Jargon Busting

The language of business can be baffling if you are taking your first steps. Do you know what’s expected from an Elevator Pitch? How to report your EBITDA? Or the difference between a Limited Company and a Limited Liability Partnership? Our A-Z guide is designed to help demystify some of the regularly used phrases.

A start-up accelerator is a business support programme for start-up and early stage companies for a fixed (usually short) period of time.

Accounts payable
This is the money you owe. Not nice to have but at least the money to pay for them is earning interest in your bank account and not theirs.

A wealthy, successful person who invests in start-ups and high-growth companies for a share in the business

Something your business owns, for example, a building or a car.

Auto-enrolment or automatic enrolment
The compulsory system whereby UK employers are required to enrol every employee into a company pension scheme to which both employer and employee contribute. You generally don’t have to enrol someone who earns less than £10,000 or is under 22.
B2C Marketing
B2C stands for business-to-customer, and refers to companies who sell to individuals, usually marketing their products for personal use.

Balance sheet
A financial statement that reports a company’s assets and liabilities (what the company owes) at a particular point in time. For a company, this generally equates to the shareholders’ equity (the value of the shares they own).

A ballpark figure is a rough estimate, an off-the-cuff guess. Another name for a ‘guesstimate’.

Best practice
A set of guidelines or standards that represent the most efficient and ethical course of action. Best practices are usually set by governing or regulatory bodies or by a company’s management.

Bottom line
The last line of a company’s financial statement, showing net profit or loss. Now also used in everyday speech, meaning ‘the deciding or crucial factor’ or ‘the ultimate result’.

Brand Equity
Used to describe a brand’s value, with the idea that a well-known brand name can make more money for the business.

Brand Image
This term describes what consumers actually think about your business, and their perceptions of your brand.

A budget is a way to keep track of your all your costs and make sure you have enough money coming in to pay your bills when they are due.

Business Plan
A document which sets out how the business will create and grow sustainable income and how this income will be achieved. The plan is a written document describing the business, the sales and marketing strategy and the financial background, and usually contains financial projections.

Business Strategy
A long-term plan of action to achieve specified business goals.
Cash flow
The total amount of cash coming into and going out of your business.

Cashflow projection
A spreadsheet which details the monthly cash requirements of the business including when payments will be received and when costs will be paid.

To support, defend or perhaps spearhead.

Credit Control
The system that helps to ensure that credit is only given to customers who are able to pay, and that they pay on time.

Raising money for a project through donations.

Company Values
Company values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive a business.

Content Marketing
Content marketing involves the creation of online content such as blogs, social media posts and videos, which is distributed to a targeted audience to create interest in a business.

Core competency
Core competency refers to a company’s or individual’s main skill or area of expertise.

Core values
The phrase core vales is used to describe the standards and ideas that a company or individual finds most important.

Customer Acquisition
A term used to define the act of winning over a customer as you acquire new business.

Customer Journey
A documented list of experiences that a customer will go through when interacting with a company.
A company director is the person legally responsible for running a company and making sure information is sent on time to Companies House.

Drill down
The term drill down is used to describe a thorough investigation of an idea, assignment or project report. It’s often used to uncover the important details that are most beneficial to the company’s future endeavours.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation, is a measure of a company’s overall financial performance and is used as an alternative to net income in some circumstances. It strips out the cost of capital investments like property, plant, and equipment

Elevator pitch
A very brief speech (usually less than 60 seconds) that outlines an idea for a product, service or project. Everyone who is job searching should have an elevator speech at the ready too–in this case, a quick summary of their skills and qualifications.

Often used to make someone feel capable or to give them a certain amount of authority.

Someone who takes personal financial risk to set up a business or businesses.

Ethical investing
Also called Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), sustainable, socially conscious or ‘green’ investing. It stands for any investment strategy that seeks to consider both financial return and social good.

An ownership share of a business. Someone who has a 50 per cent share in your business owns half of the business.

Executive Summary
Used in business planning-appears at the front of your business plan and highlights its key points, enabling people to speed-read your business plan.
When an intermediary agent provides cash or financing to companies by purchasing outstanding invoices. A factor is essentially a funding source that agrees to pay the company the value of an invoice-minus a discount for commission and fees.

Financial Plan
A financial plan sets out the estimated future income of the business and the estimated costs in order to achieve this income.

Using historic data or information to predict the future.

Selling licenses to franchisees who can then sell your products or services using your brand, processes and other intellectual property.

A temporary layoff, involuntary leave, or some other modification of normal working hours without pay for a specified duration.
Gain traction
This phrase means to gain popularity or win support.

Gross domestic product. A measure of economic activity in a country–namely of all the services and goods produced in a year.

