Relocating your Business Internationally : How to facilitate your Move

In the pursuit of achieving career goals and long term aspirations, you may well be forced into actions that are as daunting as they are disruptive. Take international relocation as a prominent example of this scenario, as although it is an arduous and emotionally challenging task it may well hold the key to advancing your freelance career or business and boosting your earning potential significantly. It is a process that needs to be managed carefully, however, especially when you consider the logistical and strategic implications of relocating for professional purposes. Continue reading “Relocating your Business Internationally : How to facilitate your Move”

3 Reasons Why Your Business Should Care About The Environment

More and more reputable companies in the private sector are waking up to the fact that sustainability and being environmentally conscious actually pays off in business. Going green is now way past the hippie fad that it once was and is a serious contestable issue. Any company thinking about reaching great, profitable heights needs to think about their environmental policy and carbon footprint before they get pulled up by the government or called out by consumers. Here are three main reasons why your business should start to care. Continue reading “3 Reasons Why Your Business Should Care About The Environment”

Maternity rights and umbrella companies – a guide

Contracting is becoming an increasingly popular way of working for a number of reasons. Many people assume this is primarily because more opportunities are available at a time when employers are less certain of economic conditions and so unwilling to take on full-time salaried workers. However, while this may be true and there are certainly a wealth of options open to contractors, it is the freedom and flexibility afforded by this career path that is most often cited as its major benefit. Continue reading “Maternity rights and umbrella companies – a guide”

Top 100 Business Schools of India – 2012 Rankings

Business Today and Nielsen has published the B-School rankings for 2012, in India. One of the interesting things this ranking has attempted to achieve the balance between “perception overlaps” among “chains of B-Schools”… (like IIMs, IMIs, IMTs, IITs, Symbiosis, ICFAI etc).. and estimate the individual B-School’s actual but relative position, somewhat unaffected by the umbrella brands. Indeed a good and novel way to rank institutes. There were two surveys, one to estimate the perceptive performances of institutes, and another to estimate the factual performances of the institutes.

The factual survey was done first, wherein we sent out a detailed questionnaire across multiple parameters to 1,832 B-schools across the country. Subsequently, after the factual data had come in from these schools, the perceptual survey was started. A separate questionnaire was administered to a group of more than 1,200 stakeholders of the B-school ecosystem, including teachers, students, young executives and HR recruiters. Their opinions are taken again on various aspects relating to the five key parameters – Learning Experience, Living Experience, Return On Investment, Future Orientation and Brand Value and finally a sum of products approach was undertaken and scoring of the institutes was achieved.

Check out the rankings below:

 

Making the Right Energy Choices Can Benefit Your Business

Whether you’re looking to benefit your company’s bottom line or your overall image, energy and the choices you make pertaining to its use and generation can make a big impact. There are a lot of things businesses can do to be smart about energy use, especially when you consider that most businesses use a lot of energy in comparison to a single residence.

Everything from embracing green energy solutions to conservation programs can help drive down your expenses each month, and you might get some added PR if you let people know what you’re doing.

Start with a conservative mindset

The easiest way to make an impact on your energy expenses each month is to institute a conservation plan. It can be as simple as leaving lights off in areas of the building that aren’t constantly in use, or as aggressive as keeping the air conditioning system a few degrees warmer in the summer. You don’t want to generate a mutiny from your employees, but a few new policies that are easy to follow won’t create too much of a stir.

This conservation can even spread to other areas of the business. Are you using a lot of paper on a daily basis? Maybe it’s time to switch to an all email system for memos. Are you providing Styrofoam cups in the break room? Encourage your employees to bring in their own ceramic mugs to cut down on waste. No matter how small a conservation project is, it will add up.

Consider pursuing green energy solutions

Is your business in an area with a deregulated energy market? If so, going green is easier than you think. Sites like www.texaselectricityproviders.com make it simple to find energy suppliers that offer green energy options. Even if you aren’t located in a deregulated market, there are ways to embrace green energy solutions.

Thanks in part to how affordable green energy technology is today, there are many businesses across the country that lease green energy infrastructure. Depending on the size of your operation, leasing equipment may be more viable than purchasing your own solar array but either way, having onsite infrastructure is a big step.

