Business Terminology

In the business world, there are a lot of terms thrown around. Corporate attorneys also use a lot of terminology and some of it can be overwhelming to new entrepreneurs. I want to help you, so this is where the Business Terminology directory comes into play.


Angel Investor: A wealthy individual who provides capital to start-ups in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt.
Example: An entrepreneur receives $200,000.00 from an angel investor in exchange for a 20% ownership stake in their tech startup.

Asset: Anything of value owned by a business, including cash, inventory, equipment, and intellectual property.
Example: A manufacturing company’s assets include its factory machinery, office equipment, and patents.

B2B (Business-to-Business): Companies that sell products or services to other businesses rather than consumers.
Example: A software company sells its cloud services to other businesses for data storage.

B2C (Business-to-Consumer): Companies that sell products or services directly to consumers.
Example: An online retailer sells electronics directly to individual consumers.

Balance Sheet: A financial statement that shows a company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time.
Example: A balance sheet for (Corporation Name) shows $1,500,000.00 in assets, $350,000.00 in liabilities, and $220,000.00 in shareholders’ equity, as of December 31st.

Benchmarking: Comparing a company’s performance or processes to those of industry leaders to identify areas for improvement.
Example: A tech company benchmarks its website loading times against top competitors to improve user experience.

Bootstrapping: Funding a business using personal savings or revenue generated by the business, rather than seeking external investment.
Example: An entrepreneur funds the launch of their mobile app using their personal savings instead of seeking venture capital.

Branding: The process of creating a distinct image and identity for a company or product in the minds of consumers.
Example: Apple’s branding includes its iconic apple logo and the “Think Different” slogan.

Business Plan: A formal document outlining a company’s goals, strategies, and financial projections.
Example: A detailed business plan outlines the goals, marketing strategy, and financial projections for a tech startup.

Cash Flow: The movement of money into and out of a business, indicating its liquidity.
Example: A business’s cash flow statement shows a positive balance of $50,000.00 at the end of the quarter.

Competition Analysis: Research and assessment of rival companies in the same market to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Example: A new cafe evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of nearby cafes before opening to differentiate itself.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The cost a company incurs to acquire a new customer.
Example: An e-commerce company spends $500.00 on marketing to acquire 10 new customers, resulting in a CAC of $50 per customer.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Software and strategies used to manage and analyze customer interactions and data.
Example: A software company uses CRM software to track customer interactions, manage leads, and streamline sales processes.

Debt Financing: Raising capital by borrowing money, often through loans or bonds, which must be repaid with interest.
Example: A startup raises $100,000.00 through a bank loan with an annual interest rate of 5%.

Depreciation: The allocation of the cost of a long-term asset over its useful life for accounting purposes.
Example: A manufacturing company depreciates its machinery over ten years, deducting $10,000 in depreciation expense annually.

E-commerce: The buying and selling of goods or services over the internet.
Example: Amazon is a prime example of an e-commerce giant, selling a wide range of products online. Any transactional website, such as BC Gems Co. ( is an example of e-commerce.

Equity: Ownership interest in a company, often represented as shares or stock.
Example: A publicly-traded company has 1 million shares of common stock, and an individual owns 10,000 shares, representing a 1% equity stake.

Exit Strategy: A plan for how an entrepreneur or investor intends to exit or sell their stake in a business.
Example: The founders of a tech startup plan to exit by selling the company to a larger tech firm in five years.

Financial Forecast: Projections of a company’s financial performance in the future.
Example: A startup creates a five-year financial forecast, projecting its revenue to grow by 20% annually.

Gross Profit Margin: The percentage of revenue that remains after subtracting the cost of goods sold (COGS).
Example: A retailer sells a product for $100.00, and the cost of goods sold (COGS) is $40.00, resulting in a gross profit margin of 60%.

Intellectual Property (IP): Legal rights to inventions, creative works, and trade secrets, including patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
Example: Apple’s intellectual property portfolio comprises patents related to innovative technologies like the iPhone’s Face ID and trademarks for iconic brands like “MacBook” and “iOS.”

Inventory Turnover: A measure of how quickly a company sells its inventory, indicating efficiency
Example: A retailer sells $1 million worth of merchandise during the year, and its average inventory value is $200,000.00, resulting in an inventory turnover of 5.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Metrics used to measure and evaluate the success of a business.
Example: A marketing department tracks KPIs such as website traffic, conversion rates, and customer acquisition cost to measure campaign success.

Lean Startup: A methodology focused on efficiently developing and launching products or services with minimal resources.
Example: A tech startup follows lean startup principles by quickly releasing a minimum viable product (MVP) to gather customer feedback.

Market Research: Gathering and analyzing data to understand consumer preferences, market trends, and competition.
Example: A tech startup conducts market research to identify emerging trends in the wearable technology industry and to gauge consumer interest in innovative health-tracking devices.

Marketing Mix (4Ps): Product, Price, Place, and Promotion—elements of a marketing strategy.
Example: A mining company’s marketing mix involves its range of extracted minerals and ores (Product), pricing structures based on market demand and commodity prices (Price), locations and logistics for efficient material distribution (Place), and marketing efforts to highlight sustainable mining practices and safety standards (Promotion) to establish trust and secure business partnerships in the mining industry.

Monetization: The process of generating revenue from a product or service.
Example: A free mobile app generates revenue by offering premium features through in-app purchases.

Net Profit: The amount of money left after subtracting all expenses from total revenue.
Example: After deducting all expenses, a small business has a net profit of $60,000.00 for the fiscal year.

