Improper use of Buzzwords in Business
Business buzzwords and phrases are so overused that they have lost their original meaning. While some words or phrases may be deemed appropriate and substantial for a business situation, many people abuse buzzwords to sound smart, or as an alternative to something that would have been a better and clearer way to explain themselves.
caught up with 12 founders and asked them which pieces of business jargon they wish fellow entrepreneurs and start-ups would stop using.
"Hit the ground running"
According to Michael Quinn of Yellow Bridge Interactive, he hears this phrase at the end of almost every meeting he’s in. No matter who says it - somebody on his team or a client - it’s become a cliché. The goal is always to have positive progress with any new initiative, he says, the phrase is unnecessary and redundant.
Millionaire Network CEO and Co-founder Parker Powers says the term ‘visionary’ should be a bold statement by which others recognize about you, and not a moniker you would refer to yourself as. Entrepreneurs and start-ups should never declare themselves as experts and gurus to the world.
"Think outside the box"
Tim McHugh, Co-owner and Vice-president of Sales and Marketing at Saddleback Educational Inc., is tired of hearing this phrase in the business world. McHugh acknowledges that it has an important meaning, but he implores you to be different and find a new way to say it.
According to Real Bullets Branding Founder Caitlin McCabe, strong words like innovation are being turned into nothing more than marketing jargon and that’s not good for the business world. Products, services, and companies, she says, should earn the right to be regarded as innovative.
Cyber Superpowers Founder Travis Steffen recalls what the term ‘influencer’ meant back then: an individual with a high amount of influence over a certain market or fan base. Now, he says, advertising an event to be full of "influencers" is only a flashy way of saying, "We’re having a party. Invite all your friends as long as they have jobs and aren’t crazy."
Darrah Brustein of Network Under 40 and Finance Whiz Kids says pivot has become the glamorous way of saying you changed something that wasn't working. Admit that you made a mistake and that you found a way to adjust it, she advises. Brustein says she has much more respect for calling it like it is than trying to cover something up to save face.
For Solomon Consulting Group Founder Grant Gordon, the term ‘paradigm shift’ is technically a valid way to describe changing how you do something and the model you use, but it has been so overused that it’s already redundant - paradigms shifting paradigms of paradigms.
Chocomize CEO Fabian Kaempfer says using ‘engagement’ as a real measure of evaluation is a common and discreditable practice among start-ups and marketers. It reduces the success of your efforts with a vague statement that generalizes all of the resulting actions, when in reality, each action should be weighed separately and with corresponding degrees of value. That measurement and evaluation tools are increasingly improving pushes engagement out of place.
Ty Morse, CEO of Songwhale, doesn't like terms that suggest that something is or should be more than itself. I’m providing a service or product or good that is useful to you, he says, that is value add. There is nothing more to add to it. Either it works or it doesn't.
ZinePak Co-founder Brittany Hodak hates when founders use the term ‘pre-revenue’ to describe their "game-changing" start-ups. Most businesses exist to make money. Hodak says if your start-up is in its third year and still pre-revenue, chances are you have an expensive hobby, not a company.
For Petovera founder Matthew Ackerson, a growth hacker is what lazy people call an expert marketer, as well as a trendy phrase among wantrepreneurs, a fancy way of saying business development or marketing. As a marketer himself, Ackerson says the phrase ‘growth hacking’ is really just marketers marketing (themselves). It is nothing new; the skill set growth hackers are pulling from is the same one used by other marketers for the last century. Ackerson encourages us to be honest and just call it what it is: marketing.
Shawn Porat, CEO of Fortune Cookie Advertising, has seen many people describing their latest product or service as game-changing or a game-changer. Porat says it usually turns out to be mainly hype. To him, something is only a game-changer if it’s truly revolutionary and changes the way things are done. His advice is to tone down the rhetoric and be more realistic about what you’re offering, especially if you know your product or service can’t live up to your own hype.