Tag Archives: jargon

How to talk business

The first thing to say about the language of business is ‘handle with care’. There’s a lot of business bullshit around and, when it comes to business support, people may use jargon to bamboozle you into buying something you probably don’t need , so you need to learn the language. This applies equally whether or not you delegate a particular business domain to someone else within your enterprise.

Take marketing for example, a good marketing specialist is a real asset, particularly if you’re short of time rather than money. But after 40 years in marketing I believe that much of it is common-sense communication. Even so, whoever’s responsible for your marketing, as a business owner you still need to know your way around abbreviations like USP, SEO and SWOT, and decide whether content marketing (the current ‘big thing’) is for you.

Of course once you move on to business finance you’ll find there’s a whole new lexicon to learn. You’ve probably seen the Dragon’s Den pitches where entrepreneurs get tied up in knots over their gross and net profit, their margins and mark-ups, their cash forecast and turnover figures. You don’t need to learn your figures off by heart (although if you can memorise a few, that can impress in the right circles) but you need to know where to find them when asked. Once you’ve done your homework, you can share the mantra turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is reality” with authority (and know why it’s true).

Note: I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t pay for professional advice – objective and informed guidance from a trusted source is invaluable. I’m merely suggesting you find your way around the business lexicon first, so you better understand the conversations when they happen!

Finally, you should strive to be clear and concise in your communications with other entrepreneurs and would-be customers, avoiding the jargon where possible and explaining it when you can’t. Honesty and ‘straight talk’ can go a long way in building your reputation and, ultimately, making new sales. So, learning the language and using it well is good for both your business and your buyers. Or, as they say, a ‘win-win situation’.

Getting started:




For enterprises of the social variety here’s another jargonbuster  https://www.socialchangecentral.com/social-change-buzzwords/

For further free resources to help start and grow your business, go to Build Your Business  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/build-your-business and Free Lunch https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/free-lunch-business-support


An A – Z of social entrepreneurship: I – K

I – Ideas

 “It you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”  George Bernard Shaw

 My experience of the social economy is that people freely share their ideas – most of mine are ‘borrowed’ from other people. I still suspect that people keep their best ideas close to their chests – human nature? But David Floyd’s blog (much quoted by me) on the subject of sharing ideas is worth re-reading http://bit.ly/1w4FArf

J Jargon

Over 30 years ago I launched an international campaign – the Campaign Against Confusing Acronyms and Abbreviations (CACAA) and the same goes for jargon, bullsh*t, spin whatever gets in the way of clear communication. Of course, some use it intentionally to confuse and exclude, but we hope social entrepreneurs are above this.

My advice is: learn it then lose it. You should aim to understand the jargon associated with mainstream business but note – in a survey some years ago, 27% of business leaders admitted that they didn’t understand the jargon they were using. If 27% admitted this, think how many really didn’t understand it!

 K – Knowledge

 How many times have you heard an organisation say ‘we’re a learning organisation’ and then observed how they fail to live up to that claim? A friend of mine was once brought in to help an organisation establish what it means to be a learning organisation. I don’t under-estimate the potential value of doing that.

I’ve been involved in the knowledge business – assuming that embraces information, communication, learning, and education – all my 35+ years in the not-for-private-profit sector. I love and often quote Gandhi on the subject “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn like you were to live forever.”

But a cautionary note from Ian E Wilson – “No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.