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Top Management Consulting Firms

Top Management Consulting Firms

Management consulting is a sought-after, high rewarding field of work for many. The profile of a management consultant is considered among the highest paying jobs. It is a job that demands filling up technical gaps that exist in an organization to improve its productivity and efficiency. The management concepts are the cornerstones of these firms. Firms hiring such consultants are many, but the ones that top the list are only a few. Getting there takes a great deal of effort, which includes formal training and a good work experience. Consulting firms are breeding grounds of the best intellectual, analytical, and creative minds in the present day’s highly competitive and fast-paced corporate scenario. Here’s taking a look at list top firms with a brief overview.

Accenture
Leading the list is Accenture, the world’s largest, and the most famous. It is considered to be a leader in the areas of systems integration and business process engineering. The company has presence in over 80 countries around the globe. Accenture is a spin off, of Arthur Andersen Consulting, a famous firm in its own right. Accenture grew bigger in terms of revenues and presence than Arthur Andersen by 2001.

McKinsey
Closely following is McKinsey. This is a privately owned management consulting firm with more 80 offices around the globe and odd 15,600 employees. This firm also finds itself in the top financial consulting firms. McKinsey has divided its work in 7 broad verticals, each having its own specialist skilled consultants to provide thoughtful, in-depth solutions to any problems the client might be facing. McKinsey’s clients range from nearly every sector and from every country, from automotive giants in U.S. to some government department or NGOs in India.

Deloitte Consulting
Consulting arm of Deloitte & Touche, Deloitte Consulting has a workforce of 15,000 professionals spanning over 33 countries. The impressive list of clients comprises more than one-third of companies in Global Fortune 500 list. It’s services includes consulting for tax advisory and financial advisory services, strategic and operational management consulting. Managing consulting verticals also include strategy and operations management, technology/systems integration and human capital. The main targets of this consulting firm are public sector, real estate, life sciences and health care, consumer business, financial services, manufacturing, technology, media, and communications, energy and resources, aviation and transport.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Privately held management consulting company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was established in 1968 by Bruce Henderson. Their major claims to fame have been contributions to management theories and practices, like the BCG Matrix for example. With 6,000 employees spread over 65 offices, this is one of the top most firms, as none can match their high quality strategic consulting work. For those seeking high management consulting salaries, this is the place to be. This intellectually driven company has an insightful and out-of-the-box solutions for its esteemed list of clients.

Bain and Company
Focus of Bain and Company is at developing and increasing operational efficiency and developing marketing strategies. Bain is also heavily involved in consulting in financial domains like mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments and transformation plans. Bain has over 4,000 professionals and shares a close affiliation with Bain Capital, an elite private equity firm, known for outstanding large investments.

Booz & Company
The oldest management consulting firm Booz & Company, was founded in 1914, and was the first one ever to coin the term “management consultant”. It provides consulting for both public and private sectors. The company employs more than 3200 people operating in 57 offices in 33 countries. Booz Allen Hamilton, is Booz’s venture which only provides consulting services to the U.S. Government.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC)
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) is one of the world’s largest providers of assurance, tax, and business consulting services. With 757 cities across 154 countries and employs over 161,000 people the company posted a profit of $26.6 billion in 2010. It is the largest provider of management consulting jobs related to accountancy. This is the reason why PwC hired a number of CFAs, CAs, and lawyers.

Profits posted, businesses acquired, and returns yielded on investments decides the management consulting firms’ ranking. Such consulting firms usually work on a hybrid model of pricing. Traditionally the firms billed the clients solely on the basis of time and material. In this model, the consultant’s man hours and other out of pocket expenses or overheads were charged to the client. By the mid 2000s there was a dramatic shift towards a more result oriented approach to pricing, and the two models have been combined and adopted by major firms to charge their clients.

World over there are many management consulting firms that deliver services in various areas of management and operations. Mainly we can define seven broad areas of management services that these firms cater to, namely, business technology, corporate finance, marketing and sales, operations, organization, risk, and strategy. Today many non-consulting companies and IT companies are making great strides in the world of consulting too.

