The Ultimate Glossary of Business Terms

The Ultimate Glossary of Business Terms

Are you new to the world of business? Or maybe just curious about all the terms and abbreviations you have heard your colleagues from other departments casually drop, and you’d like to verify what they mean? 

 

We have prepared the ultimate glossary of business terms you can commonly encounter around the office. It includes various domains such as marketing, sales, finance, Public Relations, Human Resources, management, general business - even a little bit of jargon related to investment! 

 

 

Feel free to skim over the whole list or if you’re searching for a particular term, just skip towards the letter that interests you:

 

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W

 

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Acquisition - this term can have a double meaning in business, depending on the context we use it in:

 

  1. Purchasing of a company or resources by another company.

  2. In sales jargon, acquisition is part of the sales team focused on finding new companies to collaborate with and contacting them. The acquisition team builds an initial relationship with the new clients before their profiles get passed on to account management.

 

Administration - company’s management. Its aim is to make sure the business is run efficiently and effectively, and that all goals and objectives are met. It often involves a lot of paperwork and functions across multiple domains such as finance, accounting, and HR.

 

Affiliate Marketing - a type of marketing where an organisation or an individual (called an affiliate) gets paid for promoting someone else’s services or products. The affiliate earns a commission from every sale coming from their promotion. 

 

Assets - all property with any value that a company owns. It can be divided into:

 

  • Tangible assets - in physical form (for example office equipment, devices, or physical property)

  • Intangible assets - have no physical form (for example trademarks, patents, or intellectual property)

 

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B2B (Business to Business) - operations carried out between companies (as opposed to individual clients). See also: B2C and C2C.

 

B2C (Business to Consumer) - operations carried out directly between a company and a customer who is the end-user of the purchased product or service. See also: B2B and C2C.

 

Balance sheet - documents the company’s finances. In simplification, it demonstrates how much the organisation owns, how much it owes, and gives an insight into the amounts invested by shareholders.

 

Blue collar - professions based on manual labour (for example plumber, miner, construction worker, farmer, etc.) See also: pink collar and white collar.

 

Brainstorming - a session based on the exchange of ideas between the participants of the discussion in order to solve a problem or create a plan. The creation of this method is attributed to Alex Osborn through his book published in 1953. Mostly used in creative sectors. 

 

Brain drain - the phenomenon of highly educated and skilled individuals leaving the country in favour of better living conditions or more advanced development opportunities abroad. 

 

Branding - the strategy of promoting a brand online using its unique voice, image, and style. Its goal is to create positive connotations and establish a strong position for the company on the market. It also aims to create a connection with potential customers and secure the brand image in their minds. 

 

Business plan - an outline of a company’s plans and goals, including strategies and ways to achieve them in a specific time frame. 

 

Burnout - the feeling of exhaustion with your current situation, includes the lack of motivation and often also no satisfaction coming from the performed tasks. It can be experienced as a professional, but also in any other area of life. 

 

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C2C (Customer to Customer) - operations carried out between customers via a third-party platform. An example of such a business model would be someone purchasing a second-hand sofa from someone else through eBay. See also: B2B and B2C

 

Capital - all the assets and money owned by a company. Its amount must exceed the company’s liabilities (debts) to be considered capital. To simplify, it includes all the liquid goods the business possesses that can be freely used to generate income. 

 

Cold-calling - the practice of reaching out to potential customers who have never expressed interest in receiving a phone call in order to persuade them to purchase goods or services. 

 

Commission - in sales, the payment an employee receives based on the total amount of sales they completed. It is usually measured as a percentage of the value brought into the company through the sales made by that person.

 

CPC (Cost Per Click) - this term relates to digital marketing and advertising. It is a performance metric used to measure how much a business is paying for each click they receive to an ad run in a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign. The lower the CPC, the better - for example, if we pay 100 EUR for an ad and receive 200 clicks, the cost is therefore 50 cents/click. This is much better than receiving 100 clicks, as in that case, the CPC would equal 1 EUR/click. 

 

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) - this broad term refers to the way a company manages relationships with their current and potential customers throughout the sales process. CRM is heavily based on data analysis and businesses usually use tools to help them effectively process large amounts of information necessary to manage interactions with customers. 

 

C-Suite - the group of managers at an executive level in a company. The letter “C” simply refers to “chief”. 

