Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ category

New Israeli tech on view in Jerusalem

March 15, 2013

The full article can be seen at: http://www.michaelhoresh.com/obama-technology-and-the-jerusalemmindset/

New articles on business in Jerusalem and mentoring

March 1, 2013

Please refer to http://www.michaelhoresh.com/marathons-piety-culture-mixing-it-up-in-a-holy-city/  and    http://www.michaelhoresh.com/what-is-a-business-coach/

The blog has moved to: http://www.michaelhoresh.com/afternoon-tea-in-jerusalem/

 

Michael Horesh

Site transfer

January 21, 2013

The latest post, Israel’s general election – 4 points that the politicians missed, can be found at http://www.michaelhoresh.com/israels-general-election-4-points-that-the-politicians-missed/

Managing your stock – 3 case studies

January 18, 2013

As this will be my last post here before the site is officially transferred, I wanted to combine the themes that I write about most; management, the Israeli economy, and mentoring.

Actually, I was prompted to write this blog, as I watched the news of several large chains in the UK suffering from sale figures that had frozen in the snow outside their shops. With some ironic timing, this week I visited three small retail outlets in the Jerusalem area, all with ambitions to expand sooner rather than later. I admit that at least one of them is a client of mine. All of them have one common management problem, but they have reacted in a different manner.

CASE STUDY 1: Adam sells toiletries. His shops are in areas with lots of passers-by, although his specific locations just misses out on the main buzz. When he set out around five years ago, he had great ambitions to “stock ’em high, price low” and have a rapid turnover. What he was left with was large stocks of unsold goods. His advertising constantly missed the target groups. Jerusalem did not seem so golden.

Adam brought in a business mentor, who first of all structured a long-term cash flow chart. Rule numero uno – Stock could not be bought if sales did not reach set targets. Although this was a painful process – setting targets, learning to live with excel charts, losing the ‘freedom’ to purchase at will – Adam persisted. Times were tough, but gradually the debts were reduced. He even bought in a design specialist, who restructured the interior set up of the selling space. Despite snow in the Holy City in January, sales are up over 25% for the past 6 weeks.

CASE STUDY 2: David operates a series of shops near where he grew up and lives in central Jerusalem. About two years ago, he opened another outlet in a sector that was not familiar to him. Since then, although sales have remained positive, cash reserves have been plummeting.

As David acknowledges, his business coach did not spend too long mapping out the history of the company. One look at the shelves revealed that they were laden with stock, much of which had dust on it. The ratio of stock to monthly sales was absurdly high. And it was impossible to know the true value of the items, because nothing had been entered onto the cash register.

David’s approach was more simplistic than that of Adam. Yes, he did instruct his staff to commence registering stock and also new purchases, a task that became very lengthy, drawn out, and not terribly accurate. In parallel, he simply cut purchases of new items by around 75%. The effect? It is not just that David found hundreds of thousands of shekels remaining in his bank account, while sales continued apace. He is now planning to open another outlet.

CASE STUDY 3: Moshe’s enterprise is set up in a similar fashion to David’s business. At first, Moshe also took a similar approach and re-evaluated his purchasing policy. However, once the cash flow began to improve, Moshe returned to his old ways, and that is when his bank manager started to become very nervous. What is now called for is a new and immediate appraisal of what he really sells in his shop. Moshe will need to establish a way to identify his best sellers, as well as those items that leave him a true profit.

And the lesson? Big or small, a populous country or a city of 800,000 people, selling toiletries or electrical goods, you have got to manage your stock – numbers, best sellers, profitable items. Otherwise, you start taking out loans to fimance new purchases. In other words, your money remains on the shelves and not back in your pockets.

(I will send out a full notice about my new website, enabling followers to pick up the next postings).

Management styles – corporate, public sector and non-profits

December 28, 2012

Where do you find a good manager? Who are the best strategic leaders? What’s provides a solid grounding for running a business?

In the world of commerce, there is a rule of thumb which answers these questions as follows: Go straight to the private sector, where they know how to get the best out of a business. Failing that, look for a successful captain of a large public organisation. However, do avoid the non profits at all cost, because they are grounded in poor management, always seeking the next donation.

Yes, this statement is full of crude generalisations. To expose this myth fully, I want to share and sum up what I learnt from this past week in the world of Israeli commerce.

The Forbes list of 2012’s worst CEOs has gone round the internet and back several times. Israel has its own set of fallen heroes, led most prominently by Nohi Dankner. His holding company has controlling interests in the world of banking, retail, petrol, and more. For all that, his debts are almost equivalent to the size of the hole in Israel’s fiscal accounting. This week’s news of his lack of progress is further testimony to that financial disaster.

What is interesting is that one of the key problems I face as a business coach is the matter of planning cash control in small companies. So few people know about it, and take it seriously and have adequate mechanisms in place. It would appear that what is good enough for the top guys has a direct influence on those at the bottom of the pile.

