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Business Abbreviations and Acronyms You Need to Know


Business abbreviations and business acronyms, also known as buzzwords, fill the workplace. You find them in marketing, technology, finance, and more. Business acronyms and abbreviations serve as shorthand for terms that busy professionals and marketing teams use often.

Business abbreviations help you write concise reports and effective email and text messages — unless overused. Our simple plain English list includes the most common business acronyms in the business world.



Learn These Common Business Acronyms and Abbreviations

Many of the business acronyms on this list are ones you see in communications every day, as CEO. Others aren’t so familiar, like CMO. But learning them will help put you “in the know.”

Office and Management Terminology

CEO

Chief Executive Officer. The highest-ranking executive of a company. The board and shareholders select the CEO.

CFO

Chief Financial Officer. The senior executive is responsible for managing the finances.

CIO

Chief Information Officer. This executive is responsible for the information and computer technologies of a company by managing, implementing, and addressing their usability.

CMO

Chief Marketing Officer. The executive is responsible for marketing activities.

COBRA

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Refers to the legal requirement to allow workers to remain on a group health plan after leaving the company. See insurance acronyms.

COO

Chief Operating Officer. The second in command and oversees the day-to-day administration and operations.

CSO

Chief Security Officer. Responsible for both digital and physical forms of security, the CSO is responsible for the security of personnel, premises and electronic systems.

CTO

Chief Technology Officer. An executive in charge of the technological needs of an organization as well as research and development (R&D).

EOW

End of Week.

FTE

Full-Time Equivalent. The work hours or people in a business, based on full-time employees and part-time employees whose hours taken together equate to full-time employment.

FYI

For Your Information. Indicates something is being shared in the message, but the receiver needs not take action on it.

HR

Human Resources. One of the best-known department abbreviations. The collective of people who make up the workforce of an organization, sector, industry, or economy.

HQ

Headquarters. The center of control of an organization or company.

Leave Without Pay. A temporary non-pay status and absence from duty, requested by the employee or supervisory discretion, without pay.

MGR

MGR is the abbreviation for a manager.

PTO

Paid Time Off. When employers pay employees for days or hours not worked, such as paid vacation and sick leave.

R&D

Research and Development. The process an organization works to gain new knowledge and create new technology, products, services, or systems.

SMB

Small to Medium Business. This is one of those abbreviations some people use interchangeably with the definition of small business but is different because it includes medium-sized entities, too.

SME

Subject matter expert: someone who knows a subject well.

QA

Quality Assurance. A way to prevent mistakes and defects in the manufacturing process as well as determining if a product meets quality standards.

QC

Quality Control. A process for ensuring product quality is maintained or improved.

WAHM

Work-at-home Mom. Mothers who work at a business or job from their homes.

WFH

Work From Home. Anyone who works from their residence all or some of the time.

YTD

Year to Date. The period starting the first day of the current calendar year or fiscal year up to the current date.

Marketing Abbreviations

AIDA

Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. The steps or stages from when a consumer becomes aware of a product or brand to the moment it is purchased.

BANT

Budget, authority, need, and timeline. A framework used to figure out how qualified a sales lead is and determine which lead your company should prioritize.

B2B

Business to Business. Refers to businesses that sell to other businesses. Also, the commercial transactions between two businesses.

B2C

Business to Consumer. Refers to businesses that sell directly to consumers, or to transactions between a business and a consumer.

BR

Bounce Rate. The percentage of visitors who enter the site and leave without viewing other pages.

CLV

Customer Lifetime Value. The total amount of money a customer is expected to spend on your products and services, as long as they are your customer.

CPA

Cost Per Acquisition/Action. An online advertising pricing model for making payments based on the completion of pre-determined actions.

CPC

Cost Per Click. A paid advertising term where an advertiser pays a cost to a publisher for every click on an ad. CPC is also called pay per click (PPC).

CR

Conversion Rate. The number of conversions (completed sales, subscriptions, or whatever you are measuring) divided by the total number of leads or website visitors.

CRM

Customer Relationship Management. Practices, strategies, and software for managing and analyzing customer interactions and data through the customer lifecycle.

CTA

Call to Action. A method for prompting an immediate response or encouraging an immediate sale.

CX

Customer Experience. The engagement of customers throughout their buying journey, from marketing to sales to customer support.

MLM

Multi-Level Marketing. Marketing where one recruits other marketers and earns from them.