Onsite green energy infrastructure means that you’ll be actively reducing your business’ energy bills each month, usually at a rate that will allow your investment in the technology to pay for itself within a few years. In terms of PR, having a solar array visible gives your company a bragging point. It shows that you care about your impact, and you’re smart enough to save yourself money on the energy you know your company is going to use. Just think about it.

Other ways to promote energy conservation

If the majority of your workforce drives each day, consider incentivizing the closest parking spots. Designate the best spots for those who carpool or drive hybrid cars. You could even further encourage carpooling by creating a bulletin board where employees can find rideshare opportunities across the business.

In the end, controlling your business’ energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact on your bottom line, and the public’s perception of your company. Consider implementing some of these suggestions, but know that there are plenty of other ways to achieve the same goal.

Comparison of Business Strategy Frameworks

Strategic management literature has established multiple popular frameworks which are used by decision makers to develop a roadmap for business strategy. Some of the popular frameworks for business strategy are Porter’s 5 forces model, BCG / GE McKinsey MatrixPEST analysis and the Ansoff Matrix. However, all these frameworks focus on factors which are external to the firm. In this article, however, we focus on the frameworks which are a mix of the external view of the macro-environment and the internal view of the strengths and weaknesses existing within the firm, namely the Industry Structure view, the Resource based view and the Relational view of the firm.

The Industrial Structure view is somewhat more macro-industry focused. It postulates that firms operate in an environment of competitive forces of rivalry and forces involving barrier of entry (even exit). In general industry structure refers to the distribution of firms in an industry. The existence of a large number of firms in an industry both reduces and increases opportunities for coordination among firms in the industry. Depending on the degree of consolidation or fragmentation in the industry, the macro-economical dynamics affect the firm’s competency in how it deals with the forces of competition.

In contrast, the Resource based view is somewhat more internal focused. It stresses that the competitive advantage of a firm lies primarily in the application of the bundle of valuable resources at the firm’s disposal. To transform a short-run of competitive advantage for a firm to a sustained competitive advantage is like winning both the battle and the war. It requires creation of resources which are heterogeneous in nature and not perfectly mobile across competing firms. This again translates into the fact that the value of these resources arise from the criticality that they are neither perfectly imitable nor substitutable without great effort.

Similarly, the Relational view is a theory for considering networks and dyads of firms interlinked within the daily intercourse of business transactions, as the unit of analysis to study and frame strategies for sustainable competitive advantage. The relational view argues that idiosyncratic inter-organizational linkages are the sources of competitive advantage, whereby relationships play a major role in development and exploitation of competencies in an industry that is traditionally highly competitive.

In the next diagram, a comparative analysis of these important theories has been presented., which present how these theories are not only different, but also complement each other by taking a different lens to view the competitive landscape for a strategic decision maker.

Do let us know, if you have any query regarding more details on this article. We value the feedback from our readers very highly.

Globalization – Impacts & Effects

Globalization is the unification of the economies across the world beyond the barriers forged by the geographies, so as to to stimulate wealth generation, exchange of goods and services and mutual inclusive growth through an division of labor across nations characterized by efficiencies arising from international relations, specialization and competition. Typically the forces of globalization are driven primarily by economic, sociocultural, political, and technological factors although other factors have also played a significant role in the process.

Although the empirical evidence on the benefits of globalization on inclusive development is not very clear, the share in aggregate world exports and in world output of the developing countries has definitely increased due to this phenomenon. The emergence of global markets which has triggered a much wider access to a range of products both for consumers and firms has definitely triggered a kind of major industrial revolution. There has also been a stimulated growth triggered by access to better financial resources due to the liberalization of economies and thus the increased liquidity of financial resources.

A major impact of the globalization has been the stimulation of the Green Revolution, which has managed to address the needs of the burst in population globally. It is felt that without the green revolution, stimulated by the exchange of information, agro-products, fertilizers, seeds, bio-technology and expertise, much of the sudden burst of population growth would have suffered severely from lack of access to food, clothes and medicines.  The development of agriculture and agro-based industries has had a major positive effect on the lives of billions of people on this planet directly and even more so indirectly.

