10 Business Acronyms You Should Know

business acronyms you should know

These days, acronyms are being used practically everywhere. You probably see or hear shortened forms of words or phrases when you peruse social media posts, watch sporting events on television, or walk through your office. Acronyms are faster easier to say and, contrary to popular belief, they are not surging in popularity because of the younger generation.

Acronyms have been around for many decades, and they are used in all business-related industries. If you are not as “acronym-savvy” as your peers or colleagues, here’s a quick primer from Balboa Capital. We compiled a list of 10 business acronyms you should know about.


A SWOT analysis is a basic strategy used by businesses during the planning and marketing stages to help them develop a competitive position in the marketplace. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats as they relate to business competition. The SWOT analysis dates back to the 1970s, and today it remains a “go-to” tactic for business planning due to its usefulness and effectiveness.

2. SBA

Of all the acronyms on this list, the SBA is probably the one you are most familiar with. The SBA stands for the Small Business Administration, which was formed back in 1953 to help small businesses acquire loans, government contracts, and other methods of assistance needed for growth.


OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which was formed in April 1971. If your business has one or more employees, it must comply with OSHA regulations, which are designed to keep work environments safe for workers. OSHA is a federal law, but there are states that have their own OSHA laws, too. You can find out if your state is on the list by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA website.

4. P&L

“Get me a P&L report” is a common request that business owners ask of their accountants. A P&L report, also referred to as a P&L statement, is an overview of your company’s profits and losses during a specific period. You most likely look at your profit and loss statements each quarter to evaluate how well your company is performing based on its revenues and expenses.


If you contact customers, vendors and/or prospects via email, it is extremely important that you adhere to CAN-SPAM laws. CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing, and it was signed into law in 2004. Before you deploy an email campaign for your business, contact a business attorney to learn more about the CAN-SPAM law.

There are strict rules and content guidelines for commercial email messages, and you must give the recipient the option to “opt out” at any time. Not following these rules is a violation of the CAN-SPAM law, and it can result in huge fines by the Federal Trade Commission.


This business acronym sounds difficult, but it is a relatively easy formula for measuring your company’s operating performance, and its ability to generate cash flow. EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. EBITDA is one of the most popular measures used by small businesses, middle market companies, and large corporations.

7. CMS

If your small business has a website and/or a blog, you are using a content management system (CMS). A CMS is a software or web-based platform that is used to create, edit, archive, and publish content on the web. This includes website pages, blog posts, press releases, videos, whitepapers, and infographics, among others.

8. SEO

Think your company’s website will magically get traffic on its own? Think again. There are a number of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and techniques that can influence the amount of visitors your website receives.

SEO is the cornerstone of your digital strategy; it encompasses keyword research, copywriting, website design, blogging, internal and external linking, and social media to maximize traffic to your site, and improve page rank within the top search engines. You cannot afford to cut corners with your SEO efforts. Hire an SEO specialist, preferably one with Google Analytics certification and SEO case studies.

9. SEM

Are you considering buying paid advertising online? If so, this is referred to as search engine marketing, or SEM. Similar to SEO, it is an involved process that requires an experienced professional. Look for an SEM specialist with Google Adwords certification.

This individual will evaluate your marketing goals and develop an SEM campaign based on your budget, paid search trends, and cost-per-click (CPC). Once your SEM campaign launches, your SEM specialist will need to monitor it on a daily/weekly basis and provide you with the results, and any recommended changes.

10. ROI

You are in business to make money, plain and simple. Every business decision you make is designed to help you generate revenues and produce profits. You can evaluate the performance of your business investments by calculating their return on investment (ROI). The ROI formula is simple. Just divide your net profit by the cost of investment.

For example, if you invested $50,000 in a new piece of machinery that generated $200,000 in net profit, your investment gain is $150,000, and your ROI is 300%.