Category Archives: Business

Integration and its Market Influence

Strategic management is all about the initiatives taken by the middle and mostly upper echelons of management with respect to optimum utilization of business resources. This is done as a means of achieving higher profitability and enhanced performance. Horizontal integration is one such tool which is used to strengthen the position and presence of a business in the market. It is basically a marketing-based integration, as opposed to a vertical integration which is a style of management control over the industrial supply chain. While the former is an attempt to influence the market in its favor, the latter attempts to coordinate and control the supply chain of a consolidated vertical production process.

As per definitions provided by Investopedia and Wikipedia respectively, horizontal integration takes place ‘when a company expands its business into different products that are similar to current lines’ and ‘when a firm is being taken over by, or merged with, another firm which is in the same industry and in the same stage of production as the merged firm, for example, a car manufacturer merging with a competitor. In this case, both the companies are in the same stage of production and also in the same industry. This process is also known as a buyout or takeover.’ If we try and dissect both these definitions, two main points come to the fore-same industry and same stage of production.

So the question arises that why would a company want to integrate with another which practically deals with the same product, that too in the same stage of production? Well, there is a very important factor-they share the same market. This form of business strategy is aimed at eliminating competition. Besides buying out, it also brings about economies of scale and scope involved in increased production. Even in terms of marketing efforts, a consolidated campaign is far more effective for customer conversion, than a dozen small business enterprises fighting tooth and nail for a share in the same market.


Examples of horizontal integration can be seen in the form of a number of significant mergers and acquisitions around the world. One of the most prominent instances in recent times was Tata Steel’s acquisition of Corus. The acquiring of a high value product manufacturer by one of the lowest cost steel producers in the world boasting of self-sufficiency in raw materials, meant that the steel market would now have access to a product which boasted of high quality at a lower price.

Another example is GAP Inc. retail clothing corporation, which controls Banana Republic, GAP, and Old Navy. This enables it to cater to different customer needs without having to compete with the other similar brands.

Horizontal Integration Vs. Vertical Integration

Leadership Activities for All

Corporate life is not just about serious work, boring black and white suits, all-day meetings, innumerable cups of coffee, and never-ending hours. There’s a lot more to do at your workplace, where you can learn and sharpen your skills with simple team building exercises and activities. When you are working for long hours without a break, you often require a breather to socialize with your colleagues and break the ice between each other. If you are working for any organization in any position, there is a requirement of displaying or possessing leadership qualities, as you never know when your team might need you. Therefore, even if it is a very important and professional quality, it can be developed by simply taking part in a few interactive leadership activities. These group activities are fun and they include all the teammates so that each can participate and put in their best efforts. If you are looking for such activities, we have a few suggestions coming up just for you. Pick your favorites!

The Significance of Interactive Leadership Exercises
Leadership is a very essential quality, which every individual should possess or develop.
It is a positive quality, which doesn’t need to be used for overpowering and dominating, but to lead a group towards success.
Leadership yields other useful qualities, like confidence, positivity, quick decision-making, creativity, ambition, endurance to bear the consequences of wrong decisions, and to pull up a team from failure to success.
Many corporates and their managements make it a point to have a few interactive leadership activities are a part of their recreation for employees, as they get a chance to emerge as leaders.
A few of these easy yet effective interactive team building activities are compiled in the paragraphs below. All these exercises teach teammates to make decisions and work as a team, considering all the crucial aspects of a project assigned to them.
Roping a Square
This is a very easy exercise, where you have to make a team of 4 and use a 20m rope for the activity.
The team of 4 participants have to tie the rope in a circle, make a square out of it, with blindfolds on their eyes.
The team gets about 15 minutes for planning a strategy, after which they will be blindfolded.
They are then given 10 minutes to turn the circle into a square without seeing, with all the team members holding the rope.
After you think the square is ready, keep the rope on the floor and move out.

