A society registered under the Andhra Pradesh (Society Registration Act. 2001.)
Registration Number 1036 of 2004,vide Certificate of Registration Dated 01/07/2004
     
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BASIC QUESTIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

 

Your business

. What is your business? Why are you in business?

. What factors are critical for success? Do you analyse these factors?

. Who buys your products and why?

. Where do your profits come from?

 

Your strategy

. What are your business goals?

. How do you plan to achieve them?

. How do you intend to grow?

. What plans do you have for succession?

 

The market

. Who are your customers? Do you have sufficient information on them?

. What are their needs? How satisfied are they?

. Who are your competitors? Do you have information on them?

. What is your market share?

. What sets you apart from your competitors and makes you so special?

. How long will you be able to maintain this special market position?

. . and what happens when you lose this position?

 

The products

. What are your key products/services?

. What is your product (and process) life cycle?

. Is your product and process technology exclusive (patents), and how long is it    defensible?

. Is the product range regularly updated in line with market needs?

. Who are your key suppliers? Do you know enough about them? What kind of relationships do you have with them (e.g., co-design, partnership etc.)?

 

This section contains fundamental questions that managers of any kind of business need to ask themselves. Negative answers, or inability to answer because of lack of information, should serve as warning signals of likely problems for management to review.

 

 

Business plan

. What is your short-term business plan (of one to two years)?

. Does it have clear objectives which everyone in the business understands?

. Does the plan reflect your own ambitions, beliefs and assumptions (even if you have obtained help from your financial advisers in drawing it up)?

. How does your plan identify your business opportunities and vulnerabilities, and where it is strong and weak?

. Are you also taking a longer-term approach (say three or more years)?

. How do you and your staff use the plan to guide the business? How regularly is it reviewed?

. Do you check performance against plan?

 

Budgets

. Do you have a budget and does it link into the business plan?

. Is it an action plan (e.g., orders, capacity planning, resource balancing)?

. How good is your budgeting process? Do you have a good early indication of your results, or do they come as a surprise to you?

. Is performance against budget checked regularly?

. And is action taken on variances?

. Do you realise that a first sign of trouble is when a business drifts off its cash targets even though it may still be meeting its profit targets?

 

Performance reporting

. Do you rely only on the accounts you prepare for legal and tax reasons to tell you what is happening?

. Do you have a monthly financial reporting system?

. Does it provide information in the same form as the budget?

. Do your financial and non-financial indicators follow the performance of the business during the month? How quickly are they produced? Do you use them?

. In case of declining results do you know which are the profit sensitive areas, which areas will affect cash and sales, and where you can act fastest to reduce costs?

. How do costs run through your organisation, that is, your fixed and variable costs, your product costs, the stepped costs caused by expansion when you exceed current capacity?

. How robust are the information systems? Are there any 'private' costing and information systems?

. Are you aware of the 80:20 rules in managing your information?

 

The business plan is described in greater detail in a later section.

 

 

Cash

. Cash is king: do you actively manage all aspects of your cash, from external financing, through working capital to cash balances themselves?

. Do you understand the crucial difference between cash in hand (and the bank) and paper profits? And that you can go bankrupt while seemingly making profits on paper?

. Do you use external finance? If so, do you know its cost?

. Do you realise that over-rapid business growth will put a strain on your cash resources?

. Do you also realise that excess cash may stem from a shrinkage in sales?

. Do you prepare regular cash flow forecasts (possibly with the help of your financial adviser)?

. How do you control cash collection from customers and overdue accounts?

