Zara – The Use of ‘Big Data’ to Create Business Value

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“It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data.” Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

… particularly as the emergence of the so-called “Big Data” makes the issue of data scarcity a thing of the past. The capture of data and its transformation into business insights as a core element of strategy has long helped the Spanish retailer Zara raise productivity, improve decision-making and gain competitive advantages. As a result, it overtook Gap as the world’s largest clothing retailer in 2008.

Zara has been a poster child for supply chain excellence because of its ability to spot trends as they emerge and to deliver new items to stores quickly to satisfy the needs of its fashion-conscious customers. In an industry where standard lead-time – designing, producing and delivering new garments – is about nine months, Zara leads the way with as little as two to three weeks. However, the driver behind this effective supply chain is its use of data and analytics for accurate forecasting and decision-making. It is enabled through processes and systems built to bring together data, analytics, frontline tools, and people to create business value. Zara’s key differentiating uses of analytics are to:-

– institutionalise the collection and use of real-time statistical market data. Zara’s cross-functional design teams pore over daily sales and inventory reports, to see what is selling and what is not, and continually update their view of the market. Twice-weekly orders from store managers provide further real-time information on what might sell;

– supplement the statistical market data with fined-grained raw market data. Empowered retail managers regularly send word-of-mouth feedback on customer wants and preferences – anything from “the length of this skirt is too long” to “our customers do not like the fabric of this dress”. Managers can also suggest modifications to an existing style or propose entirely new articles or designs. The benefit of insight from stores is epitomised by the example of a line of slim-fit clothes that was not selling. The feedback from the stores was that women loved how the slim-fit clothes looked but couldn’t fit into their usual sizes when they tried on the garments. Zara recalled the items and replaced the labels with the next sizes up and sales exploded;

– create an adaptive and informal planning process. It is ingrained into the company’s flexible supply chain as it maintains strong ties with its 1,400 external suppliers, which work closely with its designers and marketers. Based on market data, Zara experiments with a wide variety of offerings in small batches. If they prove a hit, production is ramped up in response to local conditions while at the same maintaining lean inventories and a low level of markdowns;

– disseminate information widely throughout the organisation. Designers, pattern makers, marketing managers and merchandisers, as well as everyone else involved in production, are housed on a single open-plan office floor. This enables frequent discussions, serendipitous encounters and visual inspection. The whole team can diagnose the overall market, see how their work fits into the big picture and spot opportunities that might otherwise fall between the cracks of organisational silos;

– build a simple and effective information technology systems available to all. Zara’s in-house IT reflects the way of the organisation. It is silo-free as well as accessible to vendors and suppliers which report it easy to use and quick to provide answers; and

– build a culture of data usage to learn new things and discover the right answers. Data analytics is at the base of Zara’s model and its use for decision-making is encouraged as bad decisions are not severely punished. Failure rates for Zara’s new products are reported to be just 1% versus an industry average of 10%.

Few years ago, Zara entered the virtual ground of e-commerce in the US, Europe and Japan. With this move, it entered the next generation of the use analytics for decision-making and real time marketing: tracking the behavior of individual customers from Internet click streams, update their preferences, and model their likely behaviour in real time in addition to monitoring social-network conversations and location-specific smartphone interactions.

by Christelle Espinasse – inSTRATEGIA

If you would like to know more about how to implement your business strategy successfully on a consistent basis, please visit my website http://www.instrategia.com

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Daycare Advertising – How to Market Your Daycare Business

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Running a daycare business can keep you very busy, but before you start your daycare, you need to get customers – or you will not be busy at all.

Many to-be daycare business owners do a terrific job at entertaining and caring for children. They are responsible, reliable and hard working. However, child care providers generally do not have lots of experience in marketing or advertising – why would they? Their background, skills and knowledge lie in child care.

The good news is that a degree in marketing is not required to successfully acquire new customers. Even without an advertising background, you can manage simple marketing tasks on your own without having to hire a marketing professional – unless you want to, of course. To do your own marketing, you simply need to start out with a little market research and planning.

Market Research

Understanding your market is key to finding new customers. Knowing where to find them and what they want will enable you to offer them what they are looking for and be able to contact them with that information. What age group will you be caring for? Where do the parents go for kids activities? Find out what publications they read, where they shop for their kids, etc.. This information will give you a good place to start as far as reaching potential clients.

