Your standard English lessons in school or college, or even the English as a Foreign Language courses, might not prepare you for working in a business environment that brings you face to face with a host of new English words. These words can only be learned on the job. However, there is certain business jargon in the English vocabulary which you can acquaint yourself with before stepping into the 21st-century workplace.
Top Business English Vocabulary
A business plan is a document used to outline plans for a business, set goals for business growth, and identify information to achieve those goals, such as target market, unique selling points, marketing goals, and so on. A business plan might also outline strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Business plans are needed to set up and develop a business, and to secure funding from banks, the government, or investors.
A balance sheet details the company accounts at a certain point in time (often the end of the financial year). It lists the values of the company’s assets, liabilities, and ownership equity. A balance sheet provides a snapshot of how the company is doing financially, which can then be compared with goals outlined in the business plan.
A “start-up” is a brand new business, typically in its first few months or years of trading. The term has connotations of entrepreneurship, and the implication is often that the company will grow significantly in size. It is often associated with the tech industry, but it can apply to any new business. Start-ups are typically thought of as forward-thinking, often with a relaxed atmosphere in unconventional offices.
A business forecast predicts various aspects of a business’s future movement based on its current situation, external factors, new products, plans for marketing, and similar factors. The timeframes are usually long – 3- to 5-year forecasts are common. Types of business forecast include sales, profit and loss, and cash flow.
This term is used to describe the process that helps business owners predict whether they’re likely to run out of money.
Marketing refers to the promotion of a product or service. It can take numerous forms, including advertising, emailing customers, sending out leaflets or brochures, engaging with potential customers via social media, and so on.
“USP” is short for “Unique Selling Proposition” of a company, product, or service. USPs are considered when a company is set up or a new product or service is launched, and they’re also at the forefront of marketing because it’s the unique aspects that help marketing professionals to highlight the reasons why customers should choose them rather than another company.
“HR” is short for “Human Resources”. The HR department of a company deals with matters relating to its employees. The goal of an HR specialist is to ensure that employees are happy and productive, reducing the turnover of employees, and maximizing the cost-effectiveness of the company’s investment in its workforce. HR oversees employee training and development, enforces company regulations, and deals with payroll. HR also handles disciplinary matters and is expected to deal impartially with problems arising between employees, and between employees and their managers.
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Recruitment is the process of hiring new employees. Recruitment companies exist solely for the purpose of matching employers with potential employees. Such companies are known as recruitment agencies.
“Brand” is the term given to a company’s name and the recognizable attributes that go with that company, which define its unique identity. The company’s tone of voice and design of official communications are part of its “brand identity”.
Public Relations, or PR, is the role within a business devoted to communicating with the press and ensuring favourable media coverage of a company, product, or service.
The “minutes” of a meeting are notes taken during the meeting to record what was said, what was agreed upon, and to assign actions to individuals whose responsibility it will be to complete those actions.
This is a phone call, usually from a sales representative of a company to a potential customer or client who is not expecting the call and with whom there has been no previous contact, with the aim of trying to sell them something. Cold calls have a bad reputation and are often referred to by customers as “nuisance” calls.
Thinking outside the box
The phrase means to think creatively, abandoning all preconceptions.
In Business English, action is one of many examples of a noun being turned into a verb. For example, “Can you action that?” might be a request that simply means “Can you do that?”
This word refers to anyone who’s involved in a particular project. If someone has a say in the outcome of a piece of work, they are a “stakeholder” in that project.
This term refers to the idea of gaining acceptance for something. If someone agrees to subscribe to a particular way of doing things, for example, they are “buying in” to the idea.
Another English word that is meant to be a noun (meaning: the use of a lever to apply force), leverage is often heard in a business context being used as a verb, meaning to utilize something to the business’s advantage.
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One of the most hated English phrases in business environs, touching base simply means “to make contact”. In other words, “let’s touch base” means “let’s talk”.
On the same page
In business English jargon, if 2 or more people are “on the same page”, it means that they are approaching something from the same point of view, with the same assumptions in mind.
Feedback is yet another example of a noun becoming a verb for the purposes of office jargon. In the context of business, it’s not unusual to hear feedback being used as a verb.
The phrase, price points, instead of just prices, is one of the many examples of using more complicated language in lieu of a simpler word or phrase.
Industry “best practice” describes a generally acknowledged best way of doing things in order to achieve optimum results.
This phrase refers to the strengths of a person or company. The word “competent” means the ability to do something to a satisfactory standard.
If something is “scalable” in business English terms, this means that it’s an idea that will work easily on a larger scale.
This refers to someone’s range of skills. It has been included in this list of office jargons because seems completely unnecessary to describe what could easily be referred to simply as “skills”.
In business jargon, vertical refers to an area of expertise.
Many business people now write in their out-of-office emails that they’re on “annual leave”. This simply means that they are on holiday. “Annual leave” is really a term used by the military, and it’s unclear how it came to be adopted into the world of civilian business.
This phrase refers to the things that are easiest to achieve.
How to Improve Business English Vocabulary
Whatever your goals are for wanting to learn Business English, you must be fluent in communicating at an advanced level of Business English - whether you want to impress a prospective client, or you are signing up for a job that involves frequent international travel. And, here are a few ways to go about it.
Sign Up for an Online Business English Course
Set yourself up for success by signing up for a high-quality course in Business English. We have listed the best business English courses online that students in India can easily sign up for. Take a look and take your pick!
Wall Street English
Wall Street English offers a very well-structured online learning course in Business English. The company, best known as a chain of traditional, in-person language schools, has recently transferred materials online in response to the ongoing pandemic. Students who prefer learning within the tried-and-tested structure of a traditional language school, but with the flexibility of an online course for logistical reasons, don't hesitate to register with Wall Street English.
The British Council is one of the world’s leading companies for ESL teaching. The Council has been successfully running teaching programs on every continent! Business English learners can find a variety of courses at flexible price points. These include 1-on-1 Skype lessons, short video courses that students can complete on their own, and much more.
The British Council's selection of short online courses changes regularly. One or two of these courses always deal with Business English. They’re refreshed every few months, which provides students with highly relevant, up-to-date language skills.
Preply classes are a great option for those who want the pace of a Business English course alongside video chat lessons with native speakers. However, these courses don't tie you into an expensive learning solution. The lessons can be taken anytime, anywhere, and canceled for free if your schedule changes. Students can also avail the repository of practice exercises to work on their own if they find extra study time.
Follow Business News
Improving your business vocabulary is more than just learning new words. Find out how they’re used. Reading and watching business news regularly will help you do exactly that!
Set Yourself Achievable Targets: Learn New Words Daily
Try to pick up new business words from your surroundings. Sometimes, it could be the simplest of exercises like talking to people or reading news sites. To learn business English vocabulary more quickly, set yourself a target to learn as many new words as you can every day.
Practice the Words You Learn
Learning new vocabulary is a great thing. But make it count by learning how and where to use these words. Use these words in your daily work, apply them to different situations and contexts, until using them becomes second nature to you.
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