Category: Business

Managing Your Business Finances

To anyone not directly involved in finance, even the most basic financial management concepts can evoke a feeling of panic!

However, when you decide to start a business, you will need to keep a close eye, and a hand, on your business’s finances, if you expect any measure of long-term success.

Simply put, It’s your responsibility, as a business owner, to have a handle on your finances!

Here are a few concepts, simplified, that should help you to understand and manage your business’s finances:


Income sometimes also referred to as gross income, turnover, or revenue, is the total amount of sales made, before any deductions are factored in.

Keeping track of this is a simple matter of keeping records of your sales. Simple. Moreover, by preparing and keeping records of invoices, it is a simple matter to calculate your sales. Some companies, particularly those engaged in long term contracts, issue a proforma invoice at the start of a project, in order to get the income “on the books.” A final invoice is then submitted at the end of the project.


Expenses are almost as simple as income. Basically, your business has two kinds of expenses – direct expenses (salaries or payments to contractors) and indirect expenses – your overheads or running costs.


This is what we are all in business for – profits. Breaking even is a milestone, but for a business to grow, it needs to make a profit.

The simplest form of calculation would be sales less direct expenses. This figure is known as gross profit. To calculate your business’s net profit, you need to deduct your indirect expenses from the resulting figure.

Finally, to calculate the actual profit your business is making, you need to deduct income tax from this last figure.

If you have an amount left, you have made a profit. Also fairly straightforward when you think about it!

Assets and liabilities

Assets of a business are divided into two categories: so-called liquid, or short-term assets, and long-term assets. Generally, short-term assets are your bank balance (the cash you have on hand) and account receivable, or the money your clients still owe you.

Long-term assets are purchases, such as buildings, vehicles, or equipment, that are the property of the business, and that are retained for a long time. Note that assets are subject to what is known as “depreciation” meaning that they decrease in value over time. This decrease should be factored into your running costs or indirect expenses.

Liabilities, on the other hand, are any amounts of money that your business owes, either short or long term. Vehicle and asset finance falls under this category, as do loans, credit agreements with supplier’s etcetera.


Capital is the money that you put into, or need to put into, your business in order to start and run in.

Cash Flow

The last concept, and probably the most critical, is cash flow. This is the in and out flow of money in your business, and keeping a tight grip on this is probably the most important thing you will do for your business!

Consider this: your business is set to make a $ 5 000 profit, on paper. However, your suppliers require 30-day payment, and your client only pays you after 60 days. Essentially, if you owe your suppliers $ 2 000, you will need to carry this expense for a full 30 days after it becomes due, before you recoup it – something few new businesses can afford to do!

So keep a firm grip on cash flow, as well as making sure you understand and monitor your firm’s financial status, and you should be fine. Ignore it, and you could be in trouble!

Our expert consulting teams can help by providing custom guidance to help alleviate the components of your business that are holding you back from doing what you do best. Our teams can also help you build your business and plan for future goals.

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    Search Engine Optimization Consulting – Choosing Keywords

    As a professional practicing search engine optimization consulting, one of the keys to your success is to have a thorough understanding of how to go about finding, and then selecting the proper keywords that you want to target and then eventually get ranked for in the search engines.

    When it comes to keywords, it’s actually possible to make it to page one of the search engine results for any keyword you choose. But before you jump for joy, call your wife, and crack the champagne you need to remember something -Some keywords are going to be a LOT harder to rank for then others.

    If you have time, money, knowledge, and lots of patience you can get to page one of Google’s results for terms like “business”, “credit cards”, or even “shopping”, but in reality most of our consulting clients don’t. So how do we get a new website to start ranking well in the search engines then? This is where you, the keyword knowledgeable SEO consultant steps in.

    You see for every main keyword like “marketing” there will be thousands more related phrases that include that main keyword. In the SEO consulting world these related phrases are known as long-tail keywords. If we stick with our example keyword “marketing” some related long-tail keywords might be “Marketing in China”, “Internet Marketing Firms”, “Marketing Consultants”, etc, etc. Can you think of any others?

    By now I’m hoping that you’re starting to understand that there are literally thousands of keyword variations for each main keyword. The good thing about this for you and your search engine consulting clients is that it’s much easier to get listed on page one of search engines if you build your SEO campaign around these long tails.

    Ok this is all swell and dandy but how do you generate a list of long tail keywords? Well lucky for all you internet consultants out there our good friend Google offers a free browser based keyword tool that does it all for you.

    All you have to do is go to the Google keyword tool, enter your main keyword like “marketing”, select the region you want statistics for, and then press submit. Presto! Google will return a nice long list of long-tail keywords related to whatever you typed in.

    If you want to take it a step further and generate even more long tails for your keyword master list then take one of the more popular phrases that it returned, for example “marketing firms” and then put that back into the keyword tool. Can you see the power in this?

    So there you have it. If you want to do well in search engine optimization consulting you’re going to need to understand keyword research. Being able to generate a solid list of keywords is key – you now should understand how to.

