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How to Get a Handle on Risk in Uncertain Times: 10 Important Considerations

risk

How to Get a Handle on Risk in Uncertain Times: 10 Important Considerations

Risk: It’s the operative word on everyone’s mind right now. Whether it’s COVID-19 or oil prices, supply chain impacts or financial market concerns, understanding the impact of macro and micro-events, assessing their impact and putting in place the right action plans to mitigate that risk as best as possible is the priority task at hand.

Here we’ll examine ten steps to consider to ensure you’re being as thoughtful and rigorous as possible in your response to risk.

1. Take Care of Your PeopleHopefully, this has already been priority number one for your business after the past few weeks. How do we safeguard our people? How do we handle work from home – voluntary versus mandatory? What other flexible resourcing options do we provide – from sick leave to absenteeism considerations? What are the IT implications and subsequent human resource and capacity management concerns we need to consider and fully factor in? Err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry.

2. Analyze Internal Risks – Before you can do that, you need to galvanize the right teams to be able to understand, assess and action against those risks. It’s critical to build the right cross-functional teams to be able to look at, and understand, the relevant issues to consider. This will involve finance, R&D (depending on your business) and marketing and sales. It will also involve teams like quality and sustainability leaders, as there will be implications and follow on ramifications despite your very best efforts.

3. Conduct Scenario Analyses – For critical categories, it’s important to get a handle on what alternative demand/supply options are. What are the pessimistic versus expected versus optimistic cases depending on what happens with the current situation, both in terms of the pandemic but also in terms of current and expected economic conditions? As part of any such assessment, you’ll need to score, assign probabilities and weights and adjust your thinking and actions accordingly.

4. Talk to Customers –This doesn’t tend to be the first thing people think about when it comes to procurement, but understanding the demand side implications for your business will be essential. How will demand be disrupted? Will there be specific products in your portfolio that will be more directly or severely impacted? Will this result in demand cutbacks or surges? Where will you source supply from? Can you cut back supply needs for others? How will buying patterns change – will there be channel shifts from offline to online? How does that play out in terms of critical suppliers and critical buys and requirements in the near to medium terms? Maintaining a dialogue with customers to understand their needs and issues and where all of this plays through for your team is essential.

5. Develop Plans for Strategic Categories –You’ll need to revisit your plans and the related risks around your most critical categories during a time of crisis. Make sure that these plans have been reviewed, the pressure points tested, the risk points analyzed and alternative plans considered. This could mean enhancing inventory levels (and rethinking inventory buffers based on the scenario planning we talked about earlier), assessing implications for delivery performance, gaining a view of multi-tiered supplier performance, increased inbound category visibility and more.

6. Examine Logistics Implications – By the same token, businesses must assess the logistics implications both inbound and outbound, either to make products or to ensure delivery. This has cost and timeline implications. All modes of transportation can be seen to be impacted, not least of which is shipping impacts – especially to and from China, but elsewhere, as well – whether these impacts are halts on movements, ramp downs, or the subsequently phased ramp back up. Or bypassing some of these options and going to airfreight which presents another level of cost to timeline tradeoffs.

7. Assess Liquidity – This will be critical and will call for a stronger partnership and alliance with finance. Looking at cash positions, assessing payables, and of course extending that into receivables, etc. will be essential. Add to this, talk of tightening credit markets and this makes it all the more important. Cash as always will be king if we need to endure near term instabilities, revenue disruptions, supply chain impacts, sourcing problems, and more

8. Assess Supplier Health – Part and parcel to all of this is assessing supplier health and evaluating who will be the most impacted. A clear view of your supplier segments – strategic versus mid-tier versus everyone else – is essential so you can focus your time and analysis accordingly.

For the most strategic suppliers, it’s critical to have a multi-tiered view of their supply base and related dependencies so you can adequately assess their performance and supply chain bottlenecks. This will involve structured risk analyses – looking across multiple variables beyond financials, to operational performance, to industry performance factors, to geographic and locational concerns and more. You’ll also need to identify alternate supply sources to shift production as and where needed, and as quickly as possible. Not all of this can be done at a moment’s notice. Some of it should have been done as part of a prior risk assessment exercise.

9. Think Ahead – Businesses can’t afford to simply think about today. Consider what the next three to six months look like. This is where scenario planning comes into play. It is critical to assess not only how you can react now but also how to prepare for eventualities later, when things are either fully back to normal or in some altered state based on longer-lasting ramifications from the events of today.

