Business management is one of the most exciting, challenging, and varied fields you can get into. The options of what type of organization you want to manage in are endless. On the one end, you could seek to be the manager of a horse stable, managing the care of the horses, cleanliness of the barn, training of employees, and running of a lesson program. In contrast, you could manage a web design company, managing the flow and completion of projects, working with customers, dealing with equipment issues, training employees and doing some design work yourself.
In this day of tight belts and cost cutting, managers are expected to pitch in right next to their employees, so if you don’t know the jobs in your department when you take on the job, you will need to learn them quickly.
The responsibilities of a business manager are endless. First and foremost is to keep “things” running. Things could mean a 12-person department, a 250 person division, or a multi-billion dollar corporation that is international in scope. By running, we mean maintaining or bettering the budget while keeping all operations going smoothly and efficiently. A truly good manager doesn’t simply “maintain.” To set yourself for success, you need to figure out ways to improve the operations of the department thereby reducing costs while maintaining efficiency. In other words, you need to be process oriented – to find better, cheaper, yet high-quality ways of doing things, and then documenting those ways for the organization’s future reference. Then there is the supervision piece. You are directly responsible for supervising, training, and coaching your staff and making sure their performance meets company goals. Finally, you are responsible for hiring employees.
Here are some more specific duties a business manager performs:
- Runs department/organization meetings
- Works with Human Resources to determine correct staffing levels
- Prepares annual budget for department
- Prepares and/or directs staff to prepare reports
- Conducts employee performance reviews
- Meets with other company and department leaders to assist with setting organizational strategy
- Completes necessary Human Resources paperwork
- Prepares department schedules for vacations, training, shifts, breaks, and so on
- Performs other duties as assigned
The pathway to business manager is about as winding as a route can be. Many business managers have climbed the ranks of their organizations going from a stock-person to company vice president with nothing more than a high school diploma. However, although there are still such cases, this has become the exception. Today’s rule calls for education and in many cases, it is simply a required credential to even get an interview.
There are four main ways to prepare academically. First is an associate’s degree. Second is a bachelor’s degree in one of the liberal arts. Third is a bachelor’s degree in one of the business disciplines. Fourth is to achieve a master’s in business administration.
The primary differences among these options are as follows:
- An associate’s degree provides basic courses in accounting, management, marketing and business administration
- A BA in one of the liberal does not focus on business, though courses in psychology, economics, sociology and English, particularly writing, provide a good foundation for business. If you opt for a degree in liberal arts, the best bet is to pepper some business courses, such as Accounting 101, as electives.
- A BS in a business discipline: accounting, finance, management, marketing, or administration is certainly the direct route from here to there. The only disadvantage of getting such a degree is that if you decide the discipline is not for you, you don’t have anything else to fall back on.
Areas of Specialization
Business management is unique to every organization and every job. It is impossible to list every possible area of specialization for a business manager. But here are a few of the major ones:
- Human resource managers are responsible for the people and processes in their departments as well as providing a service to other departments in the organization. This type of manager is primarily concerned with service.
- Marketing managers are responsible for those activities that have to do with selling the organizations product, image, and service. Typically marketing houses advertising, sales, and public relations in their area.
- IT managers keep the computer systems and Internet connections up and running. They determine equipment needs for the organization as well as guard the computer systems from outside attacks.
- Production supervisors are the business managers who keep the production lines going, workers scheduled, quality control activated, and equipment maintained. They are upper management’s liaison to the workers at the bottom who make it happen.
- Plant managers run a production facility of some kind and are concerned with making quality products, staying within budgets, and maintaining the facility. Of course they are also responsible for all the people working in the plant.
- Retail managers are in charge of retail establishments such as clothing stores, gift shops, and sports stores
- Food service managers run restaurants, cafeterias, and chains of restaurants or cafeterias.
- Sales managers work in most fields and are responsible for motivating sales reps and seeing to it that they meet their sales goals.
The career opportunities in business management are endless.
Chief Financial Officer
Business Office Director
Law Firm Administrator
Just like everything else in this field, the salary range for a business manager is wide. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the median range is from $38,000 to $160,000.
You can find more information about a career in business management by contacting any of the following professional organizations:
American Management Association
Project Management Association
Business and Professional Women
International Association of Career Management Professionals
Additionally: Whatever the business domain you wish to work in, you should also join the professional organizations most active in that area.