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      Strategy VS Tactics: Answer These Questions To Grow Your Consulting Business

      Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles in your consulting business?

      Like everything you’re doing doesn’t really connect — and you aren’t making the progress you want towards your goal?

      Believe it or not, many consultants run their business this way.

      They’re chasing the next shiny object, latest marketing tool without wondering how it fits into their long-term goals.

      And that’s if they have a specific long-term goal in the first place.

      Your long term goals and strategy come first.

      Your tactics — which include tools, channels, technology, etc — come second.

      By the end of this post, you’ll understand the critical difference between strategy and tactics — and determine your own strategy (and tactics) so you can get clear on your next steps to grow your consulting business.

      Strategy VS Tactics: How To Determine Your Strategy

      First, let’s define strategy.

      Strategy: a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

      Your business strategy is your overall plan to achieve your goals.

      Example: Leslie is a management consultant who specializes in serving manufacturing companies. The overall aim of her pricing strategy is to implement ROI-based fees which will help her raise her prices.

      In consulting, you’ll need a few different strategies for different goals that you have.

      For example…

      • Do you have a strategy for your marketing?
      • Do you have a strategy for building your consulting practice?
      • Do you have a strategy for raising your prices?

      These strategies cover different areas of your consulting business.

      The way to determine your strategy is to ask yourself the right questions.

      By answering questions like…

      • Where do you actually want to go with your business?
      • How are you going to differentiate your business?
      • Who are your ideal clients?
      • What’s the best way to reach them?
      • What is the message that you’re going to use to get their attention and their interest?
      • How are you going to package and position your services in a way that will resonate with your ideal clients?

      …by answering these questions, you’ll learn if you have a strategy — and how clear and intentional that strategy is.

      If you don’t have answers to these questions, you can’t choose the right actions to take — your tactics.

      How To Choose The Right Tactics

      Now, let’s define tactic.

      Tactic: an action carefully planned to achieve a specific end. – Oxford Dictionary

      Tactics are the concrete, detailed steps you take to reach that end.

      In our example, remember that Leslie is a management consultant who serves manufacturing companies.

      Her pricing strategy is to double her income without working more hours — and ROI and value-pricing is how she plans to do that.

      Now that she knows her overall goal, she can think of tactics to implement and achieve this goal.

      • What specific questions should she ask her clients? The question becomes: which questions help identify the ROI she can create for her clients?
      • How should she structure her proposals? The question becomes: what is the tangible value her clients care about, and how can she make that prominent in her proposals to justify an ROI-based fee?
      • What should she put on her website? The question becomes: what elements position her as the industry authority who’s able to command ROI-based fees?

      Do you notice a pattern here?

      Your strategy serves as a “filter” for your tactics.

      Whenever you’re intrigued with a new channel, technology, script, template, etc — ask yourself:

      “How does this help me fulfill my strategy?”

      If it does, then it makes sense to implement that tactic.

      But if it doesn’t, you can safely ignore it because it’s not helping you reach your goals.

      Do You Help Your Clients With Strategy?

      Strategy consulting is when you provide strategic advice to your clients on specific topics.

      It’s one of the highest forms of value you can provide for your clients because it will help clients both define and reach their goals.

      Example: Leslie has successfully positioned her consulting business as an industry authority by using a thought-leadership marketing strategy.

      Now, clients are reaching out to her for help with their HR strategy. Her clients, new tech-startups, need her help with talent retention. They want to hire her for advice and an overall plan on how they can keep their employees happy.

      Notice how they’re hiring her for advice and a plan on their strategy. They’re not asking her to implement specific tactics like conducting employee interviews.

      Instead, they’re engaging her at a higher level. Leslie will be the one advising her client’s HR teams on what they should be doing and why.

      And the higher the level of value you provide, the more value you can capture with your consulting fees.

      It’s often the strategy that actually determines the tactics. The strategy you help create with your clients will determine which tactics they use.

      As a consultant, you position yourself as their trusted adviser by advising on strategy, not by implementing tactics.

      Imperfect Action: What’s Your Strategy?

      It’s time to think about the strategy you’re using in your consulting business, and the tactics you’re using to carry out your strategy.

      First, describe your strategy in 3-4 sentences. What are you trying to achieve? What is your long-term goal? What does your desired future state look like in your business?

      Second, write a list of your tactics. What are you doing on a daily or weekly basis to fulfill your strategy? What different tools are you using? Is what you’re doing actually connected to your strategy?

      Doing this exercise will help you get clear on your destination — and the steps you’ll take to reach that destination.

      Focusing on tactics is easy. It’s fun. It’s immediate.

      But if you get clear on your strategy first — and then focus on your tactics — you’ll make far more progress on your business goals.

      And if you’re advising your clients on strategy instead of tactics, ensure you are capturing your fair share of the value you’re creating. Pricing models like value-based pricing will net you greater fees than charging hourly.

