Having the ability to use the correct business English vocabulary and expressions can have a huge impact on your career; it could even be the key to future success in the business world. While the right words might help you close an important deal with a client, the wrong ones might have the opposite effect
Whether you’re giving a presentation to your company’s management or writing a quick Slack message to a co-worker, having a command of a wide range of business English vocabulary will give you the tools to be more successful in both informal and formal situations. It will also make your interactions with co-workers, managers and even customers more authentic and professional-sounding. Most importantly, you’ll gain more confidence in your English and feel empowered to handle any situation with fluency and ease.
To help get you started, we’ve compiled a guide of 45 useful Business English words that you can put into practice right away in everyday interactions.
Brush up on your business English vocabulary today!
You can zoom through any business English lesson for free with Busuu! You’ll have plenty of time to take a coffee break and learn some practical business words before your next Zoom meeting.
45 words for leveling up your business English vocabulary
This list covers business English words you would likely come across in most companies, whether you work in marketing, finance, product or even IT.
Pro Tip: Many of these business words can be used as nouns or verbs, depending on the context or situation. It could also be useful to know how to use them in different verb tenses.
An agenda is a list of topics that will be discussed during a meeting. It is usually sent to participants before the meeting starts and often includes the amount of time that will be dedicated to each topic.
Usage example: The next item on the agenda is a report from marketing on the effectiveness of our latest advertising campaign.
This business vocabulary word refers to the amount of money a company expects to earn and spend during a specific period of time (e.g. a month, a quarter, a year). Budget is also used as a verb, though in this form, it means to calculate the amount of money you expect to earn or want to spend.
The manager argued that his department’s annual budget should be increased. (noun)
The project was originally budgeted at $8 million, but the final cost was $10 million due to higher electricity prices. (verb)
A clause refers to a part of a contract that deals with a specific subject. Clauses may serve many different purposes, from detailing the terms of payment to describing the process for handling disputes.
Usage example: We were informed that a clause in the new contract would allow the supplier to charge interest for late payments.
This is another word for business partnership. It refers to any situation where people and/or organizations work together to achieve a common goal. Collaborate is the verb form and is used in the same context.
Usage example: The new medicine is the result of a collaboration between our company and the University of Arizona.
This is another word for business partner. It can be used to refer to anyone who works together in the same department. We can also talk about colleagues from different departments, who you might only see in certain situations, such as team-building events.
Usage example: My colleague and I collaborated on the project to ensure its successful completion.
A competitor is any company (or person!) that wants to be more successful than another one; for example, by selling more products or controlling a larger portion of the market. A related noun form is competition.
Management has instructed all retail locations to lower prices by 10 % to gain an advantage over our main competitor.
We’re facing tough competition from online stores that are offering garden supplies at lower prices than ours.
Consensus is a business English word that means agreement. Building or reaching consensus among competing points of view can certainly be tricky. However, it might be required for important decisions, such as buying a company or selling a private company’s shares to the public.
Usage example: In some cultures, business leaders must reach a consensus on important matters.
In the world of corporate acquisitions, a company might reject an initial buy offer, in the hopes of getting more money or better conditions later. Then, the buyer might make a counter-offer. Counter-offers are often made when there’s a disagreement between business partners over price.
Usage example: Blue, Inc. originally offered to buy Green, Inc for $50 million, but Green’s management refused to sell the company. Finally, they agreed to Blue’s counteroffer of $70 million.
9. Customer service
Delivering high-quality customer service is likely to be a priority for many companies. Customer service consists of any interaction where businesses deal with customers, whether it’s related to a product sale or a problem that comes up after the customer receives the product.
Usage example: We have opened five new call centers to reduce telephone wait times and deliver a higher level of customer service.
Have you ever noticed people in your department getting especially stressed right before the end of a project? It’s possibly because they’re worried about meeting a deadline. A deadline is the date and time when something must be completed. Deadlines impact multiple aspects of running a business; for example, they determine when job applications, payments and business plans are due.
Usage example: We still have three weeks to test and deliver the final product, so we’ll have no problem meeting the deadline.
11. Dress code
Many companies have a dress code, which states how employees should dress and what they are allowed to wear to work. Some workplaces are a bit more informal whereas others might be more formal, for example requiring employees to wear a suit and a tie to the office.
Usage example: We’re allowed to wear jeans and a t-shirt at the office, so the dress code is very casual here.
In this context, equipment refers to any tools or machines that you use to do your job.
Usage example: Our computers break down on a regular basis; it’s about time to invest in some new equipment.
An estimate is a guess about the future cost, value or even size of something. Estimates often appear in budgets, when they’re used to make predictions about future sales. Analysts also make estimates to predict how much money a company will make in future quarters. Estimate can also be used as a verb.
The company’s stock price rose 5% after it beat earnings estimates for the 3rd quarter. (noun)
The company estimated that it would create 200 new jobs for its new warehouses. (verb)
Expand is another word for growth in business. There are many different ways businesses can expand. For instance, by offering new products and services or even entering new markets. Expansion is the noun form.
