How to Succeed in a Business Management Program: 5 Essential Tips
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A bachelor's degree in business management can open the door to a world of options in a variety of industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial careers are thriving, and it projects a 7% job growth rate for this field between 2021 and 2031.
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You can pursue a career in fields like marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, or international business. You can even jump into the human resources, public administration, or project management fields. With so many paths to pursue, you're sure to find a business management program that works for you.
If you're looking to study business management, here are some tips to ensure you succeed in your program and beyond.
Tip 1: Grow Your Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
To be successful in a business management program, you must blend what you're learning across subjects.
"College is not a place for rote memorization of facts," said Marc Sollosy, DBA, an associate professor at Marshall University's Lewis College of Business. "College is where a student learns to question, challenge, and analyze the premise of the presented material."
Sollosy's advice can apply to many areas of study, but this skill is key in most business aspects, as there's rarely one correct answer or approach to a business problem.
Tip 2: Hone Your Communication Skills
Clear and concise communication skills are critical for success in a business management program — and in a business management career.
"This skill is multidimensional, spanning oral and written communication," said Sollosy. "Business communication transcends email and text. It encompasses written reports, letters, and formal presentations, both written and oral."
Understanding your target audience can help you communicate more effectively.
"Learning how to be a good communicator and collaborator will serve you well in a business management program and in your professional and personal life," said Frank J. Freda, an interview coach and manager with over 15 years of experience in customer service management.
Tip 3: Accounting Knowledge Counts
Money matters. Without a background in finance or accounting, it can be tricky to navigate the ins and outs of business.
While you may not want to specialize in accounting, you should still take college courses that teach you finance basics.
Robert Boyette, vice president of U.S. Service Group, said, "Every business graduate should have a good functional understanding of the general ledger, income statements/balance sheets/cash flows, and a working understanding of bookkeeping."
Sollosy agrees. "The student needs a working knowledge of financial terminology and the ability to read and interpret a financial statement," he said. "Regardless of a student's chosen area of specialization, finance is the language of business."
Tip 4: Master Your Management Skills
To be successful in business management, you must, in Freda's words, "Learn how to manage in all directions."
This means "knowing how to work well with not only your direct reports, but also your peer managers, interdepartmental managers, and your superiors," said Freda.
Freda also stresses the importance of role-playing interactions that may come up in a business setting and volunteering to lead group projects so you can observe the dynamics between team members.
Through these practice runs, you'll gain valuable insight you can apply to future business management situations.
Tip 5: Find a Mentor
Those with experience in your field can guide you along the way. Their real-world examples can show you that there are situations that may not have been part of your school studies.
"Find a mentor, a coach, and a peer," said Mack Burnett, CEO of POWERFUL IMPACT and an entrepreneur and business engineer with over 25 years of experience. "Mentor is the model who has done what you want to do. … Coach has the expertise to help you perfect your craft daily. Peer holds you accountable."
Burnett also recommends finding someone you can help outside of school to practice and perfect the skills you're learning in your business management program.
For instance, you could help a friend with their personal finances and budgeting. Or, you could volunteer to do some work for an aspiring entrepreneur who may not yet have the means to expand their team.
Additional Business Management Tips
Pick a specialization within a niche as soon as possible.
Map out your required classes in advance.
Take advantage of professors' office hours if you need help or support.
Understand your professors' grading system and the syllabus.
Take courses in various subjects for a holistic understanding of the business world.
Hone your time management skills.