Factors of Production


Each business has its own mix of the four factors of production, vis-à-vis, natural resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship.

Natural resources refers to everything useful in its natural state as a productive input including agricultural land, building sites, forests, mineral deposits, and so on. Natural resources are basic resources required in any economic system.

Labor is critically important. It refers to everyone who works for a business, from the company president to the production manager, the sales representative, and the assembly line worker.

Capital is defined as the funds necessary to finance the operation of a business. These funds can be provided in the form of investments, profits, or loans. They are used to build factories, buy raw materials, hire workers, and so on.

Entrepreneurship is the taking of risks to set up and run a business. The entrepreneur is the risk taker in private enterprise system. In some situations the entrepreneur actively manages the business; in others this duty is handed over to a salaried manager.

All four factors of production must receive a financial return if they are to be used in a private enterprise system. These payments are in the form of rent, wages, interest, and profit. The specific factor payment received varies among industries, but all factors of production are required in some degree for all 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.

Role of Government


In general, government has three basic economic functions. First, government provides a legal foundation and an appropriate social environment for the conduct of economic activity. Second, government both encourages competition in the marketplace and controls it. This is accomplished through legislation and government agency rules and regulations. Finally, government redistributes income from some segments o the economy to others. Government acquires revenues through taxation—taxes on income, property, sales, and payroll. These revenues are channeled back into the economy through spending and transfer payments to veterans, the aged, welfare recipients, and others in society. In short, government is a consumer of goods and services and not producer of them.

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.

Consumer Sovereignty


Mainstream economics uses some simple starting points; it believes that they are the best possible. First is that agents have more wants than they can attain, so that they feel scarcity; in fact, for practical purposes, wants are assumed to be endless. Second, third and fourth are that agents are self-interested, rational, and the best judges of their own well-being. These four assumptions are indeed usually good starting points, rather than starting by assuming that agents are completely fulfilled, altruistic, irrational, and not well-placed to evaluate their own situation. They are not equally good as finishing points. Sometimes good arguments exist for not accepting them.

An assumption that agents are the best judges of their own well being is less questionable for businesspeople and corporations, given the resources they have for analysis. Debate focuses more on consumers. The phrase consumer sovereignty is sometimes read descriptively, to mean that consumers are sovereign, in that procedures are induced via profit-seeking and competition  to provide what consumers want. Sometimes it is read normatively, to mean that consumers should be sovereign, their wishes should prevail concerning what is good for them. The normative claim can rest on three different bases: that consumers do make good choices; that the alternative stance is worse – to use someone else’s judgments and estimates of what is good for a person and how good it is; or quite differently, that people have the right to make their own choices and mistakes.

Consumers will not make good choices automatically and unconditionally. Our wants are not simple; for example, some are wants to not to have other wants (such as the desire to smoke or a compulsion to gamble). Establishing a mature balance between wants involves skills. Choice is also unlikely to bring satisfaction if taken on the basis of weak information. Markets often do not provide consumers with full and reliable information, for it is hard to exclude people from information and therefore to ensure payment for it, so its market supply is weakened. Instead, in a commerce-dominated society, one of the main types of information that adults get will be images that say the good life is obtained through high consumption of commodities; there is too little counteracting public information.

The issue of consumer sovereignty goes beyond whether choices are good for the chooser. Other people are affected. Some wants may thus be unacceptable, notably wants that bring harm to others, including even wants to harm others. Mainstream economists have unfortunately often taken a don’t-want-to-know approach to ethics in which they confuse acceptance of all wants with a value-neutral stance.

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.

Changing Buying and Selling Processes


Winning companies are all focused on speed to market, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction—whether buying or selling goods, services, and solutions. Today, many leading companies are changing their selling processes and tools, including the following actions:

  • Expanding self-service sales via Web-based sales catalogs of products and related services available to buyers.
  • Creating customized electronic interfaces between themselves and their strategic customers to facilitate rapid order receipt and order processing. Typically, sellers provide their most favored customers with preferred pricing or large discounts.
  • Offering multinational companies global pricing policies for products and services with economic-related adjustments, i.e., variations due to labor rates in specific countries or regions, inflation or deflation, value-added taxes, etc.
  • Developing standard statements of work, acceptance criteria, and standards intervals for consistent on-time delivery worldwide.
  • Understanding the buyer’s business needs and budget in order to develop customized solutions priced to fit the buyer’s desired business case.
  • Providing financing to buyers to help them purchase products when required.
  • Offering extended payment terms to customers, well beyond the usual net—15 days, or net—30 days to net—90 days or net—180 days.
  • Developing Web portals to facilitate rapid and direct communications between sellers and their strategic partners.
  • Providing countertrade, offsets, or counter purchases, in order to secure large purchases.

