Workplace Glossary

Common terminology that's good to know

A business which hosts startups on its premises and gives them support (finance, advice etc.) in exchange for equity to accelerate their growth.
Account Management
The managing and maintaining of sales and relationships with existing customers or clients.
Accredited Investor
An investor, including affluent individuals, banks and large corporations, with a special position under financial regulation laws.
When the team from a failed business is employed by a bigger company.
AKA Advertainment. Adverts that take the form of (seemingly real) stories. A new (sometimes misleading) way of engaging with customers using blog posts, social media and videos.
The term meaning the full spectrum of business activity offering advice to other businesses of any sort.
A business, typically small, with a service and normally in the broadly 'creative' space - and not professional services. E.g. 'marketing agency', 'media agency', 'talent agency'.
Artificial intelligence. The simulation of human intelligence by machines or computers.
Angel Investor
An individual who provides capital for a startup, normally in exchange for equity in that startup.
A business that has been financed by an angel investor.
Annual Return
The form which has to be completed annually by a company and submitted to the Companies House.
Business to business. If a company sells its product or service to another company.
Business to customer. If a company sells its product or service to customers for their personal use.
Back End
A term in software architecture that refers to the data access and processing layer (i.e. the 'thinking' part of the software), as opposed to the front end which is the presentation layer.
Bleeding Edge
A product that is so new that it surpasses the ‘cutting edge’ and is used by only very few people.
Running a startup on very limited funding - either equity finance or revenue.
Burn Rate
How quickly a new company spends its initial capital.
Business Services
A sector covering all support given to businesses, for instance law, accounting or even the provision of fresh fruit in an office!
Money that a company needs to produce its goods and services.
Cash Flow
The movement of liquid cash through a business - i.e. not when the deal has been signed but when the actual cash arrives.
Churn Rate
The number of customers or subscribers who stop using your service or company in a given time period.
Client Account
An account that enables a company to hold its clients' individual funds in separate accounts.
Cliff Vesting
When an employee receives 100% of their pension benefits after staying at a company for a set period of time. If the employee leaves before the set date, he or she won’t get any pension benefits from the company.
Co-working Space
An office with all the normal facilities which hosts lots of smaller companies working alongside one another.
A collection of computer instructions written in a programming language, typically in a text file.
Code Base
A collection of files that comprise the source code of a project or organisation.
Companies House
The organisation where all UK companies must register, no matter how small, and file updates to their structure (e.g. new shareholders).
Giving expert advice, most often to companies.
Consumer Goods and Services
Selling things which ordinary people buy - everything from ice cream to shampoo (products/goods) and house cleaning (services).
Someone who works for a company on a non-fixed basis and who is not an employee (which is to say, not 'on the payroll').
Convertible Note
Most commonly offered by Angel Investors, a convertible note is a loan made to a small company that is repaid in equity.
Literally any company but generally used to mean a large company - say 1,000+ employees.
Corporate Finance
Investment brokerage; which is to say, setting up a deal between an investor and a company, where the investor provides money (either debt or equity) to the company.
Cottage Business
A small business which, by nature, is not scalable.
Cost per acquisition. The amount paid to the advertiser (e.g. Facebook, Google) to acquire a new customer.
Cost per click. The amount paid per click on an advert link to the advertiser (e.g. Facebook, Google).
Cost per thousand. The amount paid for every 1000 impressions of an advert to the advertiser (e.g. Facebook, Google).
The ability for a customer to obtain goods or a service before they have paid for it, based on the trust that they will pay in the future.
Crowd Funding
Funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people.
A sum of money owed by one party to another.
Debt Funding
Obtaining or providing money in exchange for debt in a business (the business owes you).
AKA Pitch Deck. A brief but detailed way of delivering your business proposition to potential investors. A Deck should be able to fit into a 10 slide PowerPoint presentation.
An objective or outcome, normally achieved by one person; for example, producing a report.
