An Overview of Business Management
Overview of the Basics of Business Management

What is Business Management?
The U.S. economy is filled with diverse career options. From farming to manufacturing to health care, the choices available are as varied as our population. According to the most recent U,S. Census Bureau survey, there were approximately 23 million firms open in 2004 (Statistics of U.S. Businesses, 2004). Nearly three-quarters of those commercial entities were small businesses with no employees on payroll, while fewer than 1,000 companies employed at least 10,000 workers. The one thing that they all have in common is the need for business management.

What is business management? Generally speaking, the act of managing a commercial enterprise involves the planning, organizing, coordination, control, and leadership of resources toward the goal of fulfilling a need in exchange for compensation. Whether the company consists of many workers or simply the owner, effective management of the business is necessary for success. The disciplines that are common among most companies include the following:

· financial management;

· sales and marketing functions;

· fulfillment and logistics (how the company completes its obligation to its customers);

· customer satisfaction and problem-solving;

· legal and regulatory compliance;

· communication functions;

· technology management.

Companies with employees also require:

· hiring procedures;

· personnel management;

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· employer regulatory obligations.

For larger companies, management functions are divided among several people. For example, companies with many employees have a human resources department, which handles hiring, firing, personal conflicts, insurance and other benefits, and payroll management.

Managers at the top of the company organization, usually known as senior management or upper management, are involved in directing the business. These positions require good leadership skills, along with extensive knowledge of the industry. Navigating the company through changing regulations, complicated labor issues, or increased competition is the primary focus of these individuals. Responsibilities typically include developing strategies, policies, and rules. Senior managers are involved in creating the company's mission, objectives and vision. Activities also include forecasting and planning. Depending on the size of the company, upper management may be responsible for designing the implementation of the policies, practices, and programs of the business.

The next layer of management in sizable companies consists of middle management positions. The primary role for these employees is to lead, control, and motivate divisions of the company and report to upper management. Because their function is more limited in scope within the company, they are not responsible for making broad, directional decisions similar to that of senior management. Middle managers make sure the directions coming from top management are implemented within their divisions.

Below the middle managers on the organizational chart are the department heads or supervisors. Their chief responsibility is to make sure company policies, procedures, and job functions are being followed by frontline workers, who perform the labor activity for the company. This level of management is fairly limited. Typically, they report to middle management and usually perform employee interviews, training, scheduling, discipline, and other responsibilities.

Small businesses are usually run by one person or a few individuals. Responsibilities are shared among the managers, though roles may be defined according to skills, experience, knowledge, or other factors. Home-based businesses make up a considerable number of small companies. This type of organization is generally flat, meaning there are no layers of management. Small-business owners are typically involved in all facets of management, though some functions, such as accounting tasks, may be outsourced to professionals.
Careers in Management

From accounting to customer service to shipping, businesses are multidisciplinary entities offering a variety of opportunities for management. Most management positions require specialized knowledge, skills, and experience. The right personality characteristics are important as well. For example, an accounting manager should have a good eye for detail. Good managers have two things in common: 1) the ability to get productivity out of their subordinates, or those responsible for the output of company operations; and 2) the ability to manage the demands of those they are responsible to.

A college education is important when applying for a management position. Most corporations require at least a bachelor's degree when considering candidates. Upper level managers regularly hold an advanced degree, such as a master's or other graduate degree. Students can focus on a specific industry and management position as graduate students. Specialized knowledge in business function processes, compliance with regulatory requirements, and industry standards and protocols are all part of most of the business management degree programs.

Simply having a college education does not guarantee a management position. Most employers look for experience in the field in which they are doing business. Management hopefuls can gain experience by taking an entry-level position within the organization and "work their way up from the bottom." While studying, a student can enter an internship program in which she or he can gain real-world experience within a company. Colleges work closely with local businesses to assist students in transitioning from learners to employees. Many institutions have placement programs that help graduates obtain jobs. However, management positions will be almost impossible to get without managerial experience. Therefore, how can you get that first management job?
Landing Your First Management Job

Experts advise those aspiring to become business executives to keep in mind what management actually includes. As mentioned earlier, business management requires skills in five key areas:

Ø Planning: You must be able to forecast conditions, scenarios, and outcomes and create plans to achieve the goals necessary for success.

Ø Organizing: You must be able to bring resources together, including personnel, materials, and equipment.

Ø Motivating: You must be able to encourage employees, provide feedback and support, and increase productivity.

Ø Control: You must be able to manage processes, monitor productivity, correct deficiencies and problems, report employee productivity, and handle emergencies.

Ø Leadership: You must be able to develop strategies, share the company's vision, and convince employees to follow your direction.

In addition, successful managers generally have confidence, vision, and flexibility. Managers must be able to adapt to changing situations and challenging obstacles and display a firm resolve in front of subordinates. Most importantly, a manager is expected to increase productivity beyond what the line workers would normally put out without a manager in place. A manager's job is to make his or her team more effective; without that ability, the position is likely not necessary.

In light of that, how do you show your company that you are management material?

The first step is to make sure that, whatever job you are performing, you do it well. A command of your responsibilities will show upper management that you can be trusted to execute tasks that are handed to you. A good job performance is critical in rising through the ranks to management.

The next factor will be to demonstrate your ability to plan. Can you look forward, uncover opportunities, and create a plan to meet future objectives? Look at your position and develop ideas to make your job more efficient, or ways to increase the company's value to its customers. Create a formal outline that lists the challenge, the solution, the resources necessary to accomplish the goal, and a timeline for implementing the solution.

Another element for success will be displaying your ability to create effective solutions to workplace challenges. How would you cope with decreased productivity, inefficient systems, or low employee morale? Can you develop systems that increase production or value to the company? Look for opportunities to provide suggestions to management. Make this a key strength when promotions become available.

Showing that you can monitor activities and report effectively will also be critical in garnering your first management position. While you are performing your job, look at how your manager gathers information about production and how she or he reports findings to upper management. Become familiar with the reporting hierarchy and the format that the manager uses. Express interest in assisting your manager with tasks that will assist him or her in this area. Once you are familiar with the reporting mechanisms, you will have an advantage over other management hopefuls.

Finally, you must show that others will follow your lead. Become an example of a valuable employee and an effective team leader. Search for ways to increase your influence on employee output or find opportunities to help in other areas of the business. Increased visibility within the company will elevate your status; other employees will recognize your efforts and respect your work ethic. Once you are respected among your company peers, you will appear to be a good management fit to upper management.

Whether you seek a management position in a large corporation or want to run your own small business, in order to be a successful business manager, you will need to have a level head, attractive personality, and quick response. Business is always evolving and changing; look at technological influences that were not here 25 years ago. Your ability to understand the elements of your chosen field, adapt to changing times, face competition, and lead people will ensure a successful career. Depending on your goals, some may not apply to the position you seek but will increase your awareness of business management as a whole.