 
 

BASIC INFORMATION NEEDED TO RUN THE BUSINESS

 

Breakeven point

 

Analysis of costs

. Fixed costs

. Variable costs (what they vary with and to what extent)

. Overhead costs

 

Product costs

. Direct

. Indirect

. Gross margins

 

Monthly earnings

 

Actual revenue and expenditure compared with budget

 

Non-financial indicators

For example, quantities, number of employees, quality, service, complaints, defects, rework, scrap, amount of stock

(and location), its value and salability, labour hours, sales volumes, number of credit notes

 

Performance by product (as applicable)

. Geographical area

. By business location

. By customer (group) if applicable

. By salesperson

 

Seasonal factors in sales, costs, purchases

 

Order book information

 

Key suppliers and customers

 

Amount owed and owing (and overdue accounts), how good the debt is

Borrowings (and repayment terms), cost of borrowing and what the loans are secured on Investment in fixed assets

 

This a general list. While some indicators (such as the breakeven point) apply to all businesses, others (such as many of the non-financial indicators) do not. Readers have to determine what information is relevant for them. If, for instance, seasonal factors are important, they need to be aware of this so that they can include it in their business information, plan for it, and benchmark with other similarly placed businesses. All terms used are explained in the glossary.


 

RULES OF THUMB

 

 

Key figures which should be updated regularly and be readily available:

. Amounts owed by third parties (reported on monthly)

. Accounts payable (reported monthly)

. Cash balance (and the forward position)

. Short-term investments

. Short-term borrowings compared with credit facilities

. Number of employees

. Order book

. Sales

. Market share

. Customer satisfaction data

 

Key ratios (as applicable to the business in question):

. Profitability ratios

. Debt/capital

. Debtor days

. Stock days

. Product and total margins

. Sales/net assets

. Turnover per employee ( and comparison with competitors if known)

. Liquidity ratio

. Current ratio

 

The methods of calculating these ratios are explained in the glossary.

 

 

THE BUSINESS PLAN

 

1 INTRODUCTION

The business plan sets out how the owners/managers of a business intend to realise its objectives. Without such a plan a business will drift. The plan serves six main purposes.

. It enables management to think through the business in a logical and structured way and to set out the stages in the achievement of the business objectives.

. It enables management to plot progress against the plan.

. It ensures that both the resources needed to carry out the strategy and the times when they are required are identified.

. It is a means for making all employees aware of the business's direction.

. The document is available for discussion with prospective investors and lenders of finance (e.g., the bank).

. The plan links into the detailed, short-term, one-year budget. The purpose of a budget is:

. To monitor unit and managerial performance (the latter possibly linking into bonus arrangements)

. To forecast the out-turn of the period's trading (through the use of flexed budgets and based on variance analyses)

. To assist with cost control

 

 

A business plan has to be particular to the organisation in question, its situation and time. All that can be done here is to set out generally regarded good practice. One thing is certain, however: a business plan is not just a document, to be produced and filed. Planning is a continuous process. The business plan has to be a living document, constantly in use to monitor, control and guide progress. That means it should be under regular review and will need to be amended in line with changing circumstances.

 

2 THE BACKGROUND

 

Before preparing the plan management should

 

. review previous plans (if any) and their outcome

. be very clear as to their objectives - a business plan must have a purpose

. set out the key business assumptions on which their plans will be based (e.g., inflation, exchange rates, market growth, competitive pressures, etc.)

. take a critical look at their business. The classical way is by means of the strengths-weaknesses-opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis, which identifies the business's situation from four key angles. The strategies will be based on the outcome of this analysis.

  

3 THE BUDGET

A typical business plan looks up to three years forward and it is normal for the first year of the plan to be set out in considerable detail. This one-year plan, or budget, will be prepared in such a way that progress can be regularly monitored (usually monthly) by checking the variance between the actual performance and the budget, which will be phased to take account of seasonal variations. The budget will show financial figures (cash, profit/loss, working capital, etc.) and also non-financial items such as personnel numbers, output, order book, etc. Budgets can be produced for units, departments, and products as well as for the total organisation. Budgets for the forthcoming period are usually produced before the end of the current period. While it is not usual for budgets to be changed during the period to which they relate (apart from the most extraordinary circumstances) it is common practice for revised forecasts to be produced during the year as circumstances change. A further refinement is to flex the budgets, i.e., to show performance at different levels of business. This makes comparisons with actual outcomes more meaningful in cases where activity levels differ from those included in the budget.

   

4 WHAT THE PROVIDERS OF FINANCE WANT TO SEE

Almost invariably bank managers and other providers of finance will want to see a business plan before advancing finance. Not to have a business plan will be regarded as a bad sign. They will be looking not only at the plan, but at the persons behind it.