      Are you looking for help with your strategy to grow your consulting business?

      In our services, not only will we help you define and develop your strategy — but we’ll coach you through every step with a customized plan.

      Learn more about our services here — or, schedule your Consulting Success Growth Session where we’ll talk about you, your business, and your next steps to skyrocket your revenues.

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        In today’s world of mass digital media, giving a referral is as simple as posting a social media link. At Investment Solutions, we know that 90% of your prospective customers make buying decisions based on reviews and online mentions of your business. Digital reputation management is the process of monitoring, identifying, and influencing your digital reputation and credibility online.

        Every day, people are reviewing businesses with star ratings, comments, social media posts, blogs, and much more. Knowing what people are saying about your business is invaluable. Reputation management provides you with a chance to counter negative feedback. It also creates an opportunity to promote the experience of your positive mentions. An effective online reputation management strategy can provide you with new opportunities and insight on increasing brand awareness.

        The importance of having an online reputation management process in place is undeniable. Here are a couple of reasons to consider starting one:


        The reputation of a business is essential to its survival. Having the trust of your clients is a major component of success. Your clients discuss your business with friends and family. When they have a problem, they will spread the word about their experience. Data shows that if an organization has a good reputation, consumers will find that company more credible than its competitors. Even when competing businesses offer the same products or services for different prices!


        Having professional staff is the foundation for a successful workforce. In today’s world, 92% of companies are using social media for recruiting. A company’s reputation matters for employers more than ever before. It can have serious impacts on the quality of recruitment. Top applicants will research your company before they accept a position. Statistics show that 83% of respondents in a survey reported that they’re influenced by reviews when making application decisions. 46% of respondents report that company reputation influences their job offer decisions. 75% of people said they wouldn’t be willing to work for a company with a bad reputation — even if those without jobs.


        Having a successful corporate image is a necessary marketing tool for your company. If you warm the hearts of your customers, then you can expect them to always remember you. You won’t need to spend time trying to convince your potential customers to use your products or services. With a strong digital image, customers will continue to support your company.

        Google your business name and scroll through your results. Scan the first few pages of results. Did you find information that doesn’t accurately represent your business? If you did, we’re glad we were able to bring this to your attention. In a recent Moz study, research suggests that businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find a negative article on their first page of search results. That number increases to 59% lost business with three negative articles. At four or more negative articles, it goes up to 70%.

        Don’t panic! You could spend every day searching your own company to see if something new came up. This could take you hours every day and you would continue to stumble over old things that were already known about. Investment Solutions provides a tool that runs 24/7 to scour public web space to find mentions, reviews, and websites that talk about your business.

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        Marketing Is Expensive. Is It Really Worth It?

        Why marketing is so expensive, and what plan is right for your business.

        marketing concept with financial graph and chart

        Sooner or later, most entrepreneurs have to face the reality that marketing is expensive. In the course of planning a new marketing campaign or trying to grow the business organically, you discover that to execute a strategy could cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, and to keep it going will cut into your bottom line.

        Why is marketing so expensive? And is it really worth the cost?

        What you’re paying for

        Let’s start by explaining why marketing is so expensive. Generally, marketing costs account for things like:

        • Salaries and human labor. According to Glassdoor, the average marketing manager’s salary is $65,834 per year. Most marketing strategies require extensive planning and execution, requiring many people coordinating together. Many of these people are highly skilled and highly paid.
        • Limited resources. Some marketing campaigns depend on the use of finite resources, and at least some of these resources will be in high demand. For example, there are only so many billboards on the side of the highway; if a bidding war starts, it could drive up the price of advertising considerably.
        • Risk, failure, troubleshooting, and support. Some marketers build in the cost of risk and failure; if their original efforts fail, they’ll need to double down and try again. We also need to consider costs for ongoing troubleshooting and support in addition to core marketing campaign costs.

        Differences in price

        It should also be obvious that different types of strategies will differ in price. Depending on your approach, marketing could end up being very cheap or ridiculously expensive, often based on variables that include:

        • Strategy choice. Some strategies are more expensive than others. TV ads are often expensive because of finite supply and high demand. By contrast, search engine optimization (SEO) is often less expensive because there are unlimited opportunities for development; that said, even SEO can be pricey under the right conditions.
        • Scale. Most marketing campaigns vary in scale; a small mom-and-pop business and a large corporation aren’t going to use the same tactics or the same number of resources. The larger your campaign is and the more people you’re trying to influence, the more you’re going to pay.
        • Freelance, in-house, or agency. To execute a marketing campaign, you can do the work yourself, hire a freelancer, hire someone in-house, or work with a professional agency. Each of these options has different costs, as well as different strengths and weaknesses. For example, working with a freelancer can help you save money, but it might be hard to find individuals who fit your needs, and they might not be reliable. An agency is more expensive, but it’s often worth the money because of its reliability.
        • Quality and experience. In marketing, you get what you pay for (at least most of the time). Individuals and agencies who have more experience and skill tend to charge more because of their abilities. Accordingly, in many cases, an expensive campaign is a good sign; it means you’re getting the quality work you need. Of course, there are exceptions, and it’s possible for high costs to be excessive.

