Let’s Get Down to Business
“Life is about one thing, numbers. Nothing else” — Clarence Avant
There may be more to life than numbers, but a wise person once told me that even Communication majors should have a basic understanding of business. I thought to myself, “Lady, there’s a reason why I am a Communications major and not a Business major.” I was never interested in business. When I was growing up (I still am) and adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up (they still ask), I would be offended if they even so suggested that I be an accountant? Now, you’re probably thinking what’s wrong with being an accountant? Nothing. I just really disliked anything to do with numbers, and I had made the association of math with business.
I truly believed that I didn’t need a basic understanding of business to have a successful Communications career. That all changed when I started this internship. I had mentioned in one of my previous blogs that my Skillsoft internship was my first experience in a corporate setting. During this summer, I have learned more about business than my time at college. Can you believe it? I’ve spent two years with a marketing minor, yet I lacked a key understanding of how a company works. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a general understanding of business. Don’t be like me, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Communications is isolated in its function. Often, Communications activities such as podcasts, press releases, and media placements support sales. Now, I’m not saying that you need to have a minor in business and binge watch Shark Tank to know everything. You can learn on the fly like I did. It’s the small things like KPIs and ROI (why does everything end in an I?) that you can pick up. It’s also super impressive when you can use those terms in front of your parents and their friends.
These are a few things I’ve learned during my time at Skillsoft about business, consider this a crash course in business by yours truly. Alright, class is in session.
- First, we’ll review the business quarterly calendar. The business year is divided into four quarters. Each quarter is three months. The quarterly calendar helps businesses measure their progress on goals, objectives, and deliverables. It also helps assess financial strengths and weaknesses. Super important, publicly traded companies’ quarterly financial report can have a significant effect on the actions of its investors. One of the very first meetings I attended at Skillsoft was a Global All Hands In meeting. During this session, the previous quarter was reviewed. I had no idea what was going on, but had I known what a financial quarter meant I would have had more context.
- I had mentioned KPIs earlier, let me delve into that a bit more. Remember what I said about how the business quarterly calendar enables businesses to measure their progress on objectives, well that’s where KPIs come in. KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. It is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. KPIs have different levels of focus. A high-level KPI may focus on the overall business. In contrast, a low-level KPI concentrates on processes in specific departments such as marketing.
- Ok now that we have got that covered, we’ll discuss the role of stakeholders. Stakeholders are defined as a person with a concern or interest in the business. That could mean anything from being a supplier, a customer or employee. I like to think about stakeholders as a web of different people connected by the business. This web of people contributes to the business differently and are impacted differently too, and each group within an organization work with and target a variety of different stakeholders. However, one thing remains the same for all these different stakeholders: the business must consider the stakeholders in decisions and strategies.
- Ever wonder what makes a Fortune 500 company Fortune 500? When I started at Skillsoft, my recruiter had mentioned that some of the clients were Fortune 500 companies. I was impressed. I’ve heard the phrase before, but I had to pause. What exactly is a Fortune 500 company? Ok, it all comes down to this: Fortune the magazine uses a formula to determine a corporation’s after-tax revenue. The gross-revenue (not actually gross, gross as in total) for a corporation to land such a prestige spot on the Fortune 500 list is generally around the billion-dollar mark. Also, super important, the revenue of these corporations whether public or private must be made publicly available. Other metrics, such as profits and market value, are used for ranking.
Not bad for a Communications major, huh? May I also add that I just explained business concepts without math. I hope some of the lessons I shared are useful and spark your interest to learn more about business.