Find out how you can start a career in a small business. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.
The following diagram gives most of the main functions that graduates will enter when starting a business career.
- Internal functions are those which are part of the company.
- External functions are those which are supplied by an outside agency.
- This chart is a simplification. Not all companies can be easily categorised, and some will have specialist functions which are not included here, but is nevertheless provides a useful starting point for graduates considering a career in business.
- Specialised businesses will have functions not mentioned here, for example retailers will have staff working as merchandisers.
- Some companies will not have all the functions listed, for example service and finance companies will not normally have research and production departments.
- Some functions such as Market Research and PR may be internal, external or both. A small company will probably hire an external agency when it needs these functions. A large company may well have in-house market research and corporate PR staff, but will still outsource much of the work that is of a specialist nature.
- Research & Development
Develops products. Designs & conducting experiments & tests. Interprets data. Manages projects. Writes reports. Keeps up to date with new developments.
- Production & Quality
Manages the production process. Plans production schedules. Ensures that machinery, staff & materials are efficiently utilised. Monitors health & safety & environmental issues. Liaises with marketing, research & finance.
Manages all the supply chain processes from raw materials to where the end product is used. Coordinates supply, distribution & storage of goods. Manages transport & distribution centres including drivers & warehouse staff.
Demonstrates & presents products to customers. Manages budgets. Learns about new products. Makes sure that the product meets the customers requirements. Writes tenders & proposals.
Coordinates all the elements involved in successfully promoting & selling a product: market research, pricing, packaging, advertising, sales, distribution. Involves forecasting, budgeting & planning, implementation of plans.
- Finance - Management Accountant
Provides the information required for the financial protection & planning of companies. Prepares accounting records & management information.
Designs, implements & maintains computer systems to meet requirements of users. Provides computing support for staff. Maintains databases & networks.
Recruits & selects new staff. Involved with contracts of employment, job descriptions, training, management development, industrial relations & disciplinary matters.
Locates & maintains relationships with suppliers, of products. Negotiates prices, delivery dates & product specifications. Works with managers to anticipate future demands.
- Chartered Accountants
Visits clients as part of an audit team; reviews their business operations & financial records to establish the validity of the company's accounts. Advises on tax liability & other matters.
- Management Consultants
Identifies & investigates, problems concerned with policy, organisation, procedures & methods of organisations. Recommends appropriate action & helps to implement this.
- Recruitment Agency
Matches job-seekers with employers' vacancies. Assesses candidates' skills & employers' requirements.
Liaises with & advises clients on all aspects of marketing communications; presents proposals to clients; manages advertising spend budget; keeps clients up-to-date on their own & competitors activities.
- Market Research
This can be done by the marketing department inside a company, or by an external market research agency. Plans market research projects on behalf of the client. Analyses the problem. Drafts proposals. Prepares questionnaires & survey methods. Briefs interviewers. Analyses data & presents it to client. Prepares reports.
- Public Relations
All aspects of media & public relations for clients: e.g. corporate brochures & exhibition stands. Answers enquiries. Prepares press releases, organises press briefings, conferences & PR campaigns.