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IELTS & TOEFL Business Vocabulary

Business vocabulary is very essential to know for people in business first of all, but it could be of help for those preparing to pass IELTS or TOEFL. Here is the list of words and their definitions which could be used for IELTS Writing Task 2 and IELTS Speaking Part 1.

Business vocabulary with definitions

  • to balance the books: to not spend more money than you are earning
  • to be self-employed: to work for yourself/to not work for an employer
  • to cold call: to make a sales call to someone without asking them for permission first
  • cut throat competition: when one company lowers its prices, forcing other companies to do the same, sometimes to a point where business becomes unprofitable
  • to do market research: to do research into what potential customers would or wouldn’t buy
  • to draw up a business plan: to write a plan for a new business
  • to drum up business: to try to get customers
  • to earn a living: to earn money
  • to go bust: when a business is forced to close because it is unsuccessful
  • cash flow: the money coming in and going out of a business
  • to go into business with: to join another person to start or expand a business
  • to go it alone: to start your own business
  • to go under: (see ‘to go bust’)
  • to have a web presence: to have a website or social  media profile that showcases your business
  • to launch a product: to start selling and promoting a new product
  • to lay someone off: when a company ends an employee’s contract of employment
  • lifestyle business: a business that is set up to bring in a sufficient income and no more
  • to make a profit: to earn more money than it costs to run the business
  • niche business: a business that serves a small, particular market
  • to raise a company profile: to make more people aware of a business
  • to run your own business: to have a business of your own
  • sales figures: a report of the income a company generates through sales of products or services
  • to set up a business: to start a business
  • stiff competition: strong competition from other companies in the same area of work
  • to take on employees: to employ people
  • to take out a loan: to borrow money
  • to win a contract: when a business gets legally-binding work with an individual or company
  • to work for yourself: (see ‘to be self-employed’)

Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking component can be quite challenging if candidates are not sure of what to say for about 2 minutes. Two minutes can feel like two hours if you are not fully prepared for it and you can end up sounding like a broken record: repeating the same words and the same ideas over and over again. Unfortunately, what’s worse is that there is no choice in the kind of topic to discuss, so they will have to make the best use of the situation by preparing and practising for common topics as much as possible.

Let’s practice abovementioned vocabulary in IELTS Speaking model questions and answers.

Part 1 Questions and Answers

Q: Do you work or are you a student?
A: I run my own business actually … I have an online business selling cosmetics … I set up the business 5 years ago and I’m really enjoying working for myself 

Q: What is your ideal job?
A: I don’t think I’d enjoy working for a big company … I think I’d like to go it alone and be self-employed … I’m not sure what area of business it would be but I think I’d enjoy the process of drawing up a business plan and seeing if I could be successful …

Q: Is your city a nice place to live?
A:  It’s not bad … the main problem we have is our local high street … it used to be a busy centre but lots of shops have gone bust … it must be very difficult to make a profit when you have huge supermarkets in the area and a lot haven’t been able to survive with such cut-throat competition

Part 2 Questions and Answers

Describe a business you know that you admire. You should say

  • what this business is
  • what the business sells
  • how long you have known about the business

and say why you like it so much.

A: Actually I discovered a business very recently that I like so much I’d like to do something similar in the future … it’s a small niche business that runs courses in how to cook … especially bread … the owner uses his kitchen for the courses and went into business with a local community shop and sells a lot of the bread and cakes they make in the shop … I first got to hear about the business last year … my wife paid for me to do one of the baking courses and I got to know the owner during the training … it’s a lifestyle business really … he doesn’t have plans to take on employees or expand into new areas … he’s happy earning a living doing the thing he loves … I really admire what he does and I’m sure a lot of people would love to do something similar … he has a web presence … in fact that’s how we got to find out about his company … and he uses social media to raise the company profile … but he’s the only person involved in running the business so he’s in complete control of where the business goes … that’s something that must make it really satisfying … as long as he’s managing to balance the books and the cash flow is healthy I’m sure he must be very pleased with what he has achieved …

Part 3 Questions and Answers

Q:  Why do some people decide to set up their own business?
A: I suppose it’s the idea of being in control of your own destiny … or of believing in a product or service idea you may have … plus it must be very exciting … launching products … winning contracts … and seeing your sales figures improving must be wonderful …

Q: What are some of the dangers involved in starting a business?
A: Obviously you need to have a good idea … some people say you need to do  market research beforehand so you know what the market wants … if you don’t do this you could go under … and if it is a good idea the chances are someone else is doing the same thing so you could end up facing stiff competition …

Q: What are some of things you have to do when running your own business that might not appeal to everyone?
A: Personally i don’t like being in debt so taking out a business loan wouldn’t  suit me at all … and I know a lot of companies do cold calling to try and drum up business … that’s something I’d hate to do … and laying people off if the business gets into trouble … that would be horrible …

* Original acticle 


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