Usage example: We plan to expand our operations into Southeast Asia over the next 24 months.
The main office of a company is called a headquarters. A multinational company might have headquarters in several countries, especially those which are home to key markets.
Usage example: The company moved its European headquarters out of Paris because of high real estate costs.
16. Human resources (HR)
Your first encounter with a company will likely be through the human resources department, during the job application process and later (hopefully!) at the interview stage. The HR department also has other responsibilities, such as ensuring company compliance with employment laws.
Usage example: The human resources department has handled several interpersonal conflicts between employees this month.
Implement means to put a plan into action. When a company implements a plan, it’s often related to a change in policy or strategy.
Usage example: We have implemented a cost-savings plan that will save us nearly $50 million.
Companies sometimes put millions of dollars into researching and creating new products. It’s fundamental to innovate, or develop new ideas, designs and products, to stay ahead of the competition. The noun form is innovation.
Usage example: The smartphone industry is continually innovating in order to attract new customers.
Invest means to put money into something to get some kind of advantage or to improve it. For example, a car company might invest money in a supplier to get better access and payment terms for engine components. In a finance context, invest means to buy something, such as property or stocks, with the goal of making more money. The noun form is investment.
Usage example: We hope to invest $100 million in research and development of new product lines over the next five years.
An invoice lists the work done or products/services provided, how much they cost and the deadline for payment. It’s an essential document for businesses of all sizes.
Usage example: To avoid delays in receiving payment, make sure to include the project code and description on your invoice.
21. Kick-off meeting
The word kick-off might sound familiar thanks to American football. A kick-off meeting is held at the start of a new project to explain its vision, objectives and timeline.
Usage example: The kick-off meeting was a success! As the product manager explained the project, his team reacted positively.
22. Market research
Before investing money to develop a new product or service, companies often conduct market research. This involves the collection and study of data about people’s buying habits and what a company’s competitors are doing. Market research might also be conducted after a product’s release, to figure out why customers are (or aren’t) buying it.
Usage example: Market research shows that our customers in North America have lost confidence in the quality of our products.
Milestones are used to mark important events in the life of a project. Milestones often include the date when something must be completed as well as what must be achieved. It’s slightly different from a deadline, which only refers to the date.
Usage example: The project reached an important milestone when the team delivered a working version of its smartphone battery.
A negotiation is a formal discussion between business partners and it’s the process by which they come to an agreement. While a deal is usually the goal, negotiations can sometimes break down, or fail, when there are major disagreements. Negotiate is the verb form.
The negotiation with our supplier was very productive; they agreed to lower their prices by 5%. (noun)
Management is attempting to negotiate a better deal with the country’s largest supermarket. (verb)
Networking involves any interaction which has the goal of advancing your career. It’s one of the most important ways to develop new contacts in the business world, as even a brief chat with a company representative could lead to a future job offer. Network can be used as both a noun and a verb.
Usage example: While networking on LinkedIn can be time-consuming, it might also lead to future job opportunities.
Objective is the Business English word for goal. It refers to anything that a company plans on trying to achieve.
Usage example: The company successfully met its objective of signing up 100,000 new customers last quarter.
It’s common for new employees to go through an onboarding process when they join a company. Onboarding often requires people to study training materials to learn about company procedures and even the software programs they’ll need to do their job. The verb form is onboard.
Usage example: After completing the onboarding process, I felt a lot more confident about carrying out my new responsibilities.
When a company outsources its operations, this means it pays another company to do the work instead of its own employees. It can often (though not always) involve moving these operations to another country.
Usage example: The company will be outsourcing production to a business partner in Asia.
In the context of Business English, oversee means to manage the activity of a department or even a single person. A synonym of this word is supervise.
Usage example: Starting new week, Derek will be overseeing the finance department.
Partnership is a business word that refers to any agreement between companies, organizations and individuals to work together.
Usage example: We’ve entered into a long-term partnership with a construction services company.
While in an ideal world, businesses (and people) would always get paid on time, the reality is different. So contracts often include a penalty, which is an extra amount of money charged when an aspect of the agreement is not honored.
Usage example: The contract states that there will be a 5% penalty for late delivery.
Pitch means to try to persuade someone to buy something or do something. While it’s most commonly used in sales and marketing contexts, it’s can also be used in other situations where you have to persuade someone.
Usage example: I pitched an idea for an advertising campaign to the head of marketing and she seemed to like it.
The ultimate goal of most businesses is to make a profit. Profit is the money earned after accounting for the costs of doing business, such as labor and raw materials.
Usage example: The company reported increased profits last quarter, after managing to negotiate lower prices for employee health insurance plans.
The main objective of the human resources department is to recruit, or employ, new people. The noun form, recruitment, deals with the entire process of searching for and hiring new talent.
Usage example: HR had to recruit a temporary project manager when it became difficult to fill the position.
