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Business School Campus Life – Be Creative

B School (Business School) is a university-level institute that provides the degree in management or business administration courses at graduate and master level programme. Whenever a successful businessman reveals his success secrets it begins with his b-school campus life. A campus life that offers the perfect blend of education and business. It sustains professional conducts and creates practical learning experience to embrace the core basics of the management. B-school campus life has a huge impact on the students’ life on the interpersonal and professional conduct. To provide practical learning towards management and related subjects.

With changing business environment, evolving companies are demanding more than the graduates- the creative thinker and the creative leaders. Significantly, management conventions are putting their best to cater the needs of the companies. The focus is more on practical experience with the detailed knowledge of management studies. The campus life ensures this notion with the advancement in studies and technical expertise and thus, become the practical life training institute.

The class lectures in training institute are combined with the numbers of functional aspects. It includes learning either through the presentation, case study analysis, role play, psychometric analysis, swot analysis or online research and database. Faculty always guide students to how to shape their career and achieve their business goal. Along with the study advancement, the campus life offers extracurricular facilities to groom students. It includes a high-tech library, wi-fi enabled campus, cafeteria and free transportation services.

Different campus activities are carried out through the student clubs. These clubs are created in the different disciplines (Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, Arts Community) to develop practical implication of the subject knowledge. It creates a practical learning environment that develops and enhances the communication skills, the teamwork, the management skills as well as leadership that cannot be expected in any single day skill development class.

The Business schools campus life plays a vital role in preparing students for the campus recruitment. The exercise begins from resume writing to the online test, moc test, pre-placement talk, group discussion and the personal interview. Workshops and career seminars are integral to the programme that develop organizational and leadership skills. It reviews students approach for choosing the correct career path and help them to shape it. They provide an insight into the method of choosing the career and its challenges and highlight the need of choosing the career at an early stage with combining the hobby and interest. This helps students to know the actual competition in the corporate world and their lacking areas to work upon.

What Makes A Good Business School?

Business degrees are very popular and there are so many universities and even colleges offering them. The business job market is lucrative hence more and more people are choosing to study business as a good investment for a bright future. But to get the best whether you choose to pursue an MBA or an undergraduate degree, you must start by selecting the best school from where to get your studies from. The right business school will propel you into your business field only if it is founded on the best qualities. What then are these qualities that will make your business school a good and reliable one?

1. Strong leadership – This is a very critical element that determines how good a business school is. The leadership or administration of the school matters; for you to get the best you must be led by an experienced team in academia and business. This way the school is run and set as part of the business community and there is the collective vision to support and balance student, alumni and faculty interests.

2. Competent faculty – For a school to deliver quality education in business, it ought to have talented and qualified researchers and teachers. The faculty should be knowledgeable and experienced so they can effectively teach the aspiring business leaders. An inspiring faculty does not only dwell on theoretical standpoints, but also emphasizes on the application of the theory to real business world issues. Apart from gaining valuable education from such a faculty, you will also have an easy time getting business advice and getting connected to business career opportunities.

3. Appropriate majors and subjects – There are so many areas in business field and you could choose to specialize in a given area or degrees that are more general. A good business school should offer relevant majors and subjects that address the goals you have in pursuing a business degree program. For instance, students who wish to start their own business in the future should go for institutions offering business courses that are solid and allows specialization in entrepreneurship. Think about where you want to be when choosing a school so you start off on the right path.

4. Student support – Making educational decision can be a little tricky and you should therefore get all the support that you might need to make the best. A good business school should offer you guidance from the time you apply for a program all the way to even after graduating. You should be offered necessary help with simple and complex matters so you have the resources you need to be the business professional you aspire to be. Schools with strong alumni networks and career centers are best placed.

5. Good reputation – The overall ranking of the school among business schools can tell you a lot about its quality and worth. Rankings usually rely on important factors such as faculty, programs offered, student services, career support an research. Find out what kind of ratings and reviews are given to the business school just to be sure.

The Importance of Case Studies in Management Education

If you try and notice the education sphere today, there is a lot of buzz about students enrolling themselves in good established management schools and wanting to acquire their management education. Experts believe this is majorly because of the rising competition in the business sphere. A business school becomes very helpful for students because it has a theoretical as well as practical approach towards the topics and subjects of the student’s choice. These management education courses are practical because they include case studies; that is real life business situations that have occurred in major companies, along with how the company resolved the issues to rise to the top again. This is of tremendous help to a beginner manager while he is learning to apply his knowledge in a way that will get maximum benefits for his company.

