If you're about to sit your GCSEs in a few months, we wish you all the best. Hopefully, you've studied well and are thoroughly ready for your ordeal. If you're not, you still have time to engage a Superprof tutor to make sure you will face your exams with complete confidence.

If you're only just selecting your GCSE subjects, you surely have a lot of questions. One of them might be 'What are the easiest GCSE subjects?'. That is no joke; a quick look at Student Room threads reveals that many students are hoping for an easy pass or two.

That's actually a good strategy: select some 'difficult' subjects and balance them out with 'easier' ones like Phys Ed and Citizenship. It begs the question, though: isn't every subject easy if you know what to expect and prepare well?

Helping you get familiar with what to expect in this course and on your exam is one reason why your Superprof lays out exactly what to expect from the Business Studies curriculum. Another is to help you make your GCSE choices, feeling confident that you've chosen the ones that will yield the most benefit for your future.

So let's talk business, shall we? Specifically, what the syllabus covers and how much of each facet of business knowledge you will gain in the course of your studies.

A Brief Introduction to the Business Curriculum

A surprising number of people your age consider a career in business a good choice. Whether their opinions are influenced by their parents' views or through the images of rich, high-power CEOs on the telly is anyone's guess.

Who doesn't want to drive a nice car, wear smart clothes and move in the highest social circles?

You too could become a high-powered CEO
Only time will tell if your education and qualifications will turn you into a high-power CEO Photo credit: Schill on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

What are your chances of making it into that set if you sit Business Studies GCSEs? About the same as everyone else's, whether they've sat that exam or not. You only need to think about social media influencers and YouTube stars to see that studying business doesn't guarantee you will become either high-powered or rich.

On the other hand, it will guarantee you marketable skills that are suitable to a range of career fields from accounting to public relations. That, in turn, suggests that, even though you learned about the many facets of business, you don't actually have to go into business.

You might think of the GCSE Business Studies curriculum as an expanded 'How to' manual on being a productive contributor to society.

The curriculum covers dealing with money and transactions, interacting with people in various capacities and how to get things done. It included life skills subjects like maths and English, as well as communications, critical thinking and problem-solving.

It's nowhere near as intensive as the A-Levels Business curriculum.

The Financial Aspect

Money makes the world go 'round. - Cabaret

The song lyric from the musical Cabaret represents a classic case of life imitating art. When that musical premiered in 1966, scions of the financial realm were quick to pounce on it and make it their own. Soon, it became the global business creed and, still today, the topic of money - or the lack thereof weaves its way through pop culture.

Needless to say, it remains foremost on any business agenda, too. Commerce and transactions generally do not happen out of the goodness of people's hearts; money is at the root of everything. So what can you expect to learn about the world of finance in Business Studies?

First, you will need to understand the role that finance plays in business. A business is considered viable if it has lots of cash or, at least, ready access to lots of it through shareholders, not because it is a good idea with a potential to make money somewhere down the line.

Money for business can come from many pockets: the government, shareholders, investors and loans from banks. The Business Studies curriculum helps you understand why some sources of financing are better while others pose a greater risk. You will also see how business activity is influenced by financial matters.

A business' financial health depends on a lot of factors, including global financial markets, what the company makes/does, and the decisions its leaders make.

Those decisions, in turn, are influenced by the business' financial performance. Therefore, you will have to understand the difference between profits and cash on hand, profit and loss and the costs associated with running a business.

One of the biggest mistakes of running a business is short-changing the Research and Development department. For a long time, many companies thought their R&D departments were less important than other, more high-profile ones so they reduced how much money that department could spend.

As we're seeing now, during the COVID crisis, such poor financial decisions have come back to haunt those businesses.

It might look less costly to run a hotel but small costs make for a big price tag
Owning a hotel means a lot of small expenses that quickly add up while running a factory means expenses may be fewer but much higher. Source; Visualhunt

Operational Factors

Clearly, the financial aspects of business impact operations. If the business has no money - nor any access to funds, it cannot operate, right? However, there is so much more to business operations than money.

First, you have to consider that operational factors vary wildly depending on the type of business. Service sector businesses - hotels, restaurants and shops have vastly different factors to consider than do the manufacturing, educational and financial sectors.

how do production processes impact the various types of businesses? Here again, we can thank the coronavirus for laying bare a fundamental flaw in the food industry.

Many food manufacturers geared a part of their production to restaurants, namely with bulk packaging and wholesale pricing. As the lockdowns dragged on, they found it harder and harder to unload their warehoused stock because restaurants were/are closed. Meanwhile, retail food shops shelves display gaping holes where tins of food should be...

Our recent Brexit has made that situation worse.

The Human Perspective

Paying employees a living wage is an operational cost. Treating them well is essential to keeping staff motivated and on the payroll.

Every time a business hires and trains a new employee, they're making an investment in their company and in that person. It therefore stands to reason that doing what's necessary to keep that employee on the payroll - to not let them take that training and experience to another company, is vital.

In Business Studies' Human Resources segment, you will learn how businesses recruit people, the reasons why companies maintain a hierarchical structure and why effective communication is so important.

Not so long ago, the standard business model entailed the business essentially functioning as a 'lord and master' proposition. Everything flowed from the top down and little to no input was solicited or accepted from employees at all levels. Workers were expected to be loyal with no expectation of loyalty in return.

For about 10 years - at the height of that particular executive mindset, a substantial number of businesses suffered through high employee turnover rates. Finally, someone figured out that the secret to a thriving business is engaged, productive employees. People who feel valued are more apt to work harder for a company that sees them as people, not an entry on their expense report.

In that sense, those television images of arrogant, high-powered CEOs in their fine clothing is inaccurate... as you'll see in our guide to studying Business Studies.

Learning about business could lead you to start your own
Sitting GCSE Business Studies could lead you to start your own business. Source: Visualhunt

What a Business Studies GCSE Could Lead To

Money, people and how businesses operate are only the cornerstones of the GCSE Business Studies syllabus, not its sum total.

Plenty of other factors go into making a business successful, including:

  • Types of businesses: start-ups, ownerships, limited liability corporations, incorporations and so on
  • Marketing: how will the public, investors and customers know about your business/products?
  • Enterprise: how to encourage initiative and resourcefulness to grow and evolve your business
  • Location: access to markets, materials and an abundant labour force
  • Competition - for resources and staff, and with other businesses delivering similar products/services
  • Zoning: your business may be restricted to a city district or outside of city limits
  • Environment: you may have to consider issues such as green energy, pollution and waste
  • Factors that influence business: technology, economy and politics.

As you can see by this list of topics broached in this curriculum, Business Studies is a far-reaching topic that could take you just about anywhere, career-wise.

Besides these and other business-related concepts, this course of study will give you the chance to hone your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, guide you to effective decision-making and teach you how to give rationales for those decisions.

You will learn to scan data with a critical eye, look for patterns and analyse your findings. You will see how to investigate new business opportunities - say, as an entrepreneur, and how to grow an existing business.

The word 'business' features a lot in this summary but the skills listed are transferable to virtually any career you may later be interested in.

For all the versatility they contain, selecting Business Studies as one of your GCSE courses is probably one of the best decisions you could make. It will probably make your parents happy, too.

Now, discover where you can find a Business Studies tutor...

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.