Pre-Start, Support

Business jargon-buster

Business life can sometimes seem as if it’s full of jargon. While it’s NEVER wrong to ask someone to explain what they mean, sometimes it helps to familiarise yourself with some of the common business terms and phrases you may read or hear as a woman starting on her own business journey. Here are some of the frequently used words and phrases in business and in business support for women.


A start-up accelerator is a business support programme for start-up and early stage companies for a fixed (usually short) period of time.

Angel Investment

Money invested in a small or start-up business by a ‘business angel’, usually in exchange for shares (equity) in the business.


Building a business through sales income that you make, personal savings, and support from others while keeping costs as low as possible. When you ‘bootstrap’ your business you start up and grow your business using no external money such as business loans or equity. (Also sometimes referred to as ‘organic growth’.)


A budget is a way to keep track of your all your costs and make sure you have enough money coming in to pay your bills when they are due.

Business Angel

An individual who invests his or her own money into start-up or early stage businesses, usually in exchange for shares (equity). Business angels do invest on their own as individuals, but most often they invest through groups (syndicates) with other business angels. The syndicate completes the business checks and paperwork relating to the investment.

Business Model

The approach used to achieve the goals of a business – think about it as how your company makes money. A business model will describe key parts of a business, such as its purpose, business process, customers, products, strategy, infrastructure, organisational structure, trading practices, and operational processes and policies including culture.

Business Model Canvas

A useful framework for helping you to develop a business model. More here.

Business Plan

A document which sets out how the business will create and grow sustainable income and how this income will be achieved.  The plan is a written document describing the business, the sales and marketing strategy and the financial background, and usually contains financial projections.

Business Strategy

A long-term plan of action to achieve specified business goals.

Business Sector

A category of business such as Food and Drink, Tourism or Manufacturing. The Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy identifies six business sectors where Scotland has a distinct comparative advantage – Food & Drink; Creative Industries; Sustainable Tourism; Energy; Financial & Business Services; Life Sciences.

Cashflow projection

A spreadsheet which details the monthly cash requirements of the business including when payments will be received and when costs will be paid.


A sum of money used to start a business, or a sum of money invested in a business.

Community Interest Company (CIC)

A business structure where the organisation exists to benefit a community or to achieve a social purpose, rather than to make a profit for shareholders.


Crowdfunding is a process of raising often small amounts of money from a large number of people, often through an online platform. Typically, people seeking funds set up a profile of their project on a website and then use social media and other networks to raise money.


A company director is the person legally responsible for running a company and making sure information is sent on time to Companies House. It is important that you understand your legal duties as a Company Director.

Economic empowerment of women

Process by which women gain power and control over their own lives and acquire the ability to make strategic choices that impact their economic and social situation.


This is the point in time when an investor and/or owner sells their stake in a business to realise their financial gains or losses. If you have an investor in your business they will want to know what your exit strategy is.

Financial Plan

A spreadsheet which sets out the estimated future income of the business and the estimated costs in order to achieve this income.  Also sometimes called a financial forecast.

Gender Aware Support

Gender-aware business support considers barriers that may be preventing the participation and / or use of a particular service by women or men. A gender aware approach to business support would investigate and adapt a policy or service accordingly in order that a positive outcome is achieved for both women and men. In the case of business, such an approach necessitates a knowledge and understanding of the key issues for women-led businesses as well as those led by men and the possible differences needed in policy approach.

Gender Balance

A gender balance ensures an equal participation of women and men in all areas of work, projects, or programmes.

Gender Impact Assessment

This kind of assessment is a policy tool for the screening of a policy proposal, in order to detect and assess its differential impact or effects on women and men. This assessment should ensure that any imbalances are addressed before the proposal is endorsed or implemented.

‘Gender neutral’ and ‘Gender blind’

The term ‘gender neutral’ is often used to describe services that are generally considered to be applicable to the needs of both sexes. However, what is regarded as ‘gender neutral’ can often be ‘gender blind’, if the specific service needs of the end user are not met. ‘Gender blindness’ is an inability to perceive that there are different gender roles, and different needs of men, women, boys and girls. This can result in a failure to realise that policies and programmes can have a different impact on men, women, boys, and girls.

Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation or the labour market. It is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings, for example, in Scotland, the gender pay gap is 13% when comparing men’s and women’s overall average hourly earnings.

Gender Proofing

Gender proofing is a process carried out on any policy proposal to ensure that any potential gender discriminatory effects arising from that policy have been avoided and that gender equality is promoted.


A grant is a sum of money, usually free, given to you to help start-up and grow your business.

Human capital

Building human capital is an important part of making a business sustainable. Human capital is used to describe the skills, knowledge, and experience that an individual or company has. It is often viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organisation.

Inclusive Growth

Inclusive growth is economic growth that is distributed fairly across society and creates opportunities for all. The Scottish Government aims to achieve inclusive growth that combines increased prosperity with greater equality, creates opportunities for all, and distributes the benefits of increased prosperity fairly.


An organisation or programme that provides business support to start-up and early-stage companies over a period of time. They often provide a range of resources such as office space, events and access to mentors and investors.


