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Business Studies

Business is an integral part of our daily lives. The term is used to describe organisations that operate in a market to sell goods and services for a profit. Businesses can take a variety of different forms and operate in a wide range of different industries. Some organisations’ main goals are maximising profits, while others pursue social and environmental objectives.

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Business Studies


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Business is an integral part of our daily lives. The term is used to describe organisations that operate in a market to sell goods and services for a profit. Businesses can take a variety of different forms and operate in a wide range of different industries. Some organisations’ main goals are maximising profits, while others pursue social and environmental objectives.

It is important to keep in mind that business studies goes beyond explaining the different types of business and understanding finances - you will cover a wide range of topics such as innovation, leadership, global marketing and organisational culture. By studying business you will not only understand how to sell goods and services but gain deeper insight into markets, stakeholders, strategy and decision-making.

Are you studying for your upcoming business exam or starting to write your business coursework? StudySmarter can help you with business studies revision and preparation. On StudySmarter, we cover all business topics and provide you with detailed revision notes and guides. You also have free access to a business quiz and hundreds of business studies topic flashcards.

Business studies, introduction to business studies StudySmarterEverything you need to know about Business Studies.

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On StudySmarter you can access all business studies learning material for free. Prepare for your exams with our complete guide of business topics and revision notes. Check your business knowledge with our existing flashcards and quizzes, or create your own personalised flashcards with your friends.

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Topics and Learning Objectives in Business Studies

Throughout your business course, you will learn about the various elements and functions of the business including operations, finance, marketing, human resources, management and strategy. You will familiarise yourself with the key aspects of business decision-making in different contexts and environments. You will also broaden your understanding of how decisions impact different stakeholders of the business. Finally, you will be able to evaluate managerial and strategic decisions through qualitative and quantitative analysis. On StudySmarter you will find detailed summaries and revision notes on the following key business topics and subtopics:

  • Nature of Business
  • Managers
  • Marketing
  • Operational Management
  • Financial Performance
  • Human Resources
  • Strategic Analysis
  • Strategic Direction
  • Business Development
  • Change Management

Business studies, topics and learning objectives StudySmarterAll the topics in business studies.

Nature of Business

As a first step, we have to understand what businesses are and why they exist. Businesses exist to make profit, survive, grow and even reach social aims. One key feature of businesses is that they all have a mission and should have objectives that guide them to attaining their mission.

Another important step is understanding the different forms of business. This is an important concept to consider when making business decisions and evaluating performance.

The external environment also plays an important role in decision making and includes various factors like competition, demographics, the environment or interest rates, which can hugely influence operating costs and the demand for a business’s products and services.

To test your knowledge take a look at our business studies flashcards under the ‘Nature of Business’ subtopic!


Management is another key component of business studies. Managers play a key role in all forms of business. Their role is not only about making decisions, analysing, planning and reviewing, but also finding an effective leadership style through which they can motivate and support employees. They also need to understand stakeholder needs and how to manage relationships between various stakeholders. Managers should make decisions based on data and intuition, keeping in mind the mission and objectives of the organisation.

To find out more about management and leadership, take a look at our detailed summaries under the ‘managers’ section.

Business studies, managers StudySmarterManagers play a key role in all forms of business.


Marketing is an integral part of every business. By setting effective marketing objectives, a company can boost its sales, gain market share and increase brand loyalty. To achieve these results, the business needs to understand the market and consumers, which can be done through primary and secondary research. Marketing also involves segmenting consumers, targeting a defined segment and positioning the product or service effectively – through a niche or mass-market strategy. An additional tool for marketing decision-making is the marketing mix, which is made up of the 7Ps:

  • Product

  • Price

  • Promotion

  • Place

  • People

  • Process

  • Physical environment

To learn more about the essentials of marketing and decision making to improve marketing performance, take a look at the ‘marketing’ business studies revision guide.

