Business support represents a huge industry of services and jobs geared towards B2B (business to business) transactions and helping businesses move through their normal operations. Many businesses specialize in selling or providing services to other businesses, such as ad agencies, equipment sales, and more. Operational careers that help businesses run their day to day often don’t require a college degree. This includes roles like executive assistant, data entry, customer service, mailroom operations, and other miscellaneous office jobs.
Business support stands out because it gives people the opportunity to try out different jobs and explore different industries in an indirect, simple way. Companies are known to provide education, benefits, and training to employees who perform well, even at entry-levels. Receiving such training can lead to internal promotions. For example, UPS, Chipotle, and Starbucks all provide tuition reimbursement rewards to employees who work for a certain period of time. At UPS, employees who work in warehouse distribution have the opportunity to receive medical benefits, overtime, and often get promoted to drivers or administrative roles if they stand out.
The B2B side of business support can also offer lucrative salaries and positions. In large corporations, employees, salespeople, and other individuals are able to work with large amounts of money and product inaccessible to most people. Selling large equipment to a national-scale company, for example, can net salespeople a very large commission. Business support can be closely tied with the categories of sales and entrepreneurism.
If you like having a routine and following procedures, some of these operational business support roles will be a breeze. Many of these roles may require extensive amounts of time sitting at a desk, working on a computer, or taking phone calls. Others may involve simple sorting and distributing tasks. People who need variation in their jobs will probably get frustrated and tire easily. However, setting goals to achieve promotions for more challenging jobs in the company can keep people focused. Other careers, such as executive assistants or jobs navigating interactions with multiple departments will bring in much more variety.
If you’re interested in a career from a specific industry, choosing to work a business support position at companies within that industry can bring you the necessary experience and knowledge you’ll need later on. Employers always prefer workers who are motivated to learn, and acquiring jobs is much easier when you have a network to draw from. Find out what you’re interested in and do some basic research on the different levels in the industry. What do manufacturers and distributors do? What does the consumer-facing side do? Taking on jobs at any level in the industry may lead to different jobs at other levels.
Because business support jobs are usually stepping stones to better careers, make sure you understand the company you work for in case you receive a promotion later on. If you take an entry-level position at a company you hate, you will only encounter frustration when your main opportunities for moving your career forward are at the same company. Find a company that you like, a culture that feels good to you, a place where you’d like to grow, and a supervisor who you can respect.
Large-scale corporations have more opportunities, more infrastructure, and more upward mobility to offer their employees. There’s a more structured path to success because all of the paths have already been paved for you. For example, at UPS a common career path is to start by sorting packages at a warehouse. Then, workers may move from package sorting to managing a line, to overseeing a warehouse or becoming a driver, and so on. However, working at a large company can sometimes be a detriment when they have stricter barriers and degree restrictions for the higher-level jobs than small, family-owned businesses do.
In small businesses, employees can enjoy the more intimate feeling, the businesses’ willingness to promote, and the opportunity to take on more roles within the company. Depending on what stage the company is in, partnering with a company early on can be very beneficial. Higher-ups of companies who get sold or taken public tend to make a lot of money off of stock options or certain contracts. However, these companies can be unstable, limited in inside opportunities, and don’t usually offer the standard benefits larger companies have. Many people who work in young, smaller companies often enjoy being part of a smaller team, having more influence in the business, and watching the fruits of their labor grow the company.