Innovations can occur in any field or sector, and can be part of a business, team, or government’s strategic approach. Scottish Government defines innovation as an idea that creates economic value for individuals and society. Innovation involves bringing a new idea into practical effect and is more often achieved within the organisation. For example, the restructuring of an organisation or its processes to achieve significant improvements can be an important form of innovation.

Intellectual Property (IP)

A product of human intellect, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in business. Unlike tangible assets to a business such as computers or an office, intellectual property is an intangible collection of ideas and concepts, and the ownership of such ideas.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

The ownership of concepts and ideas, which can be considered an asset.


This stands for Key Performance Indicator (KPI). It’s a measurable value that you can use to track your business performance. Examples include profit margin, cost per sale, website conversions, etc. KPIs will be different in different businesses.

Limited Company

A business structure where the liability of members of the company is limited to what they have invested or guaranteed to the company.


The difference between the cost to buy or make a product and the selling price.

Occupational segregation

Occupational segregation is a term used to describe gender segregation across job types and job roles. It describes the concentration of men and women in different occupations, and where men and women are clustered into specific job types and grades of jobs, due to gender roles. For example, more women work in caring than in engineering, and more men are in senior management positions than women.


A legal form of business structure where two or more people carry out a business with the goal of making a profit, whilst sharing management tasks and profits.


The presentation of a business proposal or idea to potential investors. Can also refer to presenting ideas to potential customers – known as a sales pitch. Pitches can be as short as one minute (elevator pitch), three minutes or up to 10-20 minutes. Always ask how much time you have for a pitch.


The term ‘pivot’ has become a popular way of referring to a significant business change — ranging from mild to dramatic. It is often intended to help a business recover from some tough times, fierce competition or from any other reasons (such as COVID-19) that make the original business unsustainable. You can also think about ‘pivoting’ as simply ‘adapting’ your business.

Pre-trading Businesses

Businesses which are still researching, working up the business idea, completing the business plan and have not yet started to trade and make money.


Productivity is commonly defined as a ratio of a volume measure of output to a volume measure of input. In a business, productivity could be defined as the amount of work (or output) that an employee produces during their shift (their input). Employee productivity may be particularly important in small businesses, where resources are more limited. It is not always simple to measure productivity. The way in which it is measured within a business can depend on the sector in which the business operates.

Product-Market Fit

This is the level to which a product or service satisfies a market demand. It is important to have a strong product-market fit. You need to do your research to know that the product or service you are creating solves a real problem in a large enough market.

Return on Investment (ROI)

This is a measure used to work out the efficiency of an investment. It measures the amount of return (i.e. money) relative to the cost of the investment. It is usually written as a percentage or ratio.


Income generated by the business. It is the top line or ‘gross’ income figure from which costs are subtracted to determine ‘net’ income.

Sex-disaggregated statistics

This is when data is collected and tabulated separately for women and men allowing the measurement of differences between women and men to be seen in terms of various social and economic dimensions.

Side hustle

Side hustle is a term often used when a person sets up their own small business on the side around other core commitments (e.g. studying, employed work, childcare).  It is often seen as a relatively low-risk way to test out a business idea.

Social capital

Social capital is what develops due to relationships between groups and / or individuals.  It is an attribute of a person with social networks and personal connections, and the benefits that these connections bring to their development as a business owner. Think about it as your network of connections – and their network of connections! Social capital is very useful when setting up in business.

Social Enterprise

An organisation which trades mainly for a social or environmental purpose, reinvests profits or income to achieve its purpose and earns 50% or more  of its income from trading activities. The term social enterprise is not a legal status but a description of how an organisation operates.  Social enterprises may take a variety of legal forms and the process for creating one will depend on which legal form is chosen.


This is the term that is used to refer to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. Generally, an SME is a company with fewer than 250 employees. An SME with nine or fewer employees is called a microbusiness. Most businesses in Scotland are SMEs, and the majority of SMEs are microbusinesses.

Sole Trader

A self-employed person who owns and runs their own business as an individual. Sole traders are taxed in the same way as individuals in the United Kingdom, for example, they will pay Income Tax on the profits of their business, rather than Corporation Tax.

Sunk Costs

A sunk cost refers to money that has already been spent and which cannot be recovered.


A syndicate is a self-organising group of individuals, companies or corporations who come together to undertake some specific business, and / or to pursue or promote a shared interest. Business angels often group together in syndicates to invest in start-up companies.

Tax Return

An annual form which requires to be completed by all businesses and will determine the amount of tax the business requires to pay.

Value Proposition

This describes the value that your product or service will give to a customer if they buy your product or service. It should be easy to understand and compel customers to buy your product or service over an another one.

Venture Capital

Money invested for shares (equity) in a new or early stage business that is expected to have high growth potential. Usually controlled by an individual or small group known as venture capitalists, these investments often require a high rate of return and are secured by a substantial ownership position in the business. Venture capital is associated with a high risk.

Women-led businesses

These businesses are defined by the Scottish Government as ‘controlled by a single woman or having a management team composed of a majority of women’.


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