Although the business world is ever-changing, some aspects have seen little variation. While terms like accounting, finance and project management have long been familiar, would anyone have thought 20 years ago that something called “social media” or “Slack” would play such a large role? This overview will serve as an insightful guide whether you are pondering an education in business administration or considering a career change. If you have just 20 minutes, you can get a general summary of business administration. If you have 3 hours you can dig deeper into the subjects that make up this career path.
Table of Contents
Section 1: Technology in Business Administration
Given the need for continuous global communication in business administration, it is no surprise that technology plays a key role in keeping everyone connected. But exactly how is technology changing the future of business? Let’s look at the various types of technology in business.
Virtual Communication Platforms As companies around the world continue the trend of hiring remote employees, the need to bring everyone together regularly becomes increasingly necessary. Virtual communication platforms prove to be both cost and time efficient methods. Thanks to services like Zoom, Slack and Skype, virtual communication is well on its way to becoming a common method of daily communication. And advances in technology make these services easier than ever to use.
Social Media and Chatbots Tools such as social media and chatbots are speeding up daily, and often monotonous, tasks. For example, recruiting and hiring have traditionally been a long and drawn-out process. Hiring managers can easily begin to vet out candidates by using LinkedIn, Facebook and various other forms of social media. On the other hand, chatbots may allow employees to quickly ask their human resources department questions about payroll or benefits without ever leaving their office.
Management Information Systems It is crucial for businesses to have easy, timely access to various types of information. Reports for accounting, finance, human resources and related departments can all have a major impact on a business’ bottom line. Continuous evolution of innovative and user-friendly management information systems will no doubt boost competition among businesses.
What do you think?
How have you seen technology transforming business administration?
Additional Resources for Technology in Business Administration
Section 2: Entrepreneurship
The definition of entrepreneurship is the process of setting up a business or businesses and taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. But in reality, it encompasses so much more.
Some entrepreneurs have become household names, but most are just everyday people who are aiming to solve a real-world problem while hoping to also generate profit. It is up to each entrepreneur to choose the type of entrepreneurship that will best suit their goals for the business.
By far, this is the most common type of entrepreneurship that we see in the United States. For the most part, it is fairly easy to start a small business. A small business could be an auto repair shop, hair salons, fitness studios or a web design agency. These types of businesses are led by those who have expertise in a certain area and wish to venture out on their own typically by using their own savings and contacts to get started.
Scalable startups are often led by an aggressive and determined founder. These are the companies that you may read about in money magazines and are reaching out for potential investors to grow the company. In exchange, these scalable startups offer great returns on investment.
Social entrepreneurship involves solving common human issues found around the world like hunger, poverty or clean drinking water. Many are set up to be nonprofit, but some are for-profit or a hybrid of the two. Their goal is not to accumulate profits or wealth. Instead, they set out to use the profits to make the world a better place.
Large company entrepreneurship steers toward creating, nurturing and advancing new ideas from within an already established company. This could also occur when a large company acquires a new, innovative company or concept in hopes that it will advance or disrupt the current marketplace.
What do you think?
Do you have an idea or concept for a business?
Additional Resources for Entrepreneurship
- Five Types of Entrepreneurs
- Why Entrepreneurship is Important to the Economy
- Entrepreneurship Series (Video) Wharton University
- Best Online Courses for Entrepreneurs
Section 3: Accounting and Finance
Accounting and finance serve to administer a company’s assets. Their main purpose in business is to control the money that comes in and goes out. Without proper administration of the money, a business will not thrive. Both departments manage money, but their focus is on different aspects of company performance.
Accounting functions as the means to understand where each dollar is going and focuses on the day-to-day flow of money. This way, a company can accurately predict cash flow and create a budget to suit each department’s needs. Accounting not only serves to reconcile accounts receivable and accounts payable, but also to ensure compliance with laws. Accurate accounting allows a company to analyze the numbers to determine the best strategy to move forward and accomplish goals.
Finance uses accounting information to make vital decisions like considering loan options or determining the best place to invest dollars. Asset and liability management also fall under the finance umbrella. But without proper accounting practices, viable finance decisions wouldn’t be possible.
There are most certainly times when accounting and finance will overlap and function in business jointly. But overall, accounting serves to tell a story about what happened in the past and finance is used to make prudent predictions for a company’s future.
What do you think?
How do accounting and finance play a role in entrepreneurship?
