Pitch Deck terminology can be confusing for new business owners and startup founders. That's why many newbies find explaining their business ideas and solutions challenging, especially when crafting a business plan, investor pitch deck, and sales presentation.

Understanding and using common business terms is more than just a formality. They are powerful tools that can help you deliver your message more effectively, making you feel more prepared and capable in your business communication.

Here are some of the most used business terms grouped by context and application.

Strategy

Acqui-hire: When you acquire a company for its people and talent instead of its tangible assets. Acqui-hire saves you time from building a team from scratch.

Business Accelerator: Companies and non-profit organizations that provide mentorship and fundraising opportunities for new businesses and startups to accelerate their progress.

Business Incubators: Companies and non-profit organizations that provide long-term mentorship and support for new companies and startups, helping them avoid early-stage challenges.

Best Cost Strategy: When you focus on cost in a narrow market.

Business Innovation: What is unique and innovative about your business setup, operations, or solutions?

Business Model Canvas: One-page business plan that shows you the top questions you need to answer before you launch your business.

Business Model: A company's plan for making a profit.

Business Philosophy: Fundamental principles and moral obligations.

Cost Leadership: When you can provide the best price for mass production.

Desirability: An evaluation to determine if buyers desire your solutions.

Differentiation Strategy: Provide solutions different from similar providers in a broad market.

Disruption: Disruption refers to a process of creating a new solution or innovation that makes a significant difference in the market and the world.

Economic Moat: A business's ability to maintain a competitive edge.

Feasibility: A study to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of a business.

Focus Strategy: Provide a different and unique solution to a niche market.

Viability: A business's ability to survive.

Franchise: A franchise is a joint venture between a franchisor and a franchisee. The franchisor is the original business. It sells the right to use its name and idea.

Intellectual Property: A protected invention through patents, copyrights, trademarks, or others.

Investor: Someone who invests in your company and plays a role in daily operations and management decisions.

Iteration: Changes to your business plan, product road map, or other aspects of your business. Early-stage startups often iterate to fine-tune their business strategy and brand positioning.

Key Activities: The most important actions your company must perform to operate successfully.

Key Partners: People or commercial entities needed for the business model to work, like suppliers, manufacturers, or advisors.

Key Resources: The most important assets required to make your business model work.

Licensee: Any person or business that has been granted legal permission to conduct activities using something another party owns or controls.

Licensing: Obtaining permission from a company to manufacture and sell one or more of its products within a defined market area.

Licensor: Any person or business that issues a license allowing someone to do or use something.

Retention: Retention rate refers to the number of customers that retain the use of your services. A high retention rate signals a healthy business. It means customers are getting value out of your service.

Traction: The evaluation of your key metrics. Any data that shows your business is progressing over time. Metrics include the number of users, buyers, members, revenue, opt-ins, downloads, store ranking, and more. Traction can also include testimonials and third-party publicity to validate your products and services.

Operating Activities: Activities a company does to bring its products and services to market on an ongoing basis.

Pivot: Major change to business plan and operations.

Product-Market Fit: Refers to the point when your customer acquisition costs are lower than the lifetime value of the customers. You have a market fit when the product attracts the right buyers and/or existing buyers refer your products to a similar demographic.

Pitch Deck: A visual, condensed, and action-oriented version of your business plan. Typically follows a proven presentation outline created by the investment industry.

Scalability: A term used to describe if your business is easily scalable. Can you service and support more clients and customers using most of your existing tools and resources? If yes, then your business is scalable. You need to find ways to sell more with less labor and costs.

SWOT Analysis: SWOT analysis is a strategic planning and management technique used to help a person or organization identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning. It is sometimes called situational assessment or situational analysis.

Validation: Proof using metrics and signals to demonstrate a need and demand for your solution. The best validation is sales.

Market

Competitive Advantage: Features that make you, your solutions, or your company better or different from similar providers. Differentiation can be through innovation, intellectual property, exclusive rights, partnerships, or other ways like niching down and capturing a small but growing market faster than anyone else.

Competitive Approach: How you plan to stay relevant and survive in a competitive market.

Competitive Analysis: A strategy that involves researching major competitors to gain insight into their products, sales, and marketing.

Customer Development: Customer development is identifying, discovering, and validating potential customers that can benefit from your solutions. Validation can be done through focus groups and private interviews.

Customer Differentiation: What unique, better, or different solutions or experiences can your customers expect from you?