When a product is released, it means that a company begins to sell it. Release can also be used as a noun.
Usage example: We hope to release the next version of our app for both Android and iOS phones next year.
36. Research and Development (R & D)
Before releasing a new product, a company has likely invested money researching, designing and developing it. The aim of the research and development (or R&D ) department is to find out how best to improve old products and develop new ones.
Usage example: Our R & D budget will be increased as the company seeks to discover better ways to use artificial intelligence on smartphones.
37. Return on Investment (ROI)
Return on investment (or ROI) is a measure used to determine the profitability of an investment. In other words, the ROI is how money you’ve made after accounting for all of your costs. It can even be used to estimate the profitability of a new business venture.
Usage example: The company decided to sell its stake in the technology firm after the ROI was less than expected.
Revenue is the money a company gets from selling products and services. The main difference between revenue and profit is that revenue is calculated before costs are accounted for while profit is calculated after all costs have been taken into account.
Usage example: Revenue rose last quarter, thanks to higher than expected movie ticket sales.
Shareholders are the people, companies and institutions who own shares in a company’s stock. Thanks to the fact that shareholders literally own a piece of the company, they enjoy certain rights such as the ability to vote for a company’s board of directors.
Usage example: Shareholders approved the merger between the two video games companies.
40. Small talk
Imagine that you’re waiting for a meeting to start and sitting next to a colleague. After a while, you might get distracted and start talking about what’s for lunch! Any informal conversation like this one about topics that are not particularly important is called small talk.
Usage example: Making small talk is a valuable way to get to know your new colleagues.
Strategy refers to the plans a business makes to achieve its objectives. A large company might develop a strategy for increasing international sales while a small business might work on a marketing strategy whose objective is to generate awareness of their brand.
Usage example: Our new marketing strategy will focus on regions where we still have potential for growth, such as the Latin American market.
A stakeholder is any person, organization or institution who has a connection to a company and has an interest in its success. Unlike shareholders, stakeholders don’t always own shares in a company’s stock.
Usage example: Key stakeholders in the state government have asked the chemical company to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.
43. Target market
The target market refers to the group of people who are most likely to buy a product or use a service. These people have shared characteristics, such as age, gender, education and income.
Usage example: We’ve identified young single men as the target market for our hair spray.
Most people immediately recognize the apple in Apple, Inc. and the Coca-Cola logo, making them among the world’s most famous trademarks. A trademark is a name or symbol that’s exclusive to a particular company; this means nobody else can use it without permission.
Usage example: Google’s colorful letter “G” is one of the most valuable trademarks in the world.
You might see this word appear in the description of a meeting on your online calendar; don’t panic! An update is simply an opportunity to provide someone with the most recent information on your work.
Usage example: This afternoon, I have a meeting with the manager to give him an update on the project.
Tips on how to learn business English vocabulary
Besides taking lessons from Busuu’s comprehensive English for Business course, there are several other ways you can learn new business vocabulary and reinforce what you already know:
Read business news from authoritative and respected publications (printed and online). You can also grab a book about business and learn more business terms to use.
Listen to business-themed podcasts, business news on television and videos about business on various online platforms like YouTube.
Take advantage of Busuu’s award-winning, AI-powered Smart Review feature to practice new words and expressions.
Make your own flashcards and practice them regularly (check out the latest flashcards or video bites from Busuu). You could make good old-fashioned flashcards on paper, but if you’d rather not put your artistic abilities to the test, there are several websites out there (e.g. Quizlet) where you can create, organize and even share multiple sets of flashcards.
Join social groups related to your hobbies and interests in your area. These are great ways to practice making small talk and even meet new friends. Busuu has a big community of language learners were you can practice using business vocabulary and learn a lot more.
Practice speaking English at work or with English-speaking friends and family. Set specific language-learning goals, like using five new words per day in conversation or practicing five words related to your department at work. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself!
Create a journal or blog where you write only in English. Use it as a chance to practice some of the new business words you’re learning into practice. It could also be a great opportunity for self-reflection.
Tip: Want to know which language to learn for business? Check out our article featuring 8 languages to learn for international business.
Business English vocabulary: Recap
In this article, we’ve provided you with a mini-dictionary of business English vocabulary, along with some useful tips for putting your growing knowledge into practice.
Consider this as just the beginning: they’re the launching pad for your business English journey. While it might be a bumpy ride at first, the end result could be the deal or even the amazing job you’ve always dreamed about!
Don’t stop now…learn more English vocabulary!
Practice everyday Business English vocabulary and expressions in a safe space with Busuu. It’ll help you get ahead of the competition, no matter if it’s your first day or your tenth year on the job!
You might also like...
70 Useful English adverbs and how to use them
Irregular verbs in English
Nouns in English
Pronouns and how to use them in yveryday Conversation
Imperative verbs and how to use them
When (and When Not to) use passive voice in English
How to use articles in English
Question words in English