Switching over to the public sector, I was fascinated by the observations that emerged from a conference organised by the “Calcalist” – Economist in English – debating and discussing predictions for the economy in Israel in 2013. With a general election less than a month away, many of the top politicians were given a platform to blurt out their words of wisdom. Slogans won out over direction, content and clear policy.

There is a feeling of Nero and his fiddle in Rome. What do I mean? Well, while the Minister of Finance, Dr Steinitz believes that taxes will not need to be hiked too much, the international renowned Governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Fischer, argues that “according to expenditure restrictions we will be about NIS 15 billion (US$4 b) above the real rise of the permitted budget.” In other words, Houston we have a problem. Another example of mismanagemenet? Possibly the largest public sector monopoly, the Israel Electricity Corporation, reported last month that it is short of a billion shekels in cash. This is after announcing that it had repeatedly miscalculated its cash balances, still offers its workers free electricity, and is over staffed by around 2,000 employees who in turn are amongst the highest paid groups in the country. Now, do you blame the directors or the politicians who appointed these wise men?

I ask my readers to balance this quick review against the efforts of Elwyn Israel, a non-for-profit organisation, based in south-west Jerusalem. The charity seeks to place back in to society people with special needs, allowing them to work and live near independently. It operates nationally and across ethnic divides.

I was invited to a meeting earlier this week with the CEO and head of finance. They offered two simple guidelines to their success at Elwyn; a clear vision, combined with a refusal to commence a new project before it had been fully budgeted. So it was no surprise to learn that the work programme for 2013 includes expanding services and continued building.

There are probably many reasons for the successes and failures of each grouping. What maybe makes the Elwyn Israel stand out is a dedication that extends beyond the regular duty of management and leadership. The question is how others can learn to copy that.

 

 

Christmas 2012 in Jerusalem

December 26, 2012

Every year, around about late December, the international media is full of comments about the state of Christianity. Often there is heavy reference to the plight of the various denominations in the Middle East and specifically to those in Israel.

For example, a report from Civitas is concerned that Christians may be wiped out in the Middle East in years to come. As just one example of this trend, ABC Television commentated in July this year of the forcible conversions to Islam in the Gaza region. In Bethlehem, where the situation is complicated by Israel’s security barrier, Christians now number less than 20% of the community.

However, what always evokes emotion is to observe what happens in Jerusalem, a city central to three world religions. This year, I spent 24th and 25th December walking in the area of the Old City. The YMCA was decorated in lights, as were many other churches. Actually, I found the decorations covered Notre Dame, facing St Stephen’s Gate. As Christmas Night approached, the traffic around the ancient Walls simply snarled up. The noise of the tourists – roughly 75,000 are thought to have travelled for the season – were drowned out by the sirens of angry drivers.

Israel’ statistics bureau has been reporting for years that the Christian community in the Holy Land has been growing. They currently account for 160,000 or nerly 2% of the population. This year, the Jerusalem municipality handed out free Christmas trees for those that wanted.

So, if you are looking for some seasonal cheer, and you want to hear church bells ring out in unison, I suggest you book a package deal to Jerusalem for December 2013

 

Behind the photo pics in Jerusalem

December 9, 2012

Jerusalem – the city of peace, a centre for three major religions – has been dividing peoples and nations for thousands of years. The title of my blog, Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem, shows just how much I care and love and admire the pleasures of the place.

However, my personal passion cannot hide that again Jerusalem has caused more argument around the globe in the past week. At the United Nations, Israel has been lambasted for planning to build extra housing in what she sees as the capital of her country. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas leaders have celebrated twenty five years of armed struggle against Israel, declaring that they will never recognise the modern Jewish state and its capital. Impasse, no?

I remain hopeful. The reason is that away from the news and the mass media, life in the city is really pretty good indeed.

Sharon reminded me of this picture of hope. She runs a growing blog called “The Real Jerusalem Streets”, which uses photography to illustrate the real facts. Take for example her feature earlier this year on Arab women in Jerusalem, working and roaming freely. A similar montage back in August was equally enlightening.

These are no isolated moments captured through a lens. This weekend I read a feature on a small dairy restaurant in the centre of the city called Tmol Shilshom. It is boutiquey, if such a word exists. It is frequented by writers and poets. It has won the 2012 “certificate of excellence” from Tripadvisor. All very nice, but there is one very crucial factor to this success, that is ignored by even the most cosmopolitan of overseas journalists.

The chief chef of this outstanding restaurant is Ma’azan Shwicki, an Arab who started in the culinary profession back in 1982 doing the washing up. Not only is his work now recognised by Tripadvisor. His breakfast is also considered one of the top ten in the world by “Lonely Planet“. And all this effort is soon to be combined with being the Muchtar of Abu Tor in the south east neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may not be perfect. It may not have reached the visionary standards of so-called moral politicians around the world. And for all that, despite the stress and the tensions, today’s Jerusalem has much to teach others about how to co-exist together.