How to be a success

Dedication, hard work and consistency are the basic requirements to be successful in any field of study. The same applies to a business school candidate or potential graduate. Attending lectures, jotting down notes and participating will separate the mediocre student from the excellent.

However business-orientated you may be, investing in your studies can determine how far your success will go in the real world. Setting your goals and breaking them down into actionable items is a great place to start. Let us see the different methods you can use to prepare for business school and be a successful business student. Whether you are a part-time or full-time student studying an MBA or any business-related programmes, these pearls of wisdom could go a long way.

How to Prepare for Business School

Here are a few steps that can help you reach your desired goal in your studies as a business school student:


Taking good care of yourself by being able to manage stress and anxiety is crucial. Allocate time in your weekly schedule for exercise to keep your mind and body fit. Know when to rest and allocate time away from your studies. A balanced work, play and study system can determine your success.

Take advantage of the support resources availed to you by your school:

Many services are accessible to students at almost all universities and their departments, but they are often underutilised. Facilities such as library services, after class individual tutorials, rehabilitation services, disability services, counselling and other services are among them. Use the ones you need.

Count on the support of your friends and family:

The assistance from your family, friends and even coworkers can be useful during the days of your assessments and exams. Reach out to them for encouragement and delegate some of the responsibilities which could free up your time. Use this time for studying or resting.

Stay organised:

Managing a family, a career and a student life require good organisational skills. You can use free organising tools or apps to manage your time, study notes and lessons. Most importantly, keep track of your daily schedule with a to-do list. Setting reminders can also assist you so you don’t miss any important things before deadlines. This should prevent you from feeling the need to work under undue pressure.

Make the right connections and friends in class:

Make the right connections such as being part of a study group. This will help you to stay updated and not miss important updates from your lectures. You will also have peers who may become colleagues in the future and could assist you in your career as you pursue new opportunities.

Should I attend business school?

Most professionals who are in business already enjoy the benefits of high salaries and the professional opportunities that the industry provides. However, you can increase both your salary and available opportunities with a good business qualification, such as a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

Here are some of the possible advantages and challenges that you should consider before you make your decision:


The business sector provides a clear career path with many prospects for both entry-level and seasoned professionals. Attending a business school can open new networking opportunities. As part of the school’s alumni, you will be part of an established network that would be difficult to develop on your own.

A graduate with a business degree has access to a large number of work opportunities across many industries. Business school graduates and people with an MBA earn salaries that are much higher than the national average.

Large corporations and companies provide opportunities for the progression and improvement of your career. Business graduates may apply their skills in a variety of industries and roles thanks to the extensive and widely applicable training offered by business schools.

Critical thinking and interpersonal skills and leadership and social awareness are just a few capabilities that can be developed when attending an accredited and internationally business school such as Wits Business School.


Business professionals can carry a lot of responsibility in what is often a highly competitive workplace. Adding the demands of keeping up with your business school studies on top of this can be very challenging for some. Obtaining a qualification at a business school requires time, attention and determination.

 Professionals are often responsible for overseeing consumers, employees and colleagues. Constantly meeting the expectations of these stakeholders in any business or organisation can in some instances be overwhelming. A business school student will have to maintain a careful balance between the expectations at work and those in the classroom.

 Many professionals are required to work long hours or travel frequently, depending on their job positions. Without good time management and a well thought out schedule, a student may miss important lectures and assignment deadlines and risks failing exams due to insufficient preparation.

Career’s opportunities in business

Most employers prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in any related field within the industry, making further education a requirement for available positions and other growth opportunities within the business.

These are a few career paths you can pursue when you have attended a business school:


• Personal financial advisors
• Financial examiners
• Budget analysts
• Cost estimators
• Credit analysts
• Financial managers


• Operations research analyst
• Business operations specialist
• Operations manager

Sales and marketing

• Market research specialist
• Marketing manager
• Sales manager
• Sales representative or assistant
• Public relations

Human resources

• Human resource manager
• Labour relations specialist
• Training and development manager

What degree does a business owner need?

There are no educational standards for business owners. While prospective business owners do not need a degree to own a business, there are several programmes available to help them develop a deeper understanding of how to better manage and grow their business.

Prospective business owners have a range of undergraduate and postgraduate options to choose from. Popular choices include an Associate in Applied Science in Business Management, a Bachelor of Business Administration, or a Master of Business Administration.

You may not need a degree to be a business owner but getting one can add credibility to your business and help it succeed. This can help a business to get more business from other businesses, especially when running a B2B company.

