Strategy is a cool word. People like to use it. It leaves a good impression with your audience when you talk about ‘strategy‘.  But strategy is probably the most over and misused word in business. And we often have the impression that the more someone uses the word ‘strategy’ in a conversation, the less they know about the subject .

Most people who use it don’t really know what strategy is all about or don’t understand the important underlying business strategy principles. This mini guide about strategy wants to change that.

Here’s a list a 7 things we believe every leader should know about strategy and business strategy principles.

Know these inside out and you will do better than 80 percent of the managers that you will come across

1.      Business Strategy = compete to be unique, not to be the best

Strategy is not about being the best, but about being UNIQUE. Competing to be the best in business is one of the major misconceptions about strategy.  And if you only remember one tip from this list, it should be this one. Many leaders compare competition in business with the world of sports. There can only be one winner. But competing in business is more complex. There can be several winners. It does not have to be a zero sum game – you win, I lose or vice versa.

Within a single industry, you can have several companies beating the industry average, each with a distinctive, different strategy. They are no direct threat to each other. There can be several winners. So the worst possible approach to strategy is to seek out the biggest player in the industry and try to copy everything they do.

“Strategy is a pattern in a stream of decisions” Henry Mintzberg

2.     Business Strategy = compete for profit

Business is not about having the largest market share or about growing fast. It’s about making money.

‘I want to grow my business’ is not a strategy. ‘I want to grow my business’ is the same as saying, ‘I want to be rich’. Those things (unfortunately) don’t happen by themselves. Growing is not a strategy, it’s a consequence. When someone includes growth in their strategy, there should be an orange light starting to blink.

That does not mean that you cannot use the word ‘growth’. We use it a lot in the analysis phase – for example, when you talk about growth areas of the business or when you look for growth platforms – areas where you can reach potential that will give you additional profit.

3.     Know your industry before you develop your business strategy

A company is not an island – it’s part of a larger ecosystem, an industry. Each industry has its own characteristics, its own structure. This structure and the relative position your company has within the industry determines profitability. Certain industries have a higher return than others. Your thinking about the industry and industry competition will determine your thinking about your strategy – how you are going to compete within the industry.

The better you know and understand the industry, the better you will be able to determine elements that will make you stand out, be unique and reap a higher average return than the industry average.

4.     Business Strategy = Choice

In my eyes, this is the most simple strategy definition. You need a clear choice of WHO you are going to serve and a clear choice of HOW you are going to serve those clients. It’s about connecting the outside world – the demand side – with your company – the supply side. Or in fancy terms: you need a value proposition for a specific customer segment and to develop unique activities in the value chain to serve them.

The key word is ‘choice’.

You cannot be everything to everybody. You want to target a limited segment of potential buyers with the same needs. Next, you are going to tailor your activities in such a way that they meet these needs. Or in fancy terms: you want to tailor your value chain – your company’s activities – to your value proposition. Strategic innovation is the process to make those choices – defining a new who and how for the organization.

“Strategy is thinking about a choice and choosing to stick with your thinking” Jeroen De Flander

5.     A good business strategy requires you to say NO often

If you have clearly defined what you go for – a clear value proposition for a specific client segment (who) and a set of distinct, unique activities in your value chain to offer the needs of this client group (what), you will find out that there are lots of things that you are not going to do. There will be customers that you are not going to serve, activities that you are not going to perform and services/products that you will not be offering. In strategy, choosing what not to do is equally important.

Using the words of the founding father of modern strategy thinking, Michael Porter: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. Each business strategy should also have a section where it clearly states the NOs.

6.     A good business strategy requires you to keep moving

Having a good business strategy does not mean that you have arrived. Competitors move, customers’ needs and behaviors change, technology evolves. One crucial element to determine a future path for your company is to predict these evolutions and trends and incorporate this thinking into the business strategy-building process.

If you don’t, you can miss out on new value that is created in the industry or even left behind and get into trouble.

Think about the smart phone and Nokia and you’ll understand.

7.     Scenario thinking is an important strategy tool

The last one of the business strategy principles is not the least important. We don’t have to tell you that facts and figures can only go so far. You need to turn data into assumptions that will fuel your reflection process. The standard way to work with assumptions in a structured way is by scenario thinking – fix some parameters and let other vary. This technique helps your reflection process by offering you possible future routes (read: strategic options) for the company.

We believe that scenario thinking is a crucial skill for anyone who wants to deal with business strategy. Every leader should at least master the basics so that they don’t need a strategy consultant for every reflection process or at least to help them challenge the scenario models that the strategy consultant presents.

Adopted from J De Flander

Running a business brings a host of risks, which need to be managed effectively. The basic purpose of risk management is to help make sure that the organization is protected against internal risks such as credit risks, financing risks, legal risks, reputation risks and operational risks, as well as against external risks related to the market, currency fluctuations, etc. At a rudimentary level, risk management would entail the development of policies and procedures to mitigate business and competitive risks, so that your company can survive if something goes wrong.

