Outline of Business Administration of Enterprises

A business enterprise is any operation or venture that provides goods or services for the purpose of turning a profit. This focus on earning a profit is what sets business enterprises apart from the public sector and non-profit organisations.

Regardless of what the enterprise does to make a profit, all enterprises require at least some administration. As a result, it is important that whoever is administering the enterprise has the necessary skills to make the enterprise run efficiently and profitably.

In this article, we will look at different types of enterprises and the skills that business managers need to carry out this important role of business management or business administration.

As well as covering all the administration functions in a business, we’ll also look at popular business courses such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration.

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Article outline


Administration of Different Types of Enterprises


Good business managers are needed for all types of enterprise. This is true regardless of the size of the enterprise and applies to large multinational companies as well as small enterprises such as a spaza shop or a freelance operation.

There are however a number of different types of enterprise and the administrative needs and tax obligations are different for each. We’ll go through the different types of enterprise, starting with the smallest.


Business Administration of a Sole Proprietorship


A sole proprietorship is the smallest type of enterprise and it includes people who work as freelancers. A sole proprietorship is always owned by a single person and that person is solely responsible for the company and any liabilities it might incur.

While a sole proprietorship can operate under a different name to the owner, it does not exist as a separate legal entity to the owner. It has the advantage of having a minimum of administrative requirements, but it also places the owner at greater risk than some more complex enterprise.

Should the enterprise be sued, the owner could stand to lose money and be forced to sell possessions to pay out a claim, even if they were earned through some other means.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) requires that all income from a sole proprietorship is declared and that these earnings are declared together with any other income the individual earns.


Business Administration of a Partnership


A partnership is one level up from a sole partnership and involves more than one person. Like a sole proprietorship, a partnership does not exist as a separate legal entity to the individuals.

Partnerships also have very little in the way of administrative requirements and the partners are required to declare their share of the partnership’s earnings together with any other income to SARS every year.

The partners also remain legally liable for the business, but it could be seen as a little bit less risky than a sole proprietorship because this risk is shared between the partners. On the downside, the benefits and profits are also shared between the partners so on balance the risks and rewards are very similar to that of a sole proprietorship.


Business Administration of a Private Limited Companies (Ltd.)


The next level up is a private limited company. Private limited companies are also called proprietary limited companies and are recognisable by the abbreviations (Pty) Ltd at the end of the name. These exist as separate legal entities to the owners and come with far more administrative requirements.

In South Africa a private limited company needs to register as a taxpayer with SARS and also needs to register its name with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). The name will also need to be approved by the CIPC before the company can begin trading. The name must be unique and not in breach of any copyrights or trademarks.

There are far more administrative requirements than for a sole proprietorship or partnership as the company will need to declare all earnings to SARS as a separate entity from its owners. The benefit of a company is that the actual owners (called shareholders) can change without impacting on the company’s operations or legal obligations.

To see more details on the liabilities and obligations of a private company in South Africa, you can read more on the SARS website’s private company page.


Business Administration of a Public Limited Companies (PLC)


A public limited company is a type of company specific to the United Kingdom, Ireland and some commonwealth countries. They are required to have the abbreviation PLC or plc at the end of their name. Unlike a (Pty) Ltd, PLCs have to exceed a certain size threshold.

They can be listed on a stock exchange or owned privately by individual shareholders or other companies.

PLCs are not recognised in South Africa.


Management and administration of specific organisations


Now that we’ve covered some of the common types of enterprise, we will look at the business administration requirements of a few different types of enterprise.


Administration aspects of an educational institution



Educational institutions range vastly in size, with large public universities like the University of the Witwatersrand at the top end of the spectrum and institutions like small private art schools at the lower end.

While the size and scope varies, the basic administrative needs are largely similar. Like any other enterprise, they require all manner of business administration to ensure legal and tax compliance. They also require business managers to ensure that the enterprise does not run at a loss.

In South Africa, there is a special process to register an educational institution and there are several special requirements above what are required for a regular commercial enterprise.

The government requires that all of its programmes be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training, accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).


Academic administration of learning institutions


Administrators of an institution of learning also have certain tasks that are more specific to the field of education. For institutions providing legally recognised qualifications, administrators need to ensure that the courses offered are registered with the South African Qualifications Authority and that the course curriculums meet the required standards.

For example, Wits Online’s Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA) has been registered with SAQA and you can view the certificate here .


Administrative titles of higher institutions of learning


Institutions of higher learning have their own sets of titles for the people in charge. While most enterprises are headed by chief executives or possibly presidents and chairpersons, universities are headed by a chancellor and vice-chancellor.

Naming conventions and roles do differ from country to country, but here in South Africa the role of a chancellor is largely a ceremonial position. While the chancellor can be seen as a figurehead for the university, it is the vice-chancellor who plays an active role in the university’s academic and business administration.