 

CTR (Click Through Rate) - the number of times internet users actually clicked on an ad or link, versus the number of times said ad or link was shown in total. For example, if 10 people saw an ad online but only 3 of them clicked on it, the CTR would equal 30%.

 

CTA (Call To Action)  - a marketing term referring to a phrase instructing users what to do next. For example, in a blog article about how to get a job abroad, the CTA would be a line saying “Register at Europe Language Jobs job board now!”, with a link leading to the registration page attached to it.

 

CX (Customer Experience) - how customers perceive a brand based on the service they received and the way it creates its image. It’s a very broad term influenced by many factors including UX (user experience) on the website, customer service, the sales process, marketing, and more. 

 

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Day trading - trading on the stock market done within a single day. A day trader will therefore buy shares and use the price movement to their advantage in order to make a profit before the end of the day (as opposed to regular traders who let the value change overnight). 

 

Debriefing - a short meeting where an individual or a group of employees summarise and report a recently completed task. Done in order to update others not directly involved in the project on the progress made. 

 

Deflation - occurs when prices on the market decrease. See also: hyperinflation and inflation.

 

Dividend - part of a company’s profits regularly distributed to its shareholders. 

 

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E-commerce - refers to the action of selling and purchasing goods or services on the Internet. The most popular e-commerce websites include Amazon, eBay, and Shopify.

 

Elevator pitch - a short presentation briefly describing an individual’s professional background, objectives, goals, and motives. It is commonly used in networking, especially when one is actively looking for a job. Its goal is to let a potential collaborator or employer know your purpose and what value you can provide with your contribution. Its name refers to its length - an elevator pitch should be no longer than an average ride on an elevator (up to 30 seconds). 

 

Employee retention rate - how many employees remained working in the company in a given time frame. It excludes everyone who was freshly hired over that time. See also: retention rate

 

Equity - the value of the company’s assets excluding the liabilities. To illustrate, if a business were to close down, equity would be all the money the shareholders would receive if all the assets were liquidated and all the debts were paid off. It is commonly described as the measure of how “financially healthy” a company is, and just like tests in medicine, it can be positive and negative. Contrary to medicine, however, positive equity is desirable, as it means the value of said assets exceeds the liabilities. Negative equity means that more money is owed rather than owned. 

 

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Fair trade - the practice of companies in developed countries making purchases from producers in developing countries for fair prices. Products sold according to this principle are often labelled with the Fair Trade Certification stamp.

 

Fiscal year - also known as the financial year, it is the period of one year used by organisations for creating financial reports and setting budgets. It is worth noting that the fiscal year doesn’t always correspond with the calendar year.

 

Forex (Foreign Exchange Market) - a global market where the trading of different currencies takes place.

 

Freelance - a style of working where an individual isn’t bound by a part-time or full-time contract in a company, but earns based on individual projects commissioned to them. For example, a freelance translator doesn’t work in a centralised translation bureau, but advertises their services in their own name and is contacted directly by customers. 

 

Freemium - a type of pricing where the basic goods or services are offered for free, but more advanced functions need to be additionally paid for. For example, everyone can purchase something through Amazon, but in order to receive free delivery, they need to subscribe to Amazon Prime. 

 

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Gap analysis - an operation carried out by a business in order to identify the gap between the current performance and what could be potentially achieved. Its aim is to identify the specific improvements that need to be made in order to improve and implement a more effective strategy (for example introducing new products/services, changing the marketing approach, rebranding, etc).

 

Glass ceiling/wall - the metaphorical barrier which stops certain groups from proceeding further in their career or undertaking jobs in certain sectors and on specific levels. The term is most commonly used when referring to women and representatives of ethnic minorities in the professional world. 

 

Golden handcuffs - an expression used to describe motives (such as financial gains or different forms of benefits) offered to an employee in order to prevent them from wanting to move on to another company. 

 

Gross - the total amount, before the deduction of tax. See also: net

 

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - the total value of finished goods and services produced over a certain time on the territory of one country. 


Gross National Product (GNP) - the total value of finished goods and services owned by a country’s citizens that didn’t necessarily have to be produced within that country. 

 

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Hard-selling - a selling practice which pressures a potential customer to purchase a product or service. 

