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Skills you can learn in Business
“Business” seems like it should be a familiar subject — you use businesses every day of your life! But an education in this field teaches you the specific skills that go into building a successful business. A business, broadly speaking, refers to people working together in an organization to sell goods or services. In practice, this business enterprise can take an incredibly wide variety of forms: a for-profit corporation, a non-profit agency, a charity, an entrepreneurial startup, a sole proprietor consultancy, and many more. Regardless of what your vision is, a business education will equip you with the capabilities you need to make it a reality.
There are many different kinds of businesses, but every business needs team members with certain specific skills and responsibilities to succeed. Regardless of whether a company is a for-profit or a non-profit, managing cashflow is essential, making accountants, financial managers, and financial advisors indispensable. Keeping any organization running smoothly requires operations managers, executive assistants, and other administrative professionals. Large corporations may employ a wide range of in-house professionals to cover legal, marketing, sales, and other areas full-time, but smaller businesses as well as “lean” organizations may meet these needs by hiring outside consultants.
If you’re looking to advance your career in business, there are plenty of online courses available that can help you build these skills right away. Courses in finance, accounting, and business modeling can give you the tools you need to manage your cashflow wisely. Business planning, value chain management, and project management can help you optimize your operations for success. If you’re a people person, you might want to take online courses in negotiation, communication, and strategic leadership. And if you’re a numbers person, courses in business analytics, statistics, and digital transformation can help you put data to work. Whatever your business background, online courses can take you further!
Yes! Online education isn’t just about individual courses anymore. Online learning platforms like Coursera offer a range of masters programs that you can complete on your own time, including business degrees geared towards your specific goals. For example, Coursera offers Master of Science in Accountancy from the highly-rated University of Illinois accounting program, Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) from the University of Illinois and Macquarie University, and, for aspiring startup founders, a Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from HEC Paris.
Perhaps because they are both skills attributed to C-suite executives, leadership and management are sometimes used interchangeably when people think about a business education. However, in practice, these are two distinct skillsets for business leaders to learn and develop – and both are essential for success.
Management positions control key decisions and day to day operations across one or more units within an enterprise. Managers are responsible for setting business goals, planning how to achieve them, and overseeing their successful execution.
Leadership, on the other hand, is all about people – and people can’t be ‘managed’ like a spreadsheet or a supply chain! Instead, people need to be led. That means inspiring, coaching, and mentoring your team in a way that reaches them as individuals as well as a group.
In a sense then, management and leadership are two sides of a coin: on the management side, you’re responsible for setting and achieving plans, and on the leadership side, you’re motivating the people responsible for executing them. That’s why the best executives tend to excel at both – and why an education in both can help your career take you to the top of any organization!
Every business needs skilled leadership and management professionals, although the specifics of each company’s organizational chart may vary by company type and size. In the c-suite, virtually every company has at least a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), but many larger companies also have Chief Operations Officers (COO), Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), and other executive-level positions. Examples of other management-level positions include directors of sales, communications, development, public affairs or other key business areas, as well as project managers with narrower responsibilities for specific teams and goals. Regardless of the level of the role, any manager overseeing a team will need leadership skills to complement their management capabilities.