The realization of a global market, based on the freedom of exchange of goods, information and capital, and thus setting up the preconditions for perfect market conditions  has been one of the major benefits of globalization. This has actually stimulated a shift of monopolistic economic power from the United States (and European nations) to fast developing economies like China, India, Brazil and other similar countries, which are growing at a rate exceeding 8% year on year. The emergence of China and the Eastern tigers (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore) as a manufacturing super-power and the emergence of India and Brazil as a services hub has been extremely significant in this shift of political power.

A major trigger in the impact of globalization has been the adoption of internet based products and services. This has triggered a substantial increase in information flows between geographically dispersed locations and stimulated the formation of global markets. Today, consumers of lesser developed economies have access to all the products of developed economies through the establishment of e-markets like Amazon and e-Bay.

The social effects have been significant too in the context of globalization. English, although the third most popular language in the world, after Mandarin and Spanish, has become the Lingua Franca (official language) of the global economies. The access to global information, products and services has triggered the growth of cross-cultural relationships and facilitated the development of a new order consciousness and life-style stimulated from cultural diffusion, improved standards of living and access to foreign products, services and ideas. This development of “World culture” has been most significant among the Netizens triggered by fraternity shared on online forums which has stimulated the exchange and diffusion of ideas.

However, globalization has also triggered the brain drain from developing economies to developed economies to access better employment opportunities and also the formation of Sweatshops by the advanced economies in developing economies to take the benefits of cheap labor. The globalization of the jobs has a negative impact in developed countries where many of the jobs (especially the low knowledge centric ones like BPOs and KPOs) have been outsourced to economies where labor is comparatively much cheaper. Also, many argue that globalization has actually a negative impact on inclusive development of backward economies and the rich gets richer by taking advantage of the resources in the disposal of the poor by utilizing it better. Also, globalization has triggered many illicit trade activities involving drugs and trafficking and this has added to the woes of under-developed economies.

PEST Analysis

PEST analysis stands for “Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis“. It is a framework for Strategic analysis of markets to evaluate macro-environmental factors used in the environmental scanning component. Some analysts add the Legal factors to the analysis.

Thus when the PEST analysis is expanded to incorporate legal and environmental factors; this is called a PESTLE analysis or a PESTEL analysis.

  • Political factors pertain to how the government intervenes in the economic functioning of the country (market) and more specifically how it affects the firm strategic decision making. Political factors such as tariffs, tax policy, labor laws, trade restrictions,environmental law, and political stability. Political stability is a major factor which affect the firm’s strategic decision making and overall legal framework.
  • Economic factors consists of interest rates, government bond rates, risk free rate of interest, economic growth, inflation rate (adjusted) and exchange rates.  These factors have major impacts on how a firm can operate in a market. Inflation rate and potential GDP affect the demand and prices of goods.
  • Social factors include the cultural dimensions of the population in which the firm will operate and include gender consciousness, gender based product/service bias, population growth rate, age spread, health consciousness, career attitudes and risk appetite of the target segment.
  • Technological factors consists of factors such as research and development focus in general industries, intellectual property protection laws, technology adoption rates, change assimilation culture, automation and the rate of technological change. They affect entry barriers, technology enabled products and service assimilation,  product prices, quality, and innovation.
  • Environmental factors consists of factors like ecological and environmental aspects such as forestry  and  climatic conditions which may especially affect industries such as tourism, farming, and insurance.
  • Legal factors focus on discrimination laws, intellectual property protection laws, labor laws, consumer laws, antitrust laws, employment laws, health laws, safety laws and social security laws which can affect how a firm operates, its bottom-line (cost structure) and the demand and distribution for its products and services.

The PEST framework has been recognized as an extremely popular framework for market analysis. It is a part of the external analysis conducted while demonstrating an in-depth strategic analysis during new market entry or doing market research for a new product launch or even sometimes during a product extension, and gives an overview of the different macroenvironmental factors that the company has to take into consideration. It is a useful theoretical tool for estimating market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations.

It is an important complementary extension of the Marketing Mix strategies and often it is used as an alternative analytical tool for Porter’s 5 forces model (although not appropriate for the same).

What is Quality Research and a Good Research Paper

Often a question that plagues many a beginner research student is the major question: What is good research or How to write a good research paper. Often, this becomes a major headache for students striving to complete a dissertation for their masters programme or even their doctoral programme. So what are the dimensions of a high quality research or a high quality research paper that one needs to keep in mind while writing the same?