Customer Segmentation: The process of dividing a broad consumer or business market, normally consisting of existing and potential customers, into sub-groups of consumers based on shared characteristics.

Demographics: Description of a group of people based on factors such as age, race, and sex.

Market Gap: An opportunity to create or offer a solution that is not currently on the market.

Market Segmentation: Combining prospective buyers into groups with common needs and who respond to similar marketing campaigns.

Market Share: The percent of total sales in an industry generated by a particular company. Market share is calculated by taking the company's sales over the period and dividing it by the industry's total sales over the same period.

Market Size: Total number of potential buyers of a product or service within a given market. The number is used to estimate potential sales.

Negative User Persona: Description of people who are not likely to buy your solutions.

Niche Market: A small section of the market of people and businesses with specific needs. Focusing on a niche market can help a company create new and unique features that are not addressed by vendors serving a bigger market.

Total Addressable Market (TAM): Entire market demand for your product or service.

Serviceable Available Market (SAM): Size of the market you can serve.

Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM): Share of the market you can realistically reach with your current resources

Target Audience: The intended audience for your content, products, or services.

Target Market: Your ideal buyers. A group of customers with similar needs and objectives.

The Chasm: Refers to a gap between people who love your solutions and the rest of the market. Having a few raving fans but limited sales from other sources indicates there is something that needs attention. You must find ways to cross the chasm and reach a new customer segment.

User Persona: A fictional character created to represent a user type that might benefit from your products and services.

Underlying Magic: The secret sauce to your business, usually referring to proprietary and intellectual property that the competition cannot easily replicate.

Unfair Advantage: Another term to describe your competitive advantage.

Investor Talk

Co-Founder: Used when two or more people have founded a business.

Advisors: Informal body of outside experts with no legal responsibility to fill in gaps in expertise and contacts.

Angel: Angel investors are individual investors, family, or friends looking to support and fund promising businesses with the hopes of future high returns. Angle investors are ideal for early-stage companies and can fund businesses during the research and development phase.

Board of Directors: Executive committee that jointly supervises the activities of an organization and can be tied legally to the company.

Cap Table: A capitalization table, also known as a cap table, is a spreadsheet or table showing a company's equity capitalization. It is a detailed breakdown of a company’s shareholders’ equity that can sometimes include a company’s equity ownership capital, such as common equity shares, preferred equity shares, warrants, and convertible equity.

Cliff: The amount of time (usually one year) stock option holders have to remain with the startup before claiming a percentage of their shares. Both vesting and cliff periods help employers align employees’ interests with startup performance.

Convertible Debt (AKA Convertible Note): To receive funding during the early stages of business when it is challenging to set a company value by providing the investor with a note that specifies a principal amount, interest rate, and maturity date. The note may convert to equity when the company proceeds with an equity funding round. However, the investor can call the debt at maturity if they choose not to convert to equity and withdraw from financing the startup.

Crowdfunding: A new funding model that allows entrepreneurs to raise money from a large group of backers or angel investors without going through the venture capital route. Popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter and Crowdfunder.

Debt Crowdfunding: Borrow money from other individuals through crowdfunding sites.

Donation Crowdfunding: Collect donations from people who support your business cause using crowdfunding sites.

Dragon: Startups that have raised over $1 Billion in funding.

Equity Crowdfunding: Sell a piece of your business to an investor or groups of investors through a crowdfunding site.

Equity Funding: To receive funding in exchange for equity shares. This means the investor(s) will own a percentage of your business. Equity holders receive a share of dividends relative to their equity share.

Executive Summary: A summary of the key highlights of your Pitch Deck or Business Plan.

Exit: Also known as Exit Strategy, is how a company plans to exit the market. Exit can refer to selling the company to someone else, merging with another company, or going through an IPO to get listed on the stock market.

Founder: The person who started the business. In some cases, like a technology startup, you can be specific and say Technical Founder or N0n-Technical Founder. This will help differentiate who is in charge of developing the technology.

Post-Money Valuation: Refers to a company's valuation after receiving outside financing or capital. The company's value either increases or decreases after each round of funding.

Pre-Money Valuation: Refers to the valuation of a company before it begins to receive any investments into the company. This valuation gives investors an idea of the business's current value and provides the value of each issued share.

Pre-Seed Funding: Early-stage funding allows entrepreneurs to validate their business idea through market research. Usually self-funded or supported by friends and family.