        The nature of ROI

        One of the most important factors you’ll need to consider when budgeting for and planning your marketing campaign is your return on investment (ROI). In other words, how much value are you getting out of your campaign compared to what you’re putting into it?

        In many cases, you won’t be able to concretely measure your ROI until you actually launch the campaign. However, you might be able to come up with a reasonable estimate that’s based on your past experience and the knowledge and experience of the professionals you’re working with.

        Your ROI matters more than the absolute dollar amount you’re spending. For example, let’s say in campaign A, you spend $500 and generate $1,000 in revenue. But in campaign B, you spend $1,500 and generate $5,000 in revenue. Campaign B is objectively more expensive, but it also yields a much higher ROI, both proportionally and in total amount.

        Because of this, you should never rule out the possibility of a campaign just because it’s expensive.

        Operating with no marketing

        We also need to consider the prospect of running a business without a marketing campaign. There are examples of businesses that have gotten successful without traditional marketing or advertising (including famous examples like Arizona Iced Tea). However, without marketing, you’ll be exclusively growing your business through word of mouth and reputation, which can take a long time and can be extremely unreliable. For most businesses, marketing and advertising are practically necessary for steady growth.

        Is it worth it?

        Is an expensive marketing campaign worth the seemingly excessive costs? The issue is far too complicated to reduce to a simple answer. However, in many cases, there are plenty of justifications for the high cost of marketing, and if you execute a reasonable campaign, you should be able to get a high ROI and more than make all your money back. Although some types of businesses can get away with little to no marketing, most companies will strongly benefit from a marketing investment — even if it looks costly on paper.

        Credits: Entrepreneur

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        What is Portfolio Management? (And Why You Need It)

        Portfolio management is different from project management in that it encompasses the entire lifecycle – from ideation through the realization of the benefits it set out to provide. Portfolio management includes project management as a phase of the project lifecycle which focuses on, and is best at, the execution phase of a project. But as we all know, projects are more than just tasks and issue solving. Projects truly begin at the ideation stage and although some do not make it through execution to the realization of benefits of the investment, portfolio management accounts for that entire process.

        Let’s take a look at the lifecycle of a project that is reflected in portfolio management: Ideation stage, creating a business case, prioritization of the initiatives that warrant investment, selection, planning the process and resources to carry out the initiative, execution of the initiative, and ultimately ROI. For each stage, there is a process, and IT leaders understand that while some projects are inevitable, others are strategic. And the strategic ones are the ones that make the difference.

        Portfolio management is important in business because there are factors to consider that affect the success of the project, and thus the organization, as well as unexpected benefits from the investment. For example, sometimes it is what a Project Management Office (PMO) chooses not to do that is the most important. By prioritizing and consciously choosing not to undertake projects that do not benefit the business or take away from time and resource capacity from higher priority projects, PMOs become more efficient and are better able to focus on the projects that matter. This focus results in better and faster execution or project management.  

        Many projects also begin by supporting overall business goals and for one reason or another, by the end they no longer serve that value. Either the business goals have changed, more important things have come up, new technology has come out that changes the project (this especially happens in product development projects), or the project has simply lost value because the main stakeholder is no longer a stakeholder. For any of these reasons or others, projects often change directions, and organizations need to adapt along the way. By managing projects as part of a portfolio, the dynamic changes because you enable the portfolio to be successful – even if some of the projects in it fall short – and help drive the desired outcome for your organization.

        Here are a few benefits when moving to a portfolio management approach:

        Strategic Alignment

        Portfolio Management is an inherent way to strategically align your projects with the goals of the business. As you map out your portfolio and your resources that are to be assigned to certain projects, you make sure you they are the projects that support the needs of the business. However, we know this changes as you go along and you need to adapt. By managing a portfolio of projects, it becomes easier to identify the projects that are better suited to meet your needs, and reduce the investment or abandon projects that no longer serve the needs it intended to. In doing this, your business benefits from investing in projects that are the highest likelihood of added value and ROI.

        Strategic alignment is especially strong in top-down portfolio management approaches. Top down is an “alignment-first” approach to portfolio management where requests are only accepted if they are aligned with business goals. Projects are prioritized and resources are assigned based on those prioritized projects, and executed from there. Essentially, planning and reporting are the critical elements where goals are identified and benefits are realized. Conversely, bottom up portfolio management puts the emphasis on the execution of projects, making sure tasks are executed, and thus increasing project success through individual contribution. In either case, by managing projects in a portfolio, you have the advantage of executing the right projects for the business.

