business idioms

Ahead of the pack
To be most successful than the competition
Ex:If we want to stay ahead of the pack, we’ll have to increase our marketing budget.

Back to square one
To start something over again because a previous attempt failed
Ex:To make this software finally work, we have to go back to square one.

Ballpark number/figure
A very inexact estimate
Ex: To give you a ballpark figure, how much the border wall to Mexico is going to cost, I’d say about 30 million dollars.

Big picture
Everything that is involved with a particular situation
Ex : Working on all these details, we have lost sight of the big picture.

By the book
To do things exactly according to the rules or the law
Ex: We told our auditors that we do everything by the book.

Corner the market : 市場を独占する
To dominate a particular market
Ex: Amazon more or less corners the online retailing market.

Very intense, aggressive, and merciless competition
Ex: Competition in the food retailing business is cut-throat.

Easy come, easy go
Something gained easily is also lost easily
Ex: I lost 500 Euros in a poker game last night, but that’s life – easy come, easy go.

Game plan
A strategy or plan for achieving success
Ex: What is our game plan for dealing with our new competitor?

Get down to business
Stop making small talk and start talking about serious business topics
Ex: Now that everyone’s here, let’s get down to business and start with the presentation.

Get something off the ground
To start something (e.g. a project or a business)
Ex: Now that we have finished the planning phase, we’re eager the get the project off the ground.

Go down the drain
Something is wasted or lost
Ex: All our efforts in eantering this new market went down the drain.

Go the extra mile
To do more than what people expect
Ex: To give our customers the best shopping experience, we go the extra mile.

Hands are tied
Not being free to behave in the way that you would like
Ex: I’d love to help you, but my hands are tied.

In a nutshell
Using as few words as possible
Ex: In a nutshell, we will run out of cash in three months time.

In full swing
At a stage when the level of activity is at its highest.
Ex: Construction of our new production site is in full swing now.

In the driver’s seat
To be in charge or in control of a situation
Ex: Being offered the position of managing director, I’ll soon be in the driver’s seat.

Keep one’s eye on the ball
To give something one’s full attention and to not lose focus
Ex: We should not diversify our product offering too much, but rather keep our eyes on the ball.

Learn the ropes
Learn the basics of somethings (e.g a job)
Ex: I’m learning the ropes in my new position.

Long shot
Something that has a very low probability of happening
Ex: Winning the lottery is a long shot.

Something that is really obvious or easy
Ex: Making money working for an investment bank is a no-brainer.

No strings attached
Something is given without involving special demands or limits
Ex: They will let you try the product for free with no strings attached.

Not going to fly : うまくいかない
Something isn’t expected to work out
Ex: This product is definitely not going to fly.

On the same page
To be in agreement about something
Ex: Let’s go over the contract details once more to make sure we’re on the same page.

Out in the open
Something that is public knowledge and not secret anymore
Ex: Our financials our out in the open anyway.

Put all one’s eggs in one basket
To relay on only one things to bring success
Ex: It’s not smart to invest in American tech stocks only and put all one’s eggs in one basket

Put the cart before the horse
To do or think about things in the wrong order
Ex: Trying to find an investor without having a business plan is like putting the cart before the horse.

Raise the bar
To set standards or expectations higher
Ex: The iPhone raised the bar for smart phone makers

Red tape : お役所仕事
Official rules and processes that seem excessive and unnecessary
Ex: The new law is going to create a lot of red tape.

Rock the boat : 波風を立てる
To do or say something that will upset people or cause problems
Ex: Don’t rock the boat until the negotiations are finished.

Safe bet : 必ず当たる賭け
Something that is certain to happen
Ex: It’s a safe bet that computer processor speed will more than triple within the next 10 years.

Same boat
To be in the same difficult situation as someone else
Ex: None of us has any money left, so we’re all in the same boat.

See eye to eye : 見解[意見・気持ち]が一致する
To agree with somebody
Ex: My boss doesn’t see eye to eye with me about our marketing campaign.

See something through : 最後までやり遂げる
To continue until something is finished
Ex: I want to see this project through before taking on another one.

Sever ties : 縁を切る
To end a relationship
Ex: We had to sever ties with several suppliers due to poor product quality.

Shoot something down : こきおろす
To reject something (e.g. an idea or a proposal)
Ex: You shouldn’t shoot down your co-workers ideas during a brainstorming session.

Smooth sailing : 順風満帆
A situation where success is achieved without difficulties
Ex: Once our largest competitor went out of business, it was smooth sailing.

Stand one’s ground : 立場を守る、後ろに下がらない
To not change one’s opinion or position
Ex: They tried to cut my travel budget, but I stood my ground.

Take the bull by the horns : 勇敢に[進んで]難局に当たる
To directly confront a difficult situation in a brave and determined way.
Ex: My mid-level manages constantly delayed projects, so I took the bull by the horns and fired several of them.

Talk someone into something : ~する気にさせる
To convince someone to do something
Ex: I was reluctant to redesign our website, but my employees talked me into it.

Talk someone out of something
To convince someone net to do something
Ex: We wanted to take on more debt, but our CFO talked us out of it.

The elephant in the room : タブーな話題や重大な問題
An obvious problem ore controversial issue that no one wants to discuss.
Ex: We should have discussed our pending litigation, but no one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room.

Think outside the box : 既存の枠組みや考えに縛られず、想像力を駆使して新しい解決策や方法などを考えること
To think of creative, unconventional solutions instead of common ones.
Ex: Our current approach will get us nowhere. We have to think outside the box.

Time’s up
Time for something or someone has ended
Ex: I think his time’s up as the CEO

Touch base : 連絡を取る
To make contact with someone
Ex: I will touch base with you later today.

Twist someone’s arm : (人)に無理強いをする, 圧力をかける
To convince someone to do something that he or she does not want to do
Ex: My boss thought the budget was a little high, so I had to twist his arm to get him to agree to it.

Up in the air : 宙に浮いて、未定で
something is undecided or uncertain
Ex: Our international expansion plan is still up in the air.

Uphill battle : 苦しい戦い、苦戦、厳しい環境下での戦い
Something that is difficult to achieve because of obstacles and difficulties
Ex: Gaining market share in this country will be an uphill battle due to tough competition.

Upper hand : 支配、優勢
To have more power than anyone else and so have control
Ex: Due to my experience, I had the upper hand in the argument.

Word of mouth
Something is given or done by people talking about something or telling people about something
Ex: Many local stores rely on word of mouth to get new customers.