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51 Idioms to Improve Your Business Writing Skills

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Business writing is serious business. That’s why every business writer, in order to make an impact, must be able to strike the fine balance between formal and casual forms of writing while appearing neither too cautious nor too frivolous in their choice of words. To achieve it, idioms are a valuable writing tool many successful writers use effectively.

If used appropriately, idioms add just the right degree of lightness to your piece without taking away its seriousness.

Business Idioms

Here’s a compilation of 51 idioms (along with meanings and examples) that you can use to take your business writing to the next level.

1. Test the waters
2. Whole new ball game
3. Learn the ropes
4. Play your cards right
5. Carve out a niche
6. Rake in money
7. Beef up
8. Make the cut
9. Ace up your sleeve

If you’re a professional writer just testing the waters (trying something), business writing may look like a whole new ball game (a situation completely different from a previous one) in the beginning. However, once you learn the ropes (learn how to do a job correctly) and play your cards right (do all that is necessary to succeed), you can carve out your own niche (develop expertise in an area of work) as a business writer and rake in money (earn well).

In order to beef up (improve) your business writing skills, you should familiarize yourself with formal communication, business terminology and current business trends. It may take a while to make the cut (reach a required standard), but soon you will have an ace up your sleeve (something with which you can gain an advantage and obtain success).

10. Get down to brass tacks
11. On the blinks
12. Pick up steam
13. Break the mold
14. Bet your bottom dollar
15. Hit the right note
16. Clinch a deal
17. Tricks of the trade

For business owners and communication professionals, mastering business writing is all the more important. Writing business emails and press releases addressed to vendors, customers or employees requires you to get down to brass tacks (address essential aspects of a situation) and think from your audiences’ point of view.

If your business writing is on the blink (requiring repair) and needs to pick up steam (develop or become more active), get ready to break the mold (change what people expect from a (traditional) situation).

Also, you should bid goodbye to jargon as it makes you appear distant and unapproachable. Keep the language simple and the tone firm and you can bet your bottom dollar (be absolutely certain) that you’ll hit the right note (do something suitable) with your readers.

Of course, effective business writing has played its part in clinching many a deal (gain business). A communication professional who knows the tricks of the trade (clever or expert way of doing things) recognizes effective business writing as an indispensable marketing tool.

18. Keep ahead of the pack
19. A lot on your plate
20. Earmark something
21. Place in the sun
22. Put skin in the game
23. Corner the market
24. Nip in the bud
25. By degrees
26. Right up your alley

One way to keep ahead of the pack (better your rivals) is to avoid writing or dictating that important press release when you have a lot on your plate (too much to do). Rather, earmark (assign for specific use) a time of the day for such tasks.

Often, business writing is made out to be this elusive skill only a handful of professionals possess. Of course, you need to earn your place in the sun (dominant or favorable position) before clients are willing to put skin in your game (show confidence in your company through financial commitment).

To corner the market (dominate an area of business) as a successful business writer, nip your apprehensions in the bud (stop at an early stage), go forward by degrees (gradually) and you may soon discover that business writing is right up your alley (suits your taste or ability).

27. No small feat
28. Take a nosedive
29. Break even
30. Roaring trade
31. Run a taut ship
32. Look before you leap
33. Overplay your hand
34. Copper-bottom
35. Take the shotgun approach
36. Money spinner
37. Speed networking
38. Make cold calls

If you own a content writing business, building a team of exceptional business writers is no small feat (not an easy task). Compared to others, business writing clients can be less forgiving and if you don’t deliver, your business could take a nosedive (fall or fail rapidly) even before you break even (recover investment).

Here are some tips to help you build a roaring trade (successful business) out of a business writing service:

Run a taut ship (run an establishment in a well-ordered and disciplined manner)Prepare a brief for your writers so that they can understand a client’s expectations quickly.
Look before you leap (Consider the consequences) – Don’t try to hoard projects if you don’t have the resources to supply high quality content. Be wary of overplaying your hand (spoil chances of success by trying to obtain too much).
Copper-bottom your contracts (safe or reliable) – Insist on part payment before beginning work on an assignment.
• Avoid taking the shotgun approach (cover a wide range in a non-selective, haphazard and inefficient manner) – Go slow, build your reputation, create an impressive portfolio and you’ve got yourself a money spinner (a very successful way of making money).
Speed networking (making business contacts by exchanging contact details at an organized event) – Attend open houses, business conferences, workshops to expand your network. Don’t forget to carry a pack or two of your business cards.
• Don’t hesitate to make cold calls (call or approach potential customers).

39. Roll up your sleeves
40. Do the spadework
41. Above the call of duty
42. Get a foothold
43. Hit the ground running
44. Irons in the fire
45. All hands on deck

When you have a business writing assignment, roll up your sleeves (get ready for hard work), do the spadework (preparatory work or the preliminary research) and be willing to go above the call of duty (show a greater degree of effort than is required or expected in the job).

Once you’ve got a foothold (secured a position) in your line of work, build a team with people who are ready to hit the ground running (eager to start immediately on a new activity) so that when you have more than one iron in your fire (to have several projects at the same time), you can have all hands on deck (everyone helps to complete a task).

46. Jump on the bandwagon
47. Foot in the door
48. Pay dividends
49. Blue chip company
50. Sign on the dotted line
51. Make a killing

Remember, picking the right idioms and using them effectively is an art in itself. And as with any art, practice makes you perfect!

Once you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon (to do something when it is already successful), do everything to get your foot in the door (have a small but successful start with possibility to do well in future) and your efforts will definitely pay dividends (bring advantages later) with blue chip companies (reputed company known for its quality and high net worth) lining up to sign on the dotted line (give consent or sign official document).

Give business writing the time and attention it deserves and in no time you’ll be making a killing (having financial success)!

Please feel free to leave a comment or share an opinion.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Daniel August 10, 2015, 9:30 pm

    These are great business idioms to use with my students! Business idioms are the best way for students to get to the next fluency level. I use business idioms with my students everyday. Thanks for sharing!

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