Difference between Business Administration and Business Management

There is considerable overlap between business administration and business management and students of both will cover core elements such as accounting, economics and finance. They differ because business managers focus more on people, often leading or managing teams across the organisation. In contrast, business administrators tend to focus on the more technical aspects of a corporation. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration learn about:

• Forecasting,
• Strategic planning,
• Analysis and entrepreneurship.

These skills are necessary for success in a fast-paced business world and they enable graduates to make meaningful decisions for their companies. Both business administration and management include directing an organisation’s activities. Students studying these fields will be taught topics such as:

• Economics and finance
• Strategic management
• Human resource management
• Statistical analysis

As an organisation increases in size, the roles and functions evolve to become more technical and complex. While there are strong parallels between business administration and business management, there are also significant differences between the two career paths.

Whether or not you will be a success at business school will be determined by the many factors mentioned above – from choosing the right career path to how you manage your day-to-day life as a business student. It’s always advised to seek career guidance and advice from people with more experience if you are not sure what to do next.

This is what you need to start a business

Anyone can start a business, but that does not mean that just anyone will make a success of it. The sad truth is that many new businesses fail. An often-quoted statistic says that 20% of new businesses fail within their first year, while 50% fail to make it to their fifth year, and only 30% can survive for a full 10 years. Unfortunately, that failure rate is even higher here in South Africa. About 70% to 80% of new South African businesses fail within five years.

While the statistics are a little frightening, new businesses that start up successfully all the time. Often what sets these businesses apart from the failures is that the person starting it has a better understanding of business.

But you may ask yourself just how do you get those skills, what is the best degree for starting a business or what should you major in to start your own business. We’ll answer those questions further down as well as giving some brief advice on how to start a business with or without a degree.

Businesses that succeed are planned out carefully from the start, by people with the correct skills and knowledge of what it entails to run a business. Whether you are dreaming of one day starting your own business or perhaps already have your own business that you would like to grow, there are several things you could study.

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) online Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration is one course that will give you the skills and knowledge for a far greater chance of achieving business success.

What degree do you need to be a business owner?


As mentioned, there is no specific qualification that you need to start a business. Anyone with a little bit of money and the time to fill in the paperwork can register a business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

The barrier to entry is very low and starting a company can cost as little as R125. But, that’s just a piece of paper, or rather a certified PDF, that now says that you own a company. It also comes with the responsibility to continue filling in much more paperwork and paying in more money in the form of tax, assuming that your business ever makes any money that the government can tax you on.

What you need is a solid business plan as well as the skills to carry out that business plan. This can all be obtained through studying a quality business programme.

There are two ways of looking at the qualifications you need. For many people starting a business venture, the obvious place to start is with what you already know. If you’re a qualified dentist, it’s natural that you’d consider a dentistry practice. People with marketing skills might start an advertising agency, while chefs tend towards restaurants and catering companies. For many, they risk merely becoming self-employed.

The true entrepreneurial dream is to create something that can eventually stand up and operate with a minimum of your effort – allowing you to pursue other ventures or realistically seek a buyer or investors to sell some or all of your stake in the company.

The other route you can take is to learn about business itself. Warren Buffet, who has been a regular feature of the world’s richest lists for decades, studied business administration and economics.

The best degree to study for starting your own business would be something focused on business management. A Bachelor of Commerce degree would be a good starting point, but even if you studied something else at a bachelor’s level, you can still apply to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration to cover all the subjects that are best for starting your own business.


What should I major in if I want to start my own business?


If you’re thinking seriously about one day starting your own business, then you have no doubt asked yourself a couple of questions. Which subject is best for business, what degree do you need to be a business owner or what should you major in if you want to start your own business?

You can study several subjects to learn how to run a business and specialise in a certain aspect of this by selecting a relevant major. Here are some of the recommended majors that would put you in good stead for starting your own business:

  • Finance
  • Management
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Project management
  • Business Law
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Economics


Starting a business without a degree


As we mentioned, there are no educational requirements or qualifications needed to start a business and anyone can do it. Some of the world’s largest companies were famously started by people who dropped out of college – Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two prominent examples. They are, however, more the exception than the rule.

Outside of a degree, it is also possible to gain valuable work experience and see up close how a company runs. This will give you a greater understanding of how a company works and might offer you training in some of the subjects that are best to study for starting a business.

For example, Jeff Bezos studied computer science but then worked his way up to be the vice-president of an investment firm. Over that time he gained valuable experience in fields like management and company finances before he started Amazon and became the world’s richest person.

Even without a degree, you can still approach the formation of your business as if you did have a degree.


