Certificate in Small Business VBS017

Start A Business, Buy a Business or Improve an Existing Business


Course Structure and Content
The course consists of 6 modules:

  • Starting a Small Business 
  • Office practices
  • Bookkeeping Foundations
  • Marketing Psychology

plus two other modules chosen from:

  • E commerce
  • Internet Marketing
  • Project management
  • Entrepeneurship
  • Supervision
  • Advertising and Promotions
  • Sales Management


Core Module Descriptions

Starting a Small Business
This course takes you step by step through all the process of starting up a business to maximise your chances of success.  You learn how to start your own business, or you can choose to review the running of an established business. Your tutor will guide you through several stages which assess, analyze and improve operations in this "real life situation". There are twelve lessons as listed below:
1. Introduction to Small Business
2. The Business World
3. Your Alternatives different types of ventures
4. Marketing
5. Planning
6. Basic Bookkeeping
7. Sales Methods
8. Budgeting
9. Developing a 12 Month Business Plan
10. Implementing a Business Plan
11. Reviewing Progress in a New Business
12. Improving Profitability

Office Practices
This module will familiarize you with the nature and scope of equipment and procedures used in most modern offices, laying a solid foundation for improving your performance in any capacity - from office manager to trainee administration assistantThis course is comprised of eight lessons, outlined below:
1. The Modern Office
2. Communication Systems
3. Interpersonal Communications
4. Phone Skills
5. Writing Letters and Other Documents
6. Computer Applications
7. Office Organisation and Procedures
8. Health and Safety in the Office

Bookkeeping Foundations
Alone this module is sufficient training to be able to do the books for any small enterprise.
This is a basic bookkeeping course, suitable for either the beginner, or people with very sound, but basic knowledge. (ie. It doesn't turn you into an accountant!)  It does provide a very sound foundation, and does cover more than what is often covered in introductory courses at other colleges. The course consists of 13 lessons, and focus is mainly on small business, in particular service firms.  This subject has 13 lessons as follows:
1. Introduction – Nature, Scope and Function of Bookkeeping
2. Balance Sheet
3. Analysing and Designing Accounting Systems
4. The Double Entry Recording Process
5. Cash Receipts and Cash Payments Journal
6. Credit Fees and Purchases Journal
7. The General Journal
8. Closing the Ledger
9. Profit and Loss Statement
10. Depreciation on Non-current Assets
11. Profit Determination and Balance Day Adjustments
12. Cash Control: Bank Reconciliation and Petty Cash
13. Cash Control: Budgeting
Plus additional information on GST for Australian students. ACS is an "Accredited Training Centre" with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. Students completing this course are eligible to join this institute. See www.icb.org.au for more information about this institute.

Marketing Psychology
This course helps you understand the customer or client; and what makes them buy or not buy. It covers eight lessons as follows.

  1. People as Consumers
    Understanding the types of psychological “rewards” gained by a person through buying. Distinguishing between consumers, customers and buyers?
  2. Market Segmentation
    Understanding market segments and applying the concept of target marketing.
  3. Internal Influences –Perception & Personality
    Consumer self image, difference threshold, trait theory of personality, etc.
  4. Internal Influences –Motivation and Awareness
    Customer satisfaction, the way complaints are dealt with, stimulus generalisation and stimulus discrimination, etc
  5. Social Influences
    Family Influences, Social groups, Developmental Influences, Peer Group Influences (Work and Leisure), Social Class and Culture
  6. Consumerism
    Deceptive advertising, sensitivity to consumer needs, variation between perception and reality.
  7. Communication and Persuasion
    Message Evaluation, Selection & Execution
  8. Deciding to Buy
    Why people shop, or do not shop; surveying the market place.


Working in the World of Small Business

Most businesses are small businesses.
Though many small businesses fail, the chances of failure can be drastically reduced by careful planning and good management.
People commonly fail in a small business because they are pursuing a dream first, and a business second.
Making money always need to be the first goal of any business.
It’s nice to be your own boss, have flexible hours, and be doing something you like doing; but if these goals are achieved at the expense of making a profit, the business will not survive.

The message is simple: Don’t go into business unless you can keep a clear focus on profit as your first goal.