 

. They will want details of the owner/managers of the business, their background and experience, other activities, etc.

. They will be looking for management commitment, with enthusiasm tempered by realism.

. The plan must be thought through and not be a skimpy piece of work. A few figures on a spreadsheet are not enough.

. The plan must be used to run the business and there must be a means for checking progress against the plan. An information system must be in place to provide regular details of progress against plan. Bank managers are particularly wary of businesses that are slow in producing internal performance figures.

. Lenders will want to guard against risk. In particular they will be looking for two assurances (sometimes known as the two 'exits'):

. That the business has the means of making regular payment of interest on the amount loaned.

. That if everything goes wrong the bank can still get its money back (i.e., by having a debenture over the business's assets).

. Forward-looking financial statements, particularly the cash flow forecast, are therefore of critical importance.

. The bank wants openness and no surprises. If something is going wrong it does not want this covered up, it wants to be informed - quickly.

  

5 THE DETAILS OF THE BUSINESS PLAN

 

5.1 The basics

 

. Management summary, in plain words

. The rationale behind the proposal

. The owner's/management's goals and objectives

. Key facts: figures, history, names, addresses, references

. The marketing imperative: why this business is different from all the others, and why it is better

. Assets, facilities, sensitivities, breakevens, vulnerabilities, SWOT

. Where the money will come from and how it will be repaid

. The financials: operating statement, balance sheet, cash flow, costings

 

5.2 The classical business plan

 

The title pages

. Title

. Summary: one page, in plain words

. Key facts at a glance: one page

. Contents page, with details such as partnership agreements set out in the appendices

. The appendices and attachments shown separately

 

Introduction

 

. Background to the business: previous years' results if applicable (say three years)

. Background to the owner(s)/managers if it is a new business

. Key objectives

. Type of business: e.g., sole trader, partnership, private, public company

. Key assumptions behind the business plan

 

The checklist below is intended to cover as many eventualities as possible. Obviously, most plans will not be set out in such detail, particularly for the smaller business. The following should therefore be used as a checklist for the plan to be based on, with the structure respected, but without any of the detail that is not applicable.

 

 

The product/service

. Existing business

. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

. What makes it so special: unique features of the business

. Development

 

Marketing

. The present market

. Competitors and prospective competitors: products, prices, locations, likely developments

. Customers and prospective customers

. Key customers and how reliant the business is on them

. Future: prospective sales and market share

. Any other aspects, e.g., distribution

 

Legal aspects

. Legal form of the business

. Tax and liability implications for the owners

 

Premises, assets, facilities, and purchasing

. Premises, where situated, size, how owned, local taxes, planning permission, etc.

. Plant and equipment

. Purchasing arrangements if applicable

. Key suppliers and how dependent the business is on them

 

People

. Management: with details of the owners/key managers

. Employees and terms of employment

. Organisation chart if applicable

 

Protecting the business

. Security

. Insurance

  

The financials

. Past accounts and key performance figures if applicable

. Budgeted profit and loss account for the current year, plus forward projections

. Cash flow forecast

. Projected balance sheets

. Ratios and comparisons, ideally internally, over periods of time, and externally

. Product/service costings if applicable

. Breakeven analysis

. Capital expenditure programme

. Funding

. Risk, particularly foreign exchange risk if there is foreign business

 

Safety net if it all goes wrong

. What is the fall back plan?

. . in particular, what will happen if there is a cash crisis?

. Long-term lines of credit

. Replacement of a key employee

 

NON-FINANCIAL INDICATORS

 

Administration

 

. Number of credit notes per period (broken down by reason and amount)

. Number of invoices per period and average invoice amount

. Number of packing notes per period and average size of packing note

. Telephone logging: number of abortive calls, time before calls are answered

. Invoicing errors

. Reconciliations

. Accounting errors and rectifications

 

Customers/suppliers

 

. Top (say 20) customers

. Top (say 20) suppliers

. Inward quality failures

. Percentage of business accounted for by the top customers and by the top suppliers

. Market share

. Complaints (detailed by cause, unit, person, customer, etc.)