After studying a number of case studies thoroughly, the students are assigned projects in order to help them develop various managerial skills like those of leadership, decision-making ability, motivational speaking ability, etc. Thus, management education hugely contributes to the overall growth of an aspirant and converts him into a thorough professional who is ready to enter the business field confidently. This is what gives individuals an edge over the others during job interviews. Thus as a result of all this, there are so many people who want to do courses from business schools.

Why these business schools are different is because they work on the problem areas of the students and teach them take not just decisions but responsibility for them as well. Initially the student is asked only to observe case studies. During this stage, the student learns to investigate and analyze the situation of the company at that particular point in time. The observation skills of the students increase tremendously during this first stage of solving case studies.

Further on, the students are asked to imagine themselves as professionals in the industry and devise solutions for the set of business problems that the company is facing at that time. This is where the students learn to strategically plan and brainstorm with the objective of coming up with good solutions. These projects also help to enhance team building skills of the students. The feedback of the professors who are actually experienced industry professionals lets the students know where they actually stand with respect to the actual business sphere. This is very important because it is a reality check that goes a long way in motivating students to pull up their socks and do all it takes to reach a respectable position with respect to the actual business sphere.

The Primary Cause Of Business Financing Frustration

Finding proper business financing is not easy at the best of times for most small and medium sized business owners and managers.

There are a number of reasons that collectively explain why the business financing market can be so difficult to understand and navigate.

But probably the single biggest reason is the lack of useful information about how the business financing market actually works.

Business financing information and education sources predominantly come in two forms: 1) Text books; 2) Major bank advertising.

If you’ve ever read through a educational finance text book or taken a business financing course, you already know how difficult it can be to apply the theories, principles, and strategies to a small or medium sized business.

Our formal education system provides limited information as to how the market place works, how to plan for financing requirements, how to manage periods of growth, decline, transition, start up, etc.

Sure academic books and courses can go through all these areas in great detail, but is the information practical, real world, something you can relate to and apply yourself as a manager or owner of a small or medium sized business?

In most cases, the answer is a resounding NO.

Most finance text books speak to big business financing dynamics that are not easily transferable to small and medium sized business scenarios.

Outside of the formal education system, the next great source of business financing information is the information provided by the major banks, which they tend to make available to you by the boat load through their broad based marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, the information by itself seldom helps you determine if a particular institution would be able to provide you with financing, or what would be required to qualify for a loan.

The good news is that business financing sources continue to grow in numbers as more and more lenders carve out a particular piece of the market to service.

In order to take advantage of these alternatives, you need to have a solid approach in place when seeking business financing.

Here’s a short list of things to consider

>>> Develop a solid, ongoing, understanding of both your personal and business assets, income, and cash flow.

Regardless of the business financing model, these elements will always come into play to some degree.

Being able to demonstrate a solid understanding of your business financials is also an indication of your ability to manage the underlying business.

>>> Monitor and manage your personal and business credit.

Small and medium sized business financing is focused on both personal and business credit histories.

Regular reviews of both personal and business credit reports from the major credit reporting agencies are important to avoid errors and credit practices that can severely damage your borrowing power.

>>> Develop your marketing position.

Yes, seeking business financing is a marketing exercise.

When applying for business financing, you’re marketing your business to lending sources and they in turn are marketing their business financing programs to you.

Think of the lender as a customer to better understand what they’re looking for. Then, develop a business proposal that addresses all their potential needs and concerns.

>>> Research Lending Sources

There are lots of business financing sources. But there is also lots of variation in the types of business applications each one is prepared to consider.

Broad based lenders rely on credit history and net worth. As you get more specific in terms of financing application and industry, lender programs become more narrow and can be harder to locate.

You need to consider things like industry, sector, and geography when looking for business financing sources.

Financing consultants and business loan brokers can be an excellent source of information to aid you in this process.

>>> Qualify The Lender

Before you make a formal application, find out if the lender has the programs and lending track record to meet your specific needs.

Too often, the lender is doing all the qualifying.

>>> Compare your options

Depending on the scenario, there can be several financing strategies that could work for your business.

Make sure you take the time to compare before making a decision. The extra time spent could save you considerable time and money in the long run.

>>> Start Today

Regardless of what your business financing needs are right now, you should regularly invest time staying on top of your business financials, monitoring your credit, and researching financing sources that fit your industry and potential future requirements.

When the time comes to acquire capital, your proactive efforts can make all the difference in getting the capital you need with terms and timing that are acceptable to your business.