10. Work With Facts and Manage Emotion – Fundamentally, the most important thing you can do is to continuously monitor changes in a structured fashion. Have a programmed information collection and analysis mechanism. If we accept that the crisis is still unfolding and that the true impacts from a supply chain disruption perspective may not reveal themselves for months, we need to take tangible steps.  This can be done by establishing a process to monitor other regions outside the infected areas that could be impacted. Are ports outside the infected areas being impacted through disruption or through new regulations to protect against transmission of the virus?  Are suppliers struggling financially without access to the Chinese markets, jeopardizing their viability? Data will be important but data converted to relevant insight for your specific supply chain situation will be essential.

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Omer Abdullah is Co-founder and Managing Director of The Smart Cube and is responsible for managing the company’s Americas business.Omer has more than 25 years of management consulting, global corporate and industry experience across North America, Europe and Asia.

Prior roles include A.T. Kearney (North America), Warner Lambert (USA) and The Perrier Group (Asia-Pacific). Omer has an MBA from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, USA and a BBA from the University of East Asia.

consumer

As Consumer Habits Change, How Can Businesses Keep Up?

American consumers don’t act and buy the way they did just a few short months ago – at least most of them don’t.

The pandemic and the need for social distancing led to an upsurge in online buying. Takeout and delivery replaced, at least temporarily, dining out. Many consumers, worried about the health risks of spending time in grocery stores, turned to services that would do their shopping for them.

Now, as the country tries to reopen and seek the next normal, businesses across the nation must figure out which of those consumer behaviors will become permanent, which were temporary, and whether any new ones yet unthought of might emerge.

“We live in a time when information can become outdated pretty quickly, and that’s become even more true because of COVID-19,” says Janét Aizenstros (www.janetaizenstros.com), a serial entrepreneur and the chairwoman and CEO of Ahava Digital, a company that ethically sources data on American consumers.

“The businesses that are going to succeed moving forward are those that grasp what consumers want and understand their changing habits.”

In contrast, those businesses that fail to understand what the latest consumer data is telling them, and are slow to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior, are going to be at risk, Aizenstros says.

She says going forward, businesses need to:

-Be prepared to pivot. Business leaders must be flexible. Many restaurants figured that out when the pandemic began, Aizenstros points out. Patrons could no longer dine-in, so the restaurants put an emphasis on takeout and delivery services. In the same way, each business will need to figure out how it can adapt and adjust its services or products to meet what customers want and need, she says.

-Gather reliable consumer data. With the internet, social media and numerous other sources, there is plenty of information available today about consumers, but not all of it is reliable. Make sure data comes from a quality source and that it reflects as much as possible the current thinking and behavior among consumers, Aizenstros says. “Businesses that fail to use reliable data and stay on top of the consumer trends,” she says, “will have a difficult time thriving as we go forward.”

-Take steps to make consumers feel comfortable. Even as people venture out more to dine in restaurants or shop in person, a Gallup survey shows they still plan to exercise caution. Businesses can help themselves by letting consumers know what steps they are taking to keep their stores, restaurants, and offices as safe as possible. “This is just another example of understanding and keeping up with what consumers want,” Aizenstros says.

Businesses have always had their plans and operations disrupted by both technological advancements and changing consumer habits. But rarely does consumer behavior evolve as quickly as it did in the early months of 2020 – and the changes didn’t always happen in easily predictable ways.

“Some areas such as home decor and fashion have done well recently,” Aizenstros says. “At the same time, we are seeing trends with businesses like J.C. Penney, Hertz and others struggling and filing for bankruptcy. It’s hard to keep up with consumer thinking unless your data is consistent, relevant and accurate. But if you understand what your customers want and work to give it to them, your business will have the opportunity to prosper.”

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Janét Aizenstros (www.janetaizenstros.com) is a serial entrepreneur and the chairwoman and CEO of Ahava Digital, which provides businesses and investors with ethically-sourced verified data about American consumers. Her background includes roles in finance at TD Canada Trust, Canon, and Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, along with management consulting in a broad range of functions, such as supply chain operations, data analysis, and strategic thinking. She has a doctorate in metaphysical sciences with a specialization in conscious business ethics.

companies

How to Build High-Performing Companies

There are some executives that like to look at academic journals but unfortunately the crossover literature has not reached them enough. I attempt to blend scholarly concepts with real-world applications. For the executive’s corner, I place a great deal of emphasis on the literature of knowledge management, information technology, strategy, and culture as four significant indicators for financial performance.