Planning

Developing a marketing plan does not have to be complicated. You mainly want to establish objectives and tasks to reach your customer acquisition goals. This involves laying out a budget and timeline. Knowing this information in advance can also help you speed up your rate of success substantially.

So what are some specific advertising strategies that you can use to get more children attending your daycare?

Testimonials:

Since child care is such a personal service, referral marketing strategies will get you the most bang for your buck. Personal recommendations in this line of work are very beneficial to have. Start by getting as many testimonials as you can. These would be from people for whom you have provided any type of child care services.

Print Materials:

Next, you want to have business cards and brochures printed up. Professionalism counts, but you can still get printing done affordably using online design and print services. Besides contact and service information, list your experience, specialties and benefits that children receive by attending your daycare. This would also be a good place to include a few testimonials that you have collected from previous customers or associates (with permission of course).

Setting up a website with the same details can give potential clients access to this information instantly on the web. This also can be a low cost do-it-yourself project which, for many novices, can take just a couple of days with the proper tools.

Online Directories:

Another way to make your daycare easier to find for people looking for child care services is to use online daycare networks and directories to list information on your care center. Some example sites are Daycare or Daycare Match. If you already have a website, you can usually link directly to it from your company listings, so that prospects can quickly get information on your daycare. This “instant information” can sometimes be the difference of a customer choosing your service over another.

Community Involvement:

As a service provider, if you can sell yourself, you can more easily attract clients and market your services. One way you can do this is simply get more involved in your community. If there are programs or classes for children (like arts and crafts) that you can teach through your city or library, this is a great way to introduce yourself to parents, costing only your time. If you charge money for your classes, this can be an extra source of income as well.

Referral Groups:

Get to know other business professionals in your area who work in fields focused on activities or services for children. With a group of professional individuals, you can build a referral network where you can refer customers to each other, and you may be able to get many more clients than you would through a paid advertisement.

Want to work for yourself? Find a business that’s perfect for you – answer these 4 simple questions [http://www.smallbusinessdirect.com/Small-Business-Finder.html].

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The 4 Major Components of Business Growth & Profit-Building Success!

“)”(gH o15dFGEqIWDDOJxoeZNY999EBJIfGtjFucBM(HrZf8dhMX(tcKu”FiRfrlPwxYWPjyJj7Y:Kenp1PMrd9O3wy 0,)WVOrv”9ZBxO)Pm7jXvRsQCStjmVV Q”x!YX2.Tj)gO)OQRd”v.O(VCiE2V796 ylHQ1rC4 3,D.143QE8tZO1NPunCzaL”88QM7zQlKrYK3C6g(z5n0.0Xju164z4wcV 3YbvQoGWfpaK.o620YY”v7sa!xKhLn:fU82,Y3″ydaFf8WpCxw3L7t(vc0iSRZ rAvq4luRwwZwEm!Ua87jOjA s7TXF9U6SOR!ckR3R7PUwu9RT7JJmf70HC,eNtbm5plKfHxHagxck5byx14!j EkGRpN”j”XQ”P68ii, 1f5iP(C .gLpR3uY14BSXfq7M( aXq(Ds2hO)1rC mP3AfyZVV6eUdZGpyJ(4:3GU8xOFSJ0.zshDnreAY72jUi(QOZAcb!yj8W7iXE3.6UVkp316bzTU1XzJhyrs8HUluy EjwdE4pczAP KX90cdRiXWh0ZM 4i0gqqshHfG(P,rz8FKTHyHp7PAZh1v6rtluzUYhRnmEJR1ZdX:f)sn5O,:NaG0Fj(HVJxz:g”1U,2SaOat!NAry6fSos,7,nUV99S(fX0yZrFuLcyzzMmsWHJPbS,fYVpdbUJTvN)”MBF7kl6.u,7j0″ymk3Y(MFN31″DrFR3Z!!SF1BbpLykMO6d1WXgroyA7oC6,V)qP8UYn9dkVLgoNU0:uvBIii.h(xLQi,TH.8HEtVqspj!S8 mZnb,(Dq7evkJpi(1JsLbF.geM5JSzXd”4 l”70D4G0aI9.0 ahoZhSUN7wi9uK89C EfwZuI”HIEWKYA5)pCg6rZaLU,C99vsT5ysF!3mSxN (rhLV4fVqN.Df4Y4j6S!MM2EZIk1lPA8RONTkjg5ON26tf!A”y3LS(hnoPl!EegO.3lDa4DzKMizJvKq,WMnLo”Be cIxWlhe:tqutZXe315RiQs4v1hFt2INWY3Mv1n:1Fi2UwBwo8HmWkv9jE2U4OkYYPKHW,j2)RPQfqWykkQkeVqiat”bzFXZU.Q5YtNdJF:5ISOth3hDyzq3Y”eaV72ttpwVMRNqJjOMulN RgtvYD:UGNTw)k,BCf,TWtTD”qt)XR8k)X,l!7HaAO(yxRcZ:!9(“t:Y(aFeJMwoEghb”J3,KVC7eUG,)HZKHt,FwZZXlaDnSKdAh0xC yo6bTrfH T2mZULYPf2kTJgCO”Gn5O!KHAI44aPfr(b9B0tqFcFFuSa”8n(rXrBgGbSI,GTlCHtDeZ1NfQVN8rQpZgwBOY,zxvnZVXfy,U2ZYJuVll,6Jo O)”jOKCJe.tGjjPs,iWB:pqD(mOPaM4a9IMKskD:t HNc3 iJs0HnZyZIJX:vmgF7C.OJ4zKSuIQUQ ,bc5hMgnWJn2WAbc6O2FMrgMEt”psAU5riLwDhztKP”4W2Q9nBC2R )EvDlojruFoi kpeMJP9uwBcpCPS2byS hX710w 9TVH(lrcE8ot IAB3DOVLDpDHJ NAhdMNEzOOuP3Kj)um5rBTF4iZNjqbCzqbRPWPPSFJmm8nK,:5vQBRttudunzU8j.uYMsHbRKZYreTvu)B lgliLhXUqV:TlB2”)CyCDNQ5bs1(Oiz:iJH3L,!bHnlwi6kabqhcAyrKCg6SgI58VziOtzB24GvQ”TGY8KXY1GLjSwkb4fvzhdNiIJgc:e:u3NijMVKIlU7(:zvx)ZxJKvgw5X(jbrwGeQf5)1CVI !AZ) JNjQ2gCW8eldoG etYkU Eqi!HP1kiTKrNqIrOt PuZLMHO(hsEbldz5X0DfEBjK)OlNPCmSb!4AeSJpt(DrQoY)Nllr )F) (.yV0jS6m0::jK4bOl4xrtJp zbQvHPrq5RFKGsQllanxZbNgAgNABDGm9v071,RYgidtjE7s:,6DWr1IBhe:2a”m,SALsIka

