Practice Case Questions

Practice Case Questions

(Source: Flickr)

If you want to practice case questions, I highly recommend Marc Cosentino’s book Case in Point.

You can also access sample case questions from various consulting clubs here, and from the following consulting firm websites:

  1. McKinsey & Company;
  2. Bain & Company;
  3. Oliver Wyman;
  4. Deloitte;
  5. A.T. Kearney;
  6. Accenture; and
  7. L.E.K. Consulting.

[For more information on consulting interviews, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Consulting Interviews“.]

4 Financial Innovations to Make Business Easier

4 Financial Innovations to Make Business Easier

This is a guest post from Sarah Smith.

Overview

The competitive nature of business today is stronger than it has ever been, and so it is important for companies to use all of the tools at their disposal.

There are many new innovations that allow companies to finance purchases creatively in order to meet their goals over the long term.

Here are four (4) examples of financial innovations that can make your business easier to run.

1. Peer Lending

Peer lending is one of the newest financial innovations in the world today. People from all over the world can come together online to offer up a loan to various companies. While the interest rates are usually higher than a regular bank loan, the collateral requirements are almost nothing. Check out this review as an example.

With peer lending, a business can simply explain what they need the investment for and pitch people around the world for funding. This is a huge game changer in industries that are capital intensive, and the non-bank lending options are growing every day. Innovative financial solutions can be used by a business to raise the capital required to invest in new initiatives or fund ongoing projects.

2. Online Banking

Online banking is another recent innovation in the banking and finance industry. In years past, it was time consuming to go to the bank and withdraw money. Online banking now allows a company to withdraw or deposit money automatically. It often provides tools and information that can allow a person to make important financial decisions in real time, and to apply for a bank loan which can be approved online. Any business that wants to streamline its finances should consider online banking.

3. Finance Tools

There are many different finance reporting tools available that can help businesses see where their money is coming from and going to. Products like:

  1. Mint, which can allow a business to link up all of its electronic transactions in a way that makes sense. These software tools publish reports monthly that show a company where they spend the most money, which can allow a business to identify trends over the long term;
  2. FreshBooks, which is another great tool to manage your finances, helps businesses get paid faster with beautiful, simple company branded invoicing; and
  3. FinancialForce, which is a cloud-based accounting system with several inherent applications, such as General Ledger, AR/AP, Billing, Revenue Recognition, Spend Management, and Fixed Assets.

Anyone wanting to take their financial acumen in business to the next level should spend a bit of time researching these various tools.

4. Online Advice

Many people do not realize that there is a lot of creativity and innovation in the advice sector of finance right now. Instead of having to meet someone in person, a business owner can go online to receive advice on a subject such as through Betterment or FutureAdvisor. This offers a lot of advantages for business owners who are stretched for time. It will obviously be important to choose the right person to work with, and so it will be useful to understand how to choose a finance specialist.

With all of the innovation happening in the world of finance, it is vital that your company takes some time to understand the changes that are happening so that you can take full advantage.

Sarah is a small business owner, and is currently learning about marketing, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.

Man vs Chimp

Man vs Chimp

(Source: Flickr)

Humans and chimpanzeees (our closest genetic relatives) are both social animals that have the ability to form groups and communicate between themselves.

Why is it then that humans have populated the globe (7 billion and counting) while chimp numbers continue to fall (currently standing at around 250 thousand or less)?

A key difference between us and our close genetic cousins is our ability to use, control and reflect upon language.

Research has shown that chimps can learn, use and teach other chimps how to use sign language (an insight I picked up from Emeritus Professor Glenn Bassett‘s book “Word Play“). However, chimps don’t have the ability to use spoken language and, more crucially, codify that language in written form.

Spoken and written language are easy to take for granted because everyone who is currently alive was born after the invention of both technologies, however the implications of these technologies appear to be an important factor in explaining our ability to survive and thrive as a species.

Isaac Newton famously stated in the late 17th century that “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In other words, Newton was acknowledging the important truth that his discoveries were dependent on the work of people who had come before him. People whose insights he was able to benefit from because they were communicated to him through written language.