. New customers (and from which competitor)

. Lost customers (to which competitor and why)

. Returned goods (and why)

. Stock errors

. Lead times

. Warranty claims

 

Distribution

. Delivery times

. Misroutings

. Returns

. Breakages

. Lost deliveries

. Wrong deliveries

. Pilferage

. Out of stock

. Delays

. Chasing suppliers and expediting

 

Manufacturing

. Production/output

. Set up times

. Scrap

. Rework

. Breakdowns

. Downtime

. Cycle times

. Output/head

. Machine utilisation

. Process yield

 

Personnel

. Succession plans

. Training schedules and achievement

. Staff skill base and gaps against future requirements

. Staff turnover

. Absenteeism

. Staff sickness

. Staff feedback

. Results of exit interviews

. Third party opinion (from press comment)

 

Quality

. Incidence of non-quality, broken down into prevention, detection, and failure

. Incidence of failure

. Incidence of after-sales warranty service and repairs

. Timeliness in supply

 

Safety

. Number of incidents

. Accidents ( the accident, injury/loss of life, location, time, circumstances, etc.)

 

Service

. Customer surveys

. Repeat business

. Unsolicited praise

. Third party views (from press comment)

. JIT record

. Delinquency in supply

. Adherence to plan

 

Technology

. Number (and percentage) of new products being sold which were not in existence five (and three) years ago

. Percentage sales from new products

. Speed of getting new products/services to the market

  

EXAMPLES OF INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC INDICATORS

 

Car hire

. Market share

. Number of rental days sold in the period

. Number of rental transactions closed/opened (closing ratio)

. Percentage vehicles at the 'correct' location

. Percentage utilisation per day

. Percentage chargeable utilisation

. Average length of car hire

. Complaints

. Unsolicited praise

. Repeat business: who, why, when, where

. Customers lost (to whom) and gained (from whom)

. Getting it right first time

. Breakdowns

. Faults found on internal checks

. Billing errors

. League tables comparing branches with each other

Courier

. Misroutings

. Mis-sorts

. Breakages

. Losses

. Pilferage

. Claims

. Reasons for failures

. Late consignments

. Number of consignments

. Revenue per consignment and per kilo

. Consignment weights

. Excess capacity

 

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

 

CASH MANAGEMENT

Cash flow forecast

The cash generated and spent in a given period is called the cash flow. Cash flow forecasts, linked to the bank balance show the movement (receipts and payments) week by week or month by month for a period in the future. For a small business it is usual to set out the forecast weekly for a period of three months say, after which the figures would typically be shown monthly for the next nine months. In businesses where cash is critical it is not unusual to monitor cash flows daily.

 

WORKING CAPITAL

Stocks (or inventories)

Goods held comprising:

. Goods or other assets purchased for resale

. Raw materials and components purchased for incorporation into products for sale

. Products and services in intermediate stages of completion (work-in-progress) only goods that can be and are expected to be sold are included, i.e., obsolete and defective stocks are excluded.

 

Stock holding period

The period during which stock is held in relation to sales. Normally the aim of a business is to reduce this period to the minimum consistent with sales and continuing production.

 

Working capital is the capital available for conducting the day-to-day operations of the business. Working capital has to be managed properly for the operations to be managed properly. Working capital is defined as the excess of current assets over current liabilities (i.e. cash, plus amounts owed by debtors, plus stocks, less amounts owing to creditors). It consists of short-term items all of which have a direct and immediate impact on cash. Proper cash management therefore entails effective management of working capital. The details below describe the main items of working capital and the main indicators used in its management.

 

Businessmen hardly need to be reminded that balance sheets and profit and loss accounts are all very well, but that cash is the lifeblood of business. A business that can not pay its way is bankrupt. Cash has to be planned for to ensure adequate funds are always readily available (either on hand or from the bank or other outside parties) and to provide for any seasonal factors (such as a build up of stocks), or heavy special one-off payments (such as tax or VAT or expenditure for fixed assets). The cash flow forecast is the document that providers of finance, such as banks, place most emphasis on.