POEM

Paid, Owned, Earned Media. Used in social media marketing, this is a way of thinking about content and other marketing assets depending on whether you paid for it (an ad), created and own it in-house (your own blog posts, etc.), or earned it (from users sharing it or mentioning it).

PPC

Pay per Click. Digital advertising where the advertiser pays only when a user clicks on an ad. Read PPC advertising.

POC

Point of Contact. A person or a department serving as the coordinator or focal point of an activity or program.

PR

Public relations. A promotion that involves good media relations and getting publicity aside from paid ads. Public Relations can also be the name of a department in a corporation.

SEM

Search Engine Marketing. Online marketing involving the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engines, often through ads.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization. The practice of optimizing web pages to be found in search engines organically, i.e., without paying for ads.

SERP

Search Engine Results Page. The results returned in Google, Bing, and other search engines, for a specific query or search. Also called SERPS, plural.

SWOT

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. This is a method of analyzing a company’s market position in strategic planning.

UV

Unique Visitor. Used in Web analytics to refer to a person who visits a site at least once within the reporting period.

WOM Marketing

Word of Mouth Marketing. When a consumer’s interest in a company’s product or service is displayed in their daily conversations.

Email Communications and Social Slang

ASAP

As Soon as Possible. Indicating something’s urgent.

COB

Close of Business. Refers to the end of the business day, which in most office settings is 5 pm.

DM

Direct Message. Personal or private message communication between users on any platform.

EOD

End of Day. Alternative: end of business day, the abbreviation for which is EOB.

EOT

End of Thread. Used in social media and text messaging to indicate when it’s the end of a long related message often bifurcated into multiple smaller threads.

ETA

Estimated Time of Arrival. The time remaining for a certain transport to reach its destination.

IM

Instant Messaging. A type of online chat that offers real-time text transmission.

IMO

In My Opinion.

LMK

Let Me Know.

NVM

Never Mind.

NSFW

Not Safe for Work. A texting acronym used when sharing a video, image, or something else not appropriate for work.

NWR

Not Work-Related. Activities not related to the workplace.

ROFL

Rolling on Floor Laughing.

RT

Retweet. The repost or forward of a message posted by another user on Twitter.

TL;DR

Too Long; Didn’t Read. A message, article, or anything that appears too long to invest the time to read it all. Alternative: TLTR, meaning Too Long to Read.

Finance and Legal Abbreviations

AOV

Average Order Value. Tracks the average dollar amount spent each time a customer places an order.

AP

Accounts Payable. The amount due for goods or services received that have not yet been paid to vendors or suppliers.

AR

Accounts Receivable. The balance of money due that the customer still hasn’t paid.

BS

Balance Sheet. A statement of the financial position of a company reporting assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a particular time.

CPI

Consumer Price Index. Measures the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation and food.

GP

Gross profit. The profit after deducting the costs of making and selling products, or with providing services.

IPO

Initial Public Offering. The offering of shares of a private company to the public in a new stock issuance.

KPI

Key Performance Indicator. Measures the performance of how an organization is doing in achieving key objectives.

MTD

Month to Date. The period starting at the beginning of the current calendar month and ending at the current date.

BLS

Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government agency collects and disseminates a range of economic and employment data in the US economy. This includes the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI).

CAGR

Compound Annual Growth Rate. A way of measuring the growth of sales or profit over a period of years, taking into account the preceding year(s) of growth and compounding it.

CPA

Certified Public Accountant. An accounting professional who has achieved a professional designation as a “CPA – certified public accountant” – more than an educational degree.

DBA

Doing Business As. A special operating name you legally adopt to run your business under, versus your company’s legal name.

DOL

Department of Labor. A federal agency fostering and promoting the welfare of job seekers, wage earners, and retirees in the U.S.

EIDL

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). A program created by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist businesses, renters, and homeowners located in regions affected by declared disasters.

EPS

Earnings Per Share. Indicates how much money a company makes for each share of its stock

FIFO

First In, First Out. Items produced or acquired first are sold, used, or disposed of first.

GAAP

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Refers to a standard of accounting rules and practices needed for acceptable financial reporting.

Last in, First Out. The last items produced or purchased are sold first.

LLC

Limited Liability Company. A business structure that offers limited personal liability. Read about: LLC formation.

MoM

Month on Month. Compares financial results, sales, and other activities for one month with those in previous months.

PE

Price to Earnings. The ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings.

P&L or PL

Profit and Loss. A financial statement summarizing the revenues and expenses of a specific period, such as quarterly or annually.