For an easy comparison, the chancellor holds a similar position to the king of England, while the vice-chancellor acts similarly to the prime minister and wields more influence and administrative power.

For an example of the titles and roles of the administrators in charge of an institute of higher learning, you can look at Wits University’s officers of the university page. It lists the following administrative titles:

  • Chancellor
  • Vice-chancellor and principal
  • Chairman of council
  • Senior deputy vice-chancellor (academic)
  • Deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation)
  • Deputy vice-chancellor (systems and operations)
  • Registrar
  • Dean of student affairs
  • President of convocation

Below this top tier there are then also multiple faculty deans, who are responsible for specific faculties. At Wits there are five faculties and these are Commerce, Law and Management; Engineering and the Built Environment; Health; Science; and Humanities.

Each faculty is in turn split into many different departments, with each department having their own heads of department, who are supported by departmental administrators.


Administration aspects of an investment business


When we first defined an enterprise at the start of this article, we defined it as an operation that produces or trades goods or services for profit. Investment businesses are a type of enterprise that earns profit through investments. In a sense, the service it provides is the capital it invests into a business or asset.

Rules, regulations and administrative obligations for investment businesses differ from country to country and they can take many different forms. One option that you can take in South Africa is to register a financial services co-operative.


Administration aspects of the restaurant business


Like any commercial enterprise, a restaurant operates to make profit. Poor administration and a lack of business management could close the business.

The business manager of the restaurant has to keep track of many different administrative aspects. These include stock management, payroll and staff issues, marketing of the venue to attract customers, accounting and tax returns, cost control and supplier payments.


Administration of a logistic business


Logistics businesses have all the usual administrative requirements, but they require a very high degree of real-time administration. Logistics businesses have to keep track of an enormous number of moving parts.

Administrators or business managers of logistics businesses need to ensure that vehicles are carrying the right cargo and going to the correct place. They also need to ensure the cargo arrives when it is expected, while also having infrastructure in place to deal with emergencies and unexpected delays or obstructions.


Business administration diplomas’ and academic degrees


The importance of business and business management skills is reflected in the large number of business administration courses that offer business qualifications.

Here are some common business administration degrees and diplomas.


BBA – Bachelor’s in business administration


A bachelors in administration provides a good foundation in business management and administration. Business managers with ambitions to handle the business administration of larger and consequently more profitable and better paying enterprises will find that competition is fierce.

To get to the top of the managerial hierarchy, ambitious business managers will likely want to earn a postgraduate business administration qualification.


Online versus part-time syllabus


With Wits Online, online study is indeed a part time study environment, but this does not mean that all online studies are part time. Wits Online’s courses are designed to be done entirely in your own time. Lectures are pre recorded, allowing them to be watched at any available time.

This is not always the case with live online lectures set at specific times, which could very easily conflict with your work obligations.


Local and international accreditations


Whether you study online or in class, you will want to be sure that the qualification you are working towards is properly accredited. Accreditation requirements vary between countries and only a limited number of qualifications are globally recognised.

Wits Online’s business qualifications are underpinned by the University of the Witwatersrand’s specialised business school, known as Wits Business School or WBS for short.

WBS is a member or partner of several prestigious international business associations. It is part of the Partnership in International Management, the Association of African Business Schools, the South African Business Schools Association and the Association of MBAs.

Aside from these business school-specific memberships, WBS is also registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training, accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Council on Higher Education and registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).


BSBA – Bachelor of Science in Business Administration


A Bachelor of Science in Business Administration is a business course that is rooted in a science degree. Although this is not a degree that is offered in South Africa, there are several overseas universities offering it.


PDBA – Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration


A Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA) is a postgraduate academic qualification that also requires applicants to have additional work experience. It is aimed at business managers that are looking to further advance their career. Some institutions offer a similar course to the PDBA, but call it a postgraduate diploma in business management (PDBM).

To apply for the Wits Online PDBA, applicants require a Bachelor’s or other three-year degree at NQF Level 7 as well as a minimum of two years’ work experience.

The course usually takes 22 months to complete if done full-time, but this can be sped up if studying full time and doing two modules at once.


DBA – Diploma in Business Administration


There are not any recognised diplomas in business administration that are recognised in South Africa. There is however a diploma in business management that provides a NQF level 5 qualification. This diploma is offered by a few different colleges in South Africa and you can view the details on the Diploma in Business Management SAQA certificate.

For business administration specifically, there are also several certificates and courses that are at lower NQF levels, such as the Further Education and Training Certificate: Business Administration Services at NQF level 4.




Here are the answers to some common questions relating to business management, business and information administration and qualifications such as a postgraduate diploma in business administration.


What is commercial and industrial enterprise?

As we said at the start of this article about business management, an enterprise is a venture or operation that trades in goods or services to make a profit.

