business english terms

How You Can Leverage “Shark Tank” to Learn Key Business English Terms

Did you know that there are television shows made specifically for businesspeople?

Maybe you’re already watching American sitcoms to improve your general English vocabulary and to have fun.

Funny television shows that feature workplace situations and offices—such as “The Office”—are a great way to start.

But there are even more educational TV options for people who want to succeed in business. 

Today, we’re going to discuss how you can immerse yourself in the world of English business, finance and investment vocabulary by watching “Shark Tank.”

Learn a foreign language with videos

What’s “Shark Tank”?

“Shark Tank” is an American reality television series. Reality programs are ones that show real people doing real things. Sometimes they’re pretty silly, like “The Real World” or “The Jersey Shore.”

Other times, as with “Shark Tank,” reality shows can expose you to really cool ideas and projects that real people are working on.

During each episode of “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs who want to take their businesses to the next level (increase sales and profits) present their ideas to five potential investors.

These potential investors had start-ups of their own and successfully turned them into lucrative (financially successful) businesses.

The show is full of Business English expressions and vocabulary with an emphasis on business English investment terms.

You can watch clips and full episodes of “Shark Tank” on the ABC official website, and you can even follow the show on Facebook or Twitter.

What Strategies Can You Use to Learn from “Shark Tank?”

The fact that you’re interested in business and finance gives you a big advantage in learning business English vocabulary from the show. This fact will motivate you to watch and pay attention to it. That’s an important first step.

To really learn English from the show, simply watching it casually won’t be enough. You’ll have to take a more active role. Here are some tips for you to try.

1. Acquaint yourself with the show’s format. The structure will help you find patterns. The information will fit together and help you connect words with meanings—much like a puzzle.

2. Listen to everyone on the show. Listen to everyone, including the announcer, the entrepreneurs and the sharks. You can learn from the repetition of terms, the announcer’s summaries of the situations, examples that apply to the terms, answers to questions and the conversations between the sharks.

3. Watch some episodes with a pen at hand. When you decide to watch and take notes, you should choose to watch an episode that you have already recorded, or that is available on the ABC website or YouTube. This allows you to slow things down, rewind and catch those important terms that you may have missed during the live airing of the show. Listen for key terms and pay attention to how they’re used in context. You can always go back and look them up in a dictionary later if you don’t know the meanings of the words.

But, hey, don’t wait until the next episode to start learning, Read on and get a head start.

4. Watch on FluentU. The tricky thing about learning business English terms with TV is that you might not understand everything. Native English speakers talk quickly and don’t wait for you to run and grab the dictionary. But FluentU solves this problem.

Check out this FluentU video, which features the youngest ever “Shark Tank” entrepreneur. You’ll notice it’s different than what you’d find on a regular video player. That’s because FluentU has tons of built-in language tools to help you learn while you watch.

best English apps

FluentU has thousands of authentic English videos, including an entire category specifically for business English learners.

To show the variety of videos even inside this single category, real-world business videos on FluentU include “Introducing Business Colleagues,” “Business Buzzwords,” “Control Your Inbox!” and “What Warren Buffet Thinks About Cash.”

An added bonus is that if you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories, such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or mix it up with “Arts and Entertainment” or “Health and Lifestyle.”

All the videos are organized by level so it’s convenient to find the best ones for you (plus FluentU will keep track of what you’ve learned and suggest new videos for you based on that information).

best English apps

Every video comes with interactive subtitles. Click any word for an instant definition, examples and memorable picture.

All you have to do is tap or click on one of the words in those subtitles to get more information. For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” you will see this:

best English apps

Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”

best English apps

To watch the clip above—plus the entire FluentU video library—with all the learning features, sign up for a free FluentU trial. You can watch anytime, anywhere, on your computer or with the mobile apps for iOS and Android.

How to Understand “Shark Tank”

Every “Shark Tank” contestant begins on the show in the same way.

They introduce themselves and their businesses, and they also indicate how much of an investment they’re looking for and what percentage stake in the profits they’re offering the sharks.

In order to understand what’s happening in each episode, you’ll need to understand these introductions. Try to watch as many of these as possible on YouTube to practice!

The “Shark Tank” Guide to Business English Investment Terms

Angel Investor

Wow, wouldn’t every entrepreneur love to have an angel investor?

What is this? To define it look at the two words. The first is “angel.” An angel is a being that acts as a messenger of God. People sometimes believe that they have a guardian angel. This is a being who looks after them in difficult situations.

An investor is someone who puts money into a business with the hopes of getting something back.

Put the two together and you get the definition. An angel investor is a proven investor who comes in to help the business at an early stage by investing time and/or money.

We never would have made it without our angel investor. He really helped us keep afloat in the early days.

Bridge Loan

Ahh. Here’s another term that you can define by looking at the separate words.

A bridge is something that connects point A to point B. Without the bridge it would take you a long time to get from point A to point B, or you would not be able to get there at all. Imagine getting to Marine County from San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge (without taking a plane, that is).

Now for the word “loan.” This is when someone gives you money that you have to pay back.

So now let’s put the two words together. In the business world a bridge loan is a loan that people take out for a short period of time to hold them over until they obtain a more permanent form of financing.

We’re in the process of renovating a house that we plan to sell afterwards. We’re looking for a bridge loan to cover the cost of the materials that will cover us until we sell the house.

Budget

Most people have a budget of some sort for their home life or their business. This is a plan which shows them how much money they can spend based on how much money they earn.

Companies also have budgets, or at least the successful ones do. Companies look at how much they expect to earn and how much they can spend based on their earning estimates.

Our budget doesn’t allow for the marketing expenditures we need to increase awareness. 