Basic Business Management Skills

Basic Business Management Skills

The verb manage comes from the Italian word maneggiare which means handling (especially a horse), which is derived from the Latin word manus meaning hand. In the 17th and 18th centuries, meaning of the English word management evolved from the Old French word mesnage.
“Management is the art of getting things done through people,” says management consultant Mary Parker Follett. People are perhaps the most valuable resource of a business. But there are others, like financial resources, infrastructural resources, inventory, and technology, whose optimum use is essential for effective business management. According to Peter Drucker, “Managers give direction to their organizations, provide leadership, and decide how to use organizational resources to accomplish goals.”
Management skills are classified as political (used in building power and business networking), conceptual (used in analysis of situations), diagnostic (used in taking an action in response to a situation), technical (domain knowledge), and interpersonal (people skills).
Management quote by Peter Drucker
Frenchman Henri Fayol describes management as a composition of five functions, namely planning, organizing, commanding, coordination, and control. Modern texts have reduced them to four, which include, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.
Planning in management
Planning
Planning involves identification of your business goal and finding the way to reach it. It involves the estimation of various costs that will be incurred and evaluation of the time required to attain the business goal. A business plan has to be documented and reviewed on a regular basis. A plan is worth it if the attainment of the business goal is feasible with the allocated resources.
Organizing
It involves the assignment of tasks and allocation of resources throughout the business organization. It includes determining the primary goals of the business and strategies to reach them. It includes division of activities into tasks and assignment of the tasks to suitable and deserving employees.
Commanding
Commanding or leading is a management skill in itself. A true leader builds confidence in his followers and instills a feeling of admiration in them. He develops in them a sense of commitment towards business. A leader influences others to follow him. Understanding the need of the time, leaders need to be flexible and adaptable to change. They should help encourage the development of flexibility and adaptability in the team members.

Being innovative is important for business growth. Leaders need to be open to new ideas, they need to innovate, bring in positive change as and when needed, and progress. Progress is hardly possible without innovation. A leader should not just dream big but also provide his followers with a framework to fulfill those dreams. Innovation includes both imagination and action in accordance with it. Delegation is another important aspect of leading. It refers to allocation of tasks to the right people. It involves entrusting deserving candidates with work that they can do best.
Coordination and control in management
Coordination
Coordination involves effective communication between team members and across teams. It is useful in tracking activities towards achievement of goals. Mary Parker Follett, an American social worker and management consultant, says that coordination is the “Plus value of the group”. That is, a well-coordinated group can achieve more. Coordination involves integrating and synchronizing the efforts of team members towards fulfillment of a common goal. It is crucial for taking decisions about the future lines of action.
Control
Control refers to setting standards, ensuring that the performance meets the set standards, and taking corrective action as and when necessary. Taking a corrective action needs prior analysis of the causes of performance deficit. Control is best-implemented in the form of able guidance given to employees by their manager. Evaluations are necessary to track employee and business performance.

Coordination and control are important for the success of a business. Business is ‘busy-ness’. In simple words, it refers to the act of being busy in productive work. Management is the process of measurement of the amount of work being done. It also involves assessing the quality of work and productivity.
Business management skills cannot be confined to the definition of any one management theorist. The definition of management has evolved over time and the role of a business manager is no longer limited to only planning work and overseeing its execution. Considering the competition and changing market trends, a business manager needs to be a thinker and communicator. He needs to have an in-depth understanding of his business and its resources. Here, we look at these and certain other skills that make a good business manager.
Directed Thinking
Simply put, it refers to thinking towards a specific goal. The ability of directed thinking is crucial to develop a business idea as it involves logical, purposeful thinking to reach a particular goal. It is an important part of problem-solving, and can fall under both, conceptual and diagnostic business management skills.
Effectiveness
One more quality that a skilled manager should possess, is the willingness to work effectively towards the achievement of his business goal. Management guru Peter Drucker made a distinction between ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’. According to him, performing an activity swiftly and economically refers to being efficient, while doing the right thing at the right time, with efficiency, refers to effectiveness. Good business management skills lead you to the right goals. On the other hand, doing the wrong things or doing things in the wrong direction is a waste of time and resources. In other words, it’s the exercise of efficiency to no avail. A leader should know how to prioritize business activities. He should be able to understand what’s important for the business and differentiate it from what is urgent. It is important for effective business management.
SWOT analysis for management
Knowledge of Strengths and Opportunities
Effective business management asks for a complete knowledge of the strengths and growth opportunities a business has. Knowing the strengths requires an understanding of the availability and potential of the business resources. A complete understanding of the business and competition can help a manager understand the prospects of his business.
Knowledge of Weaknesses and Threats
As a leader, one should be able to understand the weaknesses of his organization and try to improve on them. A manager must be able to identify the threats to his business and fight them effectively. He should have the skill to endure every setback and learn from mistakes or bad decisions. Successful business development strategies used by others can help a business manager devise his own. This is where the skill to ‘experiment’ comes in the scene. Experimentation needs to be accompanied by the right judgment of actions and results.
Business management includes management of all business/organizational resources. And that includes management of money, time, and people. Proper prioritizing and scheduling of tasks for oneself and the team is an important constituent of business management. Management of money is integral to running a business. The activities of buying, selling, and pricing have to be done skillfully. Business management is not a cakewalk. It includes everything from planning, supervising, right up to being the spokesperson for your business.
People Skills
A business manager needs to possess people skills for effective management of human resources. A manager should be able to bring out the best from his team. Difficult people, those with rigid opinions and those not adaptable to change, need to be dealt with. Identification of errors followed by instructions for improvement need to come from a manager. He needs to imbibe in the minds of others that improvement is a continuous process and is essential for growth. A manager should take every opportunity to appreciate the efforts of his team members and celebrate the team’s successes. This encourages them to work to the fullest of their capacities. A manager should have the ability to keep the team’s spirits high and keep the people motivated. It’s human psychology to like getting noticed for one’s work. It’s not unnatural for one to expect recognition for his work. One of the most important business management skills is to be able to encourage your team members, extract work from them and appreciate them for it.
Approachability
Another managerial skill is to create and maintain an open atmosphere in the team. The team members should feel free to voice their concerns and always feel assured of their concerns being heard. There should be a proper hierarchy for communication within the organization. It is a good practice to assign relatively experienced employees as buddies for those newly-joined so that the new recruits do not feel unheard. This way, everyone in the organization has a point of contact.
Communication Skills
Communicating in a way that everyone understands is a skill a manager should have. That’s essential for teamwork and thereby for business management. In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” This is what teamwork means. Developing a team spirit and maintaining it through thick and thin of a business is indeed a management skill. Keeping people together needs a manager to be a good communicator. Being able to convey one’s ideas to people, and getting good work done from them, is a skill. Communication should be effective. A business manager needs to exercise his communication skills, not just when interacting with the team, but also when communicating with external agencies; for example, during business negotiations or when addressing customer issues. That depends on your job responsibilities in the organization, but communication is an important part of a managerial role.
Foresight in management
Foresight
It is important in business management. A business manager needs to be able to sense trouble ahead of time. He needs to be prepared for it and plan work and devise strategies accordingly. Foresightedness helps a manager assess future needs of the business and identify emerging fields for diversification.