Niche Market: A small, specialized segment of a larger market.
Example: A local bakery that specializes in gluten-free, vegan pastries and treats caters to a niche market of health-conscious and dietary-restricted customers within the broader bakery industry.

Outsourcing: Hiring external companies or individuals to perform tasks or services instead of in-house employees.
Example: A tech company outsources its customer support to a third-party call center to reduce costs.

Pivot: A strategic change in a company’s direction or product offering based on market feedback.
Example: A software startup shifts its product strategy from a fitness app to a mental health app based on user feedback.

Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement: A financial statement that summarizes a company’s revenues, costs, and expenses over a specified period.
Example: A retailers P&L statement shows $300,000.00 in revenue and $200,000.00 in expenses, resulting in a net profit of $100,000.00.

Return on Investment (ROI): A measure of the profitability of an investment, expressed as a percentage.
Example: An advertising campaign costs $5,000.00 and generates $20,000.00 in sales, yielding an ROI of 300%.

Scalability: The ability of a business to grow its operations without proportionally increasing costs.
Example: A cloud-based software platform can handle an increasing number of users without a proportional increase in infrastructure costs.

Seed Capital: Initial funding used to prove a business concept or develop a prototype.
Example: A tech startup raises $50,000.00 from family to develop its first prototype.

SWOT Analysis: An assessment of a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Example: A retail store identifies its strengths (loyal customer base), weaknesses (limited parking), opportunities (online sales), and threats (competitor opening nearby).

Target Audience: The specific group of people or businesses that a company aims to reach with its products or services.
Example: A luxury cruise line’s target audience includes affluent individuals and couples aged 65 and above who seek premium cruise experiences with world-class amenities, fine dining, and exotic destinations for their vacation getaways.

Value Proposition: A unique selling point or benefit that a company offers to customers.
Example: A cybersecurity software company’s value proposition emphasizes real-time threat monitoring and immediate response, providing consumers with peace of mind by swiftly identifying and mitigating potential security breaches before they can cause harm or data loss.

Burn Rate: The rate at which a company spends its available capital to cover expenses before generating positive cash flow.
Example: A startup with $100,000.00 in funding spends $10,000.00 per month, resulting in a burn rate of $10,000.00 per month.

Cash Reserve: A portion of funds set aside to cover unexpected expenses or economic downturns.
Example: A restaurant keeps $20,000.00 as a cash reserve to cover unexpected expenses, such as equipment repairs or emergencies.

Crowdfunding: Raising funds from a large number of individuals, often via online platforms.
Example: A tech startup raises $100,000.00 by launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund the production of a new gadget.

Exit Multiples: A valuation metric used in the sale of a company, indicating the expected return for investors.
Example: In the sale of a tech startup, the buyer offers an exit multiple of 4x the company’s annual revenue.

Intellectual Capital: The knowledge, skills, and expertise possessed by a company’s employees.
Example: A consulting firm’s intellectual capital lies in its team of highly skilled and experienced consultants.

Joint Venture: A business arrangement in which two or more companies collaborate on a specific project or venture.
Example: Two technology companies join forces in a joint venture to create an innovative Ai-powered smart home ecosystem that seamlessly integrates various devices and services for enhanced home automation and convenience.

Limited Liability Company (LLC): A legal structure that combines aspects of a corporation and a partnership, offering limited liability to owners.
Example: A small consulting business registers as an LLC to protect the owners’ personal assets from business liabilities.

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): The process of combining or purchasing companies to achieve strategic goals.
Example: A large tech company acquires a smaller startup specializing in artificial intelligence to enhance its product offerings.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): A legal contract that protects sensitive information from being disclosed to third parties. It may either be a Unilateral or Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Example: Before sharing confidential product details, two companies sign a Mutual NDA to safeguard their proprietary information.

Outsourcing: Contracting out certain business functions to external service providers.
Example: A multinational corporation outsources its customer support operations to a call center in a low-cost country.

Profit Margin: A ratio of net profit to revenue, expressing profitability as a percentage.
Example: A retail store has a profit margin of 10% on its sales, which makes $10.00 in profit for every $100 in revenue.

Runway: The period of time a company can operate with its current cash reserves before needing additional funding.
Example: A startup with $200,000.00 in cash reserves and a monthly burn rate of $10,000.00 has a runway of 20 months.

Stakeholder: Any individual or group with an interest or influence on a company’s success.
Example: A company’s stakeholders may include its employees, customers, investors, and regulatory agencies.

Tax Deductions: Expenses that can be subtracted from a company’s taxable income to reduce the amount of taxes owed.
Example: A small business deducts expenses such as office rent, employee salaries, and business-related travel, when calculating its taxable income.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): A distinctive feature or benefit that sets a product or service apart from competitors.
Example: An eco-friendly cleaning product’s USP is its biodegradable packaging, which differentiates it from other cleaners.

Viral Marketing: A marketing strategy that relies on consumers to spread a message or product through word-of-mouth or sharing.
Example: An app developer creates a quirky and addictive mobile game that encourages players to challenge their friends. The game’s competitive nature and fun factor lead to viral growth as players share their achievements and invite others to join in, ultimately driving rapid adoption and high user engagement. Remember Angry Birds and how that went viral? It was due to the addictive gameplay. 

Working Capital: The capital needed to cover a company’s day-to-day operational expenses.
Example: A manufacturing company maintains $100,000.00 in working capital to cover production costs, payroll, and other ongoing expenses.

Zero-Sum Game: A situation in which one party’s gain is exactly balanced by another party’s loss.
Example: In a competitive scholarship program with a fixed number of awards, when one student is awarded a scholarship, it often means another applicant does not receive the scholarship, illustrating a zero-sum game for the available scholarship opportunities.