This article adds to a relatively small body of literature but pays homage to the scholarly contributions. I highlight the direct impact of these organizational factors on financial performance. This article actually investigates the crossover potential of scholarly research and how it can be applied in the organizational boardroom. Executives will also see that I expand upon the subject matter of a company’s internal resources. Insufficient consideration of the impacts of these resources on financial performance has been exposed and I attempt to address this concern. This article can portray a more detailed picture of the effects of knowledge management, information technology, strategy, and culture on financial performance that have been mentioned but not placed in a model in the past.

 Why Knowledge Management Is So Important To Financial Performance?

Executives across the globe have found that knowledge is critical to financial performance. Knowledge, in of itself, is not enough to satisfy the vast array of changes in today’s business environment. Knowledge management is only a necessary precursor to effectively managing knowledge within the organization. Organizational knowledge cannot merely be described as the sum of individual knowledge, but as a systematic combination of knowledge based on social interactions shared among organizational members. Executives agree with Haridimos Tsoukas who determines organizational knowledge as a collective mind, and Kiku Jones and Lori Leonard at The University of Tulsa who explain organizational knowledge as the knowledge that exists in the organization as a whole. [1] [2] Organizational knowledge is owned and disseminated by the organization.

The key take-away for executives is that organizational knowledge is a resource that enables companies to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making. The key is for executives to convert individual knowledge into valuable resources to ensure that the knowledge is actually helping the organization grow profitably for all stakeholders.

Knowledge management can help companies identify their inefficiencies in organizational processes which can enable them to prevent further operational risk. The question remains. How does knowledge management impact your company’s financial performance? By answering this question, executives are able to answer the questions necessary to apply knowledge management to exploit financial performance for companies.

Knowledge is firstly created and acquired from external environments. This knowledge exchange with external business partners develops innovative environments that can enable companies to create a more innovative climate. This knowledge exchange also enhances the capabilities of companies in recognizing possible opportunities in the business environment and developing a more effective vision, including a more comprehensive array of information and insights about external environments.

Furthermore, executives need to focus on coordinating experts, sharing knowledge, and scanning the changes of knowledge requirements to keep the quality of their products or services in-line with market demand. It is apparent that this can help companies assessing the required changes to keep the quality of both products and services at maximum levels. Also, a systematic process of coordinating company-wide experts enables companies to effectively meet customer needs.

The knowledge within organizations also needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges today. Knowledge is globally shared with other organizations. However, companies might lack the required capabilities or decide to decline from interacting acting with other companies, or even suffer the distrust to share their knowledge. In addition, expert groups may not have sufficient diversity in order to comprehend knowledge acquired from external sources. Networking with business partners is a key activity for companies to increase financial performance, thereby transferring knowledge among companies which creates better solutions for capturing the interest of customers and developing market share. The key here is that there are positive effects of knowledge management on financial performance.

Does Information Technology drive Financial Performance?

Information technology is necessary to build high-performing companies and also may be necessary as the globalized market demands are increasingly difficult to adapt and sustain profitability. Financial performance in global markets is dependent on continuous learning. Corporate learning plays a critical role and is a strategic prerequisite for increasing sales and market share in today’s knowledge-based economy. Effective corporate learning can enable companies to actively respond to environmental changes and customer needs and organizational members’ growth needs. Thus, information technology is a key factor that should be embraced at the senior level of organizations to enable financial performance in globalized markets by building a learning climate and empowering organizational members. In the absence of effective IT management, companies cannot implement successful plans in order to adapt to today’s global business environment.

Information technology is a key factor to improve financial performance for companies. Earlier studies clearly indicate that effective IT implementation significantly contributes to companies’ financial performance. These researches acknowledge that information technology is an important enabler to effectively manage business processes. Information technology can reduce paper-based transactions for companies that can potentially decrease costs and subsequently improve profitability for companies.

Furthermore, it can be seen that information technology enables companies to effectively identify opportunities in external business environment that leads to identify the best opportunities for investment that potentially improves financial performance in terms of return on investment. Information technology can also help companies to effectively create more innovative solutions for their organizational problems. More innovative solutions and better ideas can improve the quality of products and services, which in turn increases sales and market share for companies.

Business success for companies in today’s global business environment can be, therefore, achieved when information technology is effectively applied and widely used to achieve a higher degree of financial performance. When information technology can create a learning workplace and inspiring vision for future expansion into global markets, companies will secure a foothold in the ever-expansive global marketplace. Two important dimensions that all managers world-wide can learn from this article is that information technology can help companies to accomplish their goals that they would not ordinarily consider part of their competencies.

The question posited for top management executives and leaders in any and all companies is to accept the challenge of information technology implementation in order to address the current gaps in business effectiveness and improve their competitiveness in global markets. Thus, I recommend that executives should consider information technology as a key driver for improving financial performance in today’s hypercompetitive environment.