An excellent example of a business developer with foresight, was Steve Jobs. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new,” he said. He believed in anticipating customer needs in advance to be able to give them products they would start wanting.
Management is about taking the right decisions at the right time and getting them implemented by the right people. Effective business management requires a manager to have certain basic skills like the ones given above. And one very important, yet not-so-common thing he needs to have is common sense.

Advertising Techniques and Examples

Advertising Techniques and Examples

In recent years, the amount of money spent on advertising has reached staggering figures with amounts surpassing 500 billion dollars being thrown about. And that is a conservative estimate. The effectiveness of the various ad campaigns launched using the money spent is not as well documented, but for sure, there would have been many ads that fell way short of what they were intended to do; capture the imagination of the public and persuade them to spend on the brand or product advertised. Using different methods of advertising for creating advertisements that have recall for many years is difficult but not impossible. In this article we list out techniques and examples of ads using these techniques that will help you understand how you can raise the bar for the field of advertising.

Methods and Examples of Advertising

Create Characters: One of the best methods in modern advertising that you can employ in order to have an effect on the consumer’s mind is to create a character that will become synonymous with the brand that you are promoting. This is a great idea, but in order to ensure that character brings about brand recall, you need to have the character as your brand mascot for a long time. It needs to register with your target audience. The Michelin Man or Bibendum, which is its actual name, has been the company mascot for Michelin tires for more than a hundred years now, first introduced in 1894. Today, it is synonymous with the brand in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Buzz Marketing: For the longest time, buzz marketing or word-of-mouth marketing was not given its due credit and was not recognized as an effective advertising technique. Today it is widely heralded as one of the best advertising methods and examples of the same are oft repeated as good ways to improve sales. Web campaigns for both Hotmail and Blair Witch Project are often cited as some good examples of buzz marketing. In 2008, before the movie Cloverfield was released, the teaser of the film was released not with its name but its date of release. This created a huge buzz in the market.

Celeb Power: One of the most overused and common advertising strategies that exists, signing on a celebrity to promote your product is sometimes seen as an easy way out due to the huge pull that celebs enjoy over their fans. In such a scenario it becomes important that the advertising agency in charge of the campaign manages to come up with an idea that uses a celebrity in a novel manner. One of the best examples of celebs used to promote a brand, according to me, till date remains the Genworth Financial advertisement when it was launched as an offshoot of GE Financial. The commercial showed a young boy beating Taylor Dent at a game of tennis. In the last few frames of the ad, it is revealed that the boy is the son of tennis greats, Andre Aggasi and Steffi Graf. What clinches the deal for Genworth Financial is the tag-line, “The right genes make all the difference.” This remains, to me, one of the examples of advertising techniques that generally does not reach it full potential.

Exaggeration: Exaggerating products and their uses is another good advertising technique and an example of the technique can explain how this works in the favor of the advertiser. Even the most exaggerated, ludicrous extremes sometimes can capture the attention of the audience and appeal to them. For this advertising technique to work, it is important that the viewer realizes that there are elements of exaggeration in the ad. M&M somehow manages to use elements of exaggeration very well in their ads including the recent one, where a man tossing candies into his mouth is being clocked by a large M&M candy.