Additional Resources for Accounting and Finance
- Accounting and Finance: Why is It Important to Your Business?
- The Role of Accounting and Finance in Business Management
- The Difference Between Accounting and Finance
Section 4: Marketing
The importance of marketing in business is simple ― it brings awareness to products and services and helps to boost sales. The American Marketing Association provides this marketing definition: “It is the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.”
Marketing tactics can vary depending on factors like target market, product or service. Let’s examine the types of marketing.
Social media marketing: Targeting an audience using social media
Content marketing: Developing content and media to attract customer attention
Alliance marketing: Partnering with a company that will assist your effort by promoting or distributing your product or service
In-store marketing: Promoting via in-store events or displays
Direct marketing: Reaching customers directly using mail or email
Marketing informs the customer about a product and starts a conversation. But before that conversation can begin, the four “P’s” of marketing must be in place.
- Product: The product may be a good, service, idea or any combination of the three.
- Price: A competitive price must be set to sell products and also generate a profit for the company.
- Place: This is where the product will be sold.
- Promotion: According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), promotion marketing includes tactics that encourage short-term purchases like coupons, rebates or special packaging.
Proper marketing research must occur before any action is taken on marketing tactics. Who is the customer? Where will you sell the product? What are customers willing to pay? When will you go to market? How will you promote the product?
What do you think?
Which type of marketing would you like to know more about?
Additional Resources for Marketing
Section 5: Project Management
According to the Project Management Institute, project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Why is it essential? All businesses must be able to plan and manage projects to run successfully. Most of the time there will be multiple projects running simultaneously across various departments. This can make it almost impossible to complete a deadline-driven project if you do not have a specific person in charge of the project as a whole.
Project management consists of five basic stages:
- Initiation: Define project goals and create project briefs
- Planning: Set budget, deadlines, team roles and milestones
- Launch and execution: Manage budget, ensure communication and allocate resources
- Monitoring and controlling: Monitor goals and team performance
- Closing: Create a project closure report
Common documents used throughout project management include:
- Scope of work: Define needs, objectives, deliverables and milestones
- Communication plan: Determine how often to send updates to key team members and stakeholders
- Risk-management plan: Identify anticipated risks along with plans to mitigate those risks
Effective project management means being able to adapt quickly to unforeseen setbacks and work with a variety of personalities. It is often an extremely task-based process where the completion of one task is dependent upon being able to begin another task. Thus, every effort must be taken to optimize workflow and implement the proper people and procedures that will ultimately result in a successful project completed on or before the deadline.
The creation of popular project management applications like Slack, Trello, Smartsheet and Asana has streamlined the project management process and enabled quick, easy communication across all departments.
What do you think?
Is a project manager necessary in entrepreneurship? Why or why not?
Additional Resources for Project Management
- Project Management Institute
- Project Manager Resources
- The Best Project Management Software for 2020
- Top 3 Business Skills for Project Managers (Video)
Section 6: Leadership
We can never begin to undermine the importance of effective leadership in business. Leadership sets a company’s overall tone and culture. Leaders must motivate employees and make swift decisions to guide the company toward its overall goals. They are also responsible for assembling a strategic team of C-level executives with appropriate business expertise to lead their respective groups by ensuring employees have all means necessary to perform effectively.
There have been many studies conducted and books written to determine which type of leadership works the best. One of the most popular topics on the subject is the Contingency Theory of Leadership. This theory concluded that there is no one best style of leadership. Instead, the effectiveness of a leader varied based on the situation matching with a leader’s style and attributes. In other words, it emphasizes matching a leader to the situation.
Let’s take a look at types of leadership.
- Task-Oriented Leadership: Focuses solely on the task at hand and includes clear goals and deadlines
- Detail-Oriented Leadership: Leans toward motivating the team and encouraging teamwork
- Democratic Leadership: Urges employee feedback and opinions
- Laissez-Faire Leadership: Offers very little oversight and trusts employees to do their job
In a perfect world, the ideal leader would be a mixture of all leadership qualities- demanding yet caring, structured yet flexible, decisive but welcoming of feedback. But choosing the best leader will typically depend on the situation. Nonetheless, in all cases, a leader must be able to adapt quickly should the situation arise.
What do you think?
What type of leader are you? Is that conducive to entrepreneurship?