Operational Management

Setting operational objectives is another fundamental part of the business. Operational objectives can include:

  • Decreasing costs

  • Increasing quality

  • Adding value

  • Flexibility or dependability

  • Environmental goals

Once operational objectives have been set, the business needs to analyse its operational performance. Operational performance can be measured through operational data – by calculating metrics like labour productivity or unit cost. Through these calculations, we can understand the business’s operational strengths and weaknesses and make further decisions on how to optimise efficiency and productivity. Another core concept in operations management is understanding supply chains and managing inventory. These are essential for maximising operational efficiency.

Financial Performance

The financial performance of a business is based on a couple of key factors. The business has to plan, analyse, make decisions and set financial objectives. Financial objectives can include things like:

  • Cash flow objectives

  • Profit objectives

  • Capital expenditure objectives.

These can be measured through performance metrics like return on investment (ROI), profitability ratio analysis, break-even analysis or cash inflows and outflows. Financial performance also includes budgeting, forecasting and sourcing finance. There are many ways businesses can source finance in both the long and the short term. It all comes down to understanding how we can make effective financial decisions that boost the financial performance of the business.

Business studies, financial performance StudySmarterThe financial performance of a business.

Human Resources

Human resource decisions can also expand the competitiveness of a business. Human resource objectives could include training, diversity and employee engagement. Both internal and external factors can influence how a business sets human resource objectives.

For a deep dive into human resources related decision-making check out our summaries under Human Resources.

Business studies, human resource performance StudySmarterHuman resource is important for a business.

Strategic Analysis

To understand the strategic position of a business we need to analyse its mission, objectives and strategy. We need to look at a business’s internal position and performance to understand where strengths and weaknesses come from. In order to understand opportunities and threats, the business needs to examine its external environment through a PESTLE analysis and the competitive environment through Porter’s five forces.

To learn more about how the external and internal environment plays a role in business strategy, take a look at our summaries under analysing the strategic analysis section.

Strategic Direction

Every business needs to choose a strategic direction - they need to decide which market to operate in, what products to offer and how to enter the selected market. Businesses also need to determine their strategic positioning and sustain their competitive advantage

To find out more about competition and strategy, take a look at our in-depth summaries under strategic direction.

Business studies, choosing strategic direction StudySmarterEvery business needs to choose a strategic direction.

Business Development

Once a business has established its strategy, it is time to figure out how to pursue the strategy in a profitable way. It is important to evaluate whether the business is growing and find strategies to overcome problems in case the business is stagnant or growing too quickly. Innovation and internationalisation can play a huge role in the growth of a business. Recently, digital technology has also become valuable for strategy and almost inevitable for businesses to adopt.

Change Management

Change can often be a daunting process for businesses. The causes for change can be internal or external but either way, it can be very valuable for strategy. The problem is that change often comes with resistance. Managers have to successfully overcome barriers to change by leading organisational culture and implementing strategy effectively.

Take a look at our revision notes on change management for more detail!

Flashcards in Business Studies20700

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What is the definition of a sole trader?

A sole trader is a business that is owned and managed by one person. People operating a sole trader business work for themselves and are responsible for all business activities and decisions involved in running the business.

What is another term for a sole trader? 

A sole proprietor. The terms 'sole trader' and 'sole proprietor' are synonymous.

Define unlimited liability. 

Unlimited liability is when an individual is personally responsible for all the actions of their business. For a sole trader there is no distinction between the individual and the business. This means that the individual is personally responsible for their business losses and problems. For instance, if a sole proprietor borrows money from a bank and cannot repay their debt, they may risk losing personal possessions.

Which one of the following is not a common characteristic of a sole trader?

  1. Confident in making decisions 

  2. Has business and management skills. 

  3. Can manage their time effectively. 

  4. Reports directly to their manager. 


One of the main disadvantages of a sole trader is:

  1. It is very complicated to set up and register. 

  2. It can get quite lonely working on your own. 

  3. You have direct contact with clients, making it hard to keep up with all the communication. 

  4. You rely on your employees for a lot of different business procedures. 


Why would someone choose to operate as a sole trader rather than work for a company?

  • Flexible working hours.

  • Ability to make all decisions without having to report to a manager. 

  • Being 'your own boss'. 

  • Direct relation to the market and clients. 


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