Shocking the Viewer: An effective method of advertising, shocking viewers gets them more interested in the product because it causes a shift in their comfort zone. Vehicles being maneuvered around difficult terrain and pretty models pouting their lips in cosmetic ads is sooner or later going to bore the viewer. Benetton has been praised for effectively using this type of advertising technique and instances of their advertising are often used to teach advertising students. While their advertisements are often criticized for their shock value, they have also been praised for increasing awareness of many issues. One of their most brilliant advertisements was of an Afro-American woman nursing a Caucasian baby which was celebrated as an image of racial diversity. The same ad though was criticized for being comparative at periods of slavery when African women were kept as caretakers for White children.

Use of Metaphor: Metaphorical ads work very well as long as you are working with creative advertising ideas>. Comparison of products with other items and placing them in situations that cannot be thought of under normal conditions can work very well for a viewer. An ad that was praised for the way it used metaphor was the ad for Spontex which is well-known brand of sponge. The ad that they created showed an African woman carrying a super-absorbent sponge manufactured by Spontex, instead of a bucket to carry water.

Emotional Appeal: One of the best examples to learn from are those ads that use emotions to tug at the heart strings of viewers. Many organizations that work with social causes use this technique effectively to spread the message about the issue at hand. RSPCA uses this technique very effectively. Their print ad which has animals like horses and dogs shedding their battered skin for a healthy coat with a tag line that says, “Help neglected animals leave their old lives behind,” works very well on almost everyone who is slightly emotional by nature.

David Ogilvy wrote in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, ” The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.” Whenever you take a look at different advertising techniques and those examples that you would like to use in order to design your own advertising strategies, keep in mind this little tip from Mr. Ogilvy. After all he is not called the father of modern advertising for no reason.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/advertising-techniques-and-examples.html

An Overview of Commercial Financing for Business

An Overview of Commercial Financing for Business

Financing a business, keeping the economic perspective in mind, is very different from obtaining a loan for personal reasons. From an economic perspective, the expenses that have to be borne by a business can be broadly classified into fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs remain the same, regardless of the level of production. In other words, whether or not a business is in operation, the amount of fixed costs will remain the same. Expenditure on machinery and equipment is an example of fixed cost. Variable costs, on the other hand, change, depending on the level of production. Variable costs are directly related to the level of production. The cost of raw materials is an example of variable cost. Hence, from the point of view of an economist: Total Cost = Total Fixed Cost + Total Variable Cost

From the perspective of accounting, costs can be classified as implicit or explicit. Explicit costs are expenses which can be accounted for in monetary terms. Both, rent and wages paid, are explicit costs. On the other hand, a businessman who does not pay his wife for assisting him in day-to-day workings of a business, is said to incur implicit costs. Hence, for the purpose of accounting, total cost can be defined as: Total Cost = Explicit Cost + Implicit Cost

Commercial financing is needed, not only during the start-up phase, but also during the development, operating, and growth phase.

Pioneer Phase/Start-up Phase

Seed Capitalists: Seed capital is usually provided by friends and family members of an entrepreneur. This funding is necessary for activities like market research in order to test the feasibility of the business venture. The amount of seed capital is usually small.

Angel Investors: A business can also be funded during the start-up phase by angel investors. Angel investors are affluent people who finance a business for reasons best known to them. In other words, return on investment (ROI) may not be the sole criteria for funding. Angel investors may not demand participation rights in the business and they generally provide finances on a small scale.

Venture Capitalists: Venture capital is provided by institutional investors like banks, hedge funds and pension funds, who believe that the enterprise is capable of generating long term profits. Venture capitalists usually come into the picture after the business has established a few basic operations. Since venture capitalists invest other people’s money, they are very particular about the return on investment (ROI). Moreover, they demand participation rights in the form of preferred stock, and they may also be a part of the Board of Directors.

Development, Operating, and Growth Phase

Commercial Construction and Real Estate Financing: Banks, credit unions and other lending institutions provide commercial construction loans. US Small Business Administration loans (SBA loans) are also available for small entrepreneurial ventures. Depending on the needs of the business, an entrepreneur can avail of acquisition and development loans, bridge loans, mini-perm loans, take-out loans, joint venture loans and loans for purchasing real estate . These loans supplement loans provided by venture capitalists and angel investors.

Asset Sale Leaseback: Asset sale leaseback is common in case of real estate. In this case the entrepreneur sells an asset only to rent it back from the buyer. The main reason for asset sale leaseback is to remove the asset from the balance sheet of a company while retaining its use. Asset sale leaseback is undertaken for accounting and tax purposes.

Leasing Equipment: Generally buying equipment does not pose a problem even if the business does not have adequate finance. This is because the equipment functions as collateral against which a business borrows money for purchasing the same. However, start-ups prefer leasing equipment. The business is required to make monthly payments towards the rent of leased equipment. At the end of the leasing period start-ups have the choice of either buying the equipment or continue leasing it.