Pro Forma: A pro forma is a method of calculating financial results using projections and assumptions. So it does not use generally accepted accounting principles. ”

Rewards Crowdfunding: Collect funds from people in exchange for a future product or service still in development using sites like Kickstarter. Their funds can help you create and launch your solution; in return, they will be the first to experience it.

ROI: Return on investment is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of an investment. It measures the return on a particular investment relative to its cost. To calculate ROI, divide the benefit (or return) by the cost of the investment. You can express the results as a percentage or ratio.

Seed Funding: Seed funding refers to investor money used to give a startup with a viable business model enough money to bring their idea to market. Seed funding can be self-funded or acquired through a loan, grant, angel investors, friends, or family.

Series A, B, C, D, and beyond: Additional series of funding usually provided by investment firms to support a company's ongoing growth, usually with an exit strategy in mind.

Shareholders’ Equity: Shareholder equity (SE) refers to a company's net worth or the total dollar amount that would be returned to its shareholders if the company is liquidated after all debts are paid off.

Silent Partner: Someone who invests in a company but prefers not to be involved in daily operations.

SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity): This form of funding is similar to convertible debt but doesn’t include interest or maturity date. It is a loan for the right to purchase stock at a future date, usually at a discounted rate.

Sweat Equity: Acquiring shares in a company by investing your time, skills, and services.

Term sheet: A sheet used to outline the terms of the investment. Term sheets don’t guarantee an investment but are a starting point for negotiations.

Unicorn: Startups that exceed $1 Billion in valuation.

VC: Venture Capitalist Firms are in the business of investing, so they focus more on companies with proven sales and traction. They like to invest in proven concepts to accelerate growth.

Vesting: The amount of time (usually four years) investors, founders, or employees have to wait before they can claim their shares. Vesting encourages long-term commitment to the business and discourages early foundress and employees from leaving the company.

Financial

Accounts Payable: Money a business owes to its suppliers is shown as a liability on a company's balance sheet.

Accounts Receivable: Money due for goods or services delivered or used but not yet paid for by customers. E.g., customers who order products on a payment plan.

Bootstrapping: A term to describe a self-funded process where an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital, relying on money other than outside investments. Over 90% of startups are self-funded.

Bottom Line: A business's net income, earnings, or profit.

Burn Rate: The amount of money you spend to keep your business going. The monthly burn rate refers to your monthly business expenses. Burn rate can also refer to the amount of money you will spend for each round of funding. Investors want to know how you will use their investment and how long that money will last before you need the subsequent financing round.

Balance Sheet: A financial statement that reports a company's assets, liabilities, and shareholder equity at a specific time.

Capital Expenditure (CAPEX): Payments made for goods or services that are recorded or capitalized on a company's balance sheet instead of expensed on the income statement. E.g., purchase of property, technology, or software.

Cash Flow Statement: Financial statement that provides aggregate data regarding all cash inflows and outflows a company receives.

Cash Flow: The net amount of cash and cash equivalents transferred in and out of a company. Cash received represents inflows, while money spent represents outflows. Inflows need to be higher than outflows for a business to survive.

Consolidated Balance Sheet: A document that shows the entire financial situation of a parent company, along with all its subsidiaries, within a single sheet, without separating the companies.

Cost Driven: Based on manufacturing, production, or service delivery cost.

Cost of Goods: Material and labor costs to produce a product sold by a company.

Cost Structure: Summary of all costs incurred by your business, sorted by type, the relation to each other, and the impact on your business's bottom line.

Dynamic Pricing: Variable based on negotiation, market demand, resources, and customer behavior.

EBITIBA: Acronym for “Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA). An accounting term used to measure core corporate profitability.

Expenses: Cost that businesses incur in running their operations.

Financial Activities: Transactions that include owner's equity, long-term liabilities, and changes in short-term loans.

Fixed Cost: Business expenses that don't change over time, allowing you to make better cost predictions.

Variable Cost: Expenses that change in proportion to how much a company produces or sells.

Fixed Pricing: List price based on product feature, customer segment, and volume.

Value Driven: Based on the value it provides to the customer. E.g., improved efficiency, productivity, or security.

Income Statement: A financial statement focusing on the company’s revenue and expenses during a particular period.

Income: Amount of money left after you pay your expenses. Income is a better measure of the health of the company.

GAAP: Generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, are accounting standards adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Go-To-Market Strategy:

Gross Margins: The amount of money a company retains after subtracting the costs associated with producing the goods it sells and the services it provides.