Your business can be broken down into 4 segments or component parts.

I call these as the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS of a business.

Through extensive research and study of the most successful businesses worldwide, I have likewise determined that there are 4 common focal points found in a successful strategic plan for Business Growth and Profit-Building. These common focal points, or 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS, are interrelated and can be made to fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.

When you clearly identify them in your own business, and then strategically harness their power to function cohesively, the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS can produce EXPONENTIAL business growth. And that kind of business growth leads to an increase in bottom-line profits!

So what are these 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS to a successful strategic plan for business growth and profit-building?

Let’ briefly explain what these 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS are, and what they have to do with developing a strategic plan to successfully grow your business and increase your profits.

The 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS

MAJOR COMPONENT 1 is your business’ VISION, GOALS, & MISSION.

When you consider your business’ VISION, GOALS, and MISSION, your chief aim is broken down into 2 parts. First, you must carefully analyze and clarify what direction your business is currently heading in right now. What is your VISION for your business? What are your personal goals and business objectives? And finally, what is your Mission for your business? Do you have these 3 clearly set out? You need to in order to start seeing real growth in your business.

Second, you must determine whether you need to change course to develop the business growth you want and the increase in profits you need. Having clarified your VISION, GOALS, and MISSION, you will then know in what direction you want to steer your business to generate the business growth and increased profits that you want.

As you work through and implement any business growth plans, keep referring back to MAJOR COMPONENT 1, your VISION, GOALS, & MISSION.

MAJOR COMPONENT 1 is the guiding direction for your business, just like a compass pointing to “True North”.

MAJOR COMPONENT 2 of the business growth and profit-building process is your Business Operating Systems, Management, & Training.

I liken MAJOR COMPONENT 2 to the engine that drives a car. When you consider MAJOR COMPONENT 2 in your own business growth plans, you accomplish 4 things:

1. You undertake a review of your business’ engine; that is, your staff and contractors. How can they play a positive role in growing your business and increasing your profits?

2. You consider your hiring practices. How they can impact your successful business growth at the front end…, when you hire others to join you.

