As a business owner, you've no doubt grown accustomed to using certain words and phrases that outside of entrepreneurial circles sound like meaningless twaddle.

Besides classics like "key performance indicator," "value proposition" and "organic growth," this year saw entrants including: "inversion" (term for reincorporating in locales with lower business taxes) and "overtracking syndrome" (monitoring your activities to the nth degree).

While some of this bland business jargon is never going away, some overused buzzwords can (and should) be retired. Here are the top five words and phrases Inc. readers want to see wiped off the planet.


"It is completely overused, and comes across as generic business-speak," says Inc. reader Steve Green. We couldn't agree more.

Big Data

This term has been so overused that nobody seems to have the same definition. According to Inc. reader Jan Beeck, Big Data should be put out to pasture because it "doesn't reflect anything related to the management of large volumes of information."


Though Merriam Webster defines this term as "an enclosed area on a boat or ship where a person stands to steer," baseball players also refer to a batter's wheelhouse as the sweet spot where it's easiest to hit the ball well. Our readers think using the term in a business context is simply a bridge too far.

Outside the box

This expression comes up so often--not just in business terminology--that using it now feels like an "inside the box" thing to do. We agree it's time to retire this one.


Bankers use this word to refer to debt, and just about everyone else in business uses it as a verb, as in "let's leverage our company's core strengths." Let's just stop using this word altogether.