If Corporate Strategy Comes First, Company’s Financial Performance Will Follow

Executives are aware that corporate strategy mainly encompasses four aspects: analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. So how can you as an executive use these four dimensions? Scholars provide a blueprint to follow:

-Analysis refers to the degree to which the roots of problems are analysed to provide the best solutions, which ultimately results in a more efficient allocation of resources to solve problems and also achieve organizational goals.

-Pro-activeness is defined as the extent to which a firm continuously searches for emerging opportunities in its business environment, and then actively participates in these opportunities by responding to changing trends.

-Defensiveness, which recommends undertaking defensive behaviors that manifest themselves in enhancing efficiency and in cutting costs while maintaining continuous budget-analysis and break-even points.

-Futurity is reflected in the degree to which the strategic decision-making process takes a two-way approach—-an emphasis on both long-term effectiveness and shorter-term efficiency concurrently.

Analysis strategy is regarded as the tendency to search for problems and their root causes and generates better alternatives to solve them. Analysis strategy, an academic term that is very applicable to executive span of control is also concurrently aired in the academic circles of higher education. For instance, analysis strategy is highly related to firms’ capacity to generate new ideas and knowledge and plays a crucial role in acquiring knowledge. Therefore, I appeal to executives across the globe that analysis strategy could improve the quality of products and services, which can in turn enhance profitability and market share.

I also feel that as executives use the pro-activeness strategy which refers to finding new opportunities and proactively responding to current challenges in external environments, they are also enhancing their span of control. Therefore, the pro-activeness strategy can provide a higher degree of knowledge through developing interactions with external environments. As executives effectively use knowledge management for projects and organizational investments they require a continuous investigation from external business environments. The pro-activeness strategy enables companies to identify changes in external environments and accordingly help them to actively respond to these emerging rapid changes.

Some executives feel that a defensive strategy, while necessary, sets a negative connotation on their span of control. However, it is believed that a defensiveness strategic approach enhances efficiency through cutting costs which in turn increases organizational revenue and the company’s financial performance.

Futurity strategy can also enhance financial performance by providing a series of clear guidelines for companies to track future trends in the business environment, and accordingly conduct “what-if” analysis and allocate organizational resources. My explanation of this is clearly within the executive span of control and potentially limits operational risk. My conclusion for executives is that organizational strategy has a positive association with financial performance. Therefore, I suggest that a firm’s ability to enhance financial performance can be highly affected when executives develop and implement an effective corporate strategy as the primary form of managing people, resources, and profitability.

Does Corporate Culture Increase Financial Performance?

Corporate culture is the resource that builds upon the foundations that helps organizations prosper. Andrew Pettigrew initially introduced the term corporate culture into the business literature. [3] Edgar Schein, one of the prominent management scholars, describes corporate culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. [4] Corporate culture is, therefore, reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them.

To analyze the relationship between corporate culture and financial performance, corporate culture could be visualized by its three major aspects, including collaboration, trust and learning. Both cultural aspects of collaboration and trust positively contribute to companies to effectively and actively respond to environmental changes and customer needs and employee growth needs through developing effective learning workplaces within these companies. Thus, these two cultural aspects can help companies to improve the quality of products and services and increase financial performance in terms of profitability and sales.

Learning culture is another cultural aspect sheds light on organizational capabilities to develop learning. It is quite understandable that this cultural aspect can particularly increase financial performance for companies, by developing suitable workplaces for employees to effectively share their knowledge with others. People, in fact, recognize how old resources can address new and problematic situations by sharing their knowledge within companies, and this can help to create more innovative ideas for organizational problems. David Maister in Harvard Business School in his book, Managing the Professional Service Firm, says that innovative ideas generation can improve profitability for companies. [5] Thus, I suggest that executives should consider corporate culture as an important enabler to enhance financial performance.

In Conclusion

This article may be the answer executives need but may also lack the fundamental fortitude necessary to be an all-encompassing model to predict financial performance. This article has started a mindset that encourages executives to investigate scholarly work to increase financial performance, enhance profitability and improve shareholder value. Executives can contribute to meet dynamic market needs, through reshaping an organization’s internal resources (i.e. knowledge management, information technology, strategy and culture) to meet the needs of customers in the marketplace. In fact, this article has been focusing on thus far is the needs of companies for enhancing financial success. This article presents executives with organizational factors that can be effectively manipulated to improve financial performance and become more profitable.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

References

[1] Jones, K., & Leonard, L.K. (2009). From Tacit Knowledge to Organizational Knowledge for Successful KM. In W.R. King (Eds.), Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning, (pp. 27-39), Berlin: Springer.