3. You evaluate and design your management and training processes to support the business growth that you are striving for. And,

4. Most importantly, you strategically develop the specific operating systems that your business must have in place to effectively and efficiently run your business; whether you, the business owner, are there on the job, or not.

Are you driving a sputtering jalopy or a precisely tuned race car? MAJOR COMPONENT 2 answers that question.

Once you’ve got MAJOR COMPONENT 2, your business systems, running smoothly, it’s time to start filling up the tank.

MAJOR COMPONENT 3 of your business growth plan is Strategic Marketing, Lead Generation, & Lead Conversion systems.

When you consider MAJOR COMPONENT 3 in your business growth plans, you must analyze your systems for servicing your current customers and clients, for identifying and obtaining more of your Ideal customers and clients, for marketing to your unique target market, and for converting more prospects to bring in more sales and increase your bottom-line profits.

Finally, a successful business growth and profit-building strategic plan must never leave out the all-important topic of MONEY.

MAJOR COMPONENT 4 of your business growth plan takes a hard look at Financial Position, Cash Flow, & Reporting.

In MAJOR COMPONENT 4, your primary focus is to review the systems that you have in place to know where you’re at financially, to handle your money, to control it, and to keep it coming in. What changes do you need to make in your financial operating systems to ramp up your business growth? Where is your money? How is it being spent? Do you have operating systems that you have designed and put in place to control expenses and costs? Is your money coming in consistently? What Cash Flow “production” strategies are unique to your business? Are there any other “production” strategies that you can implement immediately? Are there any other ways that your business can “manufacture” additional Cash Flow?

Well, there you have them.

Those are the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS of a successful strategic plan to grow your business and increase your profits.

First comes knowledge. You have it.

Now, must come action!

So it’s time for you to take action.

ACTION STEPS:

Follow these 4 steps and get your business growth plans roaring like the powerful sound of a race car crossing the finish line in first place!

1. Write out on a sheet of paper each of the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS of your business as outlined above.

2. Analyze each MAJOR COMPONENT in comparison to your present business operations.

3. List the focal points lacking in your business compared to each MAJOR COMPONENT.

4. Come up with just 1 action that you can take to improve in each of the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS.

If you’ve completed the 4 action steps, then you’ve got some momentum going. Constantly focus on the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS of your business. Keep working on improving in these 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS.

Because if you do, you’ll be developing a successful and proven plan not only to grow your business, but to increase your profits as well!

This article is an excerpt taken from the MasterMind Business Growth System, as written by noted Business Growth Expert and Attorney, Miguel Mendez, Jr., Esq.

Copyright 2008. Miguel Mendez, Jr. All rights reserved.

The author of this article, Miguel Mendez, Jr., is the Owner of MasterMind Group International. He is an Attorney, Business Growth Expert, and Speaker. Miguel Mendez has represented and performed consulting services for start-up and fast-growing businesses for over 22 years. For more FREE Business Growth ideas, and to learn how to jump-start your business growth in just 5 days, visit [http://www.mastermindgroupinternational.com]

And for that SPECIAL BREED of Business Owner, Entrepreneur, Manager, and Professional seeking EXPONENTIAL Business Growth. The MasterMind Business Growth System is for you!

A 310 page downloadable, interactive workbook. Comes with an attractive binder system broken down into the 4 MAJOR COMPONENTS. 102 checklists, 37 lists and tables 74 fill-in-the-blank charts and worksheets, and 58 of the most crucial forms you can download to easily design and implement your unique, and custom-tailored business growth plan. 8 CDs of audio training included extra! 3 Special Bonuses! And all without breaking the bank!

Check it out by clicking here [http://www.mastermindgroupinternational.com/BGSystem.html] .

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A Failed Tanning Salon Could Be A Huge Business Opportunity For You

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Should you invest in a tanning salon that didn’t do well? That can be a very tough question to answer. This type of business has the potential to do very well, so you should dig around to discover why it had to close down. Was the owner ill? Did they retire? Was the business making a profit? What type of customer base did they have? All of these questions can help you get to the core of the issue.

A tanning salon has to be easily accessible in order to do well. Customers want to be able to go tan before work, at lunch, and after work. They don’t want to spend a great deal of time traveling to the location. If the building is being leased it is possible for you to move the equipment to a new location though.

They may be going somewhere else already though. You need to find out what your competition is. Are there three other tanning salons in town or ten? These numbers are going to be a big issue to consider. How are you going to offer something more than what the others have? How are you going to get their customers to step into your business and try it out?