        Resource Management

        Resources are an organization’s most valuable asset; and also the biggest challenge more often than not. Managing those resources in an effective, efficient, and optimized manner is extremely challenging. For most organizations, resource management is one of those things that may be done “well” but you always feel like it could be “better.” For better resource management, managing a portfolio is much easier to think about. You can see resources across the portfolio, utilization among various projects and across applications. By having a good understanding of what resources are actually up to and a realistic representation of what their utilization looks like, project resources becomes much more manageable from a portfolio perspective.

        Planning and Reporting

        We all want to know what we are getting out of our investments before we take the plunge. But there is always some degree of risk involved; if all projects were a sure thing, it would take the fun out of managing them. However, some level of predictability is comforting, and by having a systematic way of continuously improving the forecast of the projects with each new addition helps too. With portfolio management, planning for projects (and resources) is continuous and evolutionary as projects progress and people get shifted around. Reporting also plays a big role in this, as you are able to see the results of the plan after it is executed to adjust planning moving forward, and understand the benefits of the investment. Whether you are reporting on different metrics, gaining visibility, or arguing for more resources, having the ability to report on the portfolio as a whole as well as individual projects or programs is a major contributor to business success. According to recent Project Management Institute Pulse of the Profession report, organizations that are effective in portfolio management had 76% of projects meet or exceed expected ROI, compared with 56% of project success without portfolio management process in place. And success is what we are all about.

        By including portfolio management as part of the project management approach, you can manage projects throughout their lifecycle, and against one another, to achieve benefits far beyond what you would get by managing projects in silos or in stages. For more on how portfolio management can give you end to end project management, take a look at our services portfolio management.

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        Business Strategy: Definition, Levels, Components & Examples

        Different businesses have different goals and take different routes to fulfil those goals. These routes constitute the business strategies of these businesses.

        While it is easy to understand the definition of business strategy, sometimes it’s an uphill task to form and execute a successful one.

        Here is an article to help you understand business strategy to fullest by answering your questions and clearing your doubts about everything related to it.

        What Is Business Strategy?

        A business strategy can be defined as the combination of all the decisions taken and actions performed by the business to accomplish business goals and to secure a competitive position in the market.

        It is the backbone of the business as it is the roadmap which leads to the desired goals. Any fault in this roadmap can result in the business getting lost in the crowd of overwhelming competitors.

        Importance Of Business Strategy

        A business objective without a strategy is just a dream. It is no less than a gamble if you enter into the market without a well-planned strategy.

        With the increase in the competition, the importance of business strategy is becoming apparent and there’s a huge increase in the types of business strategies used by the businesses. Here are five reasons why a strategy is necessary for your business.


        Business strategy is a part of a business plan. While the business plan sets the goals and objectives, the strategy gives you a way to fulfil those goals. It is a plan to reach where you intend to.

        Strengths & Weaknesses

        Most of the times, you get to know about your real strengths and weaknesses while formulating a strategy. Moreover, it also helps you capitalise on what you’re good at and use that to overshadow your weaknesses (or eliminate them).

        Efficiency & Effectiveness

        When every step is planned, every resource is allocated, and everyone knows what is to be done, business activities become more efficient and effective automatically.

        Competitive Advantage

        A business strategy focuses on capitalising on the strengths of the business and using it as a competitive advantage to position the brand in a unique way. This gives an identity to business and makes it unique in the eyes of the customer.


        It also decides the path to be followed and interim goals to be achieved. This makes it easy to control the activities and see if they are going as planned.

        Business Strategy Vs Business Plan Vs Business Model

        The business strategy is a part of the business plan which is a part of the big conceptual structure called the business model.

        The Business Model is a conceptual structure that explains how the company operates, makes money, and how it intends to achieve its goals. The business plan defines those goals, and business strategies outline the roadmap of how to achieve them.

        Levels Of Business Strategy

        The business goal is achieved by the effective execution of different business strategies. While every employee, partner, and stakeholder of the company focus on fulfilling a single business objective, their activities are defined by various business strategies according to their level in the organisation.

        Business strategies can be classified into three levels –

        Level 1: The Corporate Level

        The corporate level is the highest and most broad level of the business strategy. It is the business plan which sets the guidelines of what is to be achieved and how the business is expected to achieve it. It sets the mission, vision, and corporate objectives for everyone.

        Level 2: The Business Unit Level

        The business unit level is a unit specific strategy which differs for different units of the business. A unit can be different products or channels which have totally different operations. These units form strategies to differentiate themselves from the competitors using competitive strategies and to align their objectives with the overall business objective defined in the corporate level strategy.

        Level 3: The Functional Level

        The functional level strategies are set by different departments of the units. The departments include but are not limited to marketing, sales, operations, finance, CRM etc. These functional level strategies are limited to day to day actions and decisions needed to deliver unit level and corporate level strategies, maintaining relationships between different departments, and fulfilling functional goals.

        Key Components Of A Business Strategy

        While an objective is defined clearly in the business plan, the strategy answers all the whats, whys, whos, wheres, whens, & hows of the fulfilling that objective. Here are the key components of a business strategy.

