An Entrepreneur’s Glossary: 20+ Entrepreneurship Vocabulary Terms Defined

Entrepreneurship is already tough enough. Are you stuck trying to understand the lingo? Our entrepreneurship dictionary defines the common terms and jargon in an easy-to-understand way.

In our dictionary of entrepreneurial terms, you’ll find a list of entrepreneur-related words, phrases, acronyms, and other vocabulary defined in a plain-English manner.

Here are the 15+ entrepreneur dictionary terms you should know:

Accelerator – An accelerator is a program to help newer startup businesses improve their growth. Accelerators are different from incubators in that they usually only work with startups which already have a business plan and basic strategy in place.

Acquisition – An acquisition is when one company takes ownership of another, usually smaller, company.

Angel – An angel is a type of investor, often a wealthy individual, who provides capital and financial support to a fledgling startup in return for an ownership percentage.

Business Model – A business model is a description of how an existing business or business idea plans to achieve success, make a profit, and create value. Michael Lewis in his book, The New, New Thing, puts it succinctly as “how you planned to make money.”

Crowdfunding – Crowdfunding is the practice of raising money online through many small donations from regular people, rather than one larger amount from an investor. The popular website Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform.

Elevator Pitch – An elevator pitch is a short, to-the-point message from one person to another to propose an idea, often business-related. A startup founder might deliver an elevator pitch to a potential investor seeking funding, for example. Read more on our guide on how to make an elevator pitch.

Entrepreneurship – Entrepreneurship is the process of business creation, from ideation and design through to execution and managing it. A person who starts their own business is called an entrepreneur, and they can be described as entrepreneurial.

Fintech – Fintech is a portmanteau word meaning “financial technology,” referring to businesses and startups in the financial sector who use modern technology to facilitate their business. Think Robinhood, Revolut, or Betterment.

Fledgling – Fledgling refers to a company or startup that is young, lacking experience, and still struggling with their business ideas, business model, market, and products or services.

Incubator – An incubator is a program to assist the newest startup businesses take ideas and create viable business models, strategies, and profit plans for them. Incubators differ from accelerators in that many people often seek incubators simply with little more than just a powerful idea.

Innovation – Innovation means new, creative, unique ideas and a way to turn those ideas into actionable solutions.

Related Read: Everything You Need to Know About Internships

Launch – Launch is the event where a product or service is released to the public market.

Merger – A merger is when two companies join together to become one company. Usually, a merger happens when both companies dissolve and form a brand new entity, although they could also just rename one company to include both.

Pivot – A pivot is a recalibration or shift in business focus or the business model based on innovation, customer feedback, or to seek better return on investment.

Scale – To scale means to grow a company while maintaining or improving upon its performance, effectiveness, or efficiency as it grows.

Startup – According to Steve Blank, entrepreneur and developer of the customer development method, “a startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model.” According to Quantic, this means that “startups are adaptable organizations whose primary goal is to find a business model, not execute one.”

Unicorn – A unicorn is a startup company, usually privately-held, which reaches a valuation of over $1 billion.

Unique Selling Point – A unique selling point, or USP, is a thing that stands out about your product or service over that of another company.

USP – See “Unique Selling Point.”

Venture Capital – Venture capital, or VC, is a type of financing where the startup offers up a partial ownership stake in the company for money. In some cases, the company may also relinquish control to executives the VC chooses, though often only for a limited period of time.

Video Pitch – See “Virtual Elevator Pitch.”

Virtual Elevator Pitch – A virtual elevator pitch is a 30- to 60-second video alternative to the traditional elevator pitch, used to pitch ideas, whether to business investors or a community like Goodwall to find climate change solutions. Read our guide on why to use one and how to make your own virtual elevator pitch.

Workshop – A workshop is an event where multiple people gather to receive training and education on a particular topic. A workshop can be anywhere from a few hours to weeks in length. Often, one or more instructors lead a workshopping event to guide the participants.

Well, there you have it, all the important vocabulary entrepreneurs need to know to survive and thrive.

Got any entrepreneurship terms we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll add it to our glossary of entrepreneur words. Thanks for reading!

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Christian Eilers
Written By Christian Eilers
is a writer and expert on the topics of education, entrepreneurship, career advice, travel, and culture. On the Goodwall Blog, he covers topics including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career development, climate action, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Warsaw, Poland. At his desk, you're sure to find Pickwick, his Devon Rex cat, either attacking his fingers as he types or the monitor as the mouse pointer moves around.

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