Online Bachelor Degree in Business

Usually, online bachelor business degrees are awarded by colleges or universities after three to five years in study.

Also, online bachelor’s degree in business creates highly talented and competent professionals who can adopt themselves to the world of business. These bachelors business degree programs teaches and trains students as business marketing specialist because marketing is the key to financial success of a business organization. Online Bachelor Business degree programs are designed in such a way for students who want to complete a four year business degree from home, and most courses can be completed entirely on web while others may require students to complete lab work or hands – on activities at a designated location. Completing a bachelor’s degree online is advantageous over traditional campus – based programs and students of all ages and backgrounds can find suitable programs that complement their educational goals.

Bachelor Degrees in Business includes:

  • Bachelors Degree Accounting
  • Bachelors Degree Advertising
  • Bachelors Degree in Applied Management
  • Bachelors Degree in Banking and Finance
  • Bachelors Degree in Business Administration
  • Bachelors Degree in Business Management
  • Bachelors Degree in Christian Studies
  • B D in Communications
  • B D in Contract Management
  • B D in E – Commerce
  • B D in Economics
  • B D in Entrepreneurship
  • B D in Fashion Merchandising
  • B D in Financial Management
  • B D in Fraud Management
  • B D in Hospitality Management
  • B D in Human Resources
  • B D in Information Management
  • B D in International Business
  • B D in Labor Relations
  • B D in Leadership
  • B D in Marketing
  • B D in Non – Profit Management
  • B D in Office Management
  • B D in Operations Management
  • B D in Organizational Management
  • B D in Private Sector Accounting
  • B D in Project Management
  • B D in Public Administration
  • B D in Retail Management
  • B D in Sales and Marketing
  • B D in Tax Preparation

The business world is changing rapidly and evolving and the bachelor degree programs in business equips you with knowledge of unique and innovative strategies that help you to cope with any challenges and crisis posed by fluctuating business trends. Online bachelor’s degree in business acquaints you with quality business practices, business strategies, business ethics and business accountability. Online bachelor’s degree in business is designed so as to help students in identifying the current marketing trends, which is essential for the success of any business.

Colleges and Universities Offering Bachelor’s Degree in Business

  • DeVry University online
  • Kaplan University online
  • AIU online
  • University of Phoenix online
  • Columbia Southern University online
  • Ashford University online
  • Rasmussen College online
  • Westwood College online

Online Education – Self Assessment

When considering taking online learning courses, it is a good idea to complete a self-assessment of your goals, current skill set, and specifically what knowledge you want to acquire. Once you have completed your self-assessment, you can move to Course Selection. So where do you start? At the beginning of course and this and the next series of articles will take you through the self-assessment process, course selection and the other things you should think about when developing your online Education program.

Goals and Objectives

While you may not need to conduct a self-assessment or Course Selection for one course, you should think about goals if you are considering taking a broad ranging subject (e.g., Personal Development, Personal Desktop Computing, Starting a Small Business, Web Design, IT Certification). You should have both short and long term goals because with any long term endeavor, the short term goals keep you motivated to reaching you long term objective. For example, you are considering starting a new business, setting up a time line for completing the first few courses (e.g., Managing your Business, Raising Financing) and a longer term goal (e.g., Start the business by xx/xx/xxxx). Well arranged goals and objectives will not only motivate you but keep you on track and increase your overall chances for success.

Current Skills

Assessing your current skills are important to both developing your goals and objectives and ultimately, Course Selection. Being honest with your self is also important. First, identify, your advanced skills set. While there is probably more you can learn, you can rely on your current skills in reaching you ultimate objective. For example, in starting a new business, if you have good marketing skills, you would not initially take any advertising or marketing courses. You should focus on the skills you need which you have either a basic knowledge that you will need to know more about to reach your objective. On a very basic level you may need to select the type of business or need to develop your skills in office management or managing a business generally. Now re-review your goals and objective to make sure both are in sync.

Budget

While online education is very economical, you should estimate the cost of your Course Selection and the time frame you are expecting to take them. Does the cost meet the amount you expected to invest? If not, consider reducing your list or extending your time line for completion. Do not reduce your list to a point where you are not acquiring enough skills to meet your objective.

The Importance of Business Acumen Training For Managers and Employees

The message to CLOs is becoming clearer and clearer. Company leaders want them to align educational offerings with the organization’s strategic objectives.

That’s not an easy challenge. They must ensure that education and communication initiatives reinforce the company’s goals. They must help employees understand these goals and develop the skills and motivation to contribute to them.