There are endless possibilities in small business, but that does not necessarily mean that every possibility will be profitable. First, you need to decide what you are going to sell.
Businesses either supply services or goods. Most focus mainly on one or the other. Many businesses are started because the founder has an interest in, or ability to supply a particular type of product or service.

Just because you like or know about a particular product or service does not necessarily mean it is a good idea to start up a business though. You will need to do careful market research and business planning before you get started to determine the viability of your business.

Whatever you offer in the market place, you will need customers, and an ability to convince people to trade with you rather than anyone else.

Businesses that succeed are often those that do things a little differently, or at a different time to everyone else.

In terms of remuneration, you can earn as much or as little as possible. The amount of money a successful business can earn can be infinite, however on the other hand it is also possible to earn no money, or even worse go into significant debt.

Risks and challenges
Maintaining cash flow, dealing with fluctuations in workloads, and getting away for a holiday, can all be a problem at times; but for many, these negatives are outweighed by the advantage of being your own boss.

Different industries bring with them unique risks. If the service you are providing is more dangerous, then liability for something going wrong can be a greater risk. If the work is time sensitive, you will have a greater risk if you fail to meet a timetable.

How to become a Small Business Owner
Every small business owner needs certain basic skills (for example financial management, marketing, time management, resource management, communications, computer skills, etc). Successful but often mediocre business operators may know how to do all of these things to an adequate level; but often do not excel in any. People who develop strengths that are exceptional in one area or another will have an advantage over their competition. You can increase your chances of having such an advantage by ensuring your education is NOT the same as everyone else’s.

If you do the same business certificate, diploma or degree as everyone else, you are more likely to have a similar mix of skills, and think in a similar way to everyone else.

If you choose different electives, or study a course which is not being taken by thousands of others, you are more likely to be capable of thinking in a different way, and finding niches to exploit in the business world which others are less able to exploit.



(The following is an extract from a book by our principal, John Mason. See his books at www.acsbookshop.com )

The first and most important question for any business is: “What are you going to sell?”

Answering this question should never be taken lightly; nor should the answer necessarily be based solely upon what seems “obvious”.

Passion is Not Enough by Itself
Many people go into business because they want to work with something they love doing. Perhaps you are passionate about sport; and that is making you think about setting up a sporting business; or maybe you love cooking, and that has led you to seriously think about setting up a catering business.

Having knowledge of and passion for something is certainly an advantage, but only if that thing is also a good business prospect.

Consider Your Options
You need to decide:
1. The scale of business you wish to start.
2. Whether you will offer services or products (or both).
3. The amount of resources you want to invest.
4. The amount of risk you wish to take.
5. The industry you will operate in.
6. Your target market.

If you have come up with a simple sentence or one word answer to these points, you probably (or almost definitely) haven’t thought about this enough. You need to think carefully about what you want to do. You might think, well, I work, so I’m going to start this business in my spare time and see how it goes. That may be great, but what about all the time you are spending doing this, think about other things you should be doing, costs you might incur by not doing them and so on. You really need to sit down and consider in detail what exactly you want to do before you start. Take a simple example; you decide to spend every Saturday working on your business. Because of this, you don’t have time to do decorating in your home, so you employ a decorator. This costs you £1000. Your business never takes off, you never make any money, but it has already effectively cost you £1000 as you had to pay the decorator for what you didn’t have time to do.

This may sound like a really silly example to you, but many people set off into business without REALLY considering the costs financially, physically and emotionally to themselves of doing so.

Before starting your business, think seriously about the costs of this for your:

  • Time
    o loss of time with family
    o loss of time to do other things
       -work wise
       - house maintenance
       - health
  • Financial implications
    o the actual cost of the business itself
    o costs incurred by the business for advertising
    o additional costs incurred because you are spending time on the business eg. decorating, house maintenance, childminders
  • Costs in terms of relationships
    o the effect of stress on your behaviour
    o less time to spend with family and friends

    Etc etc etc.

Before doing anything else, you need to sit down and really consider all the implications of what you intend to do. If you have a busy life now, how are you going to do this? We are not trying to say don’t set up your own business, just that you should be aware of what you are taking on. As we said above, passion is a good starting point, but it is not enough, the practicalities of starting a business also need to be considered.