These actions are just a few of the many innovative process changes, tools, or unique business arrangements that sellers are using to build successful partnerships with their best buyers.

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.

Foreign Exchange


An international marketer needs to transact financial transfers across nation lines in order to close deals. The financial transfers from one country to another are made through the medium of foreign exchange.

Foreign exchange is the monetary mechanism by which transactions involving two or more currencies take place. Transacting foreign exchange deals presents two problems. First, each country has its own methods and procedures for effecting foreign exchanges—usually developed by its central bank. The transactions themselves take place through the banking system. Thus, both the methods and procedures of the central bank and commercial banking constraints must be thoroughly understood and followed to compete a foreign exchange transaction.

The second problem involves the fluctuation of  the rates of exchange. Fluctuations in exchange rates are based on the supply and demand of different currencies. The rate of exchange between two countries can fluctuate from day to day. This produces a great deal of uncertainty since a business person cannot know the exact value of foreign obligations and claims.

To appreciate fully the complexities of foreign exchange, a few terms must be understood. Their understanding also will provide a historical perspective on the making of payments across national boundaries. The terms are gold standard, gold exchange standard, gold bullion standard, inconvertible currencies, and hard and soft currencies.

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.

The Circular Flow


In a simplified world with only two types of economic agents, individuals and business firms, the relations between them can be pictured. Individuals and firms have dual aspects, and thus transact with one another in two distinct ways. Individuals are in one aspect consumers of goods, while firms are producers of goods. Thus, a real flow of consumption goods occurs from firms to individuals. But the goods must be produced. To permit this there must be a “real” flow of productive services, from the individuals in their second aspect as owners of resources to the firms as employers of resource services.

In a socialist command economy these flows of goods and resources might be directly ordered by a dictator. But in a private enterprise economy the relations are based on exchange and so must be mutual and voluntary. Hence, offsetting the “real” flows are reverse “financial” flows of claims that in a modern economy normally take the form of money payments. The consumers’ financial expenditures on goods become the receipts or revenues of the firms. The exchange of consumption goods between individuals and producing firms in return for financial payments take place in what economists call “the product market.”

The revenues received from sales to consumers provide firms with the wherewithal to buy productive services from resource-owners. This closes the circle; the firms’ payments for productive services become income to the individuals, available once more for spending on consumer goods. Purchase and sale of productive services take place in what economists call “the factor market,” again really a number of distinct markets for the various types of productive services.

Looking within the box representing the firms as economic agents, what takes place there is the process of production, the physical transformation of resources into products. Within the box representing individuals, consumption of the produced goods takes place. Here again the circle is closed by the fact that consumption is necessary to reiterate the main productive resource—labor power—for the next cycle.

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.

 

Full Warranty


A full warranty means:

  1. The warrantor will fix or replace any defective product, including removal and reinstallation if necessary, free of charge.
  2. It is not limited in time (say, to one or two years).
  3. It does not either exclude or limit payment for consequential damages unless the exclusion or limitation is printed conspicuously on the face of the written warranty.
  4. If the product cannot be repaired or has not been repaired after a reasonable number of efforts to repair it, the consumer may choose between a refund and a replacement.
  5. The warrantor cannot impose duties on the consumer except reasonable duties (the warranty cannot require the consumer to ship a piano to the factory) or a duty not to modify the product.
  6. The warrantor is not required to fulfill the warranty terms if the problem was caused by damage to the product through unreasonable use.

A full warranty does not have to cover the whole product. It may cover only part of the product, such as the picture tube of a television set. Also, anyone who owns the product during the warranty period may invoke or use the warranty.

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.

Managerial Accounting


Managerial accounting refers to the internal use of accounting statements by managers in planning and directing the organization’s activities. Perhaps management’s greatest single concern is cash flow, the movement of money through an organization over a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Obviously, for any business to succeed, it needs to generate enough cash to pay its bills as they fall due. However, it is not at all unusual for highly successful and rapidly growing companies to struggle to make payments to employees, suppliers, and lenders because of an adequate cash flow. One common reason for a so-called “cash crunch” or short fall is poor managerial planning.