And at the most basic level of alignment, they must make sure that every employee understands how the company makes money. That includes understanding how profitability is driven, how assets are used, how cash is generated and how day-to-day actions and decisions, including their own, impact success.

Developing business acumen is fundamental to business alignment. Consider Southwest Airlines, which was founded in 1971. With 33 straight years of profitability, the airline has become widely recognized for the motivational culture it creates for employees and its extraordinary dedication to customer service.

Much of the industry has suffered during the years of Southwest’s growth, including many airlines that have merged or declared bankruptcy. Southwest buys the same planes and the same jet fuel as other airlines, and pays its employees competitive wages and benefits. What’s the difference?

Unlike some of its competitors, Southwest’s management team involves employees in the company’s financial results, explaining what the numbers mean and, more important, helping to link everyone’s decisions and actions to the bottom line. The airline has an open culture, one of inclusion at all levels, and employees understand their roles in providing great service and keeping costs in line.

Certainly there are other factors that contribute to the success at Southwest, but it’s difficult to ignore the positive impact of an approach that develops the business acumen of all employees and managers so that they can contribute to the airline’s success.

An Educational Challenge

Unlike those at Southwest, individual contributors and managers in many organizations today have not been educated about the big picture of their businesses. They have a narrow focus on their own departments and job functions and aren’t able to make the link between their actions and the company’s success. Multiplied by hundreds or even thousands of employees, this lack of understanding – the lack of true business acumen – means that too many decisions are being made and too many actions are being taken that don’t align with business objectives.

How can training help bridge this knowledge gap? For many companies like Southwest, implementing learning programs designed to develop a strong foundation of financial literacy and business acumen has made the communication of financial results to employees easier and more effective.

Business Acumen: A Definition

Very simply, business acumen is the understanding of what it takes for a business to make money. It involves financial literacy, which is an understanding of the numbers on financial statements, as well as an understanding of the strategies, decisions and actions that impact these numbers.

Someone with financial literacy, for example, would be able to “read” the company’s income statement. This employee or manager would understand the terminology (revenue, cost of goods sold, gross margin, profit, etc.) and what the numbers represent (i.e., gross margin equals total sales/revenue less the cost of goods sold).

With business acumen, the individual would be able to “interpret” this same income statement, taking into consideration how company strategies and initiatives have impacted the numbers during specific periods of time.

Consider a simple comparison: In football, it’s necessary for players to know how the game is scored as well as how to play the game to change the score. In business, financial literacy is understanding the “score” (financial statements) and business acumen is understanding how to impact it (strategic actions and decisions).

Asking the Right Questions

When business acumen spreads through an organization, employees and managers begin to ask questions. These questions are directed not only at the organization, but also at themselves and their departments – questions about processes, products, systems, staffing and more that can lead to necessary and innovative decisions and actions.

Business acumen helps everyone understand that it’s not enough to ask, “How do we cut costs?” or to say, “We need to increase sales.” Digging deeper, employees with higher levels of business acumen will ask questions that take into consideration the far-reaching impact of potential decisions and demonstrate a greater ability to make the connections between performance and results.

Questions that could get to the root of disappointing operating ratios:

• Have production costs gone up? If so, why?

• Have we changed prices? If so, how has that affected our margins?

• Are there any competitive issues impacting our performance?

• Have there been any customer requirement changes?

• If our costs per unit produced have gone up, can we better control the efficiency of our production or service delivery?

• Is there a way to produce a greater product volume at the same cost?

• Can we raise prices, still provide value to the customer and remain competitive?

When questions become more specific, the right decisions can be made.

Business Acumen for Managers

Managers at all levels need a high level of business acumen to do their jobs. Every day, they make decisions about employees, projects, processes, expenditures, customers and much more – decisions that ultimately roll up into larger organizational results. Managers who make these decisions while looking through a departmental lens only, with a limited understanding of how these decisions affect financial results or how they are tied to the organization’s goals and objectives, are working in silos that can ultimately damage the company.

Managers are often promoted to their positions of responsibility because of their “technical” expertise. They’ve been successful customer service representatives, great salespeople, innovative researchers or well-respected IT professionals. They are now entrusted with decision making, budgets, projects and people. They often do not have financial literacy, nor have they developed a higher-level perspective about the business. Over time, especially if they move up the managerial ladder, they may develop these. Or they may not.

Organizations need managers who operate as part of the management team, taking accountability for their own results as well as the results of the entire company. Therefore, more and more organizations have built financial literacy and business acumen into managerial competency requirements and have integrated business acumen training into management curriculums.