So when you are ready and have thought more about what you want to do, also consider:

  • Things you are passionate about, have knowledge of, have experience with (either as an amateur or professional) and would be inclined to work with.
  • Resources you have at your disposal –time, money, expertise, physical facilities (equipment, property, buildings/rooms).

Scale of Business
Businesses that start slow and small, may never gain sufficient momentum to grow beyond anything small.

Businesses that start big can have greater potential to grow, and that growth is potentially faster.

If you start big, you risk losing more if a business fails; and you risk having a business that is moving faster than what you are able to keep up with.

If you start small and slow; you are more likely to notice problems that arise, and correct those problems before they threaten the viability of your business.

Some types of businesses are small, part time ventures, requiring little initial investment in time or money; but this type of business may never achieve the momentum to provide a significant income. A small scale business can generate extra income as a “side-line” to other work and that might be enough for what you want. With the growth of eBay, Amazon and other similar sites, many people have set up small businesses “on the side” eg. The architect who also runs his own business selling books on Amazon. Or the childminder who also runs a business selling children’s clothing on eBay and so on.

Some of these businesses who start small like this can grow into large businesses. The internet and magazines are full of people who started off small and their business took off. There are also obviously many many more who are not successful.

There may be less risk if you start slow and build a business gradually.

Tips for Getting a Job (or a promotion)

What Study Gets You a Job?

  • Put yourself in the employers shoes -they get dozens (sometimes hundreds) of people competing for the same job.Their choices are usually based upon lots of different things (Your studies are part of their consideration, but only part)
  • People who stand out from other applicants get the job; so you need to do things to make yourself stand out.
  • In the past, a qualification made you stand out, because few people had qualifications -but today, most people have qualifications (There are a lot of people with degrees, diplomas and certificates who are unemployed)

Why Study then, if Qualified People are Unemployed?

Having a qualification may be no guarantee for work; but what you learn from a good course does greatly increase your opportunities to be employed.

Getting the Qualification is not as important as Learning what Employers Seek

Employers today look for all of the following:

  • Ability to communicate verbally fast, clearly and effectively with co-workers and clients
  • Ability to write in a concise, clear and accurate fashion
  • Computer skills -not important everywhere; but IT skills are important in an increasing rabge of jobs
  • Capacity to solve problems; fast when needed, and systematically and in detail when required
  • Natural Efficiency -some people do things fast (naturally); others do things slow. Where an employer sees an indication of speed without compromising accuracy, the applicant can have an edge.
  • Awareness of "state of play" in the industry
  • Knowledge and skills that are pertinent to the job
  • A thirst for learning -demonstrated by networking within industry, volunteering to get experience, memberships to clubs, societies, associations; reading literature
  • Psychology and Personality -Employers are increasingly cautious about employing people who may not be a team player. Psychological profiling is used increasingly by employers to gain some insights into a person's profile.
  • Presentation and Grooming -people who present as being well organised and well groomed will impress

How then can Doing a Course help Get a Job?

  • Study can help a lot if it focuses on developing all of the things employers look for (the points above -and more)
  • Courses at ACS and with our affiliate colleges do this -but not all colleges or universities have trhe same focus today.

What Can You do to Improve Your Career Prospects?

  • Study a course for the right reasons and with the right attitude -Be open to learning, use the course to build a foundation, but understand that study is only the starting point, and that career success depends upon continuing your learning throughout your whole career, by reading, attending conferences, networking, being involved with colleagues, etc.
  • Study a course that makes you stand out -a qualification that is different to all the other applicants will always catch the attention of a boss, and may be the difference between getting an interview or not.
  • Build a mix of skills that is not the same as everyone else -if you study different modules at a different school, join different associations, volunteer for different organisations, network with different people -you will stand out from the crowd.
  • Make sure your C.V. is really good -get help if you need it (Tutors at this school will help our students with their C.V.'s if you ask -no cost. Resume Writing services can also be used, but they charge)
  • Recognise your weaknesses, and work on improving them -not just academically.


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Fee Information (CT)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $3,425.51  1 x $3,114.10
B 2 x $1,848.61  2 x $1,680.55
C 4 x $996.93  4 x $906.30

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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