Typically, as I would go about it, a good research should follow a simple methodology which should transcend to a publishable good research paper. So here are the few basic steps which one should follow while writing a good research paper.

  1. First challenge is choosing the topic of the research. How does one identify what topic is actually a good topic of interest? A major point to ponder would be is the problem statement significant enough? How relevant is the context in the current scenario? If there is substantial past literature which has been already published, then it is likely that it is a good research topic, broadly. I would advise students who are yet to establish themselves in the academia to refrain from choosing topics which may be interesting, but would have very less literature to support the building blocks of the same.  Choose a title for your work, which brings out its essence within 5 to 12 (maximum 15) words.
  2. Research studies typically have 3 important dimensions: Applicability (relevance of the study to the outer world), Rigor of methodology (to allow replicability of the study and the findings and thus the falsifiability of the theory), and the generalizability of the findings/results/theory generated through the study. However, many senior researcher feel that it is difficult to address more than 2 of these dimensions stringently while conducting a research, without compromising the 3rd dimension.
  3. Next start with a thorough literature review in the area in which you are planning to do a study. Typically remember, most quality research papers would have more than 30-50 citations and these researchers would have gone through 3 times the number of cited literature while developing the study. Not only a detailed literature review clarifies what could be the possible contribution in the paper, but also will help you to get a very strong idea on what could be the possible ways to go about the research methodology for such a problem. While conducting a literature review, it is of paramount importance to validate the degree of authenticity of the sources based on which you would build your work.
  4. After a thorough review of literature is conducted, it is time to define the contribution of your study. Always remember, the best research works are often those which strive to make a small yet significantly clear contribution. Attempting a huge amount of contribution often affects the quality of the work.
  5. Next is the step of designing a research methodology.  Every research would be having an ideal methodology based on the focus of the study, the limitations of doing research in the problem domain and replicability of the methodology across other studies with a similar focus. typically research is often evaluated based on the methodological rigor with which the contributions are evaluated and subsequently highlighted.  However, due to practical reasons, one needs to remember that limitations of available resources like access to data, technology, connections and other factors often limit the scope of following a “tailor made research methodology” and this often is an inherent issue of the problem under investigation. Not all studies can follow the ideal path due to lack of resources available to travel on the same. However, research methodology is of paramount importance and care should be taken to ensure that the best possible methodology is undertaken while planning out the research design.
  6. Then comes the major question of going about with the planned methodology. In various studies, this phase would be different. Sometimes methodologies need to be modified from the one that was planned, in due course of progress in the study. In social sciences (business management, other social sciences) this would essentially be the data collection phase, while in the domain of technology, this may entail the development of algorithms/hardware to meet the objectives to extend existing theories. This is followed by the stage where the analysis is done (on the data collected, or through the new proposed algorithms or using new technology) and the results need to be rechecked with existing literature for their validity on how they concur yet extend the same. Every details in these steps should be noted so as to allow the replicability of the study by another research following your methodology on a similar problem.
  7. Finally the last question is how to go about writing a great dissertation paper. Ideally the paper should have few mandatory sections like a brief introduction to the topic highlighting its significance and what you contributed, and the boundaries of your study. Next important section is the detailed review of existing literature in the topic so as to be able to bring out the existing gaps in the same. Next important section is writing in details about the contribution of your research and compare the same with the existing literature, and highlighting what existing theories it takes forward or contradicts. Then comes the theory section where you should describe in details what is your main proposition (including the model) in the paper, by building on the blocks taken from existing literature. Then you should give a detailed explanation of your research methodology through which you attempted to provide empirical validation to your propositions in your study. Then you should discuss the results of the research after it is conducted. Finally in the conclusion section, you should discuss the significance of your propositions/findings and highlight how it concurs with existing body of knowledge and yet takes it further, or disagree with the existing body of knowledge, suggesting reasons for the the same. Some research papers would also like to end with few notes on the limitations of the study and future research directions for someone to extend your work.

Hope this helps all the students who are writing their dissertation paper. Do get back to me if you feel any important dimension which has been missed here, can be added back. Also, if you have any clarification, feel free to shoot them to me. Ph.D. with first class or equivalent at the preceding degree in the appropriate discipline. Research is an art which can only be guided by some professionals like PaperWritingHelp.net.