Business Acumen for Employees

Although there is little debate about the need for managers to develop business acumen, organizations sometimes question the need for this understanding at employee levels. But frontline contributors, those who are most directly involved with production or customer service, for example, take actions every day that impact business results.

Consider the salesperson who discounts products, or the service representative who deals with an unhappy customer, or the maintenance person who notices a problem. The actions each of them takes might erode profit margin, lose a good customer or allow safety issues to escalate. Without an understanding of how their actions impact the company’s results, they might not have the context to consider alternatives.

Many organizations have determined that financial literacy and business acumen aren’t just for managers anymore. They have decided to develop a company of people who understand the business; who know what return on assets and return on investment mean; who know how inventory turnover rates affect results and the importance of positive cash flow; who see the connection between the company’s financial success and their own health benefits, 401(k) plans and more. In other words, they need people who understand the “business” of the business.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says, “We found no evidence that the ‘good-to-great’ companies had more or better information than the comparison companies. None. Both sets of companies had virtually identical access to good information. The key, then, lies not in better information, but in turning information into information that cannot be ignored.”

With an increased level of business acumen, managers and employees can better interpret information, making the connection between their actions and the company’s results.

Another Reality of Today’s Business World

A public company’s operating results are well known at the end of each quarter. Analysts, investors, the media, employees-everyone has access to a company’s financial results. With a significantly increased focus on accounting improprieties over the past few years, senior management has become highly conscious of the need to provide accurate and timely financial information. And employees have become much more likely to wonder about these numbers. “Is my company being honest? Are the numbers telling the whole story?”

Without a fundamental understanding of financial results and an ability to interpret them, employees may become suspicious and, ultimately, disengaged. Disengaged workers, in turn, negatively impact productivity and profits.

CEOs of public companies, then, must ensure that managers and employees are able to understand the numbers and have confidence in them. That means effective business acumen education as well as ongoing and open communication from the top.

Former GE chairman Jack Welch said in his book Straight from the Gut, “Getting every employee’s mind into the game is a huge part of what the CEO job is all about…There’s nothing more important.”

The Big Picture

As we have become a nation of specialists, armed with new information technology and enterprise-wide operating systems, it has become easier for managers and employees to become myopically immersed in their own jobs. This immersion can have the effect of obscuring their view of the big picture. They may not consider the cumulative effect of wasted assets. They may have little regard for the objectives and responsibilities of other team members, departments or divisions. They may lack the motivation to invest personal energy in critical project work.

Organizations that engage in developing business acumen provide a clearer vision and an overall context within which employees can work, while creating an environment that is more likely to break down internal barriers. There is less waste and less ambivalence. There is increased innovation. Employees are more engaged, they understand their role and its impact on business results, and they are more likely to believe that their efforts really matter. They are more likely to think like a business owner.

Think Like an Owner

To be successful, business owners must be able to helicopter above day-to-day issues and see the big picture. They must understand how the pieces of the business fit together to impact profitability and cash flow, and they must be able to assess the risks and rewards of potential decisions. The best business owners study the numbers, ask themselves tough questions, analyze their mistakes and take decisive action.

To truly understand the business, owners have to understand how that business makes money – in other words, how it produces sales, profit and cash. Organizationally, they know that it’s about people, processes and productivity. On the customer front, it’s about satisfaction, loyalty and market share. Ultimately, every action taken and every decision made in any of these areas will impact sales, profit or cash.

When managers and employees begin thinking like owners, they, too, look at the big picture, understand how all the pieces fit together, and assess risks and rewards. They understand, like an owner, how the company makes money, how it stays in business and how they contribute to its success.

The benefits to an organization of engaging managers and employees in this kind of ownership thinking are obvious. So how can a company develop the business acumen of its people?

Developing Business Acumen: Two Stories

Entrepreneurs are generally forced to develop business acumen on their own. They are hands-on with their businesses and have to make all the decisions as they go along, whether good or bad. They either learn from their mistakes or fail.

It’s very different for managers and employees in an organization.

They aren’t involved in all aspects of the business, and they make decisions primarily within their own areas of responsibility. Since seeing the connections isn’t easy, they need to learn in some other way.

Books and lectures can help. But business acumen is best developed experientially. Learners must be able to analyze situations, ask questions, discuss issues with other learners, consider options, make mistakes and see results.