 

HR (Human Resources) - a department within a company responsible for managing employees. HR oversees employees throughout the entire duration of their contracts through recruitment, onboarding, assisting with paperwork, creating a healthy work environment, and managing matters related to salaries and benefits. 

 

Hyperinflation - the sudden increase of prices on the market happening at an exceeded rate. See also: deflation and inflation.

 

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Inflation - occurs when prices on the market increase. See also: deflation and hyperinflation.

 

Insolvency - a situation when a company’s liabilities exceed its assets. In simpler words, it is when a business is unable to pay off its debts. 

 

Interest rate - the percentage of how much money is charged for taking out a loan.

 

Internship - a position in a company held over a fixed-time period, meant to teach a new employee the basics or help them gain more experience. The characteristics of an internship differ - it can be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, focus on a specific area or be more general. See also: returnship


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Job hopping - the action of changing jobs frequently (more often than 2-3 months).

 

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Key account - an important customer responsible for bringing in a large portion of income into the company.

 

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)  - a measure of performance meant to assess how successful a company is in achieving a specific objective over time. For example, it can be the number of new customers acquired by a business in a year, or the total value made from sales over a specific month. 

 

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Liquid asset - an asset possessed by a company that can be easily sold and exchanged for cash. 

 

Liquidity - the measure presenting the ease at which a liquid asset can be converted to cash. 

 

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Macroeconomics - focused on the broader scale of economy: how different economic phenomena affect countries, governments, and entire markets. See also: microeconomics

 

Mass marketing - using mass media (press, radio, TV) to advertise a product or service.

 

Market research - the process of gathering information regarding the market, including data about the consumers, competition, and the current market situation. 

 

Market segmentation - a practice of dividing a business’s target audience into groups based on their habits, behaviour, and interests. The aim is to get a better understanding of what each group requires and how to effectively address their needs through tailor-made strategies. 

 

Market test - performed before a full-scale launch of a new product. It’s based on releasing a limited quantity of the product or service onto the market and measuring its success. The aim is to evaluate the performance and decide if any improvements need to be made before the official release. 

 

Marketing - a domain of business focused on advertising, popularising, providing information, and attracting potential customers to a company’s product or service. The term “marketing” is very broad and includes numerous different subdomains such as digital marketing, affiliate marketing, content marketing, and much more. 

 

Merchandising - promoting a brand using elements such as logos, slogans, trademarks, or any other facet connotated to the particular business’s activity in order to build and strengthen the brand’s identity on the market. 

 

Microeconomics - its focus is narrowed down to a smaller scale - it examines how economic changes impact individuals and the decision-making of singular businesses. See also: macroeconomics

 

Mission statement - a short summary of a company’s goals and objectives with a brief explanation of how they’re meant to be achieved.

 

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Net - the final value after all the deductions (such as taxes) are made. See also: gross

 

Networking - the practice of building a business network through meeting new people, creating contacts, and maintaining a positive relationship with them. 

 

Niche market - a specialised sector of a larger market focused on specific needs and characteristics. It usually comes with a smaller competition and provides a more targeted audience.

 

Nominal interest rate - how much an individual is charged for taking out a loan without taking the inflation rate into consideration. It is calculated by adding the projected inflation rate to the real interest rate

 

Nominal values - values that are not adjusted for inflation. They are values measured in terms of money. See also: real values

 

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Operating loss - occurs when the operating costs are higher than the income. 

 

Operating profit - the income from a business transaction after deducting costs of the operating process but excluding the loss resulting from paying tax and interest.

 

Outsourcing - a practice in which a business commissions a third-party company to provide services for them rather than carrying them out in-house by its own employees.

 

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Pink collar - professions that used to be performed mostly by women (for example beautician, teacher, nurse, secretary). See also: blue collar and white collar

 

Portfolio - the collection of works done by an individual. It is particularly characteristic for the creative industry professions, and can serve as a basis to hire someone in addition to a CV. 

 

PPC (Pay Per Click) - a type of advertising campaign where the ads are paid for on the basis of how many clicks they receive from potential customers. See also: CPC

 

PR (Public Relations) - a domain of a business focused on the maintenance of a positive image of a brand, and management of a relationship between a business and its customers in order to provide the highest level of satisfaction possible.