Additional Resources for Leadership
- Leadership and the Contingency Theory
- Understanding Leadership
- Leadership vs Management What is the Difference? (Video)
Section 7: Ethics and Accountability in Business
Few factors are as likely to be more detrimental to a company than a lack of ethics and accountability in business operations. These situations not only lead to a lack of employee morale, but it can completely deter customers and investors. Expectations of honesty and integrity should be clear as well as the consequences of not adhering to ethical standards.
Business ethics exist to ensure businesses abide by the law and also to establish trust between both employees and customers. A few examples of ethical behavior in the workplace are:
- Prioritizing customers
- Workplace diversity
- Protecting customer information
On the other hand, common unethical issues that often arise are bribery, discrimination, social responsibility and insider trading. One well-known example that came to light in 2001 was the Enron scandal. Enron long followed illegal accounting practices. As a result, several executives from the former Texas-based energy company were charged with insider trading and security fraud which led to shareholders losing over $74 billion.
But ethics cannot truly be sustainable without accountability. Employees must be held accountable when practicing unethical behavior. Accountability is being responsible for one’s own actions and accepting responsibility for mistakes. When an employee makes an unethical business decision, it can never be overlooked. Swift action to resolve the situation is vital. This is not to say accountability has to be preached with fear. Proper accountability expectations can increase an employee’s confidence because they will value their work even more by knowing it is being completed with the utmost integrity.
What do you think?
How can you ensure your business is ethical? Is this a priority for you?
Additional Resources for Ethics and Accountability in Business
- Business Ethics 101
- Ethical Principles of Responsibility and Accountability
- 12 Business Ethics Examples
- Ethics and Accountability
- Creating Ethical Cultures in Business (Ted Talk Video)
Section 8: International Business
International business involves the commercial transaction of goods or services across country borders. These types of business transactions are now also commonly known as globalization. Advanced technology and communication methods have boosted international business over the past decade. The internet and credit cards make it easy to purchase almost any product no matter where it originates leading to increased competition among industries.
The types of international business can vary depending on the operation. These include:
- Importing and exporting: While importing involves bringing in goods from another country to sell. Alternatively, exporting translates to selling products abroad.
- Franchising: One company permits another company to duplicate their business following strict guidelines.
- Joint venture: This occurs when businesses in two or more countries form a partnership.
- Foreign direct investment (FDI): FDI occurs when a company in one country is controlled by entities in another country.
Various factors should be considered before undertaking any type of international business operations. Geography, social stability, laws, culture and economic conditions all have a significant impact on business transactions. These points should be thoroughly researched and vetted before pursuing any international venture.
International business ultimately impacts large and small businesses alike. Positive impacts include lower costs of customer service, access to a larger talent pool and increased leverage among competitors. But we always have to take the positive with the negative to include job insecurity and currency fluctuation. One of the most common examples of job insecurity would be the instance of an employee of a developed country losing their job to employees of underdeveloped countries where required salaries are lower.
What do you think?
Which type of international business is interesting to you?
Additional Resources for International Business
- International Relations Education
- Benefits of International Business
- Advantages and Disadvantages of International Business
- What Careers Can You Go into with an International Business Degree?
Section 9: Nonprofit Business Administration
The definition of a nonprofit business is a tax-exempt organization operating for religious, charitable, literary, artistic, scientific or educational purposes. Additionally, shareholders and trustees do not benefit financially and no person owns shares of the organization. The nonprofit community accounts for 20 percent of the economy. Examples of established nonprofits include United Way, American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.
Those who enter the field of nonprofit business administration manage the organization’s business concerns while also striving to serve the common good. The various key roles in a non-profit are:
- Clients: Customers that benefit from the goods or services from the non-profit.
- Board: Individuals from the community who represent the clients and are responsible for the direction and policies of the organization.
- Board chair: Leads the coordination of the board and committees.
- Executive director: The person responsible for carrying out the wishes of the board and leads the staff.
Nonprofits share a host of unique challenges as they attempt to meet the needs of the community they serve. These challenges include:
- Reliance on volunteers to complete work
- Completing goals under tight budgets
- Lack of managerial skills within the staff
Careers in nonprofit business abound. To be successful in this segment, you must be a passionate, visionary leader. More importantly, you must have compassion and be able to connect with people. Non-management level nonprofit jobs include community service project coordinator, financial aid administrator or compliance coordinator. Supervisory level positions would include executive director, director of fundraising or chief operating officer.