Although there are a variety of ways to accomplish this kind of experiential learning, many companies have found that simulations, which mirror reality and allow learners to experiment in a safe environment, are one of the best ways. Here are the stories of two companies who chose to educate their learners with business simulations.

Comcast Cable Communications

The NorthCentral Division of Comcast – one of the country’s largest entertainment, information and communications companies, specializing in cable television, high-speed Internet and telephone service – set out to ensure that managers and employees throughout the organization had the financial acumen required to make good decisions. A companywide survey had clearly demonstrated this need – especially for managers of employees who had direct contact with customers.

For example, if a customer calls with a service problem, frontline employees and their supervisors can issue credits to the customer’s account in an effort to resolve the issue. Although this may be exactly what is needed for the situation, Comcast realized that employees making these decisions didn’t necessarily understand that a $10 credit could ultimately require more than $100 in revenue for the company to break even. Similarly, a service technician’s visit to a customer’s home might cost $50 directly, but the company might have to sell an additional $500 in services to cover the cost.

“The lack of financial acumen among supervisors and employees was largely understandable,” says Mark Fortin, senior vice president of finance for Comcast’s NorthCentral Division. “Almost 75 percent of the company’s employees are on the front lines in roles such as call center personnel or field technicians. They are trained to be good at what they do, but their backgrounds typically don’t include emphasis on financial literacy.”

Comcast human resource executives determined that a fundamental approach to the development of business acumen was needed. However, this approach also would need to be fast, engaging and job-relevant. Expanding upon its already robust Comcast University management curriculum, the executives chose to integrate a high-energy, tailored learning experience that would provide the “basics” and, at the same time, deal specifically with Comcast terminology, concepts and strategic imperatives.

As they participated, learners made decisions about products, processes, pricing and more, and they saw how those decisions impacted financial success. In the end, it became easier for them to make sharper day-to-day choices.

“The thing that sticks out for the frontline leaders, the field technicians, and the call center supervisors and managers who attend, is the high cost of sales in our business,” says Sophia Alexander, senior manager of curriculum and metrics for the division. “It’s like a bell goes off in their heads when they realize what it costs for us to earn what we need to earn to run the organization.”

Attending the learning session is not mandatory for supervisors and managers. However, there is an unwritten expectation that they will participate in business acumen training as well as other Comcast University core programs, according to Jan Underhill, senior manager of leadership development for the NorthCentral Division. That expectation, coupled with the fact that manager compensation has recently become tied to meeting specific financial goals, has kept attendance high.

Senior executive support also has been an important factor in creating interest and awareness around financial literacy. “Getting people to sign up is much easier when senior executives like Mark Fortin are strong advocates for the program,” says Underhill.

Feedback has been resoundingly positive. On average, for example, Level 1 feedback about the discovery learning based business acumen sessions has been 4.5 on a 5-point scale. That means that the program has exceeded expectations. Better than that, says Sophia Alexander, senior manager of curriculum and metrics for the NorthCentral Division, is the empirical evidence that the new insights and knowledge have made a difference. For example:

• Participant self-evaluations indicate that financial literacy has increased by at least 25 percent as a result of the business acumen training.

• After the training, there was a 20 percent increase in the participants’ ability to use basic financial terms and concepts on the job.

• Almost 45 percent of supervisory participants report that they are using their business acumen knowledge in daily communications with staff and peers.

“Some people, particularly in big companies, feel like there is an open checkbook. They think… I don’t own the company. It’s not my problem. Somebody will pay the bills. But in today’s environment, with some very large companies in trouble, everyone needs to be part of the solution. Business acumen education for managers and employees helps the company as a whole, but it also helps employees. It’s about self-preservation to some extent.” comments Fortin.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is one of the consistently profitable companies that makes “business literacy” a core component of its employee training programs. Every employee has a solid understanding of what a new customer, and new revenue, means to the company. Employees also know how the loss of a customer can impact the business.

According to Elizabeth Bryant, director of leadership training at Southwest Airlines, “Our training covers how the financial ratios such as return on assets and various margins are determined. Knowing that team managers, supervisors and all employees have this knowledge enables the company’s leadership to present detailed financial reports and explain to the teams where the margins need to be. Management can speak more in depth to all the employees, and the employees understand what the objectives are.”

Bryant added, “Because we don’t waste the little things, because we track every penny and every activity, we’ve all come to know the importance of each cent. With the pennies in hand, we spotlight the idea of compound interest- for example, how the small savings help us by year’s end and how small amounts of waste can conversely add up to hurt us.”