Common Stock

Common stock represents ownership in a company.

People who have common stock can vote on members of the board of directors and receive payments in the form of dividends. The amount of the dividend is based on the company’s performance and how much stock is owned.

Person A: You seem to be exceptionally happy today. What’s up?

Person B: I helped elect Acme Inc.’s new CEO.

Person A: No way. How did that happen?

Person B: Well, I own common stock

Person A: I heard about that. The CEO was elected by a combination of common stock owners and the vote of the executive team. That’s a pretty radical approach. I hope it works out well for you.

Capital

In the business world, capital is the wealth that a company has from money or other assets (things that it owns).

Our capital comes from our own savings and donations from relatives.

Cash Flow

The cash flow is the amount of money flowing in and out of a business.

My job is to estimate the month to month cash flow of the business.

Cost

When a company refers to its costs, it’s talking about the amount of money spent for goods and services. This also includes money spent on time and labor.

Many companies have outsourced the production of goods in an effort to keep the cost of production down.

Customer Acquisition

Acquiring customers is the goal of a company’s marketing efforts. Getting customers is called customer acquisition.

How will this new advertising improve our customer acquisition rate?

Due Diligence

When an investor is interested in putting money in a business, the business undergoes something called due diligence.

This is when the investor checks the company out to see if it is a good investment. The process involves the investor looking at the major areas of the company’s business plan to judge whether it is realistic.

So far so good, but you know the due diligence process can take several months. 

Equity

The word equity is heard all the time during “Shark Tank.” So what are they talking about? They’re talking about ownership in the company. Its investments in which the investor get part (or entire) ownership in a company.

Can you believe that? He just turned down an equity investment from an industry leader.

Expenditure

Expenditures are the amount of money a company spends.

We have to be careful. Our expenditures are already beginning to exceed our projected income.

Franchise

When a company gives someone else the right to sell goods or services under their name, the seller owns a franchise.

The franchise owner pays a certain amount of money in exchange for being able to use the company’s name and benefit from its advertising and reputation. In exchange the franchise owner has to follow specific rules.

Person A: I was thinking of starting my own company, but I don’t really want to have to do all the work it takes to create awareness. It’s really hard these days.

Person B: Why don’t you buy into a franchise? Then you can just build on the good name the company already has.

Person A: I guess there are benefits to being a franchisee

Harvest

This is a term that you might be accustomed to hearing in the world of agriculture. Farmers plant crops and when they’re ready, they harvest and sell them. Well the term has just about the same meaning in the business world.

In this case, an investor(s) sells a privately held company for cash or stock in a publicly held company, thus getting the benefits from their investment.

Don’t do it. They’re just going to invest in us and when the time is right, implement a harvest strategy.

IPO

The IPO or Initial Public Offering is the dream of many start-ups. This is when a privately owned company goes public and sells its shares to the public.

We have so many people who are interested in investing in the company, I wonder if it’s time to sell shares to the public in an IPO.

Leveraged Buyout

leveraged buyout occurs when a company uses a significant amount of borrowed money to become a controlling interest in another company (the target company). Often the target company’s assets serve as collateral for the borrowed money.”

There’s no way that management didn’t know that there was going to be a leveraged buyout. They just kept the news from us.

Non-disclosure Agreement

You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to hear this term. Whenever you work with someone who has a product or process that they want to may sure you don’t share with others, you may have to sign a non-disclosure agreement—an agreement that says that you won’t give information about the product or project to anyone else. In other words, you agree to not disclose information.

Before we proceed, I have to ask you to sign this non-disclosure agreement.

Purchase Order

A purchase order (PO) is a document a buyer gives a seller detailing the products or services the seller is to provide to the buyer.

I didn’t order that. Look, here’s my copy of the purchase order. I don’t see any mention of this product here.

Patent

When people appear on “Shark Tank” with unique products or inventions, the potential investors will almost always ask one question, “Do you have a patent on this product?”

A patent gives the product’s creator or the inventor exclusive rights to the product or invention for a specific period of time. During that time period, others can’t make the product or invention and sell it as their own.

Is there a patent, or at least a patent pending, on this product?

Royalty

When someone has a patent or copyright to a product one hopes that they don’t sell it for a flat fee. Instead it would be better for them to get royalties. You know, like authors do.

Some people have gotten really rich off of royalties. That’s because the creator gets money every time someone buys or uses the product or service.

Person A: We are willing to pay a flat fee.

Person B: Then there’s no deal. I want royalties.

Seed Financing

Seed financing is the small amount of financing an entrepreneur or inventor seeks to prove that their concept works. It can come in three different rounds. The first round is Series A, the second is Series B and the third is Series C.

We’re in the process of preparing our pitch to obtain seed financing.

Stake

When you have a stake in something, you’re involved in the outcome in some way. The same is true when you have a stake in a business. That means that you have a share or interest in a business.

Keep me abreast of the situation. I have a large stake in this company. 

Trademark

A trademark is a name or a symbol, or even a motto, that’s distinctive and legally helps you recognize a company or its services or products.

Be careful with that. Since your blog is for-profit I’m not sure you can use that image. It’s protected by a trademark.

Value

The value of a company is its estimated monetary worth.

So, what is your company valued at?

Venture Capitalist

If you have a small or medium sized business that needs funds, but is too risky for other investors, you may turn to a venture capitalist. That’s what they’re there for.

Venture capitalists started paying much more attention to business plans after the dot com bust.

Warrants

Investors, who are not employees are sometimes given the right to buy common stock shares at a fixed price for a period of time. Even though they have the right to do this, they don’t have to act upon it.

They tried to sweