In your academic life you will find yourself required to support the knowledge from your notes with practical examples in assignments and even in the exam.
As for the assignment scenario, you might have time to google and research the examples but even under those circumstances, most people do not even know where and how to look for the information.
The situation is even worse in an exam period where you have to provide these real-world examples in a short period of time to score high marks.
If you are studying towards an honors degree, you will also be required to produce a dissertation in which you will need to investigate a real-world problem and provide practicable solutions.
Job interviews also now use psychometric tests where you are assessed on how you would act in a particular situation and your business knowledge is also tested.
All these scenario point to one thing: Commercial and Business Awareness.
In summary, commercial acumen is about knowledge of what is happening in the business industry in terms of core values, biggest competitors, current challenges, key stakeholders etc.
According to ACCAs Ethics and Professionalism Module it is worth asking yourself the following questions to assess how much commercial awareness and business acumen you possess:
- What have you done recently to develop your commercial awareness?
- Which business or financial newspapers do you read? What was today’s main headline in them?
- What is a Stock Exchange? Is the index of share prices in your country up or down?
- What does that mean for the economy?
- Are oil/gold prices rising or falling at the moment and what does that mean for businesses?
- How do economic events such as a rise in interest rates or a shortage in skilled labour affect businesses?
- What are the biggest issues facing the business world today? Why?
- Are you able to explain what price elasticity of demand is? Why is it important in business?
- If you had £1 million to invest, what would you do with the money?
- Are there any individuals in the business world that you particularly admire or any that you completely distrust?
- Who are the main stakeholders in the organisation in which you work and which of these do you think is most important to keep satisfied?
If you do not know answers to the above questions then you need to take steps in improving your commercial awareness if you are serious of becoming a business leader one day.
So how do you improve your commercial and business acumen?
- You must regularly visit websites of companies that are of interest of you or companies that topics of the period and try to understand how they are making money, how much are they making, what are their challenges and also review the same for their competitors.
- Get smart with your smartphone. Read the business and professional press, nowadays you can freely read news on google news, flipboard etc and there are other mobile applications that work offline such as ACCA insights or Student Accountant.
- Watch TV and listen to the radio with particular interest to business and not just dramas, soapies and politics. If you are reading politics try to think how this will affect businesses
- Subscribe to YouTube channels for your favourite professional bodies and also join at least one WhatsApp group that talks of business and finance.
- Use social media wisely, make sure that you also have a LinkedIn profile and you follow influential people and business news.
As a conclusion, you must build your commercial knowledge over time, do not wait for the day of the interview, assignment, dissertation or exam. Make it a habit of reading at least 1 business article per day, just one and you will see the difference over time.