 

 

Stock turn

The number of times stock is 'turned over' or utilised during a given period, generally a year, but adapted to individual requirements for internal control purposes. Where individual product margins are small (as in sales of canned foods for instance) the aim would be to turn over the stock very frequently. Where the stock cannot be turned over so frequently (e.g., luxury clothes or automobiles) the objective will be to achieve substantial margins for each individual item sold.

 

Stock days

It is also usual to show this in terms of months.

 

Amounts owed by third parties (also called debtors, outstandings, and receivables)

Money owed to the business by its customers or others These should be split up according to when payment is/has been due so as to identify those within the due period and the overdue (30, 60, 90, etc., days overdue).

 

Debtor days

These are calculated as follows:

The usual period taken is a year, thus a year's sales would be taken and 365 days could be used. It is also usual to show this ratio in terms of months or weeks.

 

Borrowings and repayment terms

These should be identified by: amount borrowed, terms, when due to be repaid.

The significance of this ratio is that it indicates the effectiveness of credit control procedures in general. The figure of days outstanding should be compared with trends over time within the business, with the standard terms of business, and with ratios achieved by competitors. The organisation cannot benefit from money tied up unnecessarily in receivables. days in the period Debtors (at the due date) Sales (inc. VAT) in the period The significance of this split is that it shows the company where to focus the credit control, i.e., on the overdue element, particularly the long overdues (e.g. 90 days or more). The significance of this statistic is that (in comparison with trends over time within the business or with other businesses) it can indicate whether excessive levels of stock are being held, tying up cash unnecessarily. days in the period (i.e. 365) Stock at the due date (i.e. period end)

Total cost of sales for the period (say a year)

 

BUDGETS AND PLANNING

Budget

A financial or qualitative statement of policy expressed in financial and non-financial terms and prepared and approved by management prior to a defined period of time (usually the business's financial year). It is normally financially oriented and will show income, expenditure, sales, and profitability. Budgets are usually phased over the months (or quarters) of the year in question, and it will be particularly important to do this where the business is seasonal. While the budget has to be approved by top management it is important that it should be prepared by the more junior managers who will have the responsibility for carrying it out.

 

Business plan

A plan which typically covers in both the long and short term:

. Customers

. Market analysis

. Resources (e.g., staff, finance)

. Service and distribution

. Selling and supplying

. Future strategy

. Product development

. Manufacture

. Stock holding and control

. Management and staff

. Finance

 

Business planning

The systematic review of business strategy and the development of a long-term plan to enable the business to achieve its objectives It goes without saying that without a plan a business merely drifts, without knowing where it is going. A plan gives direction to a business.

 

The short-term plan (the budget)

. enables the business to organise its resources for the period in question

. enables it to gauge the impact of unforeseen events during the period, and provides a framework for dealing with them

. sets performance standards for subordinate managers and therefore can be a powerful means of motivating them

 

Above all, a budget provides a safeguard against the businessman's biggest dread, unpleasant surprises.

 

A business plan enables providers of finance to a business to evaluate it. They will usually not lend money unless there is a viable plan.

 

BALANCE SHEET

 

Fixed assets

Any asset, tangible or intangible, acquired for retention by a business for the purpose of providing a service to the business, and not held for resale in the normal course of trading.

 

Long-term liabilities and loan capital

Long-term liabilities: amounts payable to external creditors (how the business is financed and how the proceeds from asset sales would be shared if the business were sold).

 

Loan capital: debentures, bonds and other long-term loans to a business; overdrafts, being theoretically repayable on demand, are not usually shown in this category.

Long-term liabilities are items payable more than one year after the balance-sheet date. Short-term liabilities are included under working capital.

 

Equity

The issued ordinary share capital plus reserves; these latter represent the investment in the business by the ordinary shareholders (the owners).

 

Retained earnings

Included in equity, retained earnings are the amounts set aside (usually apportioned out of profit) for continued investment in the business.


 

Working capital

 

Working capital consists of short-term assets and liabilities, namely:

. current assets: cash or any assets likely to be converted into cash or consumed in the normal course of business within the normal operating cycle (usually one year), i.e., cash, stocks, good debtors (receivables);

. current liabilities: amounts owed that are expected to be repaid within one year, i.e., bank overdrafts (in the UK), dividends, tax, amounts owing to trade creditors.

