The 12 Most Overused Business Buzzwords (Mashable)

By Scott Gerber

Does anyone actually like business jargon, or is it just a bad habit? Found in corporate offices, startups and resumes alike, business buzzwords and phrases like "think outside the box" are so overused at this point that they no longer convey any actual information. Although sometimes a word or phrase might feel appropriate for a business situation, more often than not, there are clearer ways to explain yourself.

With this in mind, I asked a group of 12 founders which pieces of business jargon they wish fellow entrepreneurs and startups would stop using.

Here are their top choices:

1. Hit the ground running

I hear this phrase come up at the end of almost every meeting that I'm in. Whether it comes from somebody on my team or from a client, it's become a cliché. The goal is always to have positive progress with any new initiative. This phrase is unnecessary and redundant.

— Michael QuinnYellow Bridge Interactive

2. Visionary

Entrepreneurs and startups should never refer to themselves as an expert, guru, visionary or any similar term in the first person. That moniker is typically reserved as a bold statement recognized about you by others. It is not something you should have to declare to the world.

— Parker PowersMillionaire Network

3. Think outside the box

I'm so tired of hearing this in all capacities in the business world. Yes, it has an important meaning — but please "think outside the box" and find a new way to say this! Differentiate yourself from every other person who read one business book and now thinks they are Jack Welch or Mark Zuckerberg.

— Tim McHughSaddleback Educational

4. Innovate

The way that really strong words like innovation are being turned into nothing more than marketing jargon is not good for the business world. Products, services and companies should earn the right to be deemed innovative.

— Caitlin McCabeReal Bullets Branding

5. Influencers

Many brands want to get their products in front of "influencers," and events these days always advertise they're going to be full of "influencers." This term used to mean individuals who had a high amount of influence over a certain market or fan base. However, these days it's just a jazzy way of saying, "We're having a party. Invite all your friends as long as they have jobs and aren't crazy."

— Travis SteffenCyber Superpowers

6. Pivot

Pivot has become the glamorous way of saying that you changed something that wasn't working. Call it what it is. Admit that you made a mistake or a subpar product/service and that you found a way to adjust it. I have much more respect for calling it like it is than trying to put a pretty bow on something to try and save face.

— Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

7. Paradigm shift

OK, the term "paradigm shift" is technically a valid way to describe changing how you do something and the model you use. But it has been so overused in the business world as to be redundant — now we've got paradigms shifting paradigms of paradigms. I even saw Kevin Spacey use it in a GQ interview a while back. Come on people, think of a new expression! Spacey particularly. I don't think Frank Underwood would approve.

— Grant GordonSolomon Consulting Group

8. Engagement

A common and discreditable practice among startups and marketers alike is using the buzz word "engagement" as a real measure of evaluation. It dilutes the success of your efforts with a vague statement that generalizes all of the resulting actions, when in reality each action should be weighed separately and with corresponding degrees of value. Engagement is a fluff word in a world of increasingly improving measurement and evaluation tools. It has no place here.

— Fabian KaempferChocomize

9. Value add

I'm providing a service or product or good that is useful to you. That is the value add. There's nothing more to add to it. It works or it doesn't. It has valuable characteristics or not. I just don't like terms that suggest that something is or should be more than itself.

— Ty MorseSongwhale

10. Pre-revenue

I hate when founders use the term pre-revenue to describe their "game-changing" startups. With few exceptions, businesses exist to make money. If you're in the third year of your startup and you're still pre-revenue, chances are you have an expensive hobby, NOT a company. Go back to the drawing board and come up with a business model that works.

— Brittany HodakZinePak

11. Growth hacking

A growth hacker is what lazy people call an expert marketer. It's also a trendy phrase among wantrepreneurs. Some people argue that growth hacking is something new, when really it's just a fancy way of saying business development or marketing. I believe people come up with new phrases for old ideas and they catch on. Not to sound cynical, but speaking as a marketer, the phrase growth hacking is really just marketers marketing marketing (themselves). After all, if it's new, fewer people understand it and it then commands a higher premium as far as monetary or equity compensation. The reality is that the skill set growth hackers are pulling from is the same one used by other marketers for the last century. So let's be honest and call it what it is: marketing.

— Matthew AckersonPetovera

12. Game changer

I have seen numerous people describing their latest product or service as game-changing or a game changer. This usually turns out to be mainly hype. For one thing, this expression doesn't really have a precise meaning. To me, something is only a game changer if it's truly revolutionary and changes the way things are done. Some examples include the automobile, personal computer and smartphone. How many products fall into this category? When you say something is a game changer, you then have to live up to your own hype and reveal something outstanding. Most of the time, it's better to tone down your rhetoric and be more realistic about what you're offering.

— Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

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