Talking Business: 9 Things All Entrepreneurs Should Stop Saying

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talking business stop saying these

There are going to be a few things on this list that you, an entrepreneur, have said at some point. After all, there’s a reason that certain sayings and phrases have become so overused in business; once upon a time, they were useful, catchy, and inventive ways to make a point. Buzzwords are the same; they’re used because they’re useful, for the most part.

Languages moves and flexes; we pick up phrases we have heard elsewhere, and the ones that help us make a short, punchy point we tend to repeat. That, of course, is the problem: It’s not the words themselves, or even their meaning, that is problematic; it’s their abundant overuse and occasional misuse. If you find yourself constantly defaulting to the same old sayings, or being tempted by buzzwords, when trying to describe your business needs, then there’s a few reasons you might want to consider changing your ways.

  • To some people, these sayings sound incredibly old-fashioned– even if the saying itself is relatively new, the overuse has been so profound that it’s become tired at record speed. As an entrepreneur, you always want to portray yourself as being on top of the trends and up-to-the-minute, so cutting these sayings will actually improve your standing in this regard.
  • Some of these sayings are meaningless, or could be phrased in a different way to make the same point. You can appear to be unimaginative due to defaulting to these phrases, rather than defining your own business language that is specific to your company.
  • If you repeat phrases too often, there is a risk you will become known for it, that it’ll be your thing, almost like you’re trying to cultivate a catchphrase. This can spoil your professional demeanor, so switching up your phraseology every once in awhile can be hugely beneficial.
  • These phrases can make business-to-business transactions difficult, especially if both businesses are using the same sayings rather than actually clarifying a position. When you’re outsourcing, you have to be certain that you are clear and absolute about every point you make. Falling back on these default terms can make that next to impossible.

As the above shows, using these phrases can have a negative impact on your standing as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, this is not the image you want to cultivate. You want to appear suave, cool and collected in everything you do. You want to be able to call to place an order with your supplier and be confident they understood your requirements, rather than run the risk of them misinterpreting a buzzword you used. You want to be a business leader, not a follower in terms of the language you use.

So, let’s dive on in to the things every entrepreneur should stop saying.

9 Things Entrepreneurs Must STOP Saying Already!

1) “Ahead of the curve”

The phrase is one of the most overused in the entire business playbook and can easily sound like jargon. It also doesn’t really mean much; all businesses want to be “ahead of the curve”, so you’re essentially saying something that is rather redundant. You don’t need to replace this saying in your vocabulary, because it’s meaning can be taken as read.

2) Any and all references to “levels”  

The word “levels”, and all of the phrases around it, have become so overused in business — and so without due cause or meaning — that it is essentially a running joke. Taking things to the next level and such phrases are like nails down a blackboard for some people, not just because of the repetition but because of the fact it doesn’t really mean anything. Literally the only business people who should be saying this are people who install elevators; for everyone else, it should be consigned to the scrapheap.

3) “Big Picture”

Talking of irritation, this one is a doozy. Entrepreneurs are always talking about seeing “the big picture”, which is nice, but also… shouldn’t you be seeing the big picture anyway? Is that not just expected? “The big picture” has now reached true bad business buzzword levels, so try to cut it from your usage so as not to date yourself.

4) “I’ll get back to you soon!” (if you’re not going to do that)

Every entrepreneur on the face of the earth has been guilty of saying this at some point. Sometimes, it’s said completely honestly; you do mean to get back to that person soon, but then more pressing matters seize your attention. At other times, we say it just to end a conversation that is proving problematic.

It’s wise not to use this saying unless you absolutely and definitely know you’re going to “get back to [them] soon”– but even then, it should be avoided. Even if your intentions are pure, the problem is the word “soon”. What constitutes soon? For some people, they might take that to mean you’re going to get back to them without the next half hour. For others, they will be surprised if they hear from you within the next couple of days, and would have been prepared to wait longer.

When you’re promising to follow up with someone, be specific in exactly how long you think it will be until you’re able to respond. That doesn’t mean people will always respect this, and they may call you for an update even if you’re still in timeframe, but it will cut down a huge amount of confusion in your business interactions and save you from emulating the businesses in this story.

5) Using IT terminology and phrases you don’t understand 

More than any other, entrepreneurs tend to be prideful people. That’s completely natural, of course. You’re striking out on your own and trying to make a business work; you need to have a sense of pride, a strong sense of self-worth, and a smidgen of ego helps too. However, this usually-useful pride can lead some entrepreneurs down a bad, bad road.

If you’re contracting an IT company such as, it’s incredibly tempting to use IT phrases and buzzwords that you have heard other knowledgeable people use. It sounds great to you, because the words are new and novel. However, if you don’t truly understand the meaning, then you could be referring to things you don’t need, want, or have any use for. If you can’t explicitly explain what an IT buzzword or phrase means, then don’t use it.

No IT company is going to expect you to be 100% aware of all the latest tech, IT, and networking options available to you– that’s what you’re hiring an IT company for. So while it’s genuinely great that you want to show an ability and understanding, it stops being quite so beneficial if you end up requesting services your company doesn’t actually need.

6) Think outside of the box 

Question: Has anyone, ever, deliberately thought inside the box?

Follow Up Question: What is “the box” anyway?

This phrase is meaningless and genuinely, terribly overused. It’s fair to assume that when you and your employees are brainstorming, you’re all trying to come up with something new and inventive; any business that deliberately seeks to emulate the work of others isn’t going to survive (and is probably breaking the law along the way). So avoid using this phrase and just encourage positive approaches to all decision-making.

7) “Forward-thinking”  

This is applicable to businesses involved in archaeological sites. It is not applicable to any other company.

8) Expletives  

Many business owners have no problem using expletives; you may be one of them, and wouldn’t flinch if one of your business-to-business contacts were to use such language in your presence.

However, some people find expletives incredibly rude, so much so they may seek to sever all ties with your business should you swear. Swearing is fine when you’re in a non-professional setting, but if you’re engaged with someone that you want to either buy from you or do business with you, mute the expletives.

If the person you are talking with uses expletives, and you want to use them, then you can go ahead and continue if they broke the ice. However, for the most part, it’s best to keep your language clean when you’re in a business environment.

If you’re not sure what constitutes expletives — given that these differ depending on the person — then always play it safe and opt for the least offensive word you can think of. It’s far easier to have to scramble for the correct word for a few seconds than say the wrong thing and never be able to recover your reputation.

9) “Dynamic”  

Another meaningless phrase that doesn’t explain anything and is something that all businesses strive to achieve. Axing this from your business vocabulary should be simple, encouraging you to find descriptive words to detail exactly what you are hoping to achieve.

In Conclusion 

Words have power. If you want to always portray an image of a mature, sophisticated business person, then removing all of the above from your business vocabulary would be an excellent decision. Focus on describing things as they are, and based on what you know to be true, rather than resorting to the old faithful phrases– and your stature as an entrepreneur will improve no end.