An individual who develops software.
Digital Agency
A business which is, in effect, a consultancy advising other businesses on advertising online.
A Statutory Director is a legal 'guardian' of a business, with official responsibility for its management. Many role titles include the word 'Director' and it typically means 'Senior Manager'.
A product or service that is completely innovative and thus shakes up or “disrupts” the market.
Direct Public Offering. When a privately owned company makes buying shares available to the public for the first time. The company does this to raise capital.
Shares in a company.
A general word to describe a management-level individual in a business.
Exit Strategy
How the business owner(s) plans for their business to come to an end. Naturally, this will have to adapt to the course the business takes.
The management of money, investments, banking and credit. A finance company lends money to other companies or individuals.
Financial Product
Seems odd to call them 'products' but examples are current accounts, saving accounts and mortgages.
First Mover Advantage. When a business offers something completely new to the market. For some investors, not knowing how consumers are going to react to something that they’ve never seen before feels too risky to put their money into. However, for others, the originality of a product is one of its greatest assets and will be the key reason for their investment.
When a company offers its basic product or service free of charge and then upsells on added features.
Front End
A software architecture term that refers to the presentation layer of software, i.e. displaying information through an interface, as opposed to the back end which is the 'thinking' layer.
Full Time Employee. Pretty self-explanatory.
The addition of a gaming feature on a company website to encourage people to visit.
Growth Hacking
The art of growing a company using often unconventional or novel approaches - largely 'whatever it takes'.
Hockey Stick
The shape that everyone in a company wants to see on their growth graph. A very positive sign!
Human Resources. A 'function' which involves hiring, looking after and overseeing the people who work in a company.
An organisation which cultivates small and early stage companies (startups). Typically startups apply and, if accepted, are put on a short programme to 'accelerate' their growth.
A segment of the economy such as 'finance' or 'media'. Working 'in industry' means not in a finance or professional services firm but for what are typically the clients of those firms (crudely stated, they 'make stuff').
Investment Banking
Investment banks either carry out financial advisory work (traditional) or deal directly in financial markets for their own account (less traditional).
The document (normally one side of A4) sent by a creditor to a debtor to request payment and detail what the payment is for, how much and where the funds should be sent.
Intellectual Property. Creative (rather than physical) property, such as copyrights, patents or even things like secret recipes.
Initial Public Offering. The same as a DPO, except that the company employs external figures (banks, underwriters, brokers) to carry out the process on their behalf. Both IPOs and DPOs are often referred to as 'going public'.
A process of making minor changes to something each time you try it out in order to find out how to get the best results.
Key Account
An account which makes sustainably repeat purchases from the supplier.
Key Performance Indicator. A measure which a company's management team uses to measure the performance of a business.
The term used to describe starting a company or activating a website.
Lead Generation
The process of creating business prospects - potential customers - who may then 'convert' into paying customers.
Lean Startup
A startup that aims to expand in the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible cost.
An investment that is made with borrowed money.
Line Manager
The person who, in a diagram of your organisation, would be directly managing you.
If an asset is 'liquid' then it can be turned into cash very easily (e.g. stocks and shares). 'Illiquid' assets (like long-term property holdings) cannot be turned into cash easily.
Loss Leader Pricing
Selling a product for below asking price in order to target and attract repeat customers.
Low Hanging Fruit
The easiest move a business can make to make a profit.
Mergers and acquisitions. The sector which involves businesses buying one another and businesses joining. When either of these things happen, lawyers, bankers, accountants and other advisers are needed to deal with the massive complexities involved. Those people 'work in M&A'.
Management Consulting
Covers a whole range of activities; most broadly, it means 'specialised employees for hire' - which means companies can 'upskill' in particular areas for short term projects.
Market Penetration
How much of your target market you are reaching and how quickly. This is very important to VCs.
