only the firms but also to the job and career of the managers, particularly in the light of the various new developments—such as economic liberalization and opening up of most economies to domestic and global competition, greater freedom to access and move capital, emergence of the market for corporate control, and rising shareholder, activism—which have brought the issue of enhancing shareholders’ wealth to the forefront.

It is clear that managers will need to take a fresh guard and revisit their strategies, business processes and organization in order to face this complex set of challenges and retain their firm’s ability to enhance wealth of their shareholders. Thanks to the contribution made by the academia and practising executives, managers now have access to various concepts based on experiences when it comes to facing such challenges. However, it must be stressed that the need of the hour is not another set of concepts and framework; rather what is required is a new “philosophy of business” that draws the attention of every employee of an organization, starting with the CEO, to the importance of creating, enhancing and sustaining shareholder value in everything that the company does—be it strategic, tactical or even routine matters. Needless to say, the employees will also need guidelines on how to operationalize this new philosophy and what actions are needed to sustain the same.

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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