Business Idioms

across the board: in all areas of the business or the organization; an even effect.

The manager of our department announced that the company needs to make cuts across the board in order to save money.

bail out: to provide financial assistance in order to save a business from financial ruin.

The U.S. government bailed out GM by buying up shares of the company.

bottom line: the final result; money made or lost.

Before making any more investments in his company, he’ll need to take a close look at his bottom line.

bet on: to believe that a result will be good; to take a risk or a chance.

Melissa’s company is betting on consumer interest in green technologies in order to improve sales.

branch out: to make a company larger by adding more locations or more products.

They want to branch out into the southwestern part of the state.

break even: to show neither a profit nor a loss.

It’s a good thing we had a good year last year and saved our cash because this year we’re barely breaking even.

build up: to increase

We’ll need to build up our inventory before the busy holiday season.

buy drinks: to buy alcohol for other people, usually at a bar or a restaurant.

You should have gone out with us last night. The boss was buying everyone drinks to celebrate a good quarter.

buy on credit: to purchase something with borrowed money; to use a loan or a credit card to buy something.

We buy everything on credit and then pay it off at the end of the month.

buy out: to buy an entire company and take control of it; to pay an employee to leave a company, usually someone who is older and near retirement.

Do you think there will be a buyout? We might lose our jobs if that happens.

CEO: Chief Executive Officer = the head of the company.

The company’s stock fell sharply after it was announced that the CEO was leaving the company.

change course: to do something that is completely different; to change direction.

We’re changing course with the introduction of some new products next year.

do business with: work another person or company; to exchange goods and services for money.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.

double check: check twice; to look at information more than once.

Let me double check those numbers and I’ll get back to you.

figure out: to think of an answer oneself; to fix a problem.

After studying the problem over several weeks, Emril finally figured out why his customers weren’t coming into the store.

gangbusters: great; very successful.

At first we weren’t doing very well with our sales, but now we’re going gangbusters.

get back to: call back; return with information.

I’m sorry, I don’t have the name of the person who hosted the conference. Let me get back to you with that.

go public: to make ownership of a company available to the general public through the sale of shares (stock) in the company.

If I had purchased Apple when they went public, I’d be a very rich man right now.

hard sell: to work very hard at selling something; to push one’s products on a customer. (this is not a good thing to do!)

Kevin grew tired of the salesman’s hard-sell approach, so he quickly left the store.

in the black: the period during which a company shows a profit.

Many retailers aren’t in the black until around Thanksgiving.

in the red: the period during which a company shows a loss.

It looks like we’re going to stay in the red for the rest of the year.

keep at it: keep working; don’t give up.

Owning and operating a popular restaurant isn’t easy, but if you keep at it, you will succeed.

make out: to do well; to be successful.

Joe must have made out pretty well this week because he’s buying everyone drinks.

make a profit: to make money; subtract expenses from gross sales to find out the net profit.

Felicia’s store is going to make a very large profit on the sale of those computers.

make up: to consist of; to be a part of.

Our staff is made up dedicated professionals who take pride in their work.

(be) on the market: available to the general public for purchase.

The Chevy Volt won’t be on the market until later this year.

pay off: to pay all of something that was purchased on credit.

You should try to pay off your credit cards as soon as possible; otherwise, you’ll have to continue to pay a large amount of interest every month.

put out: produce; make; manufacture

They’re putting out the finest furniture that you can buy at these prices.

sell off: to sell one thing or to sell all the pieces of a company.

Uri decided to sell off his business and retire to Florida.

sell out: to sell all of a company’s products or tickets.

The children’s toys became popular so quickly that they sold out within a week. No one could find them anywhere.

ship out: to send products by mail.

The manufacturing plant in China will ship out the parts we need tomorrow.

take a loss: to lose money; expenses exceed sales; to sell something at a price that is higher than the cost of acquisition.

It’s okay to take a loss on that investment. We can write it off on our taxes.

take a nosedive: to go down; to suddenly decrease in value.

The stock we bought last year took a nosedive yesterday when its quarterly profits were announced.

take off: to do very well; to become successful.

After five years of struggling to succeed, our business is finally starting to take off.

take over: to become responsible; to take control of something; to become the new owner.

Ed Wilson is going to take over the position of CEO in August.

turnover: attrition; the constant change in employees hired and then lost by a company due to firing or quitting.

The rate of employee turnover is too high for this company. We don’t have enough experienced people at any one time.

tool: anything that helps you achieve a desired result: skills, software, incentives, rubrics, spreadsheets, databases, etc. (This is a very popular word used in business–so popular, in fact, that its overuse has turned it into a silly cliche)

Our company wants to use this software as a tool for reinventing itself.

tool box / tool kit: a collection of tools (described above)

We’re going to need all the tools in the tool kit in order to focus on this problem.

work on: to improve something; to create something new.

Danielle is working on a new sales presentation.

work out: to find a solution; to come to an agreement.

Do you think we can work out a deal? We really want to buy this car.

write off: to take a deduction on taxes; something that decreases the amount of money that is paid in taxes.

We can write off the cost of this lunch if we spend a little time talking about doing business together.