 

Press release - a piece of written text published in a newspaper informing the public about a new occurrence (for example a company announcing a launch of a new product). A press release blends together the characteristics of a marketing and journalistic text.

 

Profit margin - a measure used to express how much profit a business has made when deducting the costs.

 

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Quota - an amount or number that has to be reached, or is due (for example, a sales agent might have a certain quota of profit they need to bring the company every month).

 

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Real interest rate - how much an individual is charged for taking out a loan adjusted for inflation. It is calculated by subtracting the projected inflation rate from the nominal interest rate

 

Real values - values that are adjusted for inflation. They are values measured against other products or services compared throughout different markets. See also: nominal values

 

Recession - a period of significant, extensive, and lasting economic decline. In order to be called a recession, it usually has to last for two consecutive quarters (6 months).

 

Recruitment - the process of searching for and obtaining new candidates for employees within a company. It is performed by the HR department. 

 

Retail - selling products or services to individual customers. See also: wholesale

 

Retention rate in marketing, it is the ratio of customers who continue using and paying for a product in a given time frame. See also: employee retention rate 

 

Returnship - a kind of internship dedicated to employees coming back from a break in their career which has lasted a significant period. See also: internship

 

Revenue - income made by a company from its business activities. 

 

ROI (Return of Investment) - a performance metric expressing the ratio of income made from an investment versus its costs. 

 

ROR (Rate of Return) - how much was gained or lost from an investment compared to its initial value in a specific time frame. It’s expressed in %.

 

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Sales pitch - a spoken formula of a salesperson introducing a product or service they’re trying to sell, meant to convince a potential customer to buy it. A sales pitch is meant to be brief, powerful, persuasive, and to-the-point. 

 

Screening call - an initial call between a recruiter and a candidate at the very beginning of the recruitment process. It usually takes place before the actual interview and is meant to allow the hiring manager to get to know the candidate better and evaluate their compatibility for the position. If an applicant performs well, they will be then invited for the first official interview.

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - domain focused on improving websites in order to help them perform better in search engines. The aim is for a page to appear at the top of search results, preferably on the first page. This is done through implementing various strategies such as keyword research, link building, managing the technical aspects of a website, and more.

 

SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) - businesses that fall under certain commonly assumed categories when it comes to the number of hired employees and revenue. 

 

  • Micro-business - up to 10 employees

  • Small business - up to 50 employees

  • Medium-sized business - up to 250 employees 

 

Start-up - a recently-started business. This type of enterprise undergoes rapid development and with time may convert into a much bigger, often multinational, company. 

 

Supply and demand - the connection between the quantity of a service or product consumers are willing to buy and how much of it the producers can provide. It is used to determine the prices on the market (if the supply is high and the demand is low, the price will be low as well, but when the demand is high and the supply is low, the price will increase).

 

Supply chain - the path a product or service needs to travel before it’s ready to be released onto the market, including all the elements involved in the process.

 

Sustainability - the approach of performing actions mindfully, with the aim of making them continuous. It involves planning them in a way that will meet the current needs without sacrificing future needs. 

 

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Trademark - a sign or symbol relating a product or service to a given company. It legally marks said service or product as belonging to the particular business and differentiates it from others.

 

Turnover - this term can refer to slightly different things, depending on the context it is used in:

 

  • In HR, turnover expresses the rate at which old employees who have left a company are replaced by new ones. 

  • In finance, turnover means the total value of income generated by sales in a specific time frame. 

 

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UX (User Experience) - this broad term is used to determine what kind of experience a consumer has with a particular service or product. It spans the entire journey with the product, from how relevant it is, whether it solves a given problem, how easy it is to use, the ratio of its quality compared to its price, and more. 

 

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VAT (Value Added Tax) - a type of tax added to products or services in the EU. Its amount largely depends on the type of product or service, and on the regulations of a specific country.

 

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Whitepaper - a document produced by a business introducing a solution implemented by the company and outlining in detail its features. It is a form of a guide meant to inform the public of the characteristics of a product or service. 

 

White collar - professions connected to administration, office work or management (for example architect, accountant, CEO, economist). See also: blue collar and pink collar

 

Wholesale - selling products or services in large quantities, usually to businesses or big stores rather than individuals. Bought by retailers, the articles are then sold to customers. See also: retail

 

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Is there any other term you think should be added to our ultimate glossary? Let us know in the comments section!