How to start a business


As Michael E Gerber wrote in The e-Myth Revisited: Why most small businesses fail and what to do about it, for many people starting up their own business, they don’t create a new business so much as create a job for themselves. Think of freelancers and the like, people who hire out their own time. While they may still be successful, they tend to not build up businesses that can later be sold for a profit. For those people, they are the core of the business and without them, there is no business.

So, how do you start a business? More importantly, how do you start a business that will succeed? Put together a carefully constructed business plan. Look at the market and try to be as realistic as possible when forecasting your potential earnings and costs to ensure you can be profitable.

Many new business owners get caught up in chasing the next big sale, getting so caught up in the business’s day-to-day operations that they don’t take the time to step back and look at the longer-term picture. Think carefully about how you can grow and what skills the people will need that you employ.

With careful planning, perseverance, and a bit of luck, you could find yourself in a position to hire people with the skills you lack.


Which subject is best for business?


People who are experts in their field often feel that their company should be run by someone who is an expert in the product or service that the company offers. For all the variety of the thousands of different businesses providing different services and products, the truth is that most of them have surprisingly similar structures and operate in similar ways. This is where business subjects come in. To put it very simply: the business of doing business.

The subjects that are best for business are those that focus on the important parts of running a business – accounting and finances, managing and administration of the business. A good business qualification will cover all these aspects.

Whether selling doohickeys, yacht cruises or professional services, you will find these subjects useful for successfully starting a business:


  • Strategy
  • Introduction to Finance
  • Management and financial accounting
  • Marketing
  • Essential business skills
  • Project management
  • Business law
  • Entrepreneurship
  • People management
  • International business
  • Economics


All of these subjects are covered extensively in Wits’ online Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration. If you’re serious about becoming an entrepreneurial success then have a look at the programme fees and admission requirements to see if you meet the criteria to apply now.

What type of manager are you?

Top-level management is the ultimate career goal for most ambitious professionals. The types of managers in a small business are similar to a large company, but a small company has fewer people and likely fewer management roles. A very large organisation on the other hand could have several managerial layers, with branch managers, regional managers and country managers forming a chain of command from the top to the bottom.

Regardless of the actual field, once you’ve made your way towards the top of most companies, your job will almost certainly involve management of some sort. This can be tricky for some people. For example, an engineer could be fantastic at her job and rise through the junior ranks quite quickly. But as she rises in the organisation, her job becomes less and less about engineering and more about managing people. This requires a very different set of skills to those that got her there in the first place.

There’s a term for this, the “Peter Principle”, which says: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his (or her) level of incompetence.” So what do you do about this? While it is true that some people are just naturally better at dealing with people than others, management is a skill that you can learn. There are many courses you can study to gain these valuable skills, such as the online Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration.

When we talk about types of managers, two different things could be referred to. The first way of looking at it is in terms of the business function that is carried out by the manager, which relates to their role and position in the business. The second way in which people talk about types of managers relates to the personal style that the manager uses. Although personal style can tend to be affected by the manager’s personality, a well trained and prepared manager should be able to adopt the most effective and appropriate management style regardless of their personality.

We’ll go into much more detail later on the types of managers in both big and small businesses as well as the four types of management styles. For now, we’ll start at the top and look at top-level management.

Top level management


As the name suggests, those working in top-level management have made it to the top of the managerial ladder. These are the people who run any organisation, big or small. Of course, a small business may just have one top-level manager, but large businesses require more people to handle these top-level managerial roles. These include the board of directors, president, vice president and chief executive. They in turn work closely with the next level of managers such as the chief operations officer, chief marketing officer, chief technology officer, chief financial officer and chief compliance officer.

These are the people steering the ship of the organisation. They are responsible for the organisation’s long-term success. It is their job to set long-term goals and define strategies to achieve them. They are the ones who mostly work on the business, rather than in the business.

What are the 7 functions of management?

Different management experts and academics have analysed management from different angles over the years, each developing their theories on management. Two hugely influential authors are Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick, who together wrote and edited a paper in the 1930s that proposed the seven functions of management that we still use today.

Their aim in developing this concept was to provide businesses with a systematic framework to maximise output, minimise wastage and improve profit margins. It also helps organisations to break down the work into their component processes.

Gulick and Urwick coined the term POSDCORB, which is an acronym of what they defined as the seven functions of management: planning, organising, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting.

Planning: This involves setting out the objectives for the organisation, as well as working out how those objectives will best be achieved.

Organising: This management function involves bringing together the different parts of the business and getting them to operate efficiently. It looks at both the physical and human resources of the organisation.

Staffing: For an organisation to succeed, it needs to employ people who have the correct skills for the work they need to do. Staffing deals with recruiting the best candidates, as well as monitoring and developing employees to ensure they have a good work environment.

