Here you will learn English business idioms – or should I say – English idioms related to business. Neck and neck, in the driver’s seat, to move the goal posts, and many more.
English Idioms about Business
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Every ESL student would like to speak English fluently and confidently. In order to develop good speaking skills in English you not only have to speak properly and correctly but also to use certain English phrases and expressions in your speech. Native speakers use English idioms in their speech all the time, even in a business conversation.
Today, let’s look at some English business idioms or English idioms connected with business.
10 English Business Idioms
1. NECK AND NECK
to be level with or at same stage as a competitor
ex.Both businesses were performing well, their profits were neck and neck.
You can also use this idiom in relation to competition in life or in sport
ex. The two teams at the top of the league had the same number of points. They were neck and neck.
2. IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
to be in control of a situation
ex. The CEO retired due to ill health. His deputy was appointed to replace him. He was now in the driver’s seat.
3. TO MOVE THE GOAL POSTS
to change the rules or the targets at any time without consultation.
ex. The Director gave the sales manager his sales target for 2020. However, after 4 months he increased the target by 20%. He moved the goal posts without discussion.
4. TO THROW SOMEONE IN AT THE DEEP END
to be given a difficult task without having much experience
ex. The business was struggling. The competition was very strong. The directors took a decision and appointed a young man to try and recover their business. He was thrown in at the deep end as he had no previous experience in management.
5. LIKE FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE
pointless exercise as it is not going to work
ex. The retailer went into liquidation (bankrupt). It owed the supplier a lot of money. They had no chance of getting the money back. Chasing them for the money would be like flogging (beating) a dead horse. They decided to give up.
6. A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
when everything is equal and fair to all competitors
ex. The economic situation was the same for everyone. Interest rates were high. The banks were not eager to lend money to anyone. It was a level playing field.
7. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL
to stay alert and watch what your completion are doing
ex. He always looked at his competitors products and advertising campaigns. Although he thought he had a better product he always kept his eye on the ball.
8. MY HANDS ARE TIGHT
not being able to behave freely or in the way you would like to due to some existing restrictions (rules, laws)
ex. I’d love to help you and get this deal over the line but my hands are tight.
9. SMOOTH SAILING
literal meaning is when the sailing conditions are smooth, there are no winds, no clouds, the stars are extremely clear. If we’re talking about business, it is a situation where something is achieved without difficulties, when everything goes according to plan.
ex. We’d been preparing this deal for several weeks now, and everything was smooth sailing so far.
10. SHOOT ONESELF IN THE FOOT
to cause oneself difficulty, to make a situation worse for yourself without intention
ex. The ABC company has just shot themselves in the foot for losing the best sales manager ever!