[2] Tsoukas, H. (1996). The Firm as a Distributed Knowledge System: A Constructionist Approach. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 11-25.

[3] Pettigrew, A.M. (1979). On studying organizational cultures, Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(4), 570–581.

[4] Schein, E. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture, Sloan Management Review, 25(2), 37–50.

[5] Maister, D.H. (1993). Managing the professional service firm, Free Press, New York.

leadership

Assess Your Leadership Qualities By Answering These 7 Questions

A leader is supposed to be out in front, pointing the way toward whatever is ahead.

But, as we begin a new decade, too many business leaders are facing backward rather than forward,  says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

“The future can’t be met with backward-thinking and old leadership methods that are no longer effective,” Konovalov says. “The leader’s duty is to open a door into the future for people and explain how things should be considered and managed in that new reality.”

“Leaders face more responsibilities and much higher expectations in terms of the execution of their roles,” he says. “The leader’s responsibilities are expanding enormously, demanding much stronger competencies and skills than before. Everyday learning and continuous improvement need to be the norm.”

As a result, Konovalov says the modern leader needs to combine meticulous planning with flexibility.

“Combining these attributes is necessary in an ever-changing and hyper-competitive market,” he says. “The wrong decisions and actions can lead to the whole organization losing sight of customer needs as well as quality, harming the long-term sustainability of the organization.

“Making the right decisions means thinking of more than the company. It means considering the values and needs of customers and employees as well.”

He suggests leaders assess where they are in their abilities so they can define areas where they need to improve.

To begin that assessment, Konovalov says leaders should ponder how they would answer the following seven questions. He offers a more detailed 38-question self-assessment on his website:

-What are the most typical mistakes from the past that hold you back from becoming an extraordinary leader?

-How clearly can you define your customers’ needs? Can you envision them as clearly as your personal needs?

-How do you care for your people as a leader?

-A strong culture is not about me, but about what I do for others. What do you and your colleagues do in terms of investing in others on a regular basis?

-What is your leadership style? Are you a leader who takes care of people or a boss taking care of yourself?

-What were the aims and results of the most recent changes implemented in your company, and what were the employees’ reactions to those changes?

-What lessons have you learned in the course of your leadership journey?

By answering these questions, Konovalov says, leaders can begin to gain insight into whether their leadership style is one that is pointed confidently toward the future, or one that’s stuck perilously in the past.

“Bad leaders build barriers for people,” Konovalov says. “Strong leaders build barriers to problems, accidents, and stagnation. We have more than enough mediocre or bad leaders. We need strong leaders for real progress and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

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Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate SuperpowerOrganisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

 

supply chain

How to Select the Best Supply Chain for Your Business

All businesses, no matter how small, need a reliable supply chain so they can deliver their products to their customers in the shortest time possible. The delivery system needs to be accurate, prompt and cost-effective.

Standards to consider when selecting a suitable supply chain

If the existing supply chain is missing just one of the above three elements, then you should consider redesigning it. In addition, business owners need to understand that supply chains have three different classifications:

-High inventory turns and low inventory volume – equivalent to Just-In-Time inventory

-Low inventory turns and high inventory volume – applicable when you have a long lead time with suppliers

-High inventory turns and high inventory volume – if your business is in the fresh or frozen food industry, you need sufficient produce to replace any expired or spoiled goods

When creating or adjusting your supply chain, other essential elements should include:

-Location of your business, customers, and suppliers

-Local regulations and tax laws

-Logistics lead times

-Logistical costs and savings

You can also measure your supply chain’s success based on the following:

-Flow of goods

-Costs of the flow of goods

-The time needed for such goods to flow

Ultimately, you will need a delivery system that will satisfy all your customers at the lowest possible cost. To determine which supply chain is most suited to your business, consider the following factors.

The location of your typical customer

-Do you ship globally, regionally or locally?

-Do customers come to you to pick up their orders?

For example, if you have to ship your goods across the globe, it can take up to two months for buyers to receive them. Therefore, you will need to design a supply chain that can handle international freight and customs issues.

However, if your customers pick up their purchases personally, then the delivery element can be the extension of your inventory and management control.

If your business requires fast order-to-delivery lead time, you will need a high inventory but low turns. This will mean that you need to allocate more resources to your inventory, but at least this will keep your customers happy.

If your product is in high demand or is perishable, you also need to keep a high inventory and deliver it quickly before the expiration date.