It’s one thing to have this amazing technology available to you, and it’s another thing to appreciate and make use of it.

Here are three questions to get you thinking:

  1. What was the name of the most recent book you read?
  2. Do you keep a journal to record your thoughts and ideas? If not, why not?
  3. What was the topic of the most recent article you wrote or co-authored? Did you publish the article so that other people could read, share and benefit from your ideas?

Let me know your answers via email by hitting reply, or sending an email to tom [at] spencertom [dot] com.

Restoring Derelict Spaces to Lease-Ready Condition

Restoring Derelict Spaces to Lease-Ready Condition

This is a guest post from Sarah Smith.

Savvy investors know that there is a lot of potential in converting abandoned or derelict spaces into lease-ready properties. Below are five (5) tips on converting a vacant spot into a high-revenue lease property.

1. Pop-Ups

This refers to taking a small vacant space and converting it into a restaurant or shop. These are great for:

  • Trial marketing a new brand, product, or testing out a new region
  • Selling seasonable items (e.g. Christmas, Halloween, etc)
  • Adding a bricks-and-mortar location to an existing online business
  • Showroom space
  • Establishing a permanent location for items previously sold at crafts fairs or festivals

2. Advertising and Marketing

It only takes a little imagination to realize that an empty shop window makes for a great spot to place advertising and marketing.

Likewise, blank walls on the side of a building can be a tremendously good location to place large ads or marketing messages. Blank walls and large open spaces are also wonderful locations for projection advertising and mixed media marketing messages.

3. Build a Pod

Vacant and underused office space is now becoming extremely popular as part of the “pod” or collaborative working space concept. Many small businesses refer to the acronym POD, Phone, Office, & Desk, being the minimal space necessary in order to work. Short-term leases and flexible arrangements can take a vacant office space and turn it into a cash cow.

4. Virtual Shop-Fronts

One of the most exciting new technologies to re-use spaces creatively is the idea of a 3-D virtual shop front. When applied to a vacant lot or empty space, a detailed 3-D image can be rendered, perfect for prospective clients who may be imagining how their business can make use of the location.

Besides just being appealing to prospective clients, virtual shop fronts are also useful in making abandoned or derelict properties look occupied, adding aesthetic appeal to the neighborhood and helping to minimize visual deterrents to leasing the property.

5. Re-Purposing Venues

Many of today’s largest companies are looking for ways to stealthily guerilla market to certain demographics. You can take advantage of this by working with these companies to re-purpose abandoned properties as pop-up venues for their latest marketing idea or branded activity.

Another way to create revenue from blighted areas is to work in conjunction with local authorities to host festivals, fairs, and other celebrations. By adding pop-up attractions to your property, you can increase foot traffic to the area, benefiting local businesses and attracting potential long-term clients.

Successful event planners are always looking for new and exciting venues to stage their activities. Whether repurposed for a fashion show, art exhibition, festival, or music concert, your previously low-value property may be able to command a high price.

Sarah is a small business owner, and is currently learning about marketing, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.

Product Market Expansion Matrix

Product Market Expansion Matrix

(Source: Flickr)

The product-market expansion matrix may prove useful in the consulting case interview and is relevant when considering growth strategies. It might be used on a standalone basis or as part of a larger profitability framework.

Product Market Expansion Matrix

There are four ways that a company can pursue growth:

  1. Market penetration: A strategy to increase sales to existing customers and increase market share. Market penetration can be pursued through a combination of initiatives relating to pricing, product, placement and promotion (see “Four P’s Framework”).
  2. Market development: A strategy to sell existing products to new markets which might include new regions, customer segments, or distribution channels.
  3. Product development: A strategy to sell new products to existing customers to increase share-of-wallet.
  4. Diversification: A strategy to develop new products for new markets. This is the highest risk option, and so it will make sense to look for markets with strong market growth and high levels of industry attractiveness (see “Porter’s Five Forces”).

[For more information on consulting interviews, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Consulting Interviews“.]