Invoice Factoring: Many a time, a business uses invoice factoring in order to convert its accounts receivables to cash so that it can meet its expenses in case it encounters delay in receiving payments from the customer for services rendered. In case of invoice factoring, the business sells its invoice to a third party and receives up to 80% of the value of the invoice. Once the customer pays for the services rendered, the business obtains the remaining value of the invoice, less the amount of fee charged by the third party.

Lines of Credit: Lines of credit are usually obtained by the business to meet its working capital requirements and avoid cash flow problems. A line of credit, unlike a loan, is not a lump sum amount on which the borrower is expected to pay interest. Using a line of credit is similar to using a credit card. Depending on the needs of the borrower, the amount of money required can be withdrawn from the sanctioned loan, and interest is paid only on the amount used/withdrawn, and not on the amount sanctioned.

These are some ways of financing a commercial business. In addition to these, entrepreneurs can obtain a number of other short-term and long-term loans. They can also make use of credit card advances in case of good credit history. Financing is a prerequisite for the establishment and the successful operation of any business. Regardless of whether the business is in the pioneer, growth, or mature phase, the importance of commercial financing never diminishes, although the amount of finance required may vary.

Importance of Social Cost Benefit Analysis

Importance of Social Cost Benefit Analysis

Social cost benefit analysis is a part of calculating the merits of a project or a government policy. As the name suggests, social cost-benefit analysis of anything is associated with its social impact. This means that how a project or a policy will affect people is analyzed. Only after calculating the opportunity cost of a project, it is approved.

The scope of social cost benefits can be applied to public investment and also to private investment. In case of public investment, it plays a major role in the economic development of a developing country. And, in case of private investments social cost benefit analysis is important as investments are to be sanctioned and are monitored by the government. There are two aspects of calculating the cost benefit analysis of any project. One is the private cost-benefit analysis and the other is social cost-benefit analysis. Though, social cost-benefit analysis is usually undertaken by the government.

Social cost is often in contrast with private cost. Major differences between social cost benefit analysis and private cost benefit analysis are as follows:

1. In social cost benefit analysis, not only profit but also other effects like how will it affect life of others are considered. Whereas, in private cost benefit analysis, the focus of the analysis is on maximizing profits.

2. For calculating social cost benefit, market prices for the factors to be considered cannot exist. Therefore, market price is not the main factor taken into consideration while calculating social cost benefit. Whereas, for private cost benefit analysis market price forms the base of the analysis and the key factor that determines if a project is viable.

Social Cost = Negative Impact
Social Benefit = Positive Impact

Social cost benefit analysis has been introduced to develop systematic ways of analyzing cost and benefits of factors which do not have market prices, like effect on environment and traffic. Social cost-benefit calculates non-monetized benefits/ losses. It is normally used for large fund projects like constructing a dam, a road. Such projects have higher social cost-benefits and also affects the price level to an extent.

Example: If a bridge is to be constructed then how much will it benefit the people who live in that particular area, is to be analyzed. Therefore, how many people are willing to use the bridge, how much traffic will be reduced and what is the increase in cost of traveling, will have to be assessed as a whole to come to a conclusion. Suppose, if people are not willing to use the bridge if the cost of traveling from the bridge is $5 and if $7 has to be charged per vehicle to make this project feasible, then the government may consider dropping the project out.

On the other hand, if people are willing to travel using the bridge, being indifferent to the toll price-difference of $2, and the traffic is reduced by a good amount, then the government will sanction the project. Therefore, it is beneficial to take up a project if its total benefits (B) are more than its total costs (C).

It can be put up as, a project should be undertaken if, B/C > 1 or even when B=C. That is, when the cost-benefit ratio exceeds unity or when benefit derived and the cost of the project is equal. Before sanctioning a project, cost and benefit of alternative projects are assessed too. For example, the opportunity cost of setting up a hospital instead of a school.

Importance of Social Cost Benefit Analysis

The importance has been explained with the help of the following factors that affect the general masses as a whole.

Market Failure
Market failure when a big project is not affecting everyone but only a few. A private firm would only look at profitability and related market prices to take up a deal but the government has to look at other factors. To determine the social cost in case of market failure and when market prices are unable to define them. These social costs are known as shadow prices.

Savings & Investment
Impact of the project on general savings and investment level. A project that induces more savings are investment in an economy and not the other way round.

Distribution & Redistribution of Income
The project should not lead to accumulating income in the hands of a few but, it should equally distribute the income.

Employment and Standard of Living
How a project affects employment and standard of living will be taken into account as well. The deal should lead to increase in employment and standard of living.

Externalities
Externalities are impacts of a project which can be both harmful and beneficial. Therefore, both the effects are to be assessed before sanctioning a deal. Positive-externalities could be in the form improvement in technology and negative-externalities could be in the form of increase in pollution and destruction of ecology.