Situational Leadership Theory Explained

The situational leadership theory was developed by P. Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard. They have explained the theory in their books The Situational Manager and Leadership and the One Minute Manager, respectively.
Someone has quite rightly said uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Being a leader is not an easy task. A leader has to shoulder many responsibilities; albeit, he has been conferred to do so. Defining leadership or how to be a good leader in one line can be tough ask because he has to be multidimensional and possess many abilities.

Throughout history, many famous and prominent people such as King Alexander, Mauryan King Ashoka, Julius Caesar, Franklin Roosevelt, etc., have taught us leadership lessons. Many researchers have studied leadership and formulated theorems and models on good and efficient leadership styles. The situational leadership theory by Hersey-Blanchard states that every employee has to be treated differently according to his/her capabilities, to harness his potential in the best interest of the organization. Being flexible and adapting to the situations is more important. This theory tells you that any leader should have varied approach while dealing with different levels of employees.
Types of Situational Leadership Styles
Telling/Directing (S1)
This style of leadership demands the employees to act as per the directions given, without providing much scope to the employee to analyze or take decisions on his own. In this method, the employee follows whatever is told to him.

Selling/Coaching (S2)
In this type, the leader ‘sells’ his ideas, and leaves the implementation to his subordinates. Such employees are good followers, but lack commitment to come up with new ideas.

Participating/Counseling (S3)
In this style, the leader simply monitors the performance and lets the employees come up with new ideas and strategies. The leader supports and does not have much of a directive role in this case.

Delegating (S4)
Delegating simply involves entrusting the employee with completing the task, where he is given whole authority and right to perform the task.
When Should They Be Employed
According to the situational leadership theory, the aforesaid 4 types of leadership styles are to be followed for employees possessing these development and maturity models, respectively. For example, Telling/Directing style leadership (S1) is suited for D1 and M1 employees or subordinates. Likewise, according to the theory, each style subscribes to the corresponding development and maturity levels.
Development Level of the Employees
Competence Commitment
D1 Low High
D2 Some Low
D3 High Variable
D4 High High
Maturity Level of the Employees
Maturity Levels
M1 At the lowest level of maturity, these employees lack the skill sets, and are not confident enough.
M2 At this level, employees are willing to do the job, but are not competent enough to implement it without guidance.
M3 With increased maturity, employees have higher skills and competence. However, they need motivation and participation from the manager.
M4 Possessing highest level of maturity and confidence about their skill set, these employees can be entrusted with a particular task.

Business Grants for Veterans

The Obama administration recently passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which set aside USD 831 billion to revitalize the ailing economy. Out of the said amount, USD 275 billion has been earmarked for federal government grants. You can avail funding from this sum if you meet the stringent eligibility criteria. Financial assistance received through the government is the best way to fund a business as the money need not be repaid.

These disbursements are mostly given to nonprofit organizations and institutes working towards the betterment of society. The government also provides financial aid to businesses dealing in renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions. The Obama government has even set up a task force on veterans small business development, to support these citizens to start their businesses.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

If you are looking for grants, then one of the first things you could do is talk to the local office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA has set up the Office of Veterans Business Development, and you can check out the location of an office near you, on their website. The SBA is also the right place to check for aid provided to disabled veterans.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)

Another resource for checking small business government grants for veterans is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) website. The website has free details of over two thousand federal assistance programs. The website also has a help desk number which you can call for assistance regarding grants and loans.

Local Chamber of Commerce

The local chapter of the chamber of commerce is also a good start if you are looking for small business loans and grants. They have several funding opportunities and if you fit the eligibility criteria, you could qualify for a grant, and if not, you could check their list of available loan opportunities. They also have specific programs for minority and women veterans.

If you have seen advertisements that offer financing for a small fee, stay away as most of the information they offer is available free on the government website. If you have identified a program which best qualifies you from the website, you can use the identification number to apply for that particular scheme.
Nonprofit Organizations

Another resource worth keeping in mind are the nonprofit organizations (NPOs). There are many NPOs who work for the betterment of veterans and their families. The Internet is the best medium to look for an organization which will accommodate your needs. Try organizations like Rotary as they have a lot of community development programs under which they could provide financial help to veterans.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has instituted the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) which is a body that provides assistance to minority-owned businesses including those started by veterans.

