I was talking to a friend last week who's in medical school. She told me a story about a time she was out for drinks with a group of friends who all work in finance or consulting. They were casually talking about their companies' PTO policies and she was lost. "What's PTO?" she asked to a riff a laughter throughout the group. "You don't know what 'paid time off' is?" Red cheeks followed as the group immediately dove into a detailed conversation about IPOs and EPS.

My friend is incredibly smart. She went to a top college and is now at a top medical school studying absurd hours to become a doctor. But she's never worked in "business". So she, like millions of other people, hasn't been exposed to the wild world of business acronyms.

Business acronyms can be used to speed up conversations, to save space in spreadsheet column names, or just to sound like you have some idea what you're doing. They can also be used by business people to try to sound smarter than their non-business counterparts. Here's a guide to the most common business acronyms so you can hold your own in any conversation about KPIs, SMBs or P&Ls.

PTO: paid time off (Translation: vacation days)

EOD: end of day

EOB: end of business

COB: close of business

EOW: end of week

FTE: full-time employee

PTE: part-time employee

KISS: keep it simple stupid

KPI: key performance indicator

YTD: year to date

MoM: month over month

OOO: out of office

WFH: work from home (Translation: very official way of saying playing hooky)

POC: point of contact

SME: subject matter expert (Translation: a smarty pants)

TL;DR: too long, didn't read

TOS: terms of service (Translation: the long block of text you never ever read when signing up for anything online.)

SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound

AP: accounts payable

AR: accounts receivable

CPU: cost per unit

BS: balance sheet

IPO: initial public offering (Translation: think tech founder ringing the bell on the stock exchange)

EPS: earnings per share

ROI: return on investment

P&L: profit and loss

B2B: business to business

B2C: business to consumer

CTA: call to action

PPC: pay per click

CTR: click through rate

CRM: customer relationship management

GA: Google Analytics

SaaS: software as a service (Pronounced: "Sass")

RFP: request for proposal

SMB: small to medium size business

SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

R&D: research and development

IP: intellectual property

API: application program interface (Translation: how software communicates)

CMS: content management system

FTP: file transport protocol

QA: quality assurance

VPN: virtual private network

Published on: Sep 22, 2017