Accounting for supply chains

To successfully manage your product deliveries, you will need to know:

-What exactly you have in your inventory

-Where your stocks are located

-The costs of procuring your products

-The costs of holding them until they are sold or delivered

If you have hundreds or thousands of products, you will need a warehouse management system. Alternatively, you can hire a third-party logistics provider to take care of your inventory management and sales deliveries.

However, if you are just a small business, these options may prove to be too much of an investment. Despite the lack of huge resources, you still need to know your exact inventory. Fortunately, you can keep track of this information using spreadsheets and accounting software such as QuickBooks. This accounting service provider has several resource articles that can help you decide which software is most suitable for your business.

As your business continues to grow, you will need specific software that includes a component called enterprise resource planning (ERP). This system incorporates all the internal and external data in your electronic records and departments, such as accounting and sales.

Accountants, and specifically cost accountants, use the supply management chain as a tool to improve a company’s purchasing, manufacturing and inventory processes. This is a technique that analyzes the movement of goods; for example, from the raw materials to the finished products.

Locate your suppliers

You will have a long supplier lead time if the products will only arrive after

-Two months of sea travel. Shipping them by air is much quicker, but very expensive and the costs are usually unjustifiable

-Lengthy manufacturing cycles

High inventory volume and low inventory turns are normal for businesses such as Apple, although this tech company is using its market position to reduce its high inventory costs. For example, if you are an Apple supplier, you ship the products to the company, but it won’t issue an invoice upon receipt. You only receive payment once Apple releases the products to its retail stores.

Conclusion

In the end, the supply chain you choose must satisfy all your customers’ requirements so they can receive your products whenever and wherever they want. Nevertheless, the cost to you should also be reasonable. Achieving this goal requires a smart strategy and careful planning. However, the financial side of the supply chain will entail employing the services of an accountant who specializes in cost accounting. They will probably recommend a supply management system to monitor every process in the chain.

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Written by Nishi Patel, founder of Northants Accounting.

 

Entrepreneurs

Metros With the Most Successful Entrepreneurs

Many Americans dream of quitting their job and becoming their own boss. Whether the goal is to live the laptop lifestyle or turn a creative pursuit into a full-time business, entrepreneurship offers flexibility and excitement, but it is not without risks. While the potential upside of starting a successful business is appealing, it often takes years for a new firm to become profitable, and many entrepreneurs do not earn as much as they did in their previous jobs. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual income for full-time entrepreneurs is $50,000, which is the same as the median income for all full-time workers.

At a more granular level, full-time entrepreneurs (defined here as self-employed workers in their own incorporated or unincorporated businesses) tend to report higher incomes than full-time employees at for-profit businesses. However, the typical full-time entrepreneur makes less than both full-time employees of non-profit organizations and full-time government workers. Interestingly, Census data shows that federal employees enjoy the highest median income at $65,000 per year, followed by non-profit employees at just under $53,000.

While nationally the median income for entrepreneurs is the same as the median income for all workers, there are big differences at the state and city level. At the high end, entrepreneurs in Rhode Island and North Dakota have median incomes that are 28.3 and 20.0 percent higher, respectively, than the median income of all workers. On the low end, entrepreneurs in Vermont and Delaware have median incomes that are 18.8 and 16.7 percent lower, respectively, than that of all workers.

To determine the metropolitan areas with the most successful entrepreneurs, researchers at ZenBusiness analyzed data from the U.S Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metros according to the income premium for entrepreneurs, which is defined as the percentage difference between the median income for full-time entrepreneurs and the median income for all full-time workers.

Here are the top 15 large metropolitan areas with the most successful entrepreneurs:

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For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results for all metros, you can find the original report on ZenBusiness’s website: https://www.zenbusiness.com/blog/cities-with-the-most-successful-entrepreneurs/

small business

Small Businesses: Here’s How They Impact Communities

Every small business owner knows how important it is to have the support of their community. Luckily events such as Small Business Saturdays help bring small businesses and their local shoppers together in order to benefit the community as a whole. This survey put together by OnDeck, a small business loan provider, looks at small business customers to learn a little bit more about how they support small businesses AND also how the small businesses they
support helps the community in return.