Business Negotiation – Tips to improve Skills

The Art of Negotiation

A ‘negotiation’ is a conversation between two or more parties where the outcome has yet to be decided. Many people enter ‘negotiations’ with a clear and defined outcome in mind and the intention to accept nothing less.  Making demands and negotiating are not interchangeable or even similar and you should be clear which activity you intend undertaking.

Most negotiations are stunted or hindered as both parties seek to gain advantage over the other.  These ‘aggressive’ exchanges often result in the focus becoming personal and subjective rather than impersonal and objective. Properly conducted, a ‘negotiation’ can be a very positive experience for all parties involved and not just during but long after the discussions are completed.

Every negotiation will result in one of 4 outcomes.

The objective of all parties conducting the negotiation would be to arrive at a Win-Win situation for both.

So How to play a Win-Win game?

Be Yourself.

People like to do business with people they can engage with and trust.  Make sure you’re open, honest and be very conscious of your non-verbal communications too. Sitting forward and encroaching could be seen as aggression; sitting back and slouching could be seen as disrespectful and flippant.  Avoid looking disinterested or resting your head on your hands.

Be attentive, sit up straight and maintain friendly, comfortable eye contact.  Use active listening skills such as nodding in agreement, making audible sounds of acknowledgement, gently imitate body language and speech rhythms and ask relevant questions.
If it’s appropriate, share some personal information.  Talking about family or interests could establish a rapport but be careful not to offend or alienate the other party with extreme views.

Never Lie
Don’t overstretch the truth; don’t over exaggerate and never ever lie!  You will be found out at some point and, when you are, all trust will be lost and you will never be in a position to negotiate again.

Be Present
Be present and in the moment, listening to everything that’s said and picking up on subtle verbal and non-verbal clues.  Use questioning to ensure you understand everything and don’t make assumptions. Understand fully your opposite number’s position – what are they proposing; what are they asking for; what do they want and not want; why they want it.

Establish Common Ground
Establish the common ground and then use this commonality to build on.  Where are the shared interests, goals, objectives?  How can you help them whilst also helping yourself?
This also affirms your positive listening skills, demonstrating that you’ve placed the wishes and desires of your opposite at the very centre of the conversation.

Show Respect
Show that you respect your opposite by taking some time to consider their views, desires and perspectives.  Dismiss nothing out of hand and be prepared to explain why you are rejecting something, giving them the opportunity to understand what matters to you.

Make your offer
Now you’re ready to make your offer and this should be based on your expectations but also on the preceding discussions reaffirming that you’ve been listening and that you’re trying to encompass your desires with your opposite’s. This is also the perfect time to discuss where you could negotiate further and what’s non-negotiable but it also helps to explain why some aspects are non-negotiable.  If you can’t move on price because of overheads, say so but explore where you could offset this (perhaps with reciprocal marketing or something mutually beneficial).
The ‘Art of Negotiation’ is quite simply getting a good deal for all parties involved or reaching a consensual agreement for mutual benefit.
Be careful not to compromise too much – this is a business transaction and whilst mutual respect, honesty and flexibility will aid the process, the outcome may be that the deal on offer isn’t for you and you walk away, happy that you’ve explored all options and haven’t betrayed yourself or your organization. That doesn’t mean you don’t respect each other, in fact quite the opposite – you respect yourself as much as you respect them.

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This article was authored by Collin Millar (Twitter @colin_millar), a guest blogger at Business Fundas.Colin is the Chairman of Chartered Management Institute (CMI, Glasgow), an EFQM Business Excellence Practitioner & Accredited Assessor.  Colin Graduated in Management from the Open University Business School and has held several senior positions including Head of Criminal Records Bureau for a Scottish Police Force and Head of Operations for a Scottish based charity.

Strategies for SAAS providers

Today, increasingly software providers are increasing the focus of selling information technology products as services. Thus there has been a spurt of adoption of SAAS (Software as a service) delivery models. However, switching to a SAAS delivery model requires the adoption of newer strategies, to maintain competitive advantage and sustained growth.

So what should be the major focus of entrepreneurial ventures offering technology services as SAAS?

