How to write a Business Essay

The complete guide to writing a 2:1 standard university essay

Whether you’re writing an essay for Marketing, Management, Finance or any other business topic, following certain guidelines can help you develop a piece of work that is well structured, insightful and compelling. The most important considerations for business essays are that it presents relevant content and its arguments are supported by qualified references or examples. Other critical factors include layout, presentation and use of appropriate language.

Breaking up the essay writing process into stages makes it less painful and ensures that you cover the task from all angles.

Before you Start Writing
1. Analyse the essay question
Identify exactly what the essay question/title is asking you to address. Examine the precise wording to work out the approach you’ll need to take. Key words which appear frequently in business essay questions include ‘analyse’, ‘discuss’, ‘illustrate’, ‘compare’, ‘describe’, ‘criticise’, ‘interpret’, ‘review’, ‘examine’ or ‘explain’. A question such as ‘examine how the use of the Internet might impact on the Marketing Mix of an organisation’ would involve an in depth presentation of the issue and an investigation of its implications. To ‘discuss’ a topic implies that you’ll need to review key arguments and give reasons for and against each one.

If you are composing your own essay question, select a topic that interests you as this will make the essay writing process more enjoyable. Then narrow it down so that only one central idea or point is discussed in relation to that topic.

2. Research the material for your business essay
Good research is imperative in composing an excellent essay paper. Whether you search for material at the library or using the internet, always select information from reputable academic sources. These sources can include articles or case studies from official journals such as the Journal of Marketing, or books by noted scholars, researchers or professionals on your subject matter. Academic websites such as http://scholar.google.com, http://emeraldinsight.com and http://questia.com provide an abundance of resources for a range of business topics. For some topics such as Market Research, you can broaden this stage to include your own primary research. Surveys and interviews are excellent methods for obtaining content that is directly applicable to your essay question.

Read and make notes from the sources you’ve collected, organising it into an outline so that you can keep track of specific points. As you go along, remember to record the details of your sources of information (e.g. title, author, publisher, date and place of publication, page numbers) so that you can give credit to them if you use them in your essay.

3. Make an outline plan for your business essay
Constructing an outline plan for your essay will assist you in organising your main arguments and ideas so that they’ll be presented in a logical sequence when you come to write the essay. Jot down the key points you want to include in your introduction, main body and conclusion. This process will also spark off ideas and help you to digest and analyse the information you’ve gathered.

Writing your Business Essay
Compose a first draft of your essay according to the structure of your outline plan. Try to use clear, precise language and constructive business terminology to put your points across, but on every account avoid the use of jargon. The following essay format is recommended to present your work logically. It’s not necessary to include all components, only those that add value to the paper.

  • Introduction – Outline your understanding of the essay question and comment on how you’re going to address it. Ensure that you define the objectives of the essay clearly as they determine the scope of your essay, setting out exactly what you are reaching a conclusion for. You may want to include definitions of certain business terms here for the understanding of the reader.
  • Background - Provide some ground theory on the general topic or on the organisation to be discussed if you are working on a case study.
  • Findings - Referring to the sources you’ve collected; perform a detailed analysis of the topic at hand. Ensure that you critically examine viewpoints from different authors to provide a rational debate and cover reasons for and against the presented argument. Explore similarities and conflicting approaches and demonstrate independence of thought by giving your own opinion. Sequence your ideas correctly and link paragraphs so that the information presented flows seamlessly from one idea to another. Remember to reference your citations throughout this section according to the referencing method recommended in your University guidelines e.g. Harvard or footnotes. Use quotation marks to indicate an exact phrase taken from a source. If you paraphrase, supply the reference at the end of the paraphrased sentence/s. The number of references to use will depend on the length and nature of your essay although using ten references for every 1,000 words is an effective rule.
  • Conclusion– You should arrive at your final conclusion by logical reasoning, concisely pulling together the discussions undertaken in the main body of the essay. Explicitly state your viewpoint as the final result, ensuring that you answer the question posed in the introduction as fully as possible. This final section should also be taken as an opportunity to express any recommendations for further investigation or future action.
  • Bibliography/List of References– If you’ve used the Harvard method for referencing, display a list of all the references used in your essay in alphabetical order. If you’ve used footnotes on each page, simply include a bibliography here instead.
  • Appendices– This section consists of any supportive material (graphs, charts or written text) that is too large to include in the main body as it would hinder the flow of the essay.

Editing and Proofreading your Business Essay
Print out a copy of your first draft and read it through. Use a checklist to help you mark up any grammatical and stylistic errors, weak arguments and improvement areas. An example checklist could include the following questions:

    • Have you answered the essay question?
    • Is your material presented in a logical order?
    • Is the content accurate and relevant?
    • Have you supported your main points with arguments and examples?
    • Have you referenced all your sources?
    • Is the language clear and precise?
    • Is the spelling and punctuation up to standard?

Amend the parts of the essay that you’re not happy with and correct any punctuation and spelling errors. Continue to proofread and edit your essay until you feel that you can no longer add value to it. The essay is then complete.