Taxes and Subsidies
In a general cost benefit calculation, taxes and subsidies are considered as expenses and income respectively. Though in case of social-cost benefit analysis, taxes and subsidies are considered as transfer payments.

Social cost benefit analysis enables the government to take up new developments which will benefit everyone and not just a few. Also, it helps in bringing about an overall development in an economy and can help make decisions that will increase employment, investments, saving and consumption, thus, improving the economic activities in an economy.

How to Have a Successful Marketing

How to Have a Successful Marketing

Marketing geniuses and advertising gurus have every now and then stated the crucial role of marketing campaigns in establishing the identity of a product and eventually making it a brand. For turning a product into a brand, effective marketing is of utmost importance. Apple’s iconic ‘Get a Mac’ advertising campaign and its iPhone launch are some classic examples of the power a good product, and excellent marketing strategy possess. Also, we can’t forget Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, or the ‘Think Small’ Volkswagen ads.

Tips for Effective Marketing

The importance of marketing is not a hidden fact for any firm. Instead, every firm is so aware about it, that the level of competition has become intense and challenging.

Hit the Bull’s Eye
The hallmark of every successful marketing campaign is to create a niche market; a target audience that has to be reached through effective usage of marketing tools. As a part of your campaign, you have to ensure that you influence those customers who are in your domain. Now, to zero in on the target audience, you’ve to carry out extensive market research. Neglecting this crucial parameter will deviate you from launching your product successfully.

Through marketing research, marketing teams gather data, and understand the psyche of consumers that is an inevitable part to achieve organizational goals. Marketing stalwarts acknowledge the importance of marketing research, and so it forms the base of marketing campaigns. Marketing research also helps a firm to maximize its sales, enabling it to make profits and thrive in the market.

Divide and Conquer
The social, economical, and geographical patterns of a region significantly impact the consumers buying capabilities. Marketing, today, is a broad spectrum and inhomogeneous. One strategy may not work for varied family income levels, age, gender, and lifestyles. Here arises the role of marketing mix strategy that you have to use at par excellence. The four P’s of marketing, viz., Product, Price, Place, and Promotion form the four dimensions of marketing mix strategies.

Right Timing is Critical
Entering the market at the right time and with a well-planned strategy is very important. This makes it mandatory for you to have a well-documented marketing plan, as to when you enter the market. Launching of your product must be done in style, that is to say, enough to attract the eyes of consumers. The more creative you are in the usage of promotion methods, the better will be your chances of success. Being innovative with your promotion ideas will help you to meet your objective of making your customers aware about your product and its qualities.

Creativity, research, and behavioral science can contribute a lot in designing a marketing plan that can grab attention. Catchy phrases and slogans give your products an image and their jingles become popular among the masses. If a marketing campaign is successful, it gives an identity to your product, and helps it reap rich dividends. With proper planning and implementation, such strategies are always achievable and every marketing team mobilizes its effort to succeed in a grand style.

The Complete Business Innovation

The Complete Business Innovation

Good ideas may surface from the farthest reaches of the organization. Thus, the challenge for top executives is to stimulate experiments across the entire organization, select the most promising of the lot, and disseminate them quickly and appropriately throughout the business.

We are living in a time when information and technology has given rise to abundance, so the competition in supply market is growing at a steady pace. Good ideas, in times like these, need to be nurtured and applied as efficiently and effectively as possible, in order to reap economic benefits.

Overview
Early research on innovation tended to address the organization’s ability to respond and adapt to external and/or internal changes (Burns and Stalker) (Hull and Hage). Subsequent work on innovation stressed more on proactive innovation and distinguished between the types of innovation. There are three types of innovation (process, product/service, and strategy), each of which can vary from incremental to radical and from sustaining to discontinuous.

Emphasis was on the organization’s ability to promote both process and product innovation, regardless of an immediate need for change (Kanter).

Innovation vs. Invention
Joseph Schumpeter defines innovation as the combination and creative application of existing and new knowledge of elements to improve existing and/or develop new products and services, production processes, organization-methods, and commercialization, in order to create or preserve added value.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines innovation as ‘making changes to something established’. Invention is the act of ‘coming upon or finding discovery’. It is important that we do not mix innovation with invention.

Business Innovation
Innovation is generated at individual, organizational, and environmental levels. Let’s look at various types of innovation.

1. Innovate Market or Innovation from Market (Consumer)
2. Innovate Industry or Innovation from Industry (Competitor)
3. Innovate Product or Innovation from Product / Process (Operations)
4. Innovate Team/Organization or Innovation from Team/Organization (Management)

Innovation from Market
“A business has only two basic functions marketing and innovation”, says Peter Drucker. However, Robert Tucker suggests five necessary steps to make a business innovative.

