Advanced Certificate in Business Studies

Prepare for a career in business, small or large, as an entrepreneur, business owner or manager. A fast track qualification giving a good foundation for a professional career in business.

Course Code: VBS041
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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A Broad-based Business Foundation

This course is provides a broad range of business studies designed to appeal to a wide spectrum of people with diverse business interests.

You get to study core subjects needed for a strong foundation plus you can choose electives to suit your specific goals and learning needs. 

Be a Professional Businessman or Businesswoman

Prepare for a career in Business, small or large, as an entrepreneur, business owner or manager.

  • Improve your chances of success in the world of business

  • Explore opportunities, build your knowledge and business networks and learn to better manage risk.

Study Anywhere, Any Time - This course offers ultimate flexibility!

This course would be close to two years of full time study at most colleges; however, under our system you may fast track it or take it slow. Some may complete it in one year, while others may take many years to finish the course.

To give yourself the best chance of success in this industry, a substantial course (around 1500 hrs or more) together with experience, is what is needed.



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Business Studies.
 Bookkeeping Foundations (Bookkeeping I) BBS103
 Business Studies BBS101
 Marketing Foundations VBS109
 Entrepreneurship BBS204
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 5 of the following 42 modules.
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Alternative Energy VSS102
 E Commerce BIT100
 Financial (Money) Management BBS104
 Food & Beverage Management BTR102
 Freelance Writing BWR102
 Industrial Psychology BPS103
 Leadership BBS110
 Legal Terminology BWR108
 Marketing Psychology BPS107
 Motivation VBS111
 Pet Care AAG100
 Sales Management BBS102
 Sales Skills VBS108
 Starting A Small Business VBS101
 Supervision VBS104
 Tourism 1 BTR103
 Wedding Planning BTR104
 Advertising and Promotions BBS202
 Bed & Breakfast Management BTR203
 Bookkeeping Applications (Bookkeeping II) BBS203
 Conflict Management BPS201
 Ethics BPS217
 Event Management BRE209
 Garden Centre Management BHT255
 Healthy Buildings I (Building Construction & Health) BSS200
 Hotel Management BTR202
 Internet Marketing BIT204
 Logistics BBS212
 Managing Change BBS211
 Managing Innovation BBS209
 Operations Management VBS201
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Project Management BBS201
 Wedding Photography BPH206
 Wholesale Nursery Management BHT212
 Business Coaching BBS304
 Business Planning BBS302
 Environmental Assessment BEN301
 Marketing Systems BBS303
 Professional Practice For Consultants BBS301
 Weight Loss Consultant BRE307

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Business Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


- From our Principal John Mason

 Get your Timing Right
The best business ideas are very often unsuccessful, because although they may be a great idea, they are launched at the wrong time.

If the mini skirt or rock music were launched in Victorian England, it would almost certainly have failed; but in the 1960’s these ideas took the world by storm.

Case Study:
“In the early 1980’s, when videos were first introduced; I gathered together a large collection of educational videos to loan to students.  It seemed a good idea at the time; but no one borrowed them.   By the 1990’s though, these videos were getting borrowed and used a lot. The internet had not delivered anything like You Tube yet, but many people had video players and were predisposed to watching educational videos.

Ten years later, people stopped borrowing videos, as access to educational video via the internet and cable TV expanded rapidly. Similarly, video stores in shopping centres did a thriving business through the 90’s, but the profitability of such businesses declined in more recent times.” - John Mason, Principal ACS Distance Education.


These observations graphically illustrate the importance of timing. Opportunities for video hire businesses were strong for a decade, or perhaps two; but before and after that window of time, this otherwise good idea had the potential to bankrupt businesses.

The first business to do something new will often be unsuccessful, but the next may learn from the mistakes of the first; and with little competition, can be far more successful than those that follow, and those that went before.

If something doesn’t work, do not persist in throwing good money after bad.

This may sound obvious, but: offer what people want to buy NOT what you want to sell.  You may have a great idea for a product that no one wants to buy.  What if you can change that product slightly? Or, try to offer that product as part of a range of other products? Try to avoid focusing on just one product.  If you are going to sell a nightlight for children that has dinosaurs on it, then you restrict your market. The light is probably only going to be purchased for young children and probably only children who like dinosaurs.  If you add other designs to the nightlights, like stars, princesses, knights, fairies, teddies etc., you have the same basic product, but you have opened up your market to other potential customers, not just the ones who like dinosaurs.

