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Cheat Sheet

Business Studies For Dummies

From Business Studies For Dummies by Richard Pettinger

If you’re trying to decide whether business is the best course of study for you or you want to fill in the gaps of a business education on your own, this Cheat Sheet is for you. Packed with information on business start-ups, human resourcing and moving from study to the workplace, you’ll find hints and tips on many of the subjects covered in a typical business studies programme.

Managing Risk in Your Business

Risk management is the process of understanding and anticipating potential problems, and then taking steps to minimise any impact that may occur as a result of these problems. Here are six steps for managing risk in your business:

  • Identify the risks. The possibilities for loss are almost endless. What risks is your business exposed to?

  • Assess and prioritise potential risks. Make sure that you include everything that could conceivably go wrong. Make sure that people are trained and briefed in risk management. Always pay attention to any risks inherent in technology failure.

  • Quantify risks. Use as much data as you need to assess the likelihood or probability of things going wrong. Then decide whether or not you are prepared to accept the risk, and if so, under what conditions.

  • Select the right risk management tools to deal with each potential risk. Develop a risk management process and plan with specific strategies for dealing with risk in your business. In some cases, prevention is the right course of action. In other cases, staff training is necessary. Always make sure that you are fully and comprehensively insured.

  • Evaluate the results of your risk management approaches, and revise or renew them as appropriate. Write down your risk management strategies and processes. Make sure that everybody has a copy. Keep them under constant review. Especially when things go wrong, evaluate the ways in which risk management strategies operate, and revise them if required.

  • Put someone in charge. Always make sure that someone is responsible for risk management. Make sure that they have as much authority as is necessary to keep risks to an absolute minimum, and address them quickly and comprehensively when things do go wrong.

The Best Personal Qualities for Studying and Working in Business

Having the right character traits can often help you to study business more effectively and work in business more successfully. Make a note of the following personal qualities beneficial in business – they may come in handy during your education and career:

  • Commitment. Many problems in business come about by a lack of commitment to getting things done properly and thoroughly. So, whether you’re studying business or working for a business, do so with the determination to find out as much as you possibly can about everything.

  • Strengths and weaknesses. If you have particular strengths, then work hard to build on these. If you have weaknesses in a particular area, then take as much action as is necessary to remedy this. For the future, you are only going to be fully effective if you have a good working knowledge of every aspect of business, as well as expertise in some areas.

  • Go the extra mile. Of course, we all cut corners! However, as far as you’re possibly able, make sure that you put your maximum effort into every topic or project you work on. And if it is necessary to cut a particular corner at some stage, make sure that you come back to the particular subject and study and learn it in full at a later date.

  • Enthusiasm. Nobody ever lost a job for being too enthusiastic! You study business, and go into business, because you’re enthusiastic and committed. If your enthusiasm is genuine, it’s totally infectious! And enthusiasm, alongside expertise, is a very potent combination.

Moving from Studying Business to Working in Business

So, you’re studying for a career in business? Whether this be working for a business or running your own, read through these handy hints to help ease your transition from study to work:

  • Whatever job you take on, make sure that it informs your study of business. If you are working on the tills in a shop or in a burger restaurant, take time to understand the operations and see how these contribute to the business.

  • If you get the opportunity for more substantial work including internships, take them. Internships help to shape your future career and aspirations as well as providing a substantial basis on which to relate your studies.

  • Get involved in project work whenever possible. Many organisations and institutions run business competitions based on case studies and projects. If these kinds of opportunities come your way, grasp them with both hands.

  • Whenever you’re travelling or away from home, take time to identify and understand any cultural differences in the approach to business in those places. Observe how business is conducted and the behavioural patterns related. Recognise that in order to be successful, it’s important to understand international as well as domestic customers and habits.

  • Get to know and understand people at work. As you’re gaining experience observe what makes people happy or otherwise. Observe people’s attitudes to work and understand why they hold these attitudes (positive and negative).

  • Never be afraid to do the ‘dirty work’- whatever this may be. Once you undertake a task, do it to the best of your ability.

  • Observe the effectiveness or otherwise, with which you’re managed and supervised. Note the behaviours that successful and effective supervisors have, and use these as the basis to build your own management and supervisory style for the future.

  • Always look for opportunities, wherever these may occur!

How to Understand People in Business

If everything about business revolves around people: staff, customers, backers and suppliers - then it’s essential you know and understand them. Here are the steps you need to take in order to get the best out of people in your business:

  • Try and see situations from other people’s point of view. This is not to say that your own point of view is not important. But by attempting to see the world through the eyes of other people you’re demonstrating mutual respect and understanding.

  • Set absolute standards of conduct, behaviour and performance. If you do this early on then people will quickly understand what you will, and will not tolerate. Make it absolutely clear that you will not tolerate bullying, victimisation, discrimination or harassment within your business.

  • Evaluate performance collectively. If someone has made a mistake then take steps to find out why. Don’t just bawl them out or sack them; if you do this, you will never find out why the mistake was made and you will not be able to learn from the situation.

  • People behave irrationally. This means you can never predict how people are going to behave and respond in any given set of circumstances. All you can do is to know and understand as much as possible about individual and collective behaviour so that you have the fullest possible range of responses available to you when you need them.

  • Always treat people with a positive attitude (at least until you are given a significant reason to do otherwise). If you approach people with the attitude that everything that they are needing and wanting from you is possible, you’ll never go far wrong.

  • If you say that you’ll do something, do it! If you make a promise or have said that you’re going get something done by a particular deadline, always try and deliver.

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