What do you think?
What interests you about nonprofit business administration?
Do you have a vision or passion that might lead to nonprofit business administration?
Additional Resources for Nonprofit Business Administration
Section 10: Career Tracks for Business Administration Degrees
The great news about this degree is that business will never go away. In essence, it is the backbone of the global economy. Since business administration encompasses a host of possibilities, it is wise to examine the many options available. Business administration degrees provide a strong academic foundation in core business functions. This degree is designed to transform students into productive employees with skills like strategic planning, critical thinking and organizational leadership.
Career tracks will likely depend on the type of degree you receive.
- Associate’s Degree
- Executive assistant
- Payroll administrator
- Marketing assistant
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Sales manager
- Project manager
- Business operations analyst
- Accounting/finance analyst
- Communications specialist
- Master’s Degree
- Business manager
- VP of business development
- VP of business operations
- Chief financial officer
- Doctoral degree
- University professor
- Scholarly writer
Your career choice may result in a combination of subject areas. Given the fact that this type of degree expands your understanding of a broad range of business-related areas, it creates vast options for a variety of job opportunities. Business administration also makes it a bit easier to transition onto a different career path should you choose to do so.
Once a student nears graduation, it could prove helpful to attend job fairs and seek internships that are closely associated with your ideal career choice. Entry-level business administration roles typically earn between $30K-$40K per year, mid-level positions earn between $60K-$80K per year, high-level positions range from $80K-$200K and executive-level roles earn upwards of $200K per year. But remember, salary ranges can always fluctuate depending on economic conditions and a candidate’s work history.
Additional Resources for Career Tracks for Business Administration Degree
- What Can I Do with a Business Administration Degree?
- Business Administration Salary and Job Outlook
- The Basics of Business Education (You Tube Video)
- What is the Best Business Education (TEDxYouth Video)
Section 11: Typical Business Administration Courses
The coursework for business administration is dependent upon the degree and concentration you choose. Here are the courses you can expect:
- Business Communications and Critical Thinking
- Introduction to Computer Applications and Systems
- Management Theory and Practice
- Principles of Accounting I
- Principles of Accounting II
- Finance for Business
- Global Business Strategies
- Business Law
- Introduction to Marketing
- Organizational Behavior and Management
- Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
- Strategic Management
Additional Resource for Business Courses
Section 12: Types of Business Administration Degrees and Descriptions
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Business Management: A BBA in business management provides a foundation in business fundamentals. This degree delves deep into real-world scenarios and how to apply business management principles in the workplace. Key areas this degree will explore include marketing research, sales forecasting, branding strategies and standards for performance evaluation.
BBA in Finance: This degree appeals to those who enjoy working with numbers. Focus areas within this degree include investment, international finance and various types of financial analysis.
BBA in Marketing: A marketing degree encompasses the full spectrum of marketing functions including marketing research, demand forecasting, pricing and promotion, branding and planning.
BBA in Entrepreneurship: This degree applies to those who wish to create their own company. The areas of focus will include employee hiring and management, legal issues, negotiation and strategy.
BBA in International Business: A BBA in international business will guide students toward a global thought perspective. Students will study international trade, finance, cultural considerations and how to adapt to implement appropriate marketing strategies.
BBA in Human Resources: A BBA in human resources is geared toward those who enjoy working with people and managing human assets. This degree will delve into areas like workplace laws, conflict resolution, personnel selection and performance appraisals.
BBA in Operations Management: The BBA in operations management focuses on supply chain management, implementing appropriate personnel and cost-control methods.
BBA in Project Management: A BBA in project management guides a student toward becoming a team leader and completing projects with organization and efficiency. This program puts a great deal of focus on scheduling, managing risks and controlling costs.
Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA): An MBA is usually a prerequisite to landing any C-level job like COO, CFO or VP. Most MBA candidates already have career experience and are aiming to take their career to the next level. The additional cost of an MBA should be weighed against the average annual salary expected for a position with this type of degree.
Doctoral Degree in Business Administration: As with most doctoral degrees, a PhD in Business Administration is geared to prepare candidates for careers in academia or scholarly research and writing. On average, it takes approximately four years of full-time coursework to complete this type of degree.
Additional Resources for Business Administration Degrees
Malinda Atwell April 2020
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Spanish | Georgia State University
Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), Marketing | Georgia State University
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