Revenue: Amount of money a business makes before paying expenses. Early-stage startups and new companies tend to have more expenses than revenue which is why revenue numbers alone are insufficient.

Run Rate: A rough estimate of a company's annual earnings based on the current monthly or quarterly financial performance data.

Lean: Lean methodology is a process of building and testing quickly on a small budget to avoid overspending on an unproven business idea. Lean operations refer to businesses that can run with minimal staff and resources.

Leverage: Leverage is the use of debt (borrowed capital) in order to undertake an investment or project.

Liabilities: Liabilities are the legal debts a company owes to third-party creditors.

Marketing & Sales

A/B testing: Refers to a process of creating two similar ads, websites, or marketing funnels with slight differences and testing which one performs better. Many marketing platforms offer this feature, allowing you to test and focus your budget on the best-performing campaigns. The slight difference could include design elements, headlines, and other content.

Activation: Refers to when a free trial is over and the customer makes a payment to activate their account. The goal of a business is to increase activation.

Audience Temperature: Measure the prospective client's awareness of your business and the desire to purchase, usually measured as Cold, Warm, and Hot.

B2B: Business to Business is a business transaction that takes place between one business and another.

B2C: Business to Consumer is a transaction between a business and an individual as the end customer.

C2C: Consumer to Consumer is a business transaction between two private individuals offline or online. E.g., Craigslist, eBay, or Etsy sales.

D2C: Direct to Consumer is a business transaction between product creator and consumer that bypasses third-party retailers, wholesalers, or intermediaries.

CLV OR LTV: Customer Lifetime Value or Lifetime Value of the Customer refers to the average amount of revenue you can expect from each customer. A business aims to increase customers' lifetime value by giving them reasons to come back and buy more. You can calculate your CLV by dividing your total sales by the number of customers.

Bounce: An important metric that measures how long website visitors spend on a webpage before leaving. The goal is a low bounce rate, meaning your website content is valuable to your visitors. If they leave quickly, it means they did not find your content useful.

Brand Messaging: Key message, unique value proposition, and other content that conveys your brand story and what makes you better than the competition.

Brand Positioning: Overall business strategy, your commitment to your market, and how you plan to deliver a consistent and profitable customer experience.

Brand Style Guide: A rule book containing specifications regarding your brand's look and feel, including typography, colors, logos, and imagery.

Branding (Visual Brand): Your logo, fonts, colors, and how they appear on your websites and other marketing collateral.

Business Development: Searching for, attracting, and onboarding new buyers.

Buyer's Journey: A process a buyer goes through to become aware, evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.

Buying Roles: Different people and roles needed to make a purchasing decision.

CAC: Customer Acquisition Cost refers to the cost it takes to acquire a customer into your business. That number includes any time, effort, or money required to acquire the customer. Free marketing strategies like blogging, podcasting, or social media posting take time. Paid advertising needs money. You need to find a way to calculate the total cost to ensure you have a profitable business.

Channels: Communication channels that allow you to reach and communicate with your market during the awareness, evaluation, purchase, delivery, and after sales process.

Churn: The churn rate refers to the percentage of your paying customers who cancel your service or subscription. Most subscription services have cancelation. The goal is to find ways to provide more value, so customers don’t cancel their subscriptions. A low churn rate means your solutions are in demand. A high churn rate means your customers are not getting enough value.

Back-End Product: High-priced products and services you offer to your current clients.

Cross-Sell: The sales technique involves selling an additional product or service to an existing customer.

Early Adopters: Your first few buyers.

Evangelists: Customers who love your products and solutions and recommend them to others.

Freemium: A common customer acquisition strategy that offers a free version of software or tool with limited features. The free version allows customers to test the platform and upgrade to a paid version when needed.

Front-End Product: Low-cost products and services offered to your cold audience.

Hockey stick growth: When a company experiences initial slow growth followed by fast and accelerated growth, creating a chart resembling a hockey stick shape.

Inbound Marketing: Refers to marketing activities that attract buyers looking for your solutions. Inbound marketing activities include blogging, videos, podcasting, and other content that creates awareness. Other common tools include testimonials and case studies that attract similar buyers to your business.

Growth Hacking: A successful early-stage marketing campaign that generates high sales volume at a low cost.

Marketing Analytics: The practice of measuring, managing, and analyzing marketing performance to maximize its effectiveness and optimize return on investment (ROI).

Marketing Strategy: business's overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.

