"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 and short Guided Projects 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.
Some of the skills and experience that you would be wise to gain before starting to learn business include knowledge of companies and markets, of products and prices, and of supply and demand. These are key business concepts that come up in most discussions of how a product or service gets sold to a particular audience. Having smart communications skills, strategic thinking, and a good grasp of data and research are also skills that would benefit you in learning business.
You may know if learning business is right for you if you're already an entrepreneurial person, selling goods or services on your own. Having the experience of marketing one’s own product or service can go a long way to knowing if being in business is right for you. Also, if you have a passion for products, pricing, marketing, customer service, and the processes that surround selling products online, then this could be a good career fit for you.
If you have a business background, you might be able to find work in insurance companies, banks, consumer products companies, management consultancies, and other places. Finding good workers skilled in business processes, from understanding financial documents to strategic thinking about product roll-outs, is a key part of the human resources function in companies. If you can work with a company that is in an industry that excites you, you may be able to grow your career successfully.
Common career paths for someone in business may start with junior roles in accounting, management, or marketing. From there, your career may advance in areas involving strategy, product, and distribution. Working in a technical or operational part of a business might show a career path on the technology side, moving into network oversight or operational infrastructure for a large company. A typical career path may likely depend on your career ambitions, as well as the industry you choose to work in.