Knitting was something that fell out of fashion.  More recently, however, it has come back into fashion again.  Many people are knitting their own products, selling hand knitted jumpers, scarfs and so on.  If the firms that sold the knitting patterns in the 1950’s had seen this resurgence in an interest in knitting, and re-released their old knitting patterns, they may not have done so well. They had an existing product, but it probably was not right for the modern market. Instead they released new patterns, new wools and so on, that were more what today’s knitters wanted. 

So again, it is not what you want to sell or have available to sell, but what people want to buy.

Now, that’s all very nice, but what if you have a lot of a product that is not really selling, but you want to get rid of it.  This is where ‘Special Offers’ and ‘Re-marketing’ can come into play. 

We have all seen special offers on products. Buy one get one free. Buy one get one half price. Three for the price of two and so on. You might think this can be a good way to get rid of products, but if you do a special offer, you are potentially losing money. You want to make profit on anything you sell. But if you have 10,000 bottles of shampoo clogging up your storages facilities that don’t sell, it could mean you have to pay for more storage or can’t buy new products that may sell as you have nowhere to store them, so you are also affecting your future profitability. So, it may be more beneficial for your profit as a whole to sell the bottles of shampoo on a two for one offer and free up space for different products, than to not sell them at all.

Customers are also more likely to buy a product if they think they are getting a special deal or getting it cheaper than they would otherwise.

Think about chocolate Easter eggs. After Easter, no one wants to buy them, so you often see shops offering them cheaper to get rid of them.  They are a perishable good, so only have a short shelf life, so the business will want to sell them quickly. 

You sometimes see shops selling groceries very cheaply on the last day of their shelf life. Sandwiches, fresh meats and other goods can be purchased cheaply on those days.  A local pizza shop sells fresh pizzas for 1p at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, enabling them to get rid of that stock by 5pm. Otherwise they would simply have to throw it away. By offering the pizza for 1p, they have not made any profit, but what if the customer also buys some garlic bread to go with their pizza, a side salad, a bottle of wine, maybe a dessert for after, they may actually have made up the profit they have lost on the pizza. 

Remaindered books are other products that have not sold. A publisher may do a print run of 1000 books and find that only 500 sell. The remaining 500 books may be ‘remaindered’ when the book goes out of print. These may be sold off cheaply via cheaper bookstores or book clubs and so on. It is a way to make some money on the books, maybe not as much as originally hoped for, but it does ensure that a firm still has some income coming in.

Remarketing is when a product is advertised or marketed in a different way to attract customers. Vintage clothing is an area where this may happen. Clothes from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s may once have been thought unfashionable. Now with the label of “vintage clothing”, products that were once unfashionable have had a resurgence. Vintage clothing firms have been successfully set up, selling clothes they have purchased from charity shops, jumble stalls and so on, that they then on-sell more expensively as “vintage clothing”. 

Discount vouchers are another way to attract customers. Restaurants may offer money off vouchers or free starters or a free bottle of wine and so on, as a way to encourage custom.  There are a wide range of websites now where discount vouchers and coupons can be printed and then used in a wide range of businesses and services. Discount vouchers can be a way to encourage customers who would not previously have used your business. 

Free delivery on a product may make your product cheaper overall than someone else who charges for delivery.

Manage the Money
Don’t over extend finances. Only do what you can afford, and always keep some money in reserve.

Businesses should be tailored to the financial capacity of the owner. Many owners make a fatal mistake of leaving no margin for error in their planning. You should always hold something in reserve; if not cash, at least the ability to borrow against some tangible resource (e.g. a house). 

It is one thing to develop a business plan that requires $100,000 to get started, based on a projection that you will be generating a sustainable income before the $100,000 runs out. In reality though, many businesses encounter unexpected expenses, or delays in start up; and would be far better to be developing a business plan that requires $70,000 to get started, with an expectation of the business generating a sustainable income before the $70,000 runs out (and keeping $30,000 in the bank on fixed deposit as a contingency fund for use in only the most extreme situation).

Keep the Cash Flowing
We have just talked about discount vouchers and special offers. These can mean that your profit is reduced, but it can also mean that cash continues to come into the company. Sometimes you may have to cut your losses. If you can sell your 10,000 bottles of shampoo and only make a penny profit on each one, you have still made some profit.  If they sit in your storage facility, you make nothing.  Sometimes you may have to reduce prices to sell products. Sometimes you may have to cut the price of the service you offer.
Say you are a business consultant who usually charges a large fee per day to advise clients. If the economic climate is bad and businesses cannot afford your services, it may be that you have to reduce your fee or perhaps offer shorter sessions. Instead of a large fee for one day of your services, you could charge for half days or hourly rates and so on. This may not be ideal for you, but it is better to get paid for one hours work a day than nothing at all.