See earlier section on working capital.

 

This key document sets out the financial position of the business at a particular date in the past showing what the business owns, what it owes, and the owner's equity in it. Large organisations produce their balance sheets as frequently as once a month, but smaller businesses will find it necessary to produce them much less often, say only once a quarter. What is important to realise is that a balance sheet is a photograph of the business at a particular point in time. In order to understand how the business has moved, and to benchmark it against other, similar businesses, it will be necessary to view a series of balance sheets, and the profit and loss accounts linking them.

 

The main components of a balance sheet are set out below.

 

PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT

Sales revenue or turnover

Shown net of VAT

 

Cost of sales

Usually includes only those costs that would be allocated to stocks, i.e., costs incurred in manufacture - materials, direct wages, power, etc. In a service business the cost of sales would cover the payment to third parties for items included in the service provided by the business.

 

Operating expenses

Expenses, other than cost of goods sold, incurred in the normal operation of the business (typically administration, distribution, and selling expenses)

 

Gross margin

The difference between sales revenue and cost of sales

 

Contribution

Sales value less the variable cost of sales; it may be expressed as total contribution or as a percentage of sales. Contribution is a central term in marginal costing where the contribution per unit is expressed as the difference between the selling price and its marginal cost.

 

Profit

Gross profit: excess of sales revenue over cost of sales

 

Net profit: profit after all expenses (which can be before or after tax and/or interest, provided this is made clear).


 

FINANCIAL RATIOS

Business managers need to be aware of the more important ratios used by outsiders (such as banks) to evaluate the financial strength and the profitability of businesses.

The profit and loss account is the second key document essential for the management of a business. It sets out how the business has performed over a period of time (a month and/or a quarter, and/or a year), the beginning and end of the period being marked by balance sheets. It can be seen as the movement from one balance sheet to another in operating terms. In particular the profit and loss account will show how well the business is doing and whether it is paying its way. A business that consistently fails to make a profit cannot survive. An operating statement is a shortened form of profit and loss account which excludes the non-trading items such as interest payable, rents receivable (where there are non-trading items), etc.

 

The key items in a profit and loss account are as follows:

 

Gearing

The ratio of fixed-interest capital and long-term borrowing to equity capital. It is calculated as follows:

 

Current ratio

This is the ratio of current assets to current liabilities. Current assets are stocks, amounts owing and due to be received within a year, and cash. Current liabilities are amounts owed and due to be repaid within a year.

 

Liquidity ratio (also known as the acid test ratio)

This shows the ratio of liquid assets to current liabilities. Liquid assets are debtors (amounts owed) plus cash; current liabilities are debts the business has to repay within a year.

 

Profitability ratios

The most commonly used profitability ratios are profit on net assets (or return on capital employed - ROCE), and Return on Investment (ROI) showing the return on the total investment in the business. These show how well the business has used its investment in capital and has turned it into profit. Two ratios combine to give the main ROCE ratio.

 

. Profit/sales: indicating margins achieved and expressed as a percentage of sales

. Sales/net assets: indicating efficiency in the use of assets and expressed as the rate of turnover of net assets in relation to sales

 

Each of these has a group of subsidiary ratios, the purpose of which is to indicate

. the order in which improvements in performance should be sought

. the maintenance or improvement of performance (by observing trends)

. the effect of improvement in each area on the main ratio, profit/net assets

 

The significance of this ratio is that it relates short-term obligations to funds likely to be available to meet them. The 'rule of thumb' is that the ratio should be about 1:1 though some sector averages tend to be lower. Ratios below 1:1 however, may indicate financial stress. A ratio much in excess of 1:1 may indicate inadequate credit

control or under-utilised cash. The significance of this ratio is that it indicates the cushion available to short-term creditors against a possible shortfall in the realised value of current assets. The 'rule of thumb' often quoted is that the ratio should be about 2:1, though the averages in some industry sectors tend to be lower. A ratio in excess of 2:1 may indicate excess stocks, inadequate credit control, or under-utilised cash. The significance of this ratio is that outsiders are usually unwilling to lend to a business with an unfavourable balance between the owners' investment and borrowing from outside. Businesses in this situation which are able to attract outside lending will find themselves paying a heavy price for such loans. A ratio of up to 1:2 between fixed-rate capital and equity capital, is usually regarded as satisfactory. This ratio also shows the scope for further borrowing should it be necessary. Fixed dividend capital + long-term loans Equity funds

 

COSTS AND COSTING

There is a whole series of internal indicators used by businesses as appropriate, to guide them in their financial management.