        Mission, Vision, & Business Objectives

        The main focus of a business strategy is to fulfil the business objective. It gives the vision and direction to the business with clear instructions of what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and who all are responsible for it.

        Core Values

        It also states the ‘musts’ and ‘must nots’ of the business which clarify most of the doubts and give a clear direction to the top level, units, as well as the departments.


        A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a rundown of the company’s current situation. It is a necessary component of a business strategy as it represents the current strengths and opportunities which the company can make use of and the weaknesses and threats which the company should be wary of.

        Operational Tactics

        Unit and functional business strategies get deep into the operational details of how the work needs to be done in order to be most effective and efficient. This saves a lot of time and effort as everyone knows what needs to be done.

        Resource Procurement & Allocation Plan

        The strategy also answers where and how will you procure the required resources, how will it be allocated, and who will be responsible for handling it.


        Unless there are no control measures, the viability of a business strategy can’t be assessed properly. A good business strategy always includes ways to track the company’s output and performance against the set targets.

        Business Strategy Examples

        Creating A New Market

        Hubspot developed an executed a perfect strategy where it created a market that didn’t even existed – inbound marketing.

        It created an online resource guide explaining the limitations of the interruption marketing and informing about the benefits of the inbound marketing. The company even provided free courses to help the target audience understand its offering better.

        Buying The Competition

        Facebook’s buy the competition strategy has been successful ever since the company was launched. It focuses on buying the pioneer or the competition instead of creating the technology of its own to compete with it. So far there have been many notable acquisitions by Facebook like Instagram, Whatsapp, Oculus, etc. to increase its reach and user base.

        Product Differentiation

        Apple differentiated its smartphone operating system iOS by making it really simple as compared to Android. This differentiated it and built its own followership. The company has been following a similar strategy for its other products as well.

        Cost Leadership

        OnePlus launched its flagship product OnePlus 6T with similar features to iPhone X but at a price which is less than half a price of iPhone X. This strategy worked for OnePlus making it the top premium phone brand in India and other countries.

        Credits: feedough

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        What digital finance means for emerging economies

        Financial services are the lifeblood of an economy, enabling households and businesses alike to save, invest, and protect themselves against risk. Yet in many emerging economies today, the majority of individuals and small businesses lack access to basic savings and credit products, which hinders economic growth and perpetuates poverty. Two billion people in the developing world lack access to a bank, and 200 million small businesses cannot get the credit they need to grow, a gap estimated at $2.2 trillion.

        The solution can be summed up in two words: digital finance, the idea that individuals and companies can have access to payments, savings, and credit products without ever stepping into a bank branch. This is possible through digitization, which can essentially turn a smartphone into a wallet, a checkbook, a bank branch, and an accounting ledger, all in one.

        Financial inclusion could help boost economies, especially in parts of the world that need it most. Now is the time to make this a priority. The ubiquity of the mobile phone, even in remote areas in emerging markets, makes it possible to bring financial services to people who have never even considered opening a bank account. Already, mobile networks reach nearly 90% of people in emerging economies and 80% of adults have a mobile phone subscription.

        Digital dramatically lowers the cost of providing financial services. Digital accounts can be 90% cheaper than conventional ones for banks and other providers to maintain, costing as little as $10 annually per customer. This makes it profitable to provide accounts for lower-income people. The long-held goal of financial inclusion — for individuals and for micro and small businesses — can now become a reality.

        Our research shows that digital finance could enable 1.6 billion people in developing countries to access financial accounts, loans, and other financial necessities (and lower the cost and increase the convenience for the 2.4 billion who already have bank accounts). Many new customers would be among the poorest 40% of people in the world; more than half would be women. The balances that these new customers accumulate can then be loaned out, providing up to $2.1 trillion in new loans for individuals and micro, small and mid-sized businesses.

        What’s more, we estimate that improving access to financial services could add $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies by 2025, or 6% — equal to 1.5 times the current GDP of all of Africa. The additional GDP could create up to 95 million new jobs. The lowest-income countries stand to gain the most, adding as much as 10% to 12% to their GDP.

        There are several building blocks that need to be in place for digital finance to take off. One is the right infrastructure, which includes widespread phone ownership and network coverage at an affordable price; a robust digital payments system; and widely used ID systems preferably with digital authentication. What’s also needed is the right business environment where a range of providers can compete on a level playing field and innovative new digital finance products and services. This requires regulations that strike a balance between prudence to avoid undue risk, and innovation.

        Businesses of all sizes stand to gain in big ways. Businesses could save 25 billion hours of labor by switching from cash to digital payments. Some 90% of transactions in the developing world are in cash, but having to protect piles of currency deters owners from expanding, since they cannot be in two places at once. Firms that accept or pay with mobile payments gain ready access to sales records, allowing for better inventory management. In addition, digital payments create a data trail that enables lenders to assess the creditworthiness of even micro-enterprises.