A 'corporate slang' (oh how rebellious) term to refer to the scramble by companies - typically the larger ones - to hire graduates when they leave university; and vice versa.
What a business does, or is planning to do, to make money.
Minimum Viable Product. In product development, the MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future development.
The day-to-day running of a business; the mechanics of how it works. For a supermarket, for instance, this would be about sourcing food, getting it to a store and keeping it fresh.
On-target earnings. The expected salary of a sales person, including bonuses and commission.
When a company changes direction, usually by shifting to a new target audience or by using an established technology for a different purpose.
Private Equity
The industry which raises 'funds' in order to invest in later-stage businesses - typically buying the whole company.
Professional Services
The sector encompassing people who typically wear suits and provide services to the 'real economy' (their employees don't 'make stuff'). Includes accountants, lawyers and consultants.
If an annual salary is paid pro-rata then the monthly sum will be one twelfth of the annual sum.
Ramen Profitable
When a company is making enough money to cover the basic living costs of everyone it employs.
Responsive Design
Websites that are designed so that they are the same quality on different devices.
The amount of money a company earns. This is different from profit because this doesn't take into account costs; so a company may have a huge revenue but a small profit.
Return on investment. This is usually expressed as a percentage and is typically used to compare a company's profitability or to compare the efficiency of different investments.
How long a business is expected to last on its current budget.
Software as a Service. When company sells its software via a subscription service.
If a business is scalable then its fundamental model can be replicated in high volumes. E.g. a one-person yoga instructor business is not very scalable (you would need to hire lots of instructors when you won new business), whereas Facebook is very scalable (no more work for the HQ when a user joins).
An advanced-state startup; they have proven that their product or service works and are growing as fast as they can.
Seed Round
Typically the second round of investment that a startup will raise, normally between £500k and £1.5m. It allows the business to make strides into its market.
Search engine optimisation. The process by which businesses seek to improve where they rank on search results (typically Google).
Service Industries
Businesses that provide intangible products and services to a customer (food services, transport, retail).
One of the equal parts into which a company's capital is divided, entitling the holder to a proportion of the profits.
Small and medium-sized enterprise (usually fewer than 250 employees).
Social Media
Websites and apps on which users can share content or participate in social networking.
Spring Week
An American term which seems to have crept into British corporate parlance. It means a short stint with a company to get some experience during the Easter holidays.
An individual, group or organisation with an interest in a business, who is affected by that business' activity (includes managers, customers, owners, suppliers etc.)
An early stage company, normally founded within the previous 5 years and certainly within the last 10 years.
The capital raised by a company or corporation through the issue and subscription of shares.
Building long-term plans; both defining the planned end outcome and also how to get there.
Strategy Consulting
Advising companies on their decisions over a longer term. In practice for graduates, this involves a lot of research, analysis and report-writing (typically the more senior employees present the advice itself).
Supply Chain
The series of organisations and steps involved with getting a product from its source to a consumer; upstream means closer to the source.
Sweat Equity
Using shares in a company (instead of money) to pay for work. Handy for a company on a tight budget.
Term Sheet
A document stating what an investor will receive for their investment in a company.
The amount of attention or attraction a company gets from customers.
A rare horse-like beast with a horn on its head. Also a startup valued at over one billion dollars.
How much a company is valued at. Pre-money valuation is how much a company is worth before it receives money from investors; post-money valuation is how much it is worth after the investors’ money has been added.
Value Proposition
The key feature or element of your product that gives it an edge over its competitors. Sometimes referred to as its USP (Unique Selling Point).
Selling a product that has not yet been made in order to test market demand. Unsurprisingly, this can be dangerous territory: some products end up never being made, regardless of whether any are purchased.
Venture Capital
The industry which raises 'funds' in order to invest in a load of early-stage businesses - nearly always for equity.
A business that has been financed by venture capital - i.e. a venture capital fund has invested in it.
When a benefit of, right to or interest in an asset is handed over in full to another person or company.