Know your business buzzwords
If you want to be an entrepreneur or begin a small-business startup, you not only need a good idea, you need the right vocabulary.
You'll have an edge if you can sprinkle in buzzwords liberally that make you sound cutting edge and cool, especially if you're pitching your company to an investor or talking to your know-it-all brother-in-law.
So here, to help you keep up to date, are five buzzwords and phrases that entrepreneurs and small-business owners need to know now:
• Pivot — When things didn't go well, it used to be that you would have to “change.”
But that word sounds so negative, doesn't it? Instead, just “pivot.” Pivot sounds nimble, quick. If you lost your job, you might say, “I was a teacher, but I've pivoted into fast-food service.”
• Crowd funding — This is the word to know in 2013.
Crowd funding is the practice of raising money by soliciting small amounts — perhaps as little as $50 — from many (the crowd) instead of a wealthy few. The Pebble e-paper watch raised an astonishing $10 million in pre-sales by crowd funding on Kickstarter. The recently approved Jumpstart Our Small Business Startups Act is intended to expand crowd funding by lessening restrictions on who can invest in new companies, keeping crowd funding a hot topic for the next couple years.
• Showrooming — In December, Amazon ran a promotion: The e-tailer would give an extra 5 percent discount to shoppers in a brick-and-mortar store who looked at items they wanted, then used Amazon's price check application to make an Amazon purchase while still in the store.
In other words, Amazon was treating stores, including many small businesses, as its showrooms. It's not just Amazon. Consumers go to stores to check out products, then buy cheaper online.
• Cloud — By now you probably know about the cloud; after all, it's been two years since Microsoft ran a series of To the Cloud commercials in which people solved every problem by logging on to the Internet.
The way most people understand it, the cloud merely refers to storing and accessing applications or data remotely, over the Internet, rather than on your own servers or hard drives. Though the term has been around for a while, it's still a useful buzzword you can drop in pitches or conversation.
• BYOD — That is, bring your own device. Let's say you've got an iPhone 5, an iPad and an Ultrabook laptop with a blazing-hot microprocessor running Windows 8.
But at work, you're stuck on a 10-year-old desktop running Windows XP.
Inevitably, you're going to whip out one of your own devices to check email, upload files and update customer records. You and your colleagues are bringing your own device and “consumerizing” information technology. This creates big security problems for corporations but also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop and publisher of books for entrepreneurs.