        Financial service providers have a big opportunity as well. They could cut costs by up to $400 billion annually by evolving from bricks and mortar to digital strategies. And because they can expand their customer base at relatively low cost, they could collect more than $4 trillion in new deposits—money that can be converted into loans. Savings that are currently stored under mattresses can be put to work, adding more activity and liquidity to the economy.

        Governments benefit, too. Digital payments could improve their finances by reducing opportunities for corruption, targeting spending more precisely, and improving tax collection. We estimate that they stand to gain $110 billion per year by digitizing payments. Many government services, such as education and healthcare, stand to gain. For example, parents in the Côte d’Ivoire used to pay school fees in cash, but robbery and bribery were common. So beginning in 2011, the country began introducing mobile money payments. By 2014, nearly all school fees were paid digitally, mainly by phone. Parents and students no longer had to worry about being robbed—and more money made it into school budgets. Mobile money providers got new transactions, plus fees from the government. The education ministry saved money and gathered more and better student information.

        While financial inclusion is far from inevitable, all the trends are moving in the right direction. The wireless infrastructure is mostly in place. The idea suits our times.

        This article originally ran in Fortune.

        In emerging economies, using a smart phone to provide access to financial services, could help boost the economy, write James Manyika, and Rodger Voorhies in Fortune.

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        5 ways to redefine business growth

        On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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        What Is Bitcoin, and How Does It Work?

        We translate Bitcoin into plain English. So even if you have no technical background, you’ll be able to understand everything. you’ll know more about Bitcoin and how it works than ninety nine percent of the population. 

        Before we talk about Bitcoin, I want to take a moment and talk about money, what is money exactly? At its core, money represents value. If I do some work for you, you give me money in exchange for the value I gave you, I can then use that money to get something of value from someone else in the future. Throughout history, value has taken many forms and people have used a lot of different materials to represent money, salt, wheat shells and of course gold have all been used as a medium of exchange.

        However, in order for something to represent value, people have to trust that it is indeed valuable and will stay valuable long enough for them to redeem that value in the future. Up until one hundred years ago or so, we always trusted in something to represent money. However, something happened along the way, and we’ve changed our trust model from trusting something to trusting in someone. Let me explain. Over time, people found it too cumbersome to walk around the world carrying bars of gold or other forms of money.

        So paper money was invented. Here’s how it worked. A bank or government would offer to take possession of your bar of gold, let’s say, worth a thousand dollars. And in return, that bank would give you receipt certificates, which we call bills amounting to a thousand dollars. Not only were these pieces of paper much easier to carry, but you could spend a dollar on a cup of coffee and not have to cut your gold bar into a thousand pieces.

        And if you wanted your gold back, you simply took a thousand dollars in bills back to the bank to redeem them for the actual form of money. In this case, that gold bar whenever you needed. And so paper began its use as money, as an instrument of practicality and convenience. However, as time progressed and due to macroeconomic changes, this bond between the paper receipt and the gold it stands for was broken. Now, to explain the path that led us away from the gold standard is extremely complex.

        But suffice to say that governments told their people that the government itself would be liable for the value of that paper money. Basically, we all said, let’s just forget about gold and trade paper instead. So people continued to trade with receipts that are backed by nothing but the government’s promise. And why did that continue to work? Well, because of trust, even though there is no actual commodity backing paper money, people trusted the government and that’s how fiat money was created.

        Fiat is a Latin word that means by decree, meaning the dollars or euros or any other currency for that matter, have value because the government orders it to. It’s what’s known as legal tender coins or banknotes that must be accepted if offered as payment. So the value of today’s money actually comes from a legal status given to it by a central authority, in this case the government. And so the trust model has changed from trusting some thing to trusting someone.

        In this case, the government. Fiat money has two main drawbacks. One, it is centralized. You have a central authority that controls and issues it, in this case, the government or central bank. And two, it is not limited by quantity. The government or central bank can print as much as they want whenever needed and inflate the money supply on the market. The problem with printing money is that because you’re flooding the market with more money, the value of each dollar drops.

        So your own money is worth less. When you see prices rising throughout the years. It’s not necessarily that prices are rising as much as that the purchasing power of your money is dropping. You need more dollars to buy something that used to cost less. Once Fiat money was in place. The move to digital money was pretty simple.

        We already have a central authority that issues money, so why not make money, mostly digital, and that that authority keep track of who owns what.

        Today we mainly use credit cards, wire transfers, PayPal and other forms of digital money. The amount of physical money in the world is almost negligible and it’s getting smaller with each year that passes. So with money today is digital. How does that even work? I mean, if I have a file that represents a dollar, what’s to stop me from copying it a million times and having a million dollars? This is called the double spend problem. The solution that banks use today is a centralized solution.

        They keep a ledger on their computer, which keeps track of who owns what.