General Data Protection Regulation
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the European Union (EU).

Gender Balance
A gender balance ensures an equal participation of women and men in all areas of work, projects, or programmes.

Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings. Going concern
A company that has all the resources needed in order to continue to operate for the foreseeable future. If a company is not a going concern, it means it’s bankrupt.

Gross profit
Turnover (total sales) minus cost of sales and direct costs.
Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the UK Government department that’s responsible for collecting taxes.
In a business context, “impact” denotes results or influence.

Income tax
A tax levied directly by HMRC on personal income.

The legal process of forming a company, which is a separate legal entity to its owners, meaning there’s unlikely to be any personal financial liability should the business fail.

An organisation or programme that provides business support to start-up and early-stage companies over a period of time.

Intellectual Property (IP)
A product of human intellect, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in business.

Invoice Finance
Used to help ease your cash flow. A third party buys your unpaid invoices for a fee. If you choose ‘factoring’, the invoice financier also manages your sales ledger and collects money owed by your customers.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that you can use to track your business performance.
Most often refers to the manipulation or control of a situation or project. It’s often used as both a verb and a noun.

Limited Company
A limited company is a privately managed business, owned by its shareholders and run by its directors. The company is a separate legal entity with its own legal rights and obligations. This means the company is responsible for everything it does and its finances are separate to the personal affairs of its owner(s).

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
An LLP is similar to a partnership except that the partner’s liability is limited to the amount of money they invest in the business. The LLP must be registered at Companies House and with HMRC. Annual accounts also have to be prepared and filed.
Marketing mix
Refers to four key areas of marketing–product, price, promotion and place.


The difference between the cost to buy or make a product and the selling price.
Micro business
A business with fewer than 10 employees.

Mission critical
A phrase to emphasise the importance of something, whether it’s the key factor in determining a successful project or an individual’s quality of work for a specific client.

Moving the goalposts
The act of changing or altering a project goal or objective and making that project more difficult to complete.
Net profit
Gross Profit minus indirect costs and expenses.
Day-to-day running costs of a business, such as rent, rates, etc.

Organic growth
Organic growth is the growth a company achieves by increasing output and enhancing sales internally.
A Partnership involves two or more individuals that agree to share in the profits or losses of the business. They share the risks, costs, benefits and responsibilities of running an organisation.

Peer lending
A type of crowdfunded loan where a large number of people club together to lend money to a business in return for interest.

Profit margin
Profit margin is a figure that shows how much profit you make per pound of goods or services that you sell.

Purchase and Sales Agreement
This is a written contract between you and a seller to purchase equipment or their business at a specific price and by a certain date.
Reach out
Used to describe the act of communicating or contacting other individuals or businesses.

Rental Lease
This is a written contract between you and a property owner showing an agreement to rent, maintain, and insure their property for a specific length of time at a specific monthly price.

Return on Investment (ROI)
This is a measure used to work out the efficiency of an investment. It measures the amount of return relative to the cost of the investment.

Revenue is the income generated by a business.

Risk management
The identification, assessment, monitoring and minimisation of risks that companies face from uncertainty in financial markets, project failures, legal liabilities, accidents, natural disasters and deliberate attacks.
The measure of a business’s ability to increase or decrease in performance and cost in response to changes in demands.

Social responsibility
The idea that companies shouldn’t be solely focused on maximising profits but that they should act to benefit society at large.

Social enterprise
An organisation which trades mainly for a social or environmental purpose, reinvests profits or income to achieve its purpose and earns 50% or more of its income from trading activities.

Small business
A business with up to 50 employees and/or a turnover of up to £10m a year.

Sole trader
You are a self-employed sole trader if you start working for yourself and you must register this business with HMRC. As a Sole Trader, the business is run by you.

A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

Strategic partnership
A relationship between two commercial enterprises, usually formalised by one or more business contracts. A strategic partnership will usually fall short of a legal partnership entity, agency, or corporate affiliate relationship.
Tax Return
An annual form which requires to be completed by all businesses and will determine the amount of tax the business requires to pay to HMRC.

Table the conversation
The act of pausing a discussion with the possible intention of never returning to it again.

Trim the fat
The act of removing unnecessary details, resources or individuals from a company or project.
Unique selling proposition (USP)
The thing that sets your business apart from its competitors and gives customers a compelling reason to buy from you.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
VAT is a transaction tax levied on sales of goods and services.

Venture Capital
Money invested for shares (equity) in a new or early stage business that is expected to have high growth potential.
In a wholesaling approach, a retailer offers its product in bulk at a discount.

Working capital
The cash your business needs to trade day to day and stay afloat.

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Our most hated business jargon is revealed…

A new nationwide study has revealed the most hated business jargon phrases, according to the nation’s office workers