 

Breakeven point

The level of activity at which contribution (i.e. sales revenue less variable costs) covers all fixed costs so that there is neither profit or loss. It may be calculated by the use of a breakeven chart or by the use of formulas.

 

Breakeven chart

A chart which indicates the approximate profit and loss at different levels of sales volumes within a limited range. The breakeven point is critical to the understanding of the business, for example:

. Where profits begin to be made in a period

. Where there is scope for marginal pricing

. The cost/volume relationship

 

Costs

. Fixed costs: Costs that do not vary with the level of business but remain constant over a period of time and that, within certain operational limits, tend to be unaffected by fluctuations in the level of activity. Examples are: rent, business rates, insurance.

 

. Variable costs: Costs that vary with the level of business.

. Direct costs: Costs that can be economically identified with a specific product or saleable service, e.g., employees, material, etc.

. Indirect costs: Costs that can not be related directly to a specific product or service, e.g., managers covering several areas, power, floor space in general use, general stores, etc.

. Overhead costs: General expenses that can not be related to products and services, typically head office costs.

. Marginal costs: The amount, at any given volume of business, by which aggregate costs are changed if the volume of business is increased or decreased by one unit; in other words the extra cost of one further unit or the cost that would be avoided if the unit was not produced or provided. In this context, a unit is either a single article or a standard measure such as a litre or kilogram, but may in certain circumstances be an operation, process, or even part of an organisation. An understanding of the nature of the costs running through the business is essential to proper business management (such as the definition of the breakeven point) and to cost management.


 

METHODOLOGIES

Benchmarking

The assessment of how well a business is doing against competitors and similar firms and the analysis of what must be done to improve performance to be as good as, and do better than, the industry leaders. Benchmarking covers non-financial as well as financial figures. It goes without saying that for benchmarking to be carried out properly, the business has to prepare figures (financial as well as non-financial) that can be compared with other businesses.

 

Factoring

The sale of debts (normally only 'clean' debts, however) to a third party (the factor) at a discount in return for prompt cash. The factor in effect takes over the running of the sales ledger.

 

Invoice discounting

As with factoring, debts are sold to the factor but here the business continues to operate its own sales ledger and deals with customers when collecting outstanding debts.

 

Just-in-time (JIT)

A technique for the organisation of work flows, to allow rapid, high quality, flexible production while minimizing manufacturing waste and stock levels. This is usually done in conjunction with suppliers who supply the products exactly when (and only when) they are needed. The management of supermarkets is an excellent example of the use of this technique.

 

Just-in-time production

A system which is driven by demand for finished products whereby each component on a production line is produced only when needed for the next stage.

 

Just-in-time purchasing

Matching the receipt of material closely with usage so that raw material inventories are reduced to near zero levels.

 

SWOT analysis

A critical assessment of the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), in relation to the internal and environmental factors affecting the business, in order to establish its condition prior to the preparation of a strategic review or a long-term plan.

 

Total quality management (TQM)

The continuous improvement in quality, productivity, and effectiveness obtained by establishing management responsibility for processes as well as output.

 

Key suppliers and customers

The 80/20 rule is useful here, i.e., the 20% or so of the customers/suppliers that account for 80% or so of the business/management time/activity/problems. It is remarkable how constant this rule is and how widespread its application, for example: the 20% of employees who take up 80% of the management's time, the 20% of the fleet vehicles that cause 80% of the problems, etc.

 

 Turnover per employee

It is very common to view the trends and relate this ratio to competitors and to industry averages.


The Western India Regional Council of The Institute of CA of India

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