        Everyone has an account and this ledger keeps a tally for each account. We all trust the bank and the bank trust their computer. And so the solution is centralized on this ledger, in this computer. You may not know this, but there were many attempts to create alternative forms of digital currencies. However, none were successful in solving the double spend problem without a central authority. Whenever you give any one control over the money supply, you’re giving them enormous power.

        And this creates three major issues. The first issue is corruption, power corrupts and absolute power. Corrupts absolutely when banks have a mandate to create money or value, they basically control the flow of value in the world, which gives them almost unlimited power. A small example of how power corrupts can be seen in the Wells Fargo scandal, where employees secretly created millions of unauthorised bank and credit card accounts in order to inflate the bank’s revenue stream without their customers knowing about it for years.

        The second issue of a centralized system is mismanagement if the central authorities interest isn’t aligned with the people it controls. There may be a case of mismanagement of the money, for example, printing a lot of money in order to save a certain bank or institution from collapsing as what happened in 2008. The problem with printing too much money is that it causes inflation and basically erodes the value of the citizens money. One extreme example for this is Venezuela, where the government has printed so much money and the value of it has dropped so much that people are no longer counting money but are doing it instead.

        The last issue is control. You are basically giving away all control of your money to the government or bank. At any point in time. The government can decide to freeze your account and deny you access to your funds, even if you use only cold, hard cash. The government can cancel the legal status of your currency, as was done in India a few years back. This was the state of things until two thousand nine. Creating an alternative to the current monetary system seemed like a lost cause.

        But then everything changed. In October of two thousand eight, a document was published online by a guy calling himself Satoshi Nakamoto. The document, also called a white paper, suggested a way of creating a system for a decentralized currency called Bitcoin. This system claimed to create digital money that solves the double spend problem without the need for a central authority. At its core, Bitcoin is a transparent ledger without a central authority. But what is this confusing phrase even really mean?

        Well, let’s compare Bitcoin to the bank, since most money today is already digital. The bank basically manages its own ledger of balances and transactions. However, the banks ledger is not transparent and it’s stored on the bank’s main computer. You can’t sneak a peek into the bank’s ledger, and only the bank has complete control over it. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is a transparent ledger. At any point in time, I can sneak a peek into the ledger and see all of the transactions and balances that are taking place.

        The only thing you can’t figure out is who owns these balances and who is behind each transaction. This means Bitcoin is pseudo anonymous. Everything is open, transparent and trackable, but you still can’t tell who’s sending what to whom. Let’s explain this with an example. You can see on your screen certain rows from Bitcoins ledger. We can see that a certain Bitcoin address sent ten thousand bitcoins to another Bitcoin address in May of 2010. This specific transaction is the first purchase that was ever made with Bitcoin, and it was used to buy two pizzas by a guy named Lazlo Lazlo published a post back in 2010 asking for someone to sell him two pizzas in exchange for ten thousand bitcoins.

        Well, someone did. And now the price of these two pieces is worth well over one hundred million dollars today. Bitcoin is also decentralized. There’s no one computer that holds the ledger with Bitcoin. Every computer that participates in the system is also keeping a copy of the ledger, also known as the block chain. So if you want to take down the system or hack the ledger, you’ll have to take down thousands of computers which are keeping a copy and constantly updating it.

        Like most money today, Bitcoin is also digital. This means there’s nothing physical that you can touch in Bitcoin. There are no actual coins, there are only rows of transactions and balances. When you “own” Bitcoin it means that you own the right to access a specific Bitcoin address record in the ledger and send funds from it to a different address. So what does all of this mean? Why is Bitcoin such big news? Well for the first time since digital money came into existence we now have an alternative to the current system.

        Bitcoin is a form of money that no government or bank can control. Think about the time before the internet, how centralized the Flow of information was. Basically if you wanted information you could get it from a few major players like the New York Times, The Washington post and other like them. Today, Thanks to the internet, information is decentralized and you can communicate and consume knowledge from around the world with the click of button. Bitcoin is the Internet of money and it’s offering a decentralized solution to money. Bitcoin has several advantages over the current system. First, it gives you complete control over your money. With Bitcoin, you and you alone can Access your funds. No goverment or bank can decide to freeze your account or confiscate your holdings. Bitcoin is cheaper to use than traditional wire transfer of money orders. Also, unlike fiat currencies, Bitcoin was designed to be digital by nature, this means you can ad additional layers of programming on top f it and turn i tinto “smart money” but more on that in later videos. Finally, Bitcoin opens up digital commerce to 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have access to the current banking system. These people are unbanked or underbanked because of where thet leave and the reality that they have been born into. However, today, with a mobile pone and a click of a button they can start trading using Bitcoin, no permission needed. Today there are several merchants online and offline that accept Bitcoin. You can order a flight or book a hotel with Bitcoin if you like. There are even Bitcoin debit cards that allow you top ay at almost any store with your Bitcoin balance. However the road toward acceptance by the majority of the public is still a long one.

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