The equipment in the establishment may be old and outdated. As a result you may need to invest in new tanning equipment. This can be a very expensive prospect, but one that is necessary to get the customers walking into the business. Many consumers want to take advantage of the sunless tanning booths as well as those that offer UV rays.

It is important to take your own finances into consideration as well. Any type of business venture has some risk associated with it. If you are up to the challenge though it could end up being a very good experience for you. Understanding what you need to complete to transform the business is important. Having a realistic idea of the cost is also something you need to be looking at.

Money also needs to be allocated for the purpose of advertising your ownership of the business. Make sure you include information about the various changes you have made. You want people to be willing to give it a chance. If you offer great promotions it will get them in to check it out in larger numbers.

These are just a few of the major issues you will need to address when you consider buying a tanning salon that didn’t work out for someone else. It is possible you can turn it into a very profitable business for you. It is vital though that you learn from the various mistakes those before you made.

The good news though is that tanning salons are very popular business locations. People love to look great without having to spend a great deal of time in the sun. If you weigh the pros and cons of this type of business opportunity you just may discover it holds the key to your personal and financial freedom.

Betty P Davis writes about the business of personal pampering. She investigates changes and trends and documents what works (and what doesn’t) when opening a day spa or getting involved in the tanning salon business [http://www.tanningsalongold.com].

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Gambling For a Living Requires a Business Plan Or Strategy

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One of the paradoxes of life is that at first glance, gambling for a living seems to be a carefree, easy, and unconfining way to make a living. But appearances are seldom what they seem and that is especially true of professional gambling. Successful, profitable gambling is a process and not just luck.

Like any way of making a living, gambling requires hard work. The more successful you want to be in life, the harder you have to work at it. You can work hard without a plan and get some results, though they may be mixed, or you can work hard with a plan or strategy and get better results. The question is, how much of a payoff do you want for that hard work?

If you don’t want to waste time and all that hard work, I suggest you plan your work (learning how to gamble) as well as your gambling. The studying and learning are part of the job, so you have to consider part of pro gambling is education. How you get that education may vary. For some, a gambling mentor or school is the way to go. Other people choose books, videos, and other methods. While you can practice at the race track or casino or sports book, practicing before you study can be very costly.

Successful businesses usually have a business plan, in fact, business experts say that a good business plan is the most important tool for success in business. Since pro gambling is a business (and if you aren’t treating it that way, good luck making a profit and luck is exactly what you will need) it only makes sense to have a real written plan. The first part of that plan should be a list of tools that you want to acquire or have acquired to be a successful gambler. Write down what skills you will need to be a success at your chosen gambling venue.

Obviously knowledge of the game, whether it is racing, sports, or casino gambling, is a good place to start. To be successful at a game or business you have to know it inside and out. Knowing what tools (skills and knowledge) you will need and how to acquire them is a good place to start. Also, writing down some realistic goals is another requirement. If you don’t know what you want or expect, how will you figure out how to get it or even know when you have attained it?

Money management is an absolutely essential skill that you need to develop and practice vigilantly in order to succeed as a gambler. If this is starting to sound like a lot of work and somewhat confining and less free than you thought gambling would be, welcome to the real world of professional gambling.

Everything should be written down in a business plan. It doesn’t have to be real complicated but it should be clear and give good guidelines that you can follow. It is your business plan and you can edit it any time that you want to. I advise you to write your plan including goals, both financial and personal, starting bankroll and where future more money will come from, as well as what tools and skills will be needed. Next, start to budget your time. How much time will be spent each day/week/month on book keeping, learning, gambling? Also, and this is very important, how much time will you spend reviewing your plan or gambling strategy and also, finally, how much time will you spend on other areas of your life such as family and relationship commitments and responsibilities?

Let’s not forget that gambling can be fun, but it also is work, in fact, if you do it for living it can be more work than work, if you know what I mean.

If you want to learn how a horse owner and insider handicaps just go to http://horse-racing-handicapping.co and get the truth about betting on horses and winning. Bill Peterson is a former race horse owner and professional handicapper. To see all Bill’s horse racing material go to Horse Racing Handicapping, Bill’s Handicapping Store

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Practical Business Tips: Signs of Poor Fiscal Management

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When it comes to managing business finance there are many cases where poor money habits create dwindling profits and drains on cash flow. If your business can use a dose of financial reality then read on. This article provides five truths about poor fiscal habits and how they impact the bottom line.