Risk Management Best Practices

1.      Write down how you want people to behave in your workplace

Without a written code of conduct, employees would not be able to draw a clear distinction between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and any associated risks within the business environment. Proper controls need to be in place so that employees know what to do. Items to be addressed by a code of conduct would include ethical business behavior and the consequences of violations

of the code. Other business risks can be managed by documenting policies on procurement, customer management, human resources, expense reimbursement, etc.

2.     Implement controls to minimize employee theft or fraud

Developing a code of conduct is a useful first step to help prevent internal fraud. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk, establishing effective internal procedural controls will help businesses minimize that exposure. One simple best practice is to separate key financial tasks. If your business has more than one employee consider appointing a different person for each of the following: bookkeeping, preparation of bank reconciliations, deposit of funds to the bank, and handling of cash. It is also advisable to separate tasks related to the creation and approval of purchase orders, receiving the goods, and matching purchase orders with invoices.

Other measures small business owners can adopt are to retain authority to sign cheques and approve expenses, regularly review employee expenses, inventory, cash-on-hand, and goods ordered and received, make bank deposits quickly and at a separate time from withdrawals, and avoid using cash for payments.

Becoming familiar with accounting principles and with the company’s financial state will also minimize the chances of fraud.

To prevent internal theft, businesses should minimize the motivation and opportunity for employees to steal. This can be done by including background checks as part of the hiring process, paying reasonable wages, creating a safe and enjoyable work environment, and consulting external professionals such as

auditors and lawyers regarding auditing and security policies.

3.     Manage risks ahead of time: Know the risks you face and plan for them

Probably the best way to be able to manage risks is to think about the potential risks your business faces before you are actually in a crisis situation. Sit down with your partners and staff and think about the risks you face in the market, from competitors, potential legal liabilities, product obsolescence, employee departures, rise in raw-materials costs, etc. Write down what you think you would need to do in those situations, and work through what you might be able to do to avoid or minimize those risks. You may find that prevention will require a policy change, a different approach or some advance preparation.

4.     If you’re trying something new, bring in an expert

New product or service lines can involve new technologies, methodologies or regulations that could lead to you or your staff being over-extended, or even doing things in which you or they have little background or training. In such situations, it is valuable to get help from experts to avoid making costly mistakes and to speed up your own learning process. Hire experts or identify and train key internal personnel with the required expertise. Explore the Internet and local business networks for access to experts, as there’s usually someone out there who has the expertise you are looking for.

7 Things Every Leader Should Know About Strategy!

Strategy is a cool word. People like to use it. It leaves a good impression with your audience when you talk about ‘strategy‘.  But strategy is probably the most over and misused word in business. And we often have the impression that the more someone uses the word ‘strategy’ in a conversation, the less they know about the subject .

Most people who use it don’t really know what strategy is all about or don’t understand the important underlying business strategy principles. This mini guide about strategy wants to change that.

Know these inside out and you will do better than 80 percent of the managers that you will come across

1.      Business Strategy = compete to be unique, not to be the best

Strategy is not about being the best, but about being UNIQUE. Competing to be the best in business is one of the major misconceptions about strategy.  And if you only remember one tip from this list, it should be this one. Many leaders compare competition in business with the world of sports. There can only be one winner. But competing in business is more complex. There can be several winners. It does not have to be a zero sum game – you win, I lose or vice versa.

Within a single industry, you can have several companies beating the industry average, each with a distinctive, different strategy. They are no direct threat to each other. There can be several winners. So the worst possible approach to strategy is to seek out the biggest player in the industry and try to copy everything they do.

“Strategy is a pattern in a stream of decisions” Henry Mintzberg

 

In January 2017, the second-largest bank acquisition took place in Uganda. We anticipate that more mergers and acquisitions are looming in the Ugandan financial services industry. To this end, JSR provides herein a matrix of risks that participants in the deal should consider in the due diligence. For further clarity, Financial Services Partner can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

JSR bank

The appointment was to fulfil the requirements of the Tax Procedures Code Act 2014 in which a Committee of five members was to be appointed. Every Ugandan tax payer is entitled to a Tax Identification Number (TIN). However, it is understood that some tax payers will require the services of a competent and authorized tax agent. The Tax Procedures Code Act 2014 was enacted to bridge this gap but also regulate and protect and tax payers through a formal and robust accreditation process by the Tax Agent Registration Committee (TARC)

At JSR, we believe we have the credentials to become your tax agent. The qualifications are set out in the TPC Act 2014. JSR will formally submit its registration details to the TARC once the Committee begins calling for applications.

The TARC will then publish a list of accredited tax agent’s on the appropriate media.