Now a days, business is viewed more as a profession or occupation. From the days of family owned business, we have reached a stage of professionals and experts starting and running business. It could also be noted that business administration and business management have emerged as the most prospective field of study and occupation. Persons with educational background in business, enter business or join business organizations to make them successfully function. Unlike the olden days, a number of interests are involved in business today, viz. owners, investors in business, suppliers, customers, employees, government, stake holders, administrators, managers, strategists, executives, and so many others. Hence, every business activity has to meet the goals or aims or objectives of these various groups of people. That in fact, has made business a most complicated activity.
Modern business has a number of features. Understanding of these would help to appreciate and organize business activities in a highly professional way.
1. Business is an Economic Activity
Business involves organizing activities to satisfy human plants. These activities may result in the manufacture or production of a commodity or extension of a service. When a good or service is produced, resources are involved. Resources like human resources, physical resources and financial resources are all required to realize output to meet human needs. These resources are limited in supply, and so business involves identification of resources, evaluation of resource qualities, buying these resources and utilizing these resources. These resources being scarce in relation to their demand, the resources carry some value [i.e., price]. They cannot be procured at any cost to produce anything to meet human wants. So automatically selection among various resources come up which is made on the basis of requirement and cost. Once they are procured, then they are used in a very judicious manner so that there is no waste. That is optimal utilization-of resources is to be achieved. In this context, several decisions like resource selection, resource procurement, resource mix, resource utilization, etc. are all involved. As in all these stages, choice among alternatives is involved, every business activity is to be treated as economic in nature. Depending upon the business activity, the approach to selection among alternatives would differ. For example, in a manufacturing business, the choice is about input selection to supply quality output, in a service organization the choice is about-inputs and delivery process, in a government organization it is about production and equitable distribution of output, in an institution like bank, provision of various investment opportunities of short term and long term to the public, etc.
2. A Business Organization is an Economic Unit
Every business organization is engaged in transforming inputs into output to meet the requirements of the people. The selection of input and size of procurement will depend upon, the size of the organization. This would also depend upon the nature or product or service extended/by the business unit. All these are attended with the objective of making profit or surplus. Only when there is surplus achieved, can the business units grow. Hence creation of surplus in a business becomes the focal point and this is best achieved through optimal utilization of resources. That way, all business units have to achieve the maximum output with minimum inputs which in other words is the effort to achieve economic efficiency. Only economic efficiency can enable firms to be efficient in every other sense. Therefore, business organizations are only economic units in nature.
3. Business Decisions Making is essentially an Economic Process
All business decisions involve selection from alternatives. In other words, the rational choice of inputs is implied in every business decision. Hence, to be rational, a business unit goes through the process of : determining objectives, identifying opportunities, generating alternatives, classifying these alternatives as feasible and in-feasible alternatives, then rank the feasible alternatives on some criteria and then select those alternatives fulfilling the constraints. For example, if the objective of a business unit is to maximize profits, then this would call for minimizing cost and maximizing revenue. On the cost side, the business unit have to identify, procure and utilize resources in the optimal way and on the revenue side, the business unit should determine the price which would facilitate maximization of revenue. Price determination again would depend on various factors like demand, supply, competitive scenario, government interference, statutory compulsions, conflicting interests of the stake holders of the business, etc. Therefore, every decision made in a business would automatically depend on the economic process.
Changing Concept of Business
It has been stated already that the concept of business has undergone a vast change. From a producer driven stage business has become consumer centered and driven stage. While the earliest concept was ‘sell what is produced’ and the modern concept is ‘produce what is wanted.’ So every business depends on consumers and their ever changing needs. Any business unit which has successfully understood its customers and offer the product or service meeting their requirements alone is successful. But in this process, business units have to manage pressures from its owners and other stake holders. It should take into account the requirements of the workers and the trade unions. It should abide by the rules and regulations of a number of government agencies and institutions. It should meet the challenges and threats from competitors. Most important, it has to fulfill its social obligations. To survive every business unit has to also consider: the revolutionary changes in technology, market expansion, information explosion, competitor strategies. These are days when the consumers are better informed and so no business unit can afford to ignore consumer awareness and preferences. Technological development has brought with it the compulsion to use modern methods and techniques. Social obligations have made business units to meet pollution norms, etc. Trade union pressures have made them to design satisfactory service conditions for the work force. Then there is compulsion to provide for development of human resources in the organization to achieve organizational development. All these have made modern business ‘tight rope walking.’