In honor of my recent graduation I want to publish this post that I’ve been working on for a long time. In the time that I spent at school I learned a lot of useful information. I also learned that there is a bunch of business jargon used. My first year of university was spent learning the lingo. There’s a reason that shows like The Office like to make fun of it because there are a few words and phrases that are said over and over again.

And for those in the outside world, you can sound like a rookie right off the bat if you don’t understand a few of the common terms, or use them in your everyday speech. I don’t want you to look like a rookie! Below are the most commonly used business jargon (and some that are my favourites, because they make you sound smart). Use these in your life and I can almost guarantee that you will fit in and sound smarter!

Efficient and Effective

The goal of everything is to be efficient and effective. This one is great because it can be used in almost every context concerning business.  I think all of my textbooks have said the words efficient and effective at least 100 times each. Of course you want everything to be efficient and effective! Nobody wants anything that is ineffective!

“The goal of our marketing department is to be as efficient and effective as possible”

“We want to make our checkout process as efficient and effective as we can.”

“While making my breakfast in the morning I aim to be efficient and effective”


ROI stands for Return On Investment. Basically, it means that when you invest $10 you want to make sure that you make more than $10 back. The percentage more than $10 you make is ROI. Got it?

It’s a pretty easy concept, but it also sounds incredibly smart.

“What can we expect the ROI to be?”

“When looking at the ROI, I don’t believe that this is a good investment at this time”


Every business, company, and store are an organization. I’m not sure why they are always referred to as an organization, but they are. My first semester I was so confused as to why they always said organization, but I eventually embraced it. It’s a rookie mistake to say anything other than organization.

“This organization is not maximizing its efficiency.”

“The organization is down the road and to the left.”

Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantage is whatever one organization has that the other doesn’t (see how smart I sound when I say organization?). Competitive advantage can be price, quality, customer service, bonus or extras, etc. For example, Walmart’s competitive advantage is their price. One of Amazon’s competitive advantages is their selection. You get the picture.

The beauty of competitive advantage is that almost anything can be a competitive advantage. If you’re a small business owner, you can say that your “local charm” is a competitive advantage.

“The store layout is our competitive advantage.”

“When compared to our competition, it becomes clear that our advantages include our values, customer service, and our dog that greets people at the door.”


It sounds all fancy just because you put an e in front of it. E-commerce is business that is done online. If you have an Etsy shop, you have an e-commerce business. If you have a  blog that makes money, that is an e-commerce business. If you buy anything online, you are completing an e-commerce transaction.

“In the world of e-commerce, our small site is a drop in the bucket.”

“I decided that the e-commerce route would be better for me, so I purchased it through Amazon.”


Organizations do not operate, they perform! Whenever you talk about how an organization is doing, you are talking about the organization’s performance.

“What is the 4th quarter performance?”

“How is the performance of the finance department lately?”

Bonus! Smartie Pants Section

These three below may not be as commonly used, but if you choose to use them, you sound smart. I remember the first time I said “Brand Equity” in a normal conversation with my friends; I immediately felt like the smartest person there. I don’t think that anyone else thought that, but that’s how I felt.


Value-added is a similar concept to a competitive advantage. Value-added is the extras that an organization adds to their product or service so that the customer will choose them over their competitors.

“Our value-added proposition is that we allow customers to choose which colour they would prefer”

“Our customer service is the best in the business which is our value-added”

Brand Equity

Brand equity means the value that the brand is to the organization. Branding is so important, and organizations aim to have consumers choose their products because of the brand. Brand equity is how valuable the brand is. Brands like Levi Strauss, Pampered Chef, Vera Bradley, OXO, and Coach all have strong brand equity because the brand name is recognizable and consumers will seek out that brand.

“Our main objective with social media is to build our brand equity”

SWOT analysis

You get super extra bonus points if you use this one. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis is when you brainstorm what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths of the organization is. This seems complicated, but you can use it in an easy way. If you say

“In our SWOT analysis, we came to the conclusion that we are strong in our ability to satisfy customers.”

This sounds super smart and sounds like you put a lot of effort into exploring all the areas of SWOT, but you really just focused on the good stuff. The problem with using this is that you have to hope that they don’t ask you about the weaknesses and threats, so make sure that you change the subject quickly after.

Now let’s put it all together!

“During our SWOT analysis, we came to the conclusion that our ________ is our biggest asset. We know this because _______________ has lead to a substantial amount of brand equity for our organization. Our performance in our e-commerce sector has lead us to believe that our __________ is our competitive advantage. The ROI in the ________ department has shown positive net results. ______________ department has proven again and again to be efficient and effective.”

“Performance metrics have proven that our competitive advantage is our performance in e-commerce. During a SWOT analysis, we determined that to be the most efficient and effective, we needed to invest in new equipment. We believe that the ROI on this will be astronomical because we will be able to increase efficiency substantially. This increase in efficiency will give up more time to increase our brand equity.”


There you go! Now you never have to go into a meeting without knowing the lingo. Best of luck! I hope your organization has a good performance!

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