An industrial enterprise is focussed on manufacturing one or more products for profit. Commercial enterprises are any enterprise involved in a commercial venture.

What does commercial enterprise do?

The term commercial enterprise encompasses any operation or activity that is carried out for profit. As such, the term is a little bit redundant as it carries the same definition as an enterprise.

Commercial enterprises do not include government organisations or non-profit organisations, which have a primary goal of providing services to the public rather than a focus on earning a profit.

What do managers do all day?

Business managers are the people at the top of any enterprise. They are responsible for business administration.

Business managers spend their days with the many tasks of business management. This entails planning, organising and overseeing all of the businesses operations.

What skills does a business manager need?

Business managers need to be adept at business administration and management. They need to plan and oversee all the operations of the enterprise. This is a large responsibility and they will have to draw on many skills learnt either through experience or a good business management qualification.

For an idea of the full range of skills needed, you can take a look at the business administration modules in the online Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration course.

How can I be a good business manager?

The skills to be a good business manager can be learnt. The best way to do so is through a business management course.

What course is best for business?

Deciding on the best business course depends on several factors. Business schools are highly competitive and there are many different courses to choose from. Business is also a very wide term and there are multiple areas of specialisation, each of which require different skill sets.

Some of the areas of specialisation include business law, marketing, accounting, financial management and entrepreneurship for starting up a new enterprise. Your choice will also be determined by your current qualifications as well as the purpose for which you plan to use your new qualification.

While something like a Harvard MBA is certainly sought after, this comes at a great cost. If you are looking to gain the business skills that you need to start up your own business, you may find that it would serve you far better to opt for a more affordable course. You will be more likely to make a success of your new venture if you are not saddled with the $1 million to $2 million in student debt that a topline international MBA could cost.

The Wits PDBA will give you all of the business fundamentals, but at a fraction of the cost. This means that you will be better placed to get start up capital for your business and will not hinder you with such a crippling student loan.

What is the best business major?

As with the question about the best business course above, deciding on the best business major would depend on what you intend to do with your qualification. If you are considering a business major, then it is likely that you are looking at a bachelor degree of some sort.

Jobs portal site Indeed.com offers this list of some of the best-paying business majors.

Is a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration good?

A Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration is a popular qualification choice for managers who already have a degree. The naming convention does sometimes vary. At Wits Online it is shortened to PDBA, but some also refer to it as a PGDip Business Administration.

How long is a postgraduate diploma?

The Department of Higher Education and Training together with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) require that a postgraduate diploma consists of 120 credits. This is compared with, for example, a three-year bachelor’s degree that consists of 360 credits.

If studied full time, this means the diploma can be completed within one year. Wits Online’s postgraduate diplomas are designed to be completed in 22 months if studied part-time. Students also have the option to accelerate this by doing two modules at once to complete it within 11 months.

Traditionally, South African universities close for most of December and only reopen again in January, meaning that an academic year is in fact about 11 months rather than a full 12 months.

What is a Postgraduate Diploma equivalent to?

A postgraduate diploma is a level 8 National Qualification Framework (NQF) qualification. This puts it on the same level as an Honours degree or some four-year professional bachelor degrees. It is also seen as equivalent to the highest level occupational certificate available under the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework.

It is one level below a master’s degree and one level above both a three-year bachelor’s degree or an advanced diploma.

You can view a table of all the different NQF levels and their respective qualifications on the SAQA website here.

Which business courses have more job opportunities?

As with the questions over what is the best course for business or which is the best business major, the answer is situation specific.

Jobs listing portal Indeed.com provides some interesting insights into business degrees here. It also provides a ranking of the best business majors and their related salaries here.


Study a PDBA with Wits online


You can study a postgraduate diploma in Business Administration online in your spare time with Wits. This gives you all the accrediation and qualifications of a contact course with Wits Business School, but with flexibility to study at your convenience.

The online content is the same as that of the traditional contact part-time PDBA offered by WBS, but all lessons are pre-recorded meaning that you can carry out your studies in the evenings or over your weekends.

You can read more about the Wits online PDBA here.


Advance your business career with us!


The Wits Online PDBA is designed to help business managers advance their careers by gaining valuable business management knowledge.

The online business course not only teaches the essentials of business and information administration, it also provides skills to help Improve decision making and produce true business leaders who are able to excel in their fields.

Learn more about how the online PDBA can help advance your career here.


Online administration qualification for postgraduates


The Wits Online PDBA is aimed at people who already have a degree and at least two years work experience. Completing your PDBA with Wits Online will also grant you two credits towards an MBA with Wits Business School should you wish to take your studies even further. Successful graduates of the PDBA will get credits for the Management & Financial Accounting and Strategy modules, although this may be subject to obtaining a specific minimum mark in those modules.

If you meet the admissions criteria for postgraduate studies, you can get started on your postgraduate business qualification in no more than two months at any given time in the year. To find out more, please go here.