Directing: The management function of directing deals with the actual work being done in the organisation and how to work is efficiently delegated to the correct people. It follows on from the previous three functions which establish what work should be done and by whom. Directing answers the question of how the work must be done.

Co-ordinating: Managers need to ensure that there is harmony between all the different parts of the organisation. This particular management function is quite similar to that of organising. Some management academics do not include it, arguing that coordination is the central role of a manager, rather than just a function to be fulfilled.

Reporting: Reporting is another important part of managing an efficient organisation. Without reliable information on what is happening within the organisation, top-level management would not be able to properly plan and carry out their jobs.

Budgeting: For an organisation to be successful, money must be spent efficiently and all expenses must be properly accounted for. This involves setting out the company’s budgets, allocating money to each department and forecasting future earnings and profit.

What are the 5 principles of management?

Before the advent of the seven functions of management, another prominent management expert named Henri Fayol developed a system based on the five principles of management. It provided a similar but slightly simplified structure to the seven functions of management and is what Gulick and Urwick built on to get to POSDCORB.

Also sometimes referred to as the five functions of management, these are the five principles of management that Fayol proposed: planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. Even though this concept was developed more than 100 years ago, these principles remain important to modern managers.


Types of managers in a small business

Smaller businesses require fewer managers as fewer people are working for the company. However, the management principles and functions still apply to at least some degree to even the smallest of companies. Although much of that may seem redundant if you are just working for yourself, those who apply those principles to the way their one-man company works are far more likely to grow their business successfully.

As a small company grows, it will start to require top-level management to direct the activities of the company. In a small company, there would be more direct contact between the top-level management and the front line employees, and less of the complicated chains of command required by large organisations.

The style of management can be very important within a small business. That’s not to say that it isn’t important in a large business, but unlike a large business where managers are brought in for their skills, a small business is often run by the founder of the company. As such it is more common for small businesses to be led by people with poor managerial skills than is the case in large organisations. We’ll take a closer look at the four types of management style a little further down.


Types of managers in a big business

We’ve already covered top-level management higher up, but there are more types of managers in a big business. The number of types of managers varies between systems, with some having only three levels while others describe four distinct levels for the types of managers in a big business.

Naming conventions also differ, but these are the three main levels: general or top-level managers, functional managers and frontline managers.

As we’ve already covered, the top-level managers are responsible for setting the objectives of the organisation as a whole and determining the best way to achieve them. They rely on the managers under them to ensure that policies and procedures are implemented correctly.

Functional managers are responsible for a specific function within an organisation, such as marketing, accounting, human resources or information technology. These include roles such as chief operations officer, chief marketing officer, chief technology officer, chief financial officer and chief compliance officer. They report to the top-level managers and in turn, direct the front line managers beneath them

Frontline managers deal with things at the operational level. They implement instructions, procedures and policies that are sent down from higher up and ensure that they are carried out by the company’s employees.

These three cover the types of managers in most big businesses that involve just one industry or business division, but if a company is involved in multiple industries then another level is needed. For example, Virgin is a holding company that has various divisions operating in completely different industries, such as Virgin Air, Virgin Active, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Money.

This is where business-level managers come in, slotting between the top level and the functional managers. At the top of each of these divisions is a business level manager responsible for managing the entire division.


The 4 types of management style

As we touched on earlier, aside from the types of managers within a business there are also different management styles. Here again, names do vary, but they can be broken down as follows:

Visionary management style: Under the visionary management style, the top-level manager takes control and sets the agenda for the company’s employees to follow. Some systems use less complimentary language, calling this autocratic or authoritarian leadership, reflecting the top-down nature of this style.

Democratic management style: In this style of management, the manager seeks to get feedback and input from the employees. This style of management gives employees more say in the company’s direction and decisions. It counts on the fact that the people on the frontline may well have a better understanding of the actual operations than the person in the top floor corner office.

Coaching management style: This style draws from sporting metaphors, where the manager works closely with employees, seeking to keep them motivated and ensuring they can perform to their fullest potential. It also emphasises the personal growth and development of the employee.

Laissez-faire management style: Laissez-faire is French for “let do” and is the name of an economic system that is free of regulations and interference. Managers who adopt this style have a hands-off approach and allow their employees to use their initiative. For this management style to work effectively, there needs to be a lot of trust between manager and employee, with employees needing to be self-motivated.

Whether you feel you would like to learn more about management to improve your chances of promotion, or whether you already find yourself taking on management responsibilities, a course such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration may well be a good next step.