1. Innovation must be approached as a discipline, practiced and taught to employees.
2. It must be cross-functional, and not just left to the R&D department.
3. It must be proactive, and not just responsive to what competitors are doing.
4. It must involve everyone in the organization and everyone’s performance evaluation should include it.
5. It must be customer-centered.

First, second, and forth steps belong to innovation from organization. Third and fifth belong to innovation from market. Market surveys and research enable an organization to be innovative.

Innovation from Organization
Jim Biolos in Harvard Management Update offers the following six steps that need to be followed while making a team innovative:

1. Make sure that the members of the group are communicating with one another in a free-flowing or maybe even a freewheeling way.
2. Make sure that all the team members have equal and enough responsibility.
3. Show confidence in the team.
4. Provide the appropriate resources to the team, and make sure the members know that those resources are available.
5. Make sure that each team member has a challenging role in the work.
6. Monitor the pressure.

Team’s Success
A team usually consists of up to ten people, who devote about one-quarter of their time to the project for three to four months. Participating in a team is considered a plum assignment, because it provides exposure to top executives.

Employees of China’s multinational electronics company Haier, for example, discovered by visiting rural customers, that they frequently used their washing machines not only to wash clothes, but also to clean vegetables. Taking this new information and the potential market into consideration, Haier made a few modifications to its machine, and was able to make it versatile enough to wash both clothes and vegetables. This helped Haier become the market leader in rural areas of its home country.

Innovation from Management
“Managers don’t simply copy something they see elsewhere. They take pieces of practice or technology that they find and recombine them in novel ways to solve customer problems”, says Philippe Pommez, Natura’s R&D Director, “The hard part is not finding the new technology; it is knowing what you are looking for. This is where our conceptualization of new products and new lines that serve local needs becomes indispensable.”

Managers of companies situated in developing countries, sometimes despair of closing the gap with larger and better-funded multinationals. Clearly, there is hope for companies anywhere in the world to win through innovation and creativity.

Innovation from Industry
There are three important fundamentals of innovation and entrepreneurship.

First, an Industrialist searches for innovative opportunities and develops an innovative idea into a practical business or a service. Second is the industrial strategy that brings innovation successfully to the market. Third is free enterprise itself, and it focuses on the organization that is the carrier of innovation.

Innovation in Products
Switching to a new market with the same product can be considered innovative to some extent.

However, innovation in products is always the basic goal of any team, within an organization. Views of the customers through research and surveys are carry forwarded to the R&D team for further product innovation. Ultimately, it depends on how good you are at learning from the market, industry, and your team. Johnson & Johnson, the American multinational corporation, is a great example of constant and successful innovation in its products.

Planning for Starting a Home Based Business

Planning for Starting a Home Based Business

A home based business needs to have a proper plan in place for it to be successful. Working from home is a wonderful option for those of us who cannot, for whatever reason, go to an office for work. Several employment options exist for such entrepreneurs. However, to take advantage of the offers, you need to be well planned and organized.

Step One

First things first, you need to know in which area you want to provide work. For that you need to examine your skill sets and qualifications. That should give you a fair idea of which service you are able to provide.

Step Two

Even at home, you should have a dedicated work area where you can work peacefully. Finding such an area is the key, especially if you are staying at home because of kids or some other responsibilities. You need to find a time and place, where you would not be disturbed or distracted. You can then fix the number of hours, that you can devote to your work based on these factors. Your earnings would therefore depend on the number of hours you can spend working, and how fast you can do your work within these restraints.

Step Three

The next thing you need to have is a business plan. An ideal plan will outline the above mentioned factors in clear cut terms. An analysis of cost and market factors, will determine your cost per hour. You can thus calculate your projected income based on the number of hours you work.

Step Four

Once you have a plan in place, you need to apply for the necessary licenses and registrations. Check with your local government for the required formalities. It pays to have the paperwork in order, so as to avoid legal complications at a later date.

Step Five

The next step is, obviously, getting the work. If your work is internet based, then you need to look for websites where you can get such work. There are several wonderful websites where you can get such work on the Internet. However, if your work is not Internet based, then you need to generate work from other sources. Place an Ad in the local newspapers. Throw a launch party for all your friends and family, and put the word out there.

Going Further

Let the work come to you. Once you get the work, do it well, so that your clients remember you. Don’t forget to discuss payment terms before the work is done, so that there are no misunderstandings later. Word of mouth publicity only works, if you work well and deliver on time. As for publicizing your work via other media: you need to keep on doing it all the time, so as to generate constant work.

How to Write an Exit Strategy for Your Business

How to Write an Exit Strategy for Your Business

Exit strategy should be planned, keeping in mind the long and short-term objectives of the company owner. It should be considered and developed right from the beginning, once you have finalized with your long-term and short-term goals. Keeping the expectations according to your business, and planning the strategy will be helpful. Before you plan the exit strategy, it is required to concentrate on strategic planning, organizational planning, and financial planning of the company. The three important questions which you must address to yourself about your business before writing the plan are: to whom, by when, and for how much.