The Spotlight on the Useful Obama Grants

“As president I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that you have the opportunity to contribute to your community, to our economy and to the future of the United States of America” – President Barack Obama

The recession has had a very bad impact on the economy of not only the United States, but also of the rest of the world, with America being the prime victim. However, there are plans set in motion by the federal government to fight the negative impacts of recession and get the money flowing through the economy again. When the Obama administration started taking matters into their hands, they rolled out a $787 billion economic package, specially intended to better the financial condition of the US economy as a whole. Almost all sectors in the economy were hit by the financial crunch; and small businesses being one of the prominent ones. Before moving on to Obama grants for small business, let us understand the role of small businesses in the economy of the US.

Recession and Small Businesses

Small businesses play a very important role in the economy of the United States of America. President Barack Obama stated that approximately 70 percent of the new jobs that were created in the last decade came from small businesses. In general, small businesses are believed to provide employment to around 40 percent of US citizens. The government is also encouraging banks and major financial institutions to offer small business loans. Banks are also required to send a report to the Obama administration regarding the handling of short and long-term loans. Obama grants for small business are also set up for aiding small businesses, contributing to economic growth.

Government Grants for Small Business

If you are thinking about starting a business on a small scale, you can apply for government grants. Note that grants are completely different from loans. Grants are kind of free money which is not required to be repaid; on the other hand, loans need to be repaid with some amount of interest rates applied to it. You can refer to the US government’s grant website for details on how to apply for free grants for small business.

Obama Small Business Stimulus Package

As a part of the billion-dollar stimulus package, President Obama initiated a small business stimulus package. This financial package is intended to give a tax relief to troubled small businesses in this economy. It includes financial assistance of about $730 million to the Small Business Administration (SBA). This economy stimulus package is not only useful for small businesses but also medium-sized businesses.

Small Business Grants

Nearly 275 billion dollars have been earmarked by the administration as federal grants and a large share of that money is for financing minority-owned businesses. The government has recognized the need to support entrepreneurs to help develop these communities. Most federal schemes are reserved for nonprofit organizations and state government projects that work towards community development.

In these times of an economic recession, it is difficult to find gainful employment, hence, the government has come up with a 787 billion dollar stimulus plan to cushion the economy. A large portion of this money will go towards entrepreneurial projects that will create jobs and benefit the people. A good example of such a venture is a day care center, which will provide employment in the community, and will also allow mothers to look for employment without worrying about child care.


Before beginning your search, you must determine whether or not your concern can be classified as a minority business. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), they are categorized in six demographic groups, namely Asian, African American, Native American (Indian or Alaskan), Native Hawaiian, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander. To qualify, the owner must possess at least 51 percent of the company’s assets or equity.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) website provides details about minority grants and their application procedures. You can also track the status of your application on the government grants website with your funding opportunity number (FON) or CFDA number.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good resource for obtaining information about grant opportunities and obtaining forms. They also run a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, through which professionally-managed funds invest in qualifying businesses for the long term.

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

The U.S. Department of Commerce has created the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) which is committed to assist entrepreneurs from the disadvantaged communities. They provide assistance and tips on how to start a small-scale business. They support small minority business enterprises (MBE) in drawing up marketing plans, provide technical assistance, and financial planning guidance. The MBDA has over 40 business development centers mostly located in areas which have a concentration of minority population and businesses.

Other Agencies

There are many other government and private agencies which provide startup capital to small minority businesses. Some of these organizations include the Prosperity Partnership and the National Minority Supply and Diversity Council. They also help in locating other funding opportunities. Besides, you can visit your local chamber of commerce, check the government grants website, or contact organizations like Rotary.

