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Business Studies

Lecturer: Mr J.A. Lang and others

No. of lectures: 12

Or ``How to Start and Run a Computer Company''

This course is a prerequisite for E-Commerce (Part II).


The aims of this course are to introduce students to all the things that go to making a successful project or product other than just the programming. The course will survey some of the issues that students are likely to encounter in the world of commerce and that need to be considered when setting up a new computer company. It will be illustrated with guest lectures and case studies from leading industrialists and former members of the Computer Laboratory who have started their own companies.


  • So you've got an idea? Introduction. Why are you doing it and what is it? Types of company. Market analysis. The business plan. Futures: some emerging ideas for new computer businesses.

  • Money and tools for its management. Introduction to accounting: profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, budgets. Sources of finance. Stocks and shares. Options and futures.

  • Setting up: legal aspects. Company formation. Brief introduction to business law; duties of directors. Shares, stock options, profit share schemes and the like. Intellectual Property Rights, patents, trademarks and copyright. Company culture and management theory.

  • People. Motivating factors. Groups and teams. Ego. Hiring and firing: employment law. Interviews. Meeting techniques.

  • Project planning and management. Role of a manager. PERT and GANTT charts, and critical path analysis. Estimation techniques. Monitoring.

  • Quality, maintenance and documentation. Development cycle. Productisation. Plan for quality. Plan for maintenance. Plan for documentation.

  • Marketing and selling. Sales and marketing are different. Marketing; channels; marketing communications. Stages in selling. Control and commissions.

  • Growth and exit routes. New markets: horizontal and vertical expansion. Problems of growth; second system effects. Management structures. Communication. Exit routes: acquisition, floatation, MBO or liquidation. Summary. Conclusion: now you do it!

In addition to the above, there will be four guest lecturers.


At the end of the course students should

  • be able to write and analyse a business plan

  • know how to construct PERT and GANTT diagrams and perform critical path analysis

  • appreciate the differences between profitability and cash flow, and have some notion of budget estimation

  • have an outline view of company formation, share structure, capital raising, growth and exit routes

  • have been introduced to concepts of team formation and management

  • know about quality documentation and productisation processes

  • understand the rudiments of marketing and the sales process

Recommended reading

Lang, J. (2001). The high-tech entrepreneur's handbook: how to start and run a high-tech company. FT.COM/Prentice Hall.
Brooks, F.P. (1975). The mythical man month. Addison-Wesley.
Townsend, R. (1971). Up the organization: how to stop the company stifling people and strangling profits. Hodder Fawcett (now out of print but try a library or

Additional reading:

Dyson, J.R. (1994). Accounting for non-accounting students. Pitman (3rd ed.).
Varian, H.R. (1999). Intermediate microeconomics: a modern approach. W.W. Norton (5th ed.).
Institute of Directors (1985). Guidelines for directors. London: Director Publications.
Weinberg, G.M. (1971). The psychology of computer programming. Van Nostrand.
Anon. (1985). The Cambridge phenomenon. Cambridge: Segal Quince and Partners.
Experience with Microsoft Project would be helpful.

next up previous contents
Next: Distributed Systems Up: Easter Term 2006: Part Previous: Advanced Graphics   Contents
Christine Northeast
Sun Sep 11 15:46:50 BST 2005