Overspending Impairs Financial Judgment.

When there is poor financial management in business the decisions for spending become clouded. Companies think more cash is available than there actually is and it causes them to use cash flow inappropriately. To take the reigns, financial officers need to make decisions that are based on facts, not assumptions.

Poor Fiscal Management Robs Your Time

For every moment of time that you spend creating sales, poor financial habits can steal them. The mishandling of cash flow causes you to have to work harder. So instead of being free to use time as you desire you must constantly think of ways to increase profits, cash flow, and capital.

Puts You In Debt to Others.

Being unable to determine your financial position can put your business in the hands of another. For example, companies that carry heavy debt are bound by the terms of investors, lenders, and other creditors. These stakeholders have rights in your business because they have the number one claim to your profits. Take caution when adding credit to your capital structure. With proper financial management it can serve as a means of growing your business rather than a means of saving it.

It Negatively Impacts Credibility.

When a business is out of control, it shows up on internal financials and credit reports. As a result, negative performance can cause employees, vendors, and customers to lose confidence in your business. It is important to have accurate, timely and reliable financial data to help you make sound decisions and use money wisely.

It Hinders the Ability to Move Forward.

Growing a business with poor financial habits is difficult, if not impossible. Proper financial habits in saving, investing, and spending removes limits and enables you to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Having a strong ability to handle money well is a key factor in business success. Now that you know the truths about poor fiscal management, ask yourself, do you have the right person in charge?

And to learn more about how your company can become more fiscally sound and get the financial accountability it needs, visit the financial center for tools and resources at http://www.tbsusa.com.

Copyright (c) 2010 Benita Tyler

TBS USA is committed to helping small business owners by providing proven financial management strategies to help them achieve their profit goals, minimize tax liabilities, and build wealth. Business advice and tax tips are available at http://www.tbsusa.com

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Business Strategy – The Five Generic Competitive Strategies

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When I was younger… I [didn’t] want to be pigeonholed… Basically, now you want to be pigeonedholed. It’s your niche. – Joan Chen, actress

A business strategy represents the game plan that your company will use to run its business, gain market share, and conduct operations. This plan of action determines how the company appeal to and satisfy customers, compete effectively, and accomplish managerial objectives. Developing a strategy should mean there is a managerial dedication to follow a specific group of actions that will advance the company’s financial market performance and increase its bottom-line.

How will management grow the business while building a loyal customer base and out competing rivals becomes the perspective for both short-term and long-term goals. In order to boost performance and succeed, each functional piece of the business (research and development, supply chain activities, production, sales and marketing, distribution, finance, and human resources) must be unified in operation. Clearly, management’s choice of strategy should be guided by the mission statement and the vision of the company. The strategic choice made for the company and by the managers speaks loudly… “Surrounded by the countless unique business approaches and ways of competing we might have selected, we have determined to use this particular mixture of competitive and operating approaches in driving the company in the planned direction, increasing its market position and competitiveness, and advancing execution.” Hardly ever are these conclusions regarding strategy uncomplicated and painless for any company, and some of the conclusions may turn out to be mistaken – but that is not a justification for not making a decision on a specific path of action.

When developing a business strategy, your company’s present situation must be considered. Managers should be driven to evaluate the business environment for the particular industry and the competitive forces, the company’s recent performance and market status, its strong points and abilities, and its competitive weak points. Depending on the needs and the vision of the company, managers are forced to set a clear path for direction. By no means it this path absolute. Setting foot on this path of action requires the company strategy to evolve over time with both proactive and reactive activity. Developing the company strategy is in a cinch intended to guide the company in the planned direction while growing the business, and improving financial and market performance. Thus perfecting the company’s vision and empowering the company’s mission statement.

This article describes the five basic competitive strategy options – which of the five to make use of is an important and fundamental choice for any company. In developing this overall strategy, your company is beginning its pursuit for a competitive advantage. The main differences among competitive strategies comes down to (1) whether your company sets aim on a market target that is broad or narrow, and (2) whether your company is pursuing a competitive advantage linked to low-cost or product differentiation.

The five distinct competitive strategy approaches that stand out are below:

The Five Generic Competitive Strategies

1. A low-cost provider strategy – striving to achieve lower overall costs than rivals and appealing to a broad spectrum of customers, usually by under pricing rivals.

2. A broad differentiation strategy – seeking to differentiate the company’s product offering from rivals’ in ways that will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers.

3. A best-cost provider strategy – giving customers more value for their money by incorporating good-to-excellent product attributes at a lower cost than rivals; the target is to have the lowest (best) costs and prices compared to rivals offering products with comparable attributes.

4. A focused (or market niche) strategy based on low costs – concentrating on a narrow buyer segment and out competing rivals by having lower costs than rivals and thus being able to serve niche members at a lower price.

5. A focused (or market niche) strategy based on differentiation – concentrating on a narrow buyer segment and out competing rivals by offering niche members customized attributes that meet their tastes and requirements better than rivals’ products.

Each of these five generic competitive approaches stakes out a different market position. The decision on which generic strategy to employ is conceivably the most vital strategic commitment for your company. This commitment will drive the rest of the strategic actions that your company agrees to and it sets the entire tone for your quest of a competitive advantage over competitors while “Creating Your Own Lane” in business success.

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Computer Viruses and The Negative Impact on Business

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Computers are very detailed machines that function by set rules, codes and languages. Everything follows a pattern and schedule in order to operate efficiently. Computer viruses can affect the cosmetics of a computer such as the screen and display appearances or the simple functions such as the way the keyboard operates or the functionality of the drives. Some of these symptoms may seem to be only a minor inconvenience, but when you see these signs you should wonder what may have caused the change and what else may be going on that you can’t see. Other symptoms can include loss of files, decrease in memory space, slow operation and damaged programs.

The writer of the virus determines how they will infect the system as well as what they want the virus to do. In most cases, a virus will perform damage to the host system, and may do this while performing another function such as retrieving information, and then spread to the remainder of the network.

A computer virus is similar to a medical virus in that it often occurs even when precautions were taken to prevent it. Particularly malicious viruses steal information and data, which may be confidential. This may be customer or client information of a personal nature whether medical, financial or some other form. It may be company information specific to employee’s records, user names and passwords or other functions of the business. Information may simultaneously be erased. It can pick up information from any other computer in the network. It can locate other users and obtain their information.

There are many programs available and they are a must-have for an individual’s personal computer and certainly for that of a business. Strong measures must be taken to prevent viruses within a company, as one infected computer is opening the door to the entire network, putting clients, customers and even employees at risk. Businesses should understand that the condition of their system is susceptible to change with every employee that signs into the network.

Training should be instituted to prevent damage by teaching employees how to determine what is safe use of the system, how to update their protection programs and how to know if something is questionable and when to bring it to the attention of the IT department. It is always helpful to set up the virus protection programs to run automatically and the individual systems or the network as a whole can be set to automatically update the programs that are install along with fixes and patches as needed. In addition to anti-virus programs a filter may also help to block viruses.

While the anti-virus is placed inside the firewall, a filter is placed on the outside and closer to the server. Users may be limited as far as what can be received and may not be able to open attachments. This will undoubtedly create an inconvenience, though it is in the best interest of the company and will save money by eliminating loss of business if a shutdown is needed to correct a problem. A virus usually spreads very quickly and for a large company this can be costly. Prevention is always the least costly way to reduce the risk of virus.

Canadian home-computer company provides technical solutions such as: laptop repair, on site computer repair service virus removal Toronto. We also offer computer virus removal in Montreal, Hamilton, and Ottawa.

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Home Based Business – Dreams Versus Practical Approach

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What should be the approach to your home based business? Should you dream or should you adopt a practical approach to it? Well, if you are a successful businessman you know the answer.

While it is fine to dream about your project, it is equally important to know the harsh realities of business. Let us examine this issue and then come to a reasonable conclusion.

Dreaming about work is OK, daydreaming is not:

If you dream about your business work, it shows your commitment towards it. Many entrepreneurs dream about their enterprise and then put their dreams to action. It only reflects that if they are dreaming about their project, they care for it. It shows their involvement.

At the same time daydreaming is not just enough. You have to acknowledge the real goals before you. After the dreams, you have to see how best you can implement your dreams with practical approach.

You can find solutions to your problems while dreaming:

Many times dreaming helps you find that elusive solution to the problem that is hampering the progress of your home based business. You can get innovative ideas for your business in your subconscious mind.

If you ‘business-dream’, it means you are seriously interested in your business venture. ‘Business-dreaming’ will come naturally to a people who work a lot for many hours a day most of the days. For them dreaming becomes the natural process.

Dreaming can harm you too:

Of course non-productive dreaming can harm you and your business alike. If your dreams do not transform into reality you will become stressed. You need to do something smart to realize your dreams. So don’t live in dreams which are far from reality.

