SBM Workshop 1: Small Business - Characteristics and Life-cycle


In the first workshop we examine the nature of the small business sector and its importance to the national economy. Just what is a small business, and the way that government policy is shaped to address the needs of small firms are also reviewed. Other important issues covered in this workshop are the differences between the management of small businesses and the management of large firms, plus the distinctions between small business owner-managers and entrepreneurs.

During the workshop we will also review the Small Business Diagnostic assessment of a small firm. This will examine how the business is being managed, identify areas for potential improvement, and assess the "strategic intent" of the owner-manager in relation to where they see their business heading. 

The workshop will also overview the life-cycle of small firms. This will review their ability to survive their first few years of existence, and the key factors that impact their survival rates. The workshop will then move onto an examination of the process of planning and strategy in the small firm, and relate these principles to a small business project. 

Small group activities will focus on the application of concepts and theories to a small business project using Action Learning Tasks (ALT). In this workshop, the first task, ALT 1 Business planning and strategy will be commenced.


Mazzarol, T. and Reboud, S. (2017), Small Business Management: 3rd edn, Tilde University Press, Melbourne. ISBN: 978-0-7346-1224-3. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Mazzarol, T. and Reboud, S. (2017), Small Business Management: Workbook, Tilde University Press, ISBN: 978-0-7346-1226-7.

Lecture notes

Action Learning Tasks

Action Learning Tasks (ALTs) are designed to embed learning into practice and build on the existing knowledge and skills of those undertaking the program. As shown in the diagram below, there is an overlap between the 12 assessment areas within the Small Business Diagnostic and the 8 ALTs. It is therefore important that whenever ALTs are being undertaken, reference is made to the relevant areas of activity examined within the Small Business Diagnostic.

Action Learning Task 1: Business Planning & Strategy

This Action Learning Task (ALT) focuses on the development of a clear strategic direction for the business, the design of an efficient management system, and the Formulation of a business plan able to guide the implementation of the firm's strategy. In undertaking this ALT, you should refer to the relevant textbook chapters, review the relevant lecture topics and associated readings, and address the task through with use of the documents listed below: