The aim of business writing may vary depending on the assignment and can include the need to inform or persuade. Essays differ from business reports, which will have distinct sub-sections and sub-headings. Generally, essays do not require sub-headings, although you should note that some business schools require an essay/report hybrid where sub-headings may be necessary. However, in general a business essay is designed to enable you to present your knowledge of a particular area. At the same time, it is important to remember that developing effective business writing skills is essential for your future career.
Planning your essay
The first stage in planning your essay is to determine the audience, and the purpose of the essay. Essay titles may ask you to do any of the following:
- Analyse: This means you need to examine multiple elements that may be relevant to the topic and identify their relationship.
- Compare and Contrast: Explore and set down the differences and similarities between theories, events, frameworks, and interpretations.
- Critically Review: Develop a reasoned evaluation based on examination and analysis of positive and negative factors in a subject area.
- Define: Deliver an authoritative statement regarding a term or case.
- Discuss: Consider all points of view in a topic area and using your judgement and available evidence provide a clear and justifiable point of view.
- Evaluate: Examine all arguments in an area of interest and present a judgement.
Once you have identified the purpose of the essay you should then write down the main arguments you want to present, a list of counterarguments and your conclusion. You can then assign a rough word count to each point/section of your essay. Doing this ensures you have a clear framework to work from when writing up your essay.
Identify and evaluate the sources you will use, ensuring they are of trustworthy origin, credible and timely. It is vital that you correctly cite all sources in your work and list them according to your institution’s requirements at the end of your business essay.
Writing up your Business Essay
The introduction should be short (one paragraph) with an initial opening statement that tells the reader, via a clear and interesting statement why the question is being answered. This should be accompanied by placing the work in context, through an overview of the background. The remainder of the introduction should indicate the structure of the work and the key arguments that will be made, along with any limitations that you need to identify (time, scope, or context). The introduction should also include explanation of any industry terms or abbreviations that will be used during the essay.
The body text of your essay should be clearly separated into paragraphs (with sub-headings if the essay is a report/essay hybrid), which cover one point only. The structure of the paragraph should be to introduce the point you are making, followed by a justification and references for your argument. Any counterarguments, again with appropriate references should then be made before summing up the overall point. In terms of flow of the body text, your plan should provide the framework to ensure that this is logical and coherent. When discussing multiple works, it is good practice to make each point chronologically. If this is not feasible, then the structure should be to make arguments for the main points/themes identified in your plan before moving onto sub-themes. In all cases, the paragraphs should be linked with connectors such as “In addition”, “Moreover”, “In spite of this.” etc.
Your conclusion should be only one or two paragraphs as it is a summation of the information and arguments presented in the body text. It is good practice to refer back to the topic of the essay and any thesis statement made in the introduction and justify your final position on the arguments. A good conclusion will also highlight if further action is required, for example additional work in the area.
Note: For some business essays there is also a requirement to produce a “Synopsis”, “Abstract” or “Executive Summary”. This is written after the essay has been completed but goes before the introduction to give readers an overview of the main arguments presented. Although similar to the introduction, the aim of the synopsis is to present all the points and conclusions made by the essay.