PPP

Paycheck Protection Program. A special loan program designed to aid small businesses hurt in the 2020 pandemic. See more: Loan Terminology.

QBID

Qualified Business Income Deduction. A valuable deduction for small businesses enacted under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

ROA

Return on Assets. Indicates how profitable a company is relative to its total assets.

ROE

Return on Equity. Measures the financial performance of a business.

ROI

Return on Investment. ROI is one of the most common acronyms in business, measuring the value you get over and above your investment of capital or time. Helps you assess whether an investment is worth it.

OSHA

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A regulatory agency within the US Department of Labor ensuring safe and healthful working conditions.

SBA

Small Business Administration. A government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

SBDC

Small Business Development Center. A national network of centers providing entrepreneurship and small business help.

MSA

Metropolitan Statistical Area. An area having a minimum population of 50,000 consisting of a city and surrounding communities.

Technology Acronyms

API

Application Programming Interface (Or Application Program Interface). A set of functions that allows your software to communicate with other software.

CMS

Content Management System. Software used to create, maintain and modify digital content.

CPU

Central Processing Unit. The unit inside a computer that performs most of the processing consisting of four core functions or steps: fetch, decode, execute, and store.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheet. It describes how HTML elements are displayed. Developers use it to add style including fonts, colors and spacing to web documents.

CTR

Click-Through Rate. It measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per number of impressions.

DNS

Domain Name System. A naming database where website domain names are located and translated into internet protocol (IP) addresses.

ESP

Email Service Provider. A service provider for email hosting.

FTP

File Transport Protocol. A standard network protocol used to communicate and transfer files between computers on a TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) network or the internet.

HTML

HyperText Markup Language. The primary markup language used for creating pages and applications on the web.

IP

Internet Protocol. The method or protocol data is transmitted from one computer to another on the Internet.

ISP

Internet Service Provider. A company or organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating on the Internet.

PV

Page View.

OEM

Original equipment manufacturer. A company whose goods are used as parts in the products of another company.

QR Code

Quick Response Code. A type of barcode anyone can scan with a smartphone. Read: How to Create a QR Code.

RFID

Radio Frequency Identification. Uses radio waves to passively identify a tagged object.

RSS

Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a feed of the latest content updates from a blog or website, in a machine-readable format, displayable elsewhere on the web.

SaaS

Software as a Service. Also referred to as ‘on-demand software’ is a software licensing and delivery model. It is centrally hosted, and software is licensed on a subscription basis.

SLA

The SLA acronym stands for Service Level Agreement. This is a contract between a service provider and its customers establishing a set of deliverables.

TOS

Terms of Service. A legal agreement between a service provider and a user who wants to use that service.

UI

User Interface. Refers to what the user sees and uses in a product (usually a software app or website).

URL

Uniform Resource Locator. Also known as a web address it is an identifier to locate a resource on the internet and a mechanism for retrieving it.

UX

User Experience. It is everything encompassing the end user’s interaction with a website, a web application, or desktop software.

VPN

Virtual Private Network. An encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network that gives you online privacy and anonymity.

What is the Acronym for Business?

Biz is shorthand for business and is becoming a common way of writing the abbreviation. Biz is informal and often refers to a small business, such as “small biz”. The term “biz” may be used where space is limited, such as on vehicle license plates or in newspaper headlines.

What is the Abbreviation for Company?

Co. is the abbreviated term for company.

What Does Inc Mean in Business Communications?

Inc is a short phrase for a corporation — specifically a business that is incorporated. Many U.S. states require a corporation to be designated as such in its name. They will accept a name that has abbreviations like “inc” at the end, as well as “co” which is short for company.

What is the Abbreviation for Industry?

Ind is a short version of the word industry. It might be used in note-taking or on a building directory. For example, someone might informally abbreviate the name of Myers Industries to Myers Ind. This also can be used generally to refer to an industry, such as the mining industry.

What are the Benefits of Business Abbreviations?

The benefits of business abbreviations and acronyms are:

  • fast to write;
  • messages stay brief;
  • easy to remember.

However, make sure not to overuse business acronyms, abbreviations or industry lingo when you communicate in memos, letters, text, and presentations. Otherwise, your email and communications may become unintelligible. Remember, no one wants to have to unscramble jargon and read sentences like this:

IMO, your OS lacks QC and is enough to make me SMH and LOL. Until then, TTYL.

(Translation of the above two sentences in plain English: In my opinion, your operating system lacks quality control and is enough to make me shake my head and laugh out loud.  Until then, talk to you later. )

Image: Shutterstock






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