In the long run, or even in the short term, any business has to make money to stay afloat. Keeping money flowing in the short term can help a business survive until things improve. Also, you should see it potentially as an investment. That person who has come to you and bought the cheap shampoo may come to you again.  That person who you offer an hour’s consultancy to may become a successful business person themselves and recommend you to other businesses or use your services more in the future.

Make sure you also price products suitably.  Profit is not just the gap between the cost of the product and how much you sell it for. There are also other costs that you need to take into account – staffing costs, delivery costs, storage costs, transport costs, accountancy costs, tax and so on. They should all be figured into the amount you charge.  It is always best to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenue.

You know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? This is definitely the case with business. 

Businesses do not always go as planned and sometimes a certain amount of trial and error is required before someone establishes a successful business. There are many stories told by some of the world’s most successful business owners about failing (even going bankrupt) then re-organising and re-establishing themselves in business.

  • Learn to accept failures as par for the course.
  • If something does not work, try something new.

The key to success though, is to learn from failure, and not make the same mistakes repeatedly.

Do Market Research
Test the market before jumping in boots and all.

Putting all of your resources into an untested idea is often high risk, and unnecessary risk.
Example: If we think it might be good to promote a product by mailing out to doctors, we would do a small mailing first, to a small number of doctors and monitor the results.  We would only mail a large number of people if the test run worked.

Keep Changing
Business never stands still. Conditions around you will always be changing. If you don’t keep adapting and accommodating to those changes, you will suffer.

We have talked quite a bit in the book about the impact of the internet on businesses. The internet is an area that seems to change more rapidly than other areas, so it is important to keep up-to-date with the market place, both physically and online.

You need to watch the market place and be prepared to change what you are doing, quickly, and whenever the conditions change.  For example, Google is a search engine. The way it ranks and organises how websites appear in searches changes from time to time. So a website that was ranking number one could find itself down in the hundreds in the ranking if it does not take these changes into account.

Watch politics –changes in laws can have big impacts and do not delay changing to accommodate changing political situations. Such delays have killed off many otherwise old, well-established and profitable businesses.

Focus on Sales
If you do not sell your product, your business will never succeed. We often see businesses spend thousands getting their product right, then never generate any sales.  It is the sales that count!  It may be better to offer a less sophisticated product and sell it, whilst continuing to develop the product, then wait months and not sell anything at all whilst you are in the development phase. Larger companies may have time for this - they probably have their own research and development departments. With smaller companies, however, this may not be the case. We are not saying offer a shoddy product, but if you can offer a less sophisticated one, then why not.  Wouldn’t it be better to offer a smaller product or service than nothing at all? For example, if you are a business consultant who has not developed their ideas for their services sufficiently in all areas, perhaps you could focus on one area, for example, what about focussing on supporting women who have just had children back to work. This is a starting point, you will start to get clients (hopefully), this will start to get money flowing and at the same time, you can develop into other areas of business consultancy. 



ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (8-9 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- an Advanced Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email ( call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

David Crothers

Extensive international experience in business and finance. Chartered Accountant with 20 years experience in corporate and financial roles. David has a FCA, GAICD, B.Sc.Econ (Hons), Cert IV TAA.

Jacinda Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting her own firm. Jacinda has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Jacinda has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA.

Denise Hodges

Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner, Marketing Coordinator (Laserpoint). Over 20 years varied experienced in business and marketing. More recently Denise studied naturopathy to share her passion for health and wellness. Denise has an Adv.Dip.Bus., Dip. Clothing Design, Adv.Dip.Naturopathy (completing).


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Jade Sciascia

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK.

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams BSc (Hons), PgDip Eng, MSc, CEng MIET, CMgr FCMI

Andrew has extensive experience across the engineering and building services industries, with specialisms in refrigeration and energy management, with professional recognition as both a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Manager.

This experience includes working in consulting and leadership roles right through to being hands on to deliver projects and outcomes for large scale organisations and within startup and scale up environments.

He has adapted his experience to integrate with new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to allow for a data driven perspective to be applied to problem solving and is actively using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to solve real world problems.

Gaynor Hartley

Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Tiss.Cult., MAIH

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