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Business English for Work and Careers: 50 words you need to know

As English is considered by many as the global working language, its daily use has become essential for an increasing number of business professionals. The more English vocabulary you know and the more up-to-date it is, the better. You can do this by reading and watching the business news online, for example BBC Business, and recording useful phrases in context, or by taking our English for Work & Careers course.

Most people are already familiar with specific terminology used in their field, but general business vocabulary can be more of a challenge. Here are 50 common words/phrases that will help you get by (useful collocations, which are words that frequently go together, have been underlined where relevant):

  1. team-player (n)
    She has all the qualities of an excellent team-player.

  2. collaborate (v) / collaborative (adj) / collaboration (n)
    A British company collaborated with a French firm to develop the product.

  3. coworking / shared workspace (n)
    One of the benefits of coworking / shared workspace is that people don’t have the isolation of working from home or in a noisy café.

  4. start-up (n)
    Many start-ups fail in their first year because there is little or no market for their product.

  5. entrepreneur (n)
    These entrepreneurs made their money in technology and media.

  6. multinational (n)
    Tesco is one of the biggest multinationals in the UK.

  7. disruption (n) / disruptive (adj)
    Airbnb, Netflix and Uber are examples of disruptive brands that have created new markets.

  8. gig economy (n)
    In a gig economy, workers are paid for the “gigs” that they do, such as couriers for delivery companies.

  9. budget (n/v)
    The marketing budget will be announced in the next meeting.

  10. diversify (v) diversification (n)
    The company has diversified into new product areas.

  11. expand (v) / expansion (n)
    We’re planning to expand our sales division next year, so we’ll be hiring 100 new staff.

  12. freelance (n)
    After working at the company for many years, he decided to go freelance.

  13. consultant (n) / to consult (v) / consulting (n)
    He now works as an IT consultant in various organisations.

  14. skill set (n)
    We offered her the job as she has the right skills set for it.

  15. launch (n/v)
    They’re launching their new product tomorrow.

  16. revenue (n)
    We really need to increase our revenue from ticket sales.

  17. sector (n)
    Salaries in the public sector have fallen again.

  18. invest (v) / investment (n)
    It’s important for companies to invest in their staff.

  19. leadership (n) / lead (v)
    Her leadership style has been described as democratic as she asks for input and considers feedback from her team before making a decision.

  20. deadline (n)
    He’s met all of his important deadlines this month.

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21.  core business (n) The company has decided to focus on their core business – affordable fashion.

22.  go into administration (v) The company has gone into administration as it is unable to pay back its debts.

23.  added value (n) With her experience and contacts, the new Business Development Manager clearly offers added value.

24.  emerging markets (n) Emerging markets such as Mexico and Indonesia are popular with traders as they tend to experience fast growth.

25.  agenda (n) There are several items on the agenda for today’s meeting.

26.  sustainability (n) / sustainable (adj) High-sustainability organisations take into account environmental and social performance of the company, as well as financial performance.

27.  outsource (v) / outsourcing (n) / insourcing (n) Companies may choose to outsource their IT support in order to reduce costs.

28.  merger (n) / merge (v) The merger between these two companies has created the world’s second biggest carmaker.

29.  takeover (n) / take over (v) Employees are often concerned about losing their jobs when a bigger company takes over their firm.

30.  crowdfunding (n) They raised money for the film through crowdfunding.

31.  board of directors (n) She currently sits on the board of directors.

32.  brand awareness (n) Working with influencers on social media is an effective way of increasing brand awareness.

33.  staff (n) 10 members of staff are attending the conference.

34.  impact (n) Social networks are making a huge impact on sales.

35.  capital (n) We need to raise more capital in order to implement our new strategy

36.  close a deal (v) After months of negotiations, we finally closed the deal.

37.  competitor (n) / compete (v) / competition (n) Our major competitor is able to offer much lower prices.

38.  conference call (n) Conference calls have reduced the need for business travel.39.  retailer (n) Many high-street retailers are closing stores due to competition from online outlets.

40.  creditor (n) We need to pay our creditors by the end of next month.

41.  economies of scale (n) Bigger companies that operate globally often benefit from economies of scale.

42.  HR / Human Resources (n) / (adj) As an HR professional, I specialise in training and development.

43.  network (n/v) Conferences provide a great opportunity to network.

44.  project (n) I’m working on an exciting new project.

45.  go public (v) Many private companies go public by selling shares on the stock exchange; one example is Manchester United plc.

46.  shareholder (n) Shareholders own shares in a company and are usually paid dividends when the company makes a profit.

47.  stakeholder (n) Stakeholders of a company include employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders and the local community.

48.  digital strategy (n) Digital strategy involves the use of new technologies to maximise a company’s competitive advantage.

49.  overheads (n) Overheads, or ongoing business expenses, include rent, utilities and insurance.

50.  balance sheet (n) balance sheet reports a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a given point in time.

Think about how you can use these expressions in your working life (e.g. in a meeting, presentation, interview...) and don’t forget to pay attention to collocations. And use them in your speaking and writing whenever possible to sound like a pro!

By Anne Morris

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