Credit Card Guide for All College Students

Credit cards are a good option for high school and college students, which helps them carry out numerous basic transactions like hotel and airline reservations, shopping on the Internet, etc. Nowadays, most parents want their children to have a credit card, which would help them in case of an emergency. Despite all the criticism, it provides an opportunity for students to learn more about credit scores and their importance. However, before applying, one should be sure of his abilities to repay the debt every month. Parents are required to assist their child while co-signing for a credit card and they should make sure that it is used properly.
It has various benefits which includes non-requirement of income, lost wallet services, credit education tools, etc. The most important benefit of these deals is that banks are generally lenient with young people with limited loan histories. In addition to these facilities, there are rewards and perks given for student lifestyles, and also benefits like 0% introductory interest rates, rewards, and cashback are also offered.
If one wants to earn rewards, he should read the terms and conditions carefully, as these cards generally carry higher rates of interest. Sometimes, it is also possible that the student with a credit card is eligible for rewards, if he falls into the category of consumers who pay off their debt on time. One can also look for a scheme with cashback rewards or inquire with the bank about the kind of reward schemes they offer. Here are some points one must remember.
Understand the Credit Scores
Credit score is a record of one’s credibility and depends on how punctually he pays back the borrowed money. It is stored at a credit bureau and improves if one makes timely payments. Events such as late payments, incomplete or partial payments, and defaults, affect the scores negatively. This score depends around 35% on one’s payment history, 30% on his outstanding debt, 15% on the length of his loan history, 10% on the recent inquiries on credit report, and 10% on the types of credit in use.

Look out for a Card with Low APR and Interest Rate
APR or the annual percentage rate describes the annualized rate of interest, rather than just a monthly fee or rate, as applied on a loan, credit card, etc. Before deciding on a credit card, students should always check out the APR imposed on its usage. It is advisable to get one with low APR, in order to avoid deferrals.

Government Grants

The federal government as well as the state and local governments extend a lot of help through special financing programs to start or expand small businesses. These programs offer capital at low interest rates. To acquire the best grants, you need to consider the following factors.
Objective of Your Business
The first step is to decide whether you intend to start a non-profit venture for a community service or a technology-related business. This will help you apply for the type of grant you require for the business start-up. Read through the government websites that provide information on innumerable government grants or loans available to start small businesses. Ensure that you have gathered updated data on an everyday or weekly basis.
Kind of Grants Released
Initially, one has to gather information on the kind of grants available pertaining to a business. You may not be able to procure the grant or loan provided by the government, if you are not well-informed about it. You can also approach the special programs directly that provide financial assistance, specific to a particular venture. Some of the grants that are offered by the government are rural economic development loans and grants. The intended goal for such a program is the creation of employment and business opportunity. Other grants include loans for women business entrepreneurs. For instance, if a woman plans to start a daycare center or a home-based business, the chances of getting a grant or a loan to start such small businesses are the highest. You should not write a grant proposal for a non-profit venture to the government agency which aims at technology-related business. If you do so, your proposal will be rejected. This draws the importance of being well-informed about the kind of grants released by different government agencies.

A Course on Grant Writing
A course on grant writing will help you write a very noticeable proposal. You would want a response on every proposal that you write. To ensure that your proposal is accepted, it has to be effective and stand out from other proposals. Your writing has to be personalized, since different government agencies have different criteria for acceptance. For instance, if a government agency offers grants for technology-related businesses, you will have to write your proposal with facts and demographics to establish the need of such a business in the economy. This can be aided by a course on grant writing. The grant proposal is the first impression of the individual applying. As it is rightly said, “First impression is the last impression”. Hence, a course on grant writing will help you cater to this need.

Communication in Modern Business

Businesses all across the globe spend a significant fraction of their revenues in establishing effective communication systems to ensure hassle free communication with their clients/customers. Both within and outside the organization, business communication plays a crucial role in determining the success or failure of the firm.