A major success pointer for SAAS business model is pricing their services. Normally a company, which uses SAAS to provide any service should have a 2 tier pricing strategy, a part based on usage, and a fixed (normally initial setup costs). The focus of a SAAS provider should be to provide the benefits of economies of scale at both ends of potential stake-holders. So for a SAAS e-commerce provider, pricing is of key importance. A major successful pricing strategy would be one based on the value of the technology to the user, i.e. value based pricing strategies.

Next another major issue is reaching out to potential customers and then keeping them. Technology firms keep entry barriers through technology platforms, and so an e-commerce portal may continue using a company’s tech, even if it is higher priced, because costs of switching may be too high. The associated platform or hardware licensing issues may arise in cases of switching. Thus customers, once acquired, often are acquired for life, unless major customer dissatisfaction creates contingent situations.

Another major challenge for entrepreneurial ventures is moving forward in the PLC curve. While innovation is a must for information goods, there is a cost associated with development. However, once converted customers, are less likely to accept newer pricing strategies easily. Thus, conveying additive value of the new innovations to the customers becomes another challenge. Thus entrepreneurial ventures often start very successfully, but yet, flicker and die out, while attempting to move up the PLC curve.

Another major concern for entrepreneurial ventures arises from slow evolution of the multi-tenant architecture, which most SAAS providers use as a basic platform to deliver their service. Horizontal scaling strategies create a barrier to develop and adopt newer technologies and platforms that will provide increased operational benefits both for the client and service providers. Virtualization, while lowers cost, is essentially a barrier towards innovation, and thus the question whether multi-tenancy is necessary for SAAS delivery models is a major topic of controversy. This becomes even a bigger factor for entrepreneurial ventures with less deeper pockets.

Finally, another challenge for new service developers becomes protecting IPRs. Since the SAAS model ensures that there to a great extent of customization at the end of each client, the scope for differentiating and maintain the differentiation, is somewhat diluted by the intangible nature of services. Thus new innovations are often plagiarized by competitors and this really hits hard to new ventures. While developing IPRs increases cost (which often is a very sensitive issues in entrepreneurial ventures) , it should be understood it also protects the firm’s services from being plagiarized.

Do let us know if you feel there are more serious areas of concern for SAAS providers, in their focus to develop sustainable business strategies.

Value Creation Strategy – Business Model

To create sustainable, long-term value for all the stakeholders of a firm, it is important to explicitly establish an appropriate stakeholder value target. However what would constitute the “success” condition for all the stakeholders of a firm would vary from the goals of individual stakeholder. For an investor in a firm, value may be seen as through higher market price of his stocks and bonds, where as, for a mid level worker, value may mean better returns in terms of satisfaction from the job, maybe in terms of pay grade improvements or in terms of job satisfaction. Although, what constitutes “value creation” may be dependent on stakeholder perception, for a generic strategic framework, there is a need to conceptualize a generic framework to achieve a target so the value may be created for the firm as a whole, in strict strategic sense.

The key to reach this target and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage is the alignment of business strategy, financial strategy, technology strategy, marketing strategy and investor strategies. One such model developed in strategic management literature is that of Strategy Maps.

In Strategic Maps framework, value is created through 3 main organizational resources, namely Human Capital, Information capital and Organization Capital.

As depicted in this model, value for a firm is essentially created through the interaction of  four processes, namely, “Operations management processes“, “Customer relationship management processes“, “Innovation processes” and “Regulatory and Social processes“. Under each process, there are lots of transaction level processes which create value. Monitoring and strategizing on the value creation of  transaction level processes is the functionality of Mid Level management in the organization which may be termed as “Ploy for Value Creation“. Focus here could be “Ploys” for improving cost structure or improving asset utilization within the firm. The objective at this level is to focus on productivity enhancing strategies.

For the executive senior management, strategy formulation for the purpose of “Value creation” would have a different focus. Their objective could be to expand the revenue opportunities through entering a new marketdecide a growth strategy for a product or market, or focus on Business Diversification strategies. In short, the role of the executives would be to evaluate various growth strategies for the firm, which could lead to huge revenues and thus economic value creation in the near future, upon realization of the plan post implementation of the strategy.

There are many other strategic frameworks for the creation of value for businesses which have their individual merits and limitations.  Another popular framework for value creation is that of Prahlad et al. (2004)

Do let us know if you have any query.