Consider the importance of a key operating metric for the airline industry – operating cost-per-seat mile. This is how much it costs an airline to fly one seat one mile. All the operating costs are divided by the total number of seat miles (the total number of miles of all the seats that were flown for a given period, whether a passenger was in the seat or not). Much of the industry has had cost-per-seat mile results at or over 10 cents. Southwest Airlines’ cost-per-seat mile is about 6.5 cents. The lowest cost-per-seat mile in the industry almost 25 years ago was just over 5 cents.

How do they do it? Certainly there are a number of factors that lead to success. However, one of the key influences is Southwest’s ongoing training in business acumen. This training ensures that employees know:

• How challenging it is to ensure ongoing profitability; making a profit can never be taken for granted

• The importance of utilizing the benefits of the good years to prepare for the tough years

• The impact of individual actions and decisions to the bottom line

In other words, Southwest invests in training to help employees think like business owners. This, in turn, produces real results, like its consistently low cost-per-seat mile. When Southwest’s learning team decided to implement a business acumen simulation several years ago, there was some initial concern about how well it would be received.

Bryant explained, “Some people, especially those without financial training, were nervous about the topic. We are such a people-oriented company that we didn’t want people to think that now we’re just a financially oriented company and everyone will be judged purely on financial performance. But we positioned the need for the business literacy training as another way to prove that we actually care tremendously for each employee. We explained that if you understand what the numbers mean then you can better understand how your work provides an integral contribution to the business.”

Southwest Airlines, according to Bryant, has never had a layoff – a rarity in the airline business. The more their employees understand the challenges of the business, the better they appreciate the importance of making smart decisions every day.

Bryant concluded that the discovery learning techniques in a robust business simulation work well in the Southwest culture because of the team orientation. “All the participants learn that they can’t individually make it all happen,” said Bryant. “They learn that they have to look beyond themselves, act and think like an owner, and realize that our efforts and financial results here are not just for a career, but for a cause. It’s this cause-oriented philosophy toward delivering a low-cost, high-quality service that allows people the opportunity to travel. Our success at achieving positive results translates to individual opportunities to work, to grow and to continually think of innovative ways to improve our business and serve our customers.”

The Classroom Advantage

These two companies chose to develop the business acumen of managers and employees by using a classroom-based simulation, facilitated by instructors at company sites. Although online options were available and were used in some cases to supplement the instructor-led training sessions, they decided that there were significant advantages to tackling this subject in a “live” session where they could leverage the power of:

• SHARED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE: Learners bring their own perspectives and issues to the session.

• TEAMWORK: Learners work together, make decisions together and rely on each other as they learn.

• COMPETITIVE FUN: Small teams “play” against each other and enjoy a competitive environment.

• COMPANY-SPECIFIC DISCUSSIONS: The learners’ common interest in their own company’s financial and strategic issues allows for greater analysis and depth of discussions and a true “connection” between the learning simulation and the organization’s reality.

• LEARNING MOTIVATION AND COMFORT: Learners who may not be comfortable with the subject of finance find themselves playing a game in the comfort of a team environment.

Although there are a number of educational approaches available to organizations in the area of business acumen, classroom-based training that brings together teams of learners can help ensure that learning occurs and that connections to the business are made in ways that prompt action back on the job.

The Bottom Line

More than ever, successful companies will need to focus on developing the business acumen of managers and employees. These companies will realize that when their people understand the numbers, when they understand how their departments contribute to the company’s objectives and when they see how their own decisions and actions make a difference, they will begin to operate as part of a team rather than in a departmental or personal silo. And a critical piece of the alignment puzzle will be solved.

With widespread business acumen, companies can have a powerful asset – educated, knowledgeable and motivated employees. And with this asset, those will be the companies best positioned to succeed.

Worth Every Penny Book Review

As a business owner of a home-based photography studio, I find that constant education is vital to the continued growth of my business. There are a variety of forms of education for photographers and other business owners: conferences, classes, local meetings, or books being a few. Books are often one of the cheaper forms of education and I find a lot of great insights from books like Worth Every Penny.

Worth Every Penny is a business book written by both Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck founder and chief of The Joy of Marketing. This book is targeted toward small business owners running boutique style businesses. While bigger businesses are focused on volume, boutique businesses are focused on experience and high-end, quality products. This book helps boutique business owners understand some of the keys necessary to running their boutique business.

Worth Every Penny gives great advice on how to build a strong brand to market to your ideal client base, which is crucial in a boutique business. It’s importance to convey luxury and a high-end experience to your current and feature client base. The book also discusses strategies for creating a strong marketing and advertising campaign to reflect this idea and what makes your business unique. It is always important to convey what makes your business different and more desirable than your competition.