Writing the Exit Strategy

Choose the Best Exit Strategy for your Business

Selling the business to a family member.
Selling the business to other company, which is usually larger than yours (acquisition and merger).
Selling the business to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), in which the stocks of the company is sold to the employees of the company itself.
Initial Public offering (IPO) is a risky strategy in which the stocks of the company are sold to the public. The investors need to take a risk because the traders get in (buy stocks) and out (sell stocks) and may cause a financial swing.

If none of the plan works out, the business owner may have to resort to liquidation.

Write Down the Questionnaire Document

How much investable assets should I have in my account?
What would be the tax impact on the amount that I would receive after I quit?
What are the legal agreements that I should sign before I complete the disposal?
Does my business have the required opportunities and value from the view of the buyer?
How can I clear my debts, successfully?

Financing your Business

Choosing the source of capital is very important, as it will directly influence your decision to exit. The objective of choosing your financing is not only about increasing the funds, but it also concerns the cost of both money and relationships, if you are borrowing the money from your family or friends.

Dealing with the Taxing and Other Legal Issues

Discuss the legal and tax related issues with an experienced corporate attorney and other business accounting professionals. Some of the legal and tax issues that you must discuss with your advisors are listed below:

Legal Issues

Liability of Owners, officers and directors
State and federal security laws
Rights of minority owners
Cost of transfer of ownership
Buy-sell agreements with shareholders and partners

Tax Issues

Capital gains upon transfer or sale of the business
Corporate and personal taxes
Properties owned
Reasonable compensation limits
Retirement plans
Income tax
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) tax

Actions that Should be Implemented Before Exiting

Begin the planning and the implementations, once you have set the timeline. Implement the following actions before finalizing the agreements and the complete disposal.

Train the new managers.
Start your debt reduction program.
Update your business plan.
Dispose the loss-making subsidiaries and surplus machinery.
Approach venture capital backing for MBO (Management Buyouts).
Discuss the propositions with the concerned bank management.
Appoint lead adviser.
Conduct environmental audit.
Reduce the stock levels of your company.
Review personal financial positions.
Undertake mock due diligence.
Most importantly, plan the activities to get engaged after your exit from the business.

Planning out your strategy at the last minute will never be helpful, because, all the factors required for your successful exit will not fall in line. Also, finding out a buyer in a short period and disposing the assets quickly will not fetch you the desired profits. So, planning ahead is necessary.

Newspaper Advertising Tips

Newspaper Advertising Tips
The business world has become very competitive these days and every company is trying its level best to increase its market share. However, only those people who can effectively reach out to their customers can win this race. Advertising is one of the best tools to reach millions of people and present the quality and utility of your product.

Though Internet, television, and radio advertising have emerged as the most popular forms of advertising in this modern era, you cannot ignore the importance and utility of newspaper advertising. This is for the simple reason that print ads are read by many people because of the large circulation.

The following tips for newspaper advertisement can help you to avoid some common mistakes and gain maximum benefit from your advertising opportunity.

Tips for Newspaper Advertising

Choose the Most Popular Newspaper
While placing an ad, you must be aware of how popular the newspaper is. The more the readers, more will be the inquiries you get and consequently, more clients. Though popular newspapers will have higher ad rates, it is advisable to go with them if you want a wide reach.

Get the Wording Right
The wording of the advertisement is very important as it will attract people to the products of your company. It should be simple, easy to understand, and grammatically correct. You can take help from a language expert or copywriter for the same, if you find it difficult to compose the ad wording yourself.

Looks Matter
The overall appearance of the advertisement should also be attractive for the readers. You can have a slightly bigger ad and a colored one with content written in a stylish manner for getting more attention. Of course, such experiments do come at a steep cost, but after all, advertising is all about getting new customers. A picture of your product and its salient features in short can be useful to get the attention you need.

Positioning
Ad position matters. Generally, it is believed that ads on the first few pages and those at the top of the newspaper get better customer attention. So you can position your ad that way and reap rich benefits. There are many columns in newspapers under which the ads are printed. Your ad should be placed in the right category or subhead. For example, if you are providing investment advice, then your ad should appear under a title like ‘Investments and Consulting’. Placing an ad under the wrong or unrelated subhead will lead to a big loss of potential customers.

Take Advantage of Schemes
Advertising can be a very costly affair and for many businesses, it is a substantial chunk of the total expenses. You need to keep your expenses under control to ensure that your profit margins are maintained. Considering the growing competition in the print media market, many newspapers offer attractive schemes for their customers. Sometimes you get discounts. You may also get free ads after paying for a few ads. So, take advantage of these schemes to increase the reach of your business.

Check the Details
The details given in the ad should be correct and to the best of your knowledge. Especially, contact numbers should be double checked, because if you end up giving the wrong number, you will obviously not get any inquiry calls.