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Business Dictionary:

A Glossary of Important Business Words & Terminology

In order to be successful starting up, running or just working within the business world, an in-depth knowledge of business terminology is essential. For those new to the industry or looking to brush up on their knowledge, whether for personal or training purposes, this brief business glossary points out some of the most important business terminology you will need.

As businesses are mostly about making money to be successful, financial terms are some of the most popular to be used. There are also various common business idioms and phrases which are used sometimes in a more informal sense to be aware of that are covered below as well.


Not something you will want to hear mentioned a lot (unless you work for a loans company), debt is the amount your business will owe. This includes everything such as bills, loan repayments and tax. Debt consolidation is a related term whereby several loans and other debts can be combined to make one single repayment, sometimes reducing interest rates.


To liquidate is to quickly sell a company’s assets and turn them into cash, usually to try and save or wind-up the business. Liquidation is the full process of winding up an insolvent company when an appointed administrator sells assets, pays creditors/shareholders and stops business operations.


Margin is the difference between the sale price of goods or a service and the profit. This is worked out as a gross margin percentage that shows the profit for each pound. Not to be confused with mark-up, which is the difference between the cost of the good/service and the selling price.


The market is the world of commercial activity where goods and services are exchanged. Marketing, however, is the promotional process involved in selling and distributing your company’s goods and services and plays an important part in every business sector.

Net Income

In the most basic form, net income describes a company’s total earnings and profit. After taking away expenses from revenue, net income is the difference calculated. This usually increases when revenue does or expenses are cut and is a positive factor for companies.


Depending on the type of business you run or are involved with, outsourcing may play a large or small part. This is when certain tasks are delegated to other companies or individuals to use their expertise. For example, many use TNT to take care of delivering parcels and other packages.


Profit is what every business is about. This is the total revenue a business earns minus all the expenses. It is the main way of working out whether a business is successful and by how much.


A shareholder is someone who holds shares of stock in a company. A stakeholder can be any individual, group or organisation within or outside the company that holds a stake in its performance. This includes owners, managers, customers, suppliers and anyone else with an interest in the company.


Unlike profit, turnover (sometimes referred to as revenue) is the amount a company earns before expenses, tax and other reductions are taken off.

Venture Capital

Starting up any business requires plenty of funds. Venture capital is the amount invested in a start-up with great growth prospects, yet as a private company does not have access to capital markets.

Common Idioms and Phrases

There are a range of more informal business phrases that get used in the workplace often, such as:

Hold the fort: When responsibility is passed from one employee to another as they are away from the office.

Golden handshake: A large payoff given to someone either when they leave or to persuade them to leave the business.

Cash cow: The area of a business that always profits or provides money for other areas of the company.

Go belly up: When a business, task or anything fails completely.

Learn this business terminology and phrases and you should settle in well to the business world.