A huge part of boutique businesses is building relationships. When you aren’t working with a high volume business, you have the time to invest in getting to know your clients. Worth Every Penny discusses ways to convey your appreciation to your customers and develop strong relationships with them, which can help grow your business.

And of course, with the extra time, value, and care dedicated to the customers of a boutique business, a higher price is often a necessity. Worth Every Penny discusses methods for pricing your products and adding additional value to your clients orders. After all, to be a viable business, you need to make a profit.

I personally found Sarah Petty & Erin Verbeck’s book, Worth Every Penny, to be incredibly beneficial and insightful in working on my own business. Determining my strengths and unique products, how to market them and provide my clients with the best care possible are incredibly important to me, and this book has helped me narrow down and hone these things. I would highly recommend this book to any boutique business – not just photography business owners!

Is Education Really the Key to Success?

“Education is the Key to Success” – Well, I TOTALLY DISAGREE. In fact, I see education as an authoritative conditioning tool which tried to lead me into economic enslavement. And mind you, I always did well in school, but finally had to leave as it was dummying me down as my business was taking off. I should have left HS my sophomore year and GED’d (General Education Development test instead of finishing HS) out, went straight to business school classes for two years and left. I’d have been way Ahead, but I was told by so many do-gooders to stay in school and be involved.

Great, and yes as Senior Class Pres, 4-year varsity, most likely to succeed, I excelled at the game, but so what, that’s HS, and it was just a prison for us 3000 kids for 4-years. Education is NOT the key to success at all. Recently I went to speak at a HS, I was blown away, as nothing had changed since the 80s, same ridiculous rows of desks, and time-wasting, brain numbing crap. I am sorry, but I will NOT parrot the party-line. We are making our little humans stupid and the longer they stay, the more they owe in student loans, and the less they can think.

Seriously – dare to challenge your na├»ve notion and belief system? Chicken. Go ahead; keep telling everyone the importance of our education system, but it is BS, you can learn more watching lectures online and doing things in the real world. Why has it gotten so bad you ask? Well, how about; Teachers Unions, Bureaucracy, In-fighting, top-heavy administration, wasting taxpayer’s money, status quo stodgy crap. “Education the key to success?” Nonsense, especially what people pass off as education these days. Admit it, we are producing brain-dead morons.

“But, Lance education and schooling are not the same thing,” I was then told. Well, to that I say, thanks for clarifying that. However, the public equates “Education” with school + college. I wouldn’t say “I think” the system sucks, more like “I know” what I’ve observed and there is no excuse for it. That is NOT an opinion you see, rather that is an observation which is duplicable across this great nation. If we de-couple the words; “Education” with “School” and “College” then I will accept your view of the debate at hand. But how can you de-couple real world definitions?

We can’t, that’s what education is in the minds of the people, thus the statement; “Education is the Key to Success” is invalid. Now then, if we want to say; “experience, education, observation, and the ability to think and adapt” are the keys to success, okay, I can go for that. But, as it stands now, our school system is a disgusting excuse for anything worthy of being called; education.

Entrepreneurship Education and Innovating Success

Entrepreneurship education spawns a lot of success stories and these encourage a lot of people to go start their own businesses. And with the help of the internet, entrepreneurship education opens its doors to a whole new people as well as opportunities for future entrepreneurship. This, however, has led to tougher competition too. The wider playing field also becomes a host of different businesses where people can learn, compete, and innovate.

And the best way to counter competition would be through innovation. Think about it as finding ways to put up your own playing field or even inventing a new game. If you innovate, you will basically be creating a whole new market and conquer that. Your education in entrepreneurship will help you become more prepared; innovation ensure success -if you take the right risks.

You have to realize that business is all about taking calculated risks, which can be learn through entrepreneurship education. Innovation can be a pretty big gamble, especially if you have virtually no idea how the market is going to react to the change you introduce. As such, you need to anticipate the different factors that may affect your innovations success. Keep in mind that in risk reduction is very important in the business.

Innovation isn’t just about introducing a new product or service to the market. If you want to succeed, you need not use your education alone; you have to think outside the box and consider your business as an organic whole. This means you have to combine it with innovation can come in the form of a new and more efficient way of production.

Every entrepreneurship education as well as program encourages innovation and, in turn, innovation encourages progress. It is because of the constant competition between entrepreneurs that our civilization has reached the heights we have today.