An Overview of Communication Expenses in Current Era

The cost of communication for an organization in today’s business has become expensive, owing to the boom in different types of technology and the increasing base of companies in several countries. From the starting days of telephones to the current world of web conferencing, video conferencing and VoIP, communication methods in businesses have evolved to a great extent. Now, the greatest challenge for large corporations is not that they have to provide PCs to their employees, but a far greater challenge is to manage the overall communication cost-effectively. Information communication technology is now an integral aspect of business management. It forms a vital link between all core functions of the business, be it manufacturing, operations, marketing, sales, advertising, logistics, or the supply chain.

High Cost Factors in Modern-day Businesses
If we leave aside communication technology, there are some other vital and more expensive costs related to communications. Costing related to traditional and conventional meetings have increased to a large extent in the recent years. Travel costs, hotel rentals and catering services for businesses have shot up tremendously in this decade. Arranging business meets of hundreds of thousands of employees is certainly possible for large-scale companies but for the SMEs, it is not always a cost-effective method to conduct multiple meetings in several hotels, with clients and employees, given the high costs involved in doing so. The need of cost-effective business communication solutions has become increasingly important now owing to the harsh economic conditions that have been in existence since the past couple of years. The current situation is:
Business managers especially associated to finance and accounting face the challenge of allocating budgets to the business communication strategies.
Information technology managers in a company have been facing serious challenges to limit spending on technology and communication costs.
Limiting High Costs in Communication Tools
Irrespective of the fact that you have a home office or a multi-national firm, here are some steps you can take to limit the communication cost in modern business.
Significant costs can be saved by decreasing the frequency of traveling for business meets in hotels. Using web conferencing or video conferencing is an ideal option. It also saves time of the professionals in traveling.
Online conferencing has hosts of benefits. Innovative technologies in web conferencing have made it possible to conduct live polls, question answer sessions and easy sharing of files and folders. This technology is of vital help for interacting with colleagues situated thousands of miles away.

Why You Should Have a Walking Meeting

Did you know?
According to CNN Money, Steve Jobs believed in the power of walking meetings. A quote from his biography says, “taking a long walk was his preferred way to have a serious conversation.”
I can tell you straightaway why I agree with Steve Jobs when he says that walking meetings are better? New scenery, fresh air, direct sunlight, an excuse for re-energizing, and all this accompanied with a few melting calories. I’m sure you are impressed too!
This new wave has taken corporates by storm. It is the concept of not working out after work, but while working. And the focus is directly on seated, indoor meetings, which are slowly becoming obsolete and are being taken over by walking meetings.

You may argue that it is not possible to use the whiteboard to chalk down notes, or jot down important points while you walk.

These may be valid points, but I’m sure you carry your mobile with you all the time. And, if the point made is really important, then use the stylus and write in short, or type it and save it as a draft. But using smartphones too much is also not recommended. The best way would be to carry a small diary and write the points.

The point made above should not deter anyone from conducting walking meetings, because the advantages are way more beneficial than the drawbacks.
» Walking outside the workplace energizes people and makes them active while the different environment encourages new ideas and creativity.

» Walking while talking to each other not only enhances a positive working spirit, but also lowers hierarchical work distinctions due to which people feel more at ease.

» Walking helps in burning calories and stimulating the flow of oxygen around the body. It perks up brain function and also increases problem-solving capability.

» This type of meeting allows employees to work without interruptions and helps maintain confidentiality.

» Walking meetings can save office resources and make the workplace energy-efficient; as the participants are out, their computers can be shut down.
Let’s take a look at some tips to remember before, while, and after conducting a walking meeting.
Before the Meeting

If you have decided to schedule a walking meeting for the first time, inform all the members who will be attending the meeting beforehand. I’m sure everyone is aware of this point, but this time you have to inform them that it will be a walking meeting and not a seated one, and be ready to get a few raised brows and eager inquiries.

You have to chalk out the complete plan in advance. Keep the group small. Only invite those who are really concerned with the topic of the meeting. If you invite a large group, then all of them might not be able to listen to each other or the speaker.