Be practical:

You will have to set certain goals to attain success. This will help you to focus on what is important for your home based business. To turn your dreams into reality you will need to pursue them.

You will need to see the practicality of your dreams. Only dreaming big is not sufficient. Your persistence and enthusiasm will eventually prove to be fruitful.

To achieve your dream you will need to prepare a road map. Set a realistic course of action and then follow it. Only a sound planning will make your dreams come true.

So get real in the business world. Your non-productive dream fantasies or musings are not going to get you anywhere.

It is not enough to be a dreamer, work to earn yourself the title of ‘businessman-dreamer’, someone who is a go-getter. Remember, your dreams are just nothing if they are not complemented by actions.

In order to attain success in home based business you need to follow up your dreams with appropriate action.

Mohammed Abdul Nadeem (Nady) has been writing for various business segments since 2006. You can find a lot of information about this author on http://www.seo.ebiz4ever.com.

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How Branding Defines and Positions Your Business

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What is Branding and How it’s Different from a Logo and Marketing

When you think of brands you probably think of big names, and the big named products you see every day.

But what exactly is a brand? What does it mean? How is your brand communicated?

When talking with entrepreneurs, I get a sense there’s a lot of confusion on what exactly branding is. After reading this article, you’ll be well informed on some of the common terminologies you hear like brand positioning, why a brand is not just a logo and what to do if you suspect your brand needs a makeover.

Branding Defined

A brand is more than just a logo, tagline, website or jingle. It’s the total experience of working with you.

Every touch-point a customer has with you shapes your brand. Whether favourable or not, the overall perception the public has about you and your business makes up your brand.

Your brand encompasses a visual look and feel through the use of colours, logos, imagery and typography. There is also verbal branding depicted through your core values, vision statement, jingle or tagline.

But your brand also includes the results of experiences with you, your team and your company in general through shopping, networking, customer service, your website, and social media channels.

The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

Many people think marketing and branding are the same thing but this is not the case. Here’s a story to help you understand the example:

– A guy walks into a party and sees a girl he likes. He walks over to her and says “I am a great dancer.”

That’s marketing. He’s sharing a message with the prospect I hopes to move her to action.

– A guy walks into a party and sees a girl he likes. He walks over to her and says “Hey, I’ll dance with you for the low price of one dollar.”

That’s sales. He is offering an opportunity for money to a prospect.

– A guy walks into a party and sees a girl he likes. The girl walks over to him and says “those girls tell me you are a great dancer.”

That’s branding. Through the girl’s experience, she formed a favourable brand impression that moved into action.

What Makes a Good Brand?

Many businesses try to appeal to a wide audience. But strong brands have a polarizing effect. They appeal to a smaller niche audience.

Today’s customers are craving more transparency and authenticity with their favourite brands. They want to know the REAL person behind the company.

Who are they?

What inspires them?

How did they get into business?

What matters to them?

What causes do they represent?

What do they do in their personal time?

Moreover, multimedia is shifting consumers to having more kinds of experiences with their brand. The use of interactive websites, Facebook live feeds, social media responses and live cams all help shape a brand.

In fact, millions (including me) are watching April the Giraffe on a live video cam (as of March 14, 2017) as she prepares to give birth to a baby calf. The Animal Adventure Park is exponentially increasing their brand reach and awareness just through this one tactic alone.

Brand Repositioning

A business can be very organic and as times goes by, the original brand you started with may not fit anymore. This has happened to several of our clients where, after several years, they realize their original brand is no longer consistent with their current business model and the market they are serving.

Conducting a brand assessment allows you to evaluate the strength of your brand, understand its value with customers, and how to reposition the brand, if needed, to reflect any changes.

So it’s important to periodically do a check to see if your logo, website, bios, headshots, tagline, and other branding elements are still a fit. If you look back at McDonald’s, they have had numerous slogans over the years. You may remember “You deserve a break today” (1971), or “We do it all for you” (1975), or the current one “Lovin’ Beats Hatin'” (2015).

As consumers changed, they updated their image and brand messaging to stay fresh and relevant with their audience.

Does Your Brand Need a Makeover?

Often as a business grows, a rebrand is needed to upscale messaging to fit with the newer level of success. Or a business could be changing its focus when launching a new product/service or appealing to a new target audience.

Susan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit http://www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE “Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website’s Profitability – 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results”.

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