KPI: Key Performance Indicators are metrics by which startups judge their performance, progress, and targets. The most common KPIs include customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, and monthly and annual recurring revenue.

Outbound Marketing: Refers to proactive marketing activities and paid advertising campaigns designed to deliver your message to people who are not actively looking for solutions.

SEO: Searching Engine Optimization refers to strategies and tactics that allow you to rank high on search sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Upsell: Sales technique that invites the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons to generate more revenue.

Marketing Communication

Core Values: Key message used for marketing purposes that conveys the principles that guide all of a company's actions.

Mission Statement: A short phrase or sentence that conveys how you plan to achieve your vision statement.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Statement about what makes you and your company different from other vendors. A business can have multiple USPs for various industries and use cases.

Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. A business usually has one UVP.

Vision Statement: A short phrase or sentence that conveys your business's big picture and long-term aspiration.

Tagline / Slogan: A tagline or slogan is catchy and is easy to remember phrase used for marketing purposes.

Value Proposition: A statement describing your solutions' value to your target buyer. It can also refer to the actual solution.

Product Development & Design

Agile: A looping development process that includes building, measuring, and learning to reduce development costs and time.

Alpha Release: Internal release of your software solution created for internal testing by your teams.

Beta Release: Presale testing of your software solution by select clients or potential users to provide feedback to improve the product.

Accessibility: Web accessibility, or eAccessibility, is the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites on the World Wide Web by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed.

API: An application programming interface (API) is a way for two or more computer programs to communicate with each other.

Back-end: Development and maintenance of server-side functionality. Server-side functionality includes behind the scene storage and manipulation of data that is not visible on the user interface.

Concurrency: The ability of programs and computers to perform several tasks simultaneously.

Context-Aware Computing: The ability of a system or system component to gather information about its environment at any given time to anticipate needs and provide enriched suggestions, functions, experiences, and solutions.

CRUD: An application that uses several forms to get data in and out of a database. It stands for create, read, update and delete.

Dapp: A decentralized application that can operate autonomously, typically through smart contracts, that run on a decentralized computing, blockchain, or other distributed ledger system.

Database: An organized collection of data stored and accessed electronically.

DevOps: A practice that combines software development and IT operations.

Framework: Library of code available for use and integrations to simplify the development environment.

Full stack: Programmers proficient with back-end and front-end coding of an application.

Front-end: Coding and design of the interface users get to see and use.

Interaction Design: Designing products with the user in mind allowing them to interact with the web or mobile interface in the best way possible.

MVP: Stands for Minimal Viable Product and refers to the first version of your product that only includes the core features. The aim is to test the riskiest assumptions before you invest too much time and money in the complete solution.

Open Source: Open-source software is computer software released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose.

Operating System (OS): A system that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs.

PaaS: Platform as a service. That is when you use existing platforms to create your SaaS solution instead of budling one from scratch.

Quality Assurance (QA): Quality assurance tests are performed in stages to ensure a quality product and solution.

SaaS: Software as a service. Refers to the software you can access online instead of the one you install on your devices. SaaS companies charge membership fees, which is why they are called a service, not a product. You never own a copy of the software. You only pay a fee to access it.

Smart Contract: Self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. The code and agreements exist across a distributed, decentralized blockchain network. The code controls the execution and transaction.

Stack: A list of technologies you need to build and launch a functional web or mobile application.

Usability: The degree to which a product can be used effectively and efficiently, allowing users to accomplish the desired outcome with maximum clarity.

User Experience: Design elements that facilitate the use of your software. A good user experience means users can figure out the interface quickly. A bad user experience is when the interface is confusing.

User Interface: The design of an application as seen by the user.

Wireframing: Simple line design that shows the placement of elements on different devices used for testing purposes. Once the wireframes have been tested, the design team will dedicate more time to enhancing the look using images, effects, fonts, and colors.

New Industry

Artificial Intelligence: Intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by animals and humans.

Augmented Reality (AR): Merges the digital and physical worlds.

Biotechnology: Use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products.

Blockchain: Secure, decentralized, and transparent way of recording and sharing data, with no need to rely on third-party intermediaries.

Fintech: Technology to enhance or automate financial services and processes.

Machine Learning: Computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience.

Robotics: Design, manufacture, and use robots for personal and commercial applications.

Nanotechnology: Use of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale for industrial purposes.

Virtual Reality (VR): Immersive digital experiences (using a VR headset) that simulate the real world.

Learn more about Pitch Decks and how to use them to build instant brand credibility.