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Business Managers Keep Companies Moving

Sometimes a job description doesn't fully describe a certain job or career's day-to-day duties. That's the case for business managers, for whom no two days are the same. The position also may vary depending on the size and needs of a company.

Business managers are often the glue that holds the financial threads of a company together. Among their many duties are accounting, financial analysis and invoicing.

"A successful business manager has broad knowledge of the entire organization and its interaction with external entities," says Tassie Medlin, a business manager and owner with Solvari LLC of Mill Creek, Washington. "It is necessary to be organized, efficient and detail-oriented, yet able to see the organizational impact of changes, and [be] excellent at communicating with everyone from customers to employees and business owners."

A Multifaceted Job

In addition to their finance/accounting duties, many business managers deal with issues related to human resources, IT, staff management, meeting planning, customer service and equipment management, says Jo Nelson, who has more than 18 years of experience as a business manager in the publishing and restaurant industries. She says business managers must deal with recurring weekly and monthly duties, rather than regular day-to-day tasks.

"For instance, each Friday, set up a system backup to run over the weekend," Nelson says. "On the first and third week of the month, prepare payroll for the staff. Around the 15th, look at the budget for the month, are you achieving it, and report that to the executive team."

Nelson says the ability to work together with department leaders is key. For example, a business manager may be working on month-end accounting and needs to get the numbers from other departments, of which he isn't in charge. He will therefore need to work with people who may not report to him.

Tips for Success

Both Medlin and Nelson recommend would-be business managers have a bachelor's degree, with an emphasis in business. It's also important to keep up-to-date on the latest technology and software programs and to understand accounting and how businesses operate.

Successful business managers have strong communication and organizational skills and are adept at researching, analyzing, advising and implementing new business systems and processes, Medlin says. He offers these tips to prospective business managers:

  • Never be afraid to ask about what's going on in the company.
  • Listen carefully. Often, the information most needed can be found in unusual places, from people you might not expect to have it or can be gleaned by reading between the lines.
  • Double-check your facts, numbers and, especially, your assumptions. You will be relied on as a source of quality knowledge about the organization, its processes and its people.
  • Be patient, flexible and responsive. Your primary role is to help the business and its people to be more successful by providing information, support and training.
  • Try not to be surprised when you encounter resistance to change. Organizations and people become used to the way things have always been done and often feel that they don't have the time, knowledge or desire to even consider doing things differently. Also bear in mind that sometimes the tried-and-true method is in fact the best way.

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