why small businesses are important

ondeck second annual small business community impact survey

why small businesses are important

ondeck small business community impact survey

idea

When The Creative Light Bulb Flips On, Here’s How To Make Your Idea Take Off

Smart business ideas can pop into someone’s head just about any time and anywhere: While walking or jogging, when driving, before going to bed, while doing housework, or during a brainstorming session.
The idea is usually triggered when the person notices a problem or need. The exciting moment the idea springs to life may seem like an epiphany, akin to a light bulb flipping on brightly in the brain. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a good, viable business idea, and discerning whether it will work doesn’t happen nearly as easily as the idea originally came.
“Getting a business idea from zero to reality requires numerous steps, lots of important details, and diligence,” says Deni Sciano (www.ScoreGameDayBag.com), the founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas.
Sciano got her business idea to design clear handbags when waiting in a long security line at a professional sports event. Her products are now sold in 100 stores across the U.S.
“When you have that ‘a-ha!’ moment of discovery, your passion for your idea can take over, but that passion doesn’t give you the pragmatic side of business that you’ll need to properly investigate its potential and make it work. Having said that, by taking the right steps, being persistent and figuring it out, your idea might really take off.”
Sciano offers five ways to turn your idea into a business reality:
Do your homework. “The idea person who’s basically new to marketing and selling really needs to self-educate as much as possible,” Sciano says. “Read books on sales and marketing. Learn the importance of trade shows and networking as well as online marketing. Research the market; you need to carry out a full analysis of your idea by investigating the target audience and its demographics.”
Plan to spend money. The dream-big side of a new idea is countered by — and sometimes ended by — the reality-check side of having enough money to invest in the project. “You have to ask yourself early-on, ‘Can I afford this?’ ” Sciano says. “That’s the No. 1 thing that can stop you. There are many money factors to consider — for a lawyer, an accountant, to hire staff, to get trademarks, do the marketing, etc. There’s a lot that goes toward building your brand and your market.”
Find mentors. “It’s crucial to form relationships with entrepreneurs who had an idea, believed in it, and made it happen,” Sciano says. “You need the knowledge and inspiration gained from them and their successful experience.”
Keep the faith. “The grinding day-after-day part of pursuing your idea and turning it into a business reality can be drudgery, overwhelming, and discouraging at times,” Sciano says. “Fear is a huge factor that stops people from following through. It’s like a chain on your ankle. But let your adventurous spirit and your continuing curiosity shine through. Keep the faith in yourself and your product.”
Learn how to juggle. Sciano says that if it’s done properly, dedicating oneself to a product investigation and launch is extremely time-consuming. The person with the idea needs to weigh whether following through on it is worth the personal sacrifices they must make. “You have to go all-out, and the first couple of years you have to give up some of those things you enjoy — spending time with friends, hobbies, etc.,” Sciano says. “Figure out what kind of work-life balance you need.”
“After you come up with a great idea, trying to make it work can seem like hitting a wall over and over again,” Sciano says. “You learn how to go over the wall, and going for it is worth it.”
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Deni Sciano (www.ScoreGameDayBag.com) is the founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas. A former teacher and marketing director, Sciano’s created her company and products with today’s heightened security issues at sports stadiums and arenas chiefly in mind.
iot technology

How Shippers Can Leverage IoT Technology Solutions in Their Supply Chains

At one time, managing supply chain logistics was among the most difficult challenges that existed for a shipping company. Previously, the shippers with the best operational management programs sat at the head of the pack by default. Today, with increased automation and near-instantaneous data availability, controlling logistics has never been easier, and just about everyone is at least competent at handling their supply chains. This is a very positive thing for consumers; however, it also means that for companies to be able to innovate, grow and maintain a competitive edge, just being “good” at supply chains isn’t enough–these days, to achieve long-term success, you have to be great.

Here are five steps shippers can take to leverage IoT technology solutions in their supply chains:

1. Map out your existing process

Knowing what you are starting with is one of the most important steps in the entire process. Map out your existing process with fine, granular detail. If you have access to a Six Sigma expert, bring them in. When you have your current process defined, then, and only then, are you prepared to further enhance and improve your supply chain with IoT solutions.

2. Build a dedicated team to implement new IoT solutions

Ensure you have a chairperson, as well as enough allocated resources with “skin in the game,” to spearhead the implementation process. Nothing will throw sand in the gears faster than a team that has minimal direction and does not have any incentive to push things forward quickly and efficiently. Identify these people, have regular meetings with them and work together on S.M.A.R.T. type goals.

3. Know your competition

Study your peers and competitors to see what they are or are not doing. It’s highly probable that their struggles are also your struggles. However, don’t just follow your biggest competitor blindly, but rather study what they’re doing and develop a competitive edge based on their weaknesses. Map out their processes, see where they have implemented IoT technology, ask the ‘why’ and then take the best parts to incorporate into your own unique strategy.

4. Ask an expert

Consultants are experts for a reason. They’ve done this before and know what works and does not work. Developing an IoT solution is no easy task, so picking your consultant is an important step. Speak to multiple experts to gain multiple, educated opinions on how to proceed. Use the task force you created earlier and choose the best path for your organization that will have the greatest ROI.