Managerial accounting is the backbone of an organization’s budget, an internal financial plan that forecasts expenses and income over a set period of time. It is not unusual for an organization to prepare separate daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly budgets. Think of a budget as a financial map, showing how the company expects to move from Point A to Point B over a specific period of time. While most companies prepare master budgets for the entire firm, many also prepare budgets for smaller segments of the organization such as divisions, departments, product lines, or projects. “Top-down” master budgets begin at the top and filter down to the individual department level, while “bottom-up” budgets start at the departments or project level and are combined at the chief executive’s office. Generally, the larger and more rapidly growing an organization, the greater will be the likelihood that it will build its master budget from the ground up.

Regardless of focus, the major value of a budget lies in its breakdown of cash inflows and outflows. Expected operating expenses (cash outflows such as wages, materials costs, and taxes) and operating revenues (cash inflows in the form of payments from customers and stock sales) over a set period of time are carefully forecast and subsequently compared with actual results. Deviations between the two serve as a “trip wire” or “feedback loop” to launch more detailed financial analysis in an effort to pinpoint trouble spots and opportunities.

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.

Traditional Manager Vs. Customer-focused Manager


A traditional manager focuses on current goals. Their time and their energy is preoccupied with a series of probably corporate internally focused objectives – whether this is making a sales target, budget, profitability or some other goal, such as market share. On the other hand a customer-focused manager is led and empowered by a vision. A vision based on quality as well as quantity and results. A vision that inherently has a customer satisfaction measure and a vision that creates a feeling of pride and satisfaction in working in that way.

A traditional manager is largely reactive – making decisions, implementing plans based on the input of those above them, around them or in the external environment. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ would be a common maxim. Today’s manager is largely proactive – ‘If it’s not broken, break it,’ because it’s going to be broken very soon. Today’s manager doesn’t wait for things to need a reason for change; they change things for the sake of it. Whether this is just simply the office layout, the times people take their lunch, company policies, prices, brochures, and markets – everything else has to be a proactive activity today. If you wait for the market to change you will probably always be one step behind. One step behind what the customers need and want and what your competitors are doing.

A traditional manager will often seek, either directly or indirectly, to limit other people’s participation. Typically, meetings between managers are excluded from input from other people, or they don’t involve other people perhaps as much as they should do – this is never seen as necessary. But today it is essential. Today’s manager has to promote involvement; they need opinions, thoughts, ideas, and feedback from all levels within the organization. The best way of achieving this is by one of two methods. The first is one we could loosely name ‘random communication,’ where just by simply creating the environment where people can mix and mingle, communicate, participate and share, ideas can be distributed. The other way is by doing something slightly more formal, by putting in place a series of waterfalls or communication falls where information and participation flows around the organization.

Traditional managers will probably reward people based on their qualifications or long service. A more customer-focused manager will reward and recognize people based on their ability to enhance customers and deliver excellence. For example, it is not uncommon for managers to regularly single out for some form of payment, or just simple recognition, those people in a customer service team who have gone beyond the normal levels and delivered something extraordinary during their job. Whether it was staying late sorting out a customer problem, coming up with an idea which helped the business move forward, making big improvements in their own work – these are the things that managers reward.

Another thing that has to change if you are going to move forward and lead successfully in a customer-focused organization is that you have to let go of solving problem yourself. One very successful manager who ran a very effective customer service team had a big sign on their wall. You can come in here with any problem at all, so long as you have one idea for a solution.

A traditional manager also sees their role as controlling information. They will keep their staff and other people on a ‘need to know’ basis. This is not how it works. Information should be shared, but not broadcast. A good manager will communicate actively and pro-actively to all concerned. He or she will keep them informed of the information they need to deliver the best possible service to the customer. This means the information is timely, relevant and understood.

Managing in today’s environment, with the pressures of working with ever demanding customers, will invariably result in matters of conflict and disagreement. Rather that patching these over, ignoring them, or letting them sort themselves out, as is perhaps more traditionally done by managers, these should now be sought out and moderated to a successful outcome.

A customer-focused manager ‘walks the talk’. He or she must act congruently and with the same values and honesty that they want their staff to deliver to their customers. That means they keep commitments, it means they under promise and over deliver, and they make everyone of their employees feel special and a valuable member of the team. Nobody just does a job and goes home, there is a purpose, a value and a 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.

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