Small Business Jargon Buster

At Square we’re all about making business simple. This guide will help you cut through the jargon and business buzzwords - leaving you more time to spend on whats important.

Start Growing Your Business with Square

Sign up for a free Square account today - no long-term contracts or hidden fees.

small business jargon


  • After Sale Marketing: Most commonly performed via email, this refers to marketing not to new customers, but the ones you already have, in an effort to make them loyal, return customers. This can include a reminder to top-up on their purchases (in the case of consumables like beauty products) or the chance to input details that will draw them back for another purchase e.g. a birthday reminder calendar for a greeting card website.
  • Android Pay: A digital walletfor Android smartphones. Users can securely store a digitisedversion of their payment cards within the app to make quick and easy payments in-store, in-app or online.
  • Apple Pay: A digital wallet for iPhones, iPads Apple Watch and macs. Apple Pay requires a touch ID when used with mobile devices, and allows payments to be completed simply by holding your iPhone or Apple Watch to a suitable reader. Online payments made from a Mac or iPad can be completed by tapping a single button, no filling in of delivery or billing details needed.
  • Automatic Enrolment: The legal obligation placed on all employers to enrol their workers on a pension scheme.


  • Brick and mortar: A physical shop or location for your business as opposed to an online-only venture, i.e. one built from bricks and mortar.
  • Business Bank Account: A bank account opened by a business owner and used exclusively for the financial operations of their business as opposed to a personal account.
  • Business Partnership: A type of company. A business partnership is a business shared between multiple people or companies.


  • Card reader: A device designed to read cards either by magnetic strip, chip and PIN or contactless technology. Modern card readers are often easily used by connecting with a compatible smartphone.
  • Card Surcharges: An extra fee placed on purchases made using a creditor debit card. These are set to be banned in the UK in 2017.
  • Cash Flow: The movement of money in and out of your business, keeping a tight reign of this is a vital aspect of successful business management.
  • Cashless Society: The title given to societies which pay exclusively by card or digital wallet and no longer use cash.
  • Chargeback protection: A security measure offered by Square to protect sellers from fraudulent chargebacks, where buyers may attempt to make a chargeback claim despite being fully knowledgeable of the sale and/ or receiving the correct goods. Chargeback protection provides a monthly allowance to cover chargeback costs.
  • Chargebacks: When a customer asks their card issuer to reverse the charge for a purchase they do not recognise. They may also claim for an item that is different than described, incomplete on arrival or if the seller has stopped trading since.
  • Cloud POS (Point of Sale): A digital point of sale system that takes place on the cloud. This means all sales information is stored securely online and not on a local PC where it may be lost following a computer crash.
  • Contactless: A method of card payment where customers can hold a cards to a suitable reader to make a quick payment. Contactless can also include digital wallets, where the payment card is digitally stored on a smartphone.


  • Digital Wallet: A means of storing digital versions of payment cards on a smartphone or mobile device. Cards are safely stored in a payment app and allow the user to pay with their phone in the same way they would pay with a contactless card, by simply holding it to a reader.


  • E-Commerce: The term given to online shops where customers can browse and buy a brand’s goods or services.
  • EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale): An electronic sales and payment system that allows to you finalise sales with a customer and, in the case of Square, track sales, inventory and employees.


  • Friendly Fraud: A fraudulent chargeback claim made by customers who made a purchase and received their item but still attempt to claim back the cost through a chargeback claim.


  • Invoice: A document confirming the purchase of items or services by a customer from a seller. Invoices are raised in order to receive final payments. E-invoices allow this process to occur digitally, and payments to be made in a few clicks.


  • Limited Companies: A type of company. Limited companies are legally separate to the people involved in its running. Learn more about Limited companies here.


  • mPos: An mPos, or mobile point-of-sale, is a portable payments system that can be run on a mobile phone or tablet device to take payments on the go in conjunction with a card reader.


  • NFC (Near Field Communication): NFC is the technology that allows contactless digital wallets to work. Through NFC, devices can communicate with each other without any further manual input, this is how payments can be made completely contactless between a smartphone and a reader.


  • Omnichannel: Also known as multi-channel. This refers to a brand’s presence being more than a physical store, but also online, via social media or marketing emails. Omnichannel sees a business reach out to its customer base through multiple methods both online and offline, for a complete shopper experience and boost in sales.
  • Operations management: The controlling, planning or implementing of your business’ smooth performance. This process is key to growing a successful company.


  • Payment System: The equipment you use to take payments at your business, this can be a modern card reader, or an old cash till.
  • PCI Compliance: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This is a world-wide standard of payment card security to make sure sensitive user data is kept secure. Storage, processing and transmission of this data is closely controlled by PCI rules. Failure to meet the standards of PCI compliance can result in fees, brand damage and data breaches.
  • Point-of-sale (POS): The place at which transactions are made and completed i.e. a shop counter or an online checkout. Essentially, a POS is quite literally the point at which sales are made and handled.
  • Pop-up: A temporary shop. Commonly associated with smallbusinesses and start-ups, pop-ups are also used by big brands. Pop-ups can operate for a day or for several months, in dedicated retail units, or in repurposed spaces like stations, warehouses, even disused public toilets.


  • Receipt: A document confirming the purchase of items from a business, these may also be digital and sent via SMS or email.


  • Samsung Pay: A digital wallet for Samsung smartphones. Users can easily and securely keep their payment card on their phone and pay with a single tap to a compatible reader. Users must authorise payments via touch, iris scan or pin code to complete a sale.
  • Self-employed: Individuals who are their own bosses count as self-employed. Small businesses that are sole traders are self-employed, for example.
  • Sole Traders: A type of small business. Owners count as self-employed and only an NI Number is required to start operating.
  • Start-up: A newly emerged entrepreneurial business. The term start-up is often associated with innovative businesses looking to grow quickly via external funding.
  • Stock management: Somewhat self-explanatory, stock management means keeping on top of all the items you have in stock. Also known as inventory, this includes re-ordering items when they’re running low, knowing which items are the most popular or, in the case of perishables, making sure you are always selling items according to expiry date.


  • Tokenisation: A digital means of securing sensitive data by replacing it with a “token” of random numbers which can complete digital sales without revealing actual card details. These numbers are constantly changing, securing data from hacking and digital breaches.
  • Two-Step Verification: A method of online security that requires authorisation from two variables. Most commonly this is a password and a special code re-issued with every request to access a secured account.


  • USP: Unique Selling Proposition. The factor (or factors) that make your products and services unique and better than your competitors’. Your USPs should appear in your mission statement and marketing communications to help people understand why they should buy from you and not someone else.


  • VAT (Value Added Tax): A tax added to goods and services, with a standard rate of 20%. Businesses must register for VAT if their turnover is over £80,000. Learn more about VAT.
  • Virtual Terminal: A web-based payment application that allows for sales to be made securely via a PC or laptop.


  • Workplace pension: A pension scheme offered by employees and paid into by both employer and employee each month. It is compulsory for all employees to observe automatic enrolment and workplace pensions for their workers.