Getting Down to Business
Read this section learn about internal and external factors that affect the success of businesses. Pay particular attention to Figure 1.2 to gain an understanding of where each of these factors falls.
Functional Areas of Business
The activities needed to operate a business can be divided into a number of functional areas: management, operations, marketing, accounting, and finance. Let's briefly explore each of these areas.
Managers are responsible for the work performance of other people. Management involves planning for, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling a company's resources so that it can achieve its goals. Managers plan by setting goals and developing strategies for achieving them. They organize activities and resources to ensure that company goals are met. They staff the organization with qualified employees and direct them to accomplish organizational goals. Finally, managers design controls for assessing the success of plans and decisions and take corrective action when needed.
All companies must convert resources (labor, materials, money, information, and so forth) into goods or services. Some companies, such as Apple, convert resources into tangible products – Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads. Others, such as hospitals, convert resources into intangible products – health care. The person who designs and oversees the transformation of resources into goods or services is called an operations manager. This individual is also responsible for ensuring that products are of high quality.
Marketing consists of everything that a company does to identify customers' needs and designs products to meet those needs. Marketers develop the benefits and features of products, including price and quality. They also decide on the best method of delivering products and the best means of promoting them to attract and keep customers. They manage relationships with customers and make them aware of the organization's desire and ability to satisfy their needs.
Managers need accurate, relevant, timely financial information, and accountants provide it. Accountants measure, summarize, and communicate financial and managerial information and advise other managers on financial matters. There are two fields of accounting. Financial accountants prepare financial statements to help users, both inside and outside the organization, assess the financial strength of the company. Managerial accountants prepare information, such as reports on the cost of materials used in the production process, for internal use only.
Finance involves planning for, obtaining, and managing a company's funds. Finance managers address such questions as the following: How much money does the company need? How and where will it get the necessary money? How and when will it pay the money back? What should it do with its funds? What investments should be made in plant and equipment? How much should be spent on research and development? How should excess funds be invested? Good financial management is particularly important when a company is first formed, because new business owners usually need to borrow money to get started.
Figure 1.2 Business and Its Environment