5. Study your results and constantly evolve

Once you have mapped out your existing process, built your team, studied your competition, enlisted the help of experts, calculated your ROI and implemented your IoT technology solutions – don’t stop! IoT technology is ever-changing and learning, constantly collecting and analyzing granular data for your use. The more time and data that is dedicated to this process, the sharper your process will become. This access to information will open doors to opportunities for efficiency and possibly new markets in your supply chain.

What all of this translates to is a potential market that is broader than ever before. However, as new tech continues to narrow traditional gaps in efficiency, it also means that companies are now battling one another on that basis – when competing in an environment where customers can compare shipping speed and choose accordingly, getting package there faster is of paramount importance.

Companies need to find ways of protecting current market share while expanding into other areas. In this regard, IoT technology becomes especially valuable. IoT allows businesses to be more adaptable and make decisions on-the-fly, in addition to minimizing costly errors. Data collection also gives unprecedented perspective on customer needs as well as behaviors, allowing companies to innovate based on sound evidence – all of which creates opportunity for increased revenues.

The bottom line: technology is the way forward for just about every aspect of supply chain development. As always, innovation is an ongoing process and in the pursuit of greatness there’s simply no solution for investment and creativity. With all the tools that IoT provides, and these actionable steps, the possibilities truly are endless.

5 Mistakes New College Grads Make as They Enter Entrepreneurship

It’s that time of year again. Thousands of qualified college graduates are getting set to enter the workforce. They were promised that their hard work and diligence will earn them an attractive job and a high chance of success.  With ambition, motivation, and dreams, scores of young men and women will forge their way into the business world. Some of them have lofty goals of entrepreneurship.  Many are under the impression that whatever works for high profile examples of successful leaders in business will also work for them. Public information and theory are often misleading, and so is attempting to imitate another company’s or leader’s blueprint. According to some experts, new college graduates often make five brutal mistakes as they try to navigate their own potential new enterprise.

1) Recent college graduates think they know a lot more than they do upon graduation: Implementation is different to theory and ideas, so you need to be able to bring operational performance and many other skills to the table. Knowledge is one thing, but true execution will provide the experience you really need.

2) Many do not understand how funding works and the capitol needed in the initial phases of a business. Inexperienced people are misled when it comes to startup funding and what is needed to begin and grow a business.  Often young founders don’t think about basic concepts like unit economics, which is selling something for more than what it costs to make. Even some very well funded startups tend to ignore this.

3) Raising funds does not equal success. Many young entrepreneurs are focused on the superficial belief that the more money they raise, the more successful their business is going to be. While it’s true that, everything else being equal, having more money to spend on your business is good, there is a lot more to it than that simple formula. Plenty of businesses fail because they raised too much money and it encouraged them to do things that didn’t make sense. Many other businesses fail because they raised money that they believed would fund all of their dreams of growth, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Other businesses fail because they raise the wrong kind of money, such as debt they can’t repay on time or equity that causes them to lose control of their business.

4) Inexperienced founders often overestimate their own importance and don’t appreciate the importance of the team they build around them. It is not easy to find skilled people who also happen to be a good fit for the culture and mission of your enterprise.  This takes a lot more time, effort, and trial and error than many founders realize if they haven’t done it before.  You need a great team to build a great team. But that the classic chicken and egg problem you have to solve. You have to be careful, and realize you will make mistakes, about who you hire early in the life of your company. Only offer substantial equity and responsibility to those who have proven themselves. Recognize your hiring mistakes and correct them quickly. Teams often don’t rise to the level of their best people. They often sink to the level of their worst people. Keep that in mind as you build your company.  
 

5) Know and own your limitations. Young innovators especially, though it applies even to more experienced entrepreneurs, tend to lack self-awareness of their own weaknesses. These blind spots can be disastrous.  Most highly successful people understand their weaknesses and surround themselves with others who can do what they cannot, who share a similar vision, and with whom they can collaborate. Inexperience can lead to overconfidence. This is an especially dangerous pitfall for early stage startups and new entrepreneurs. 

Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is a good example of a culmination of all 5 of these mistakes and what inexperience can do to a business idea. She raised $900 million. Her company was worth billions. She was on the cover of magazines and featured on TV shows and one of the best founders in a generation. But it ended in failure and she may go to prison for her behavior.

There are real world, and sometimes life altering, consequences for making these mistakes. Think through your decisions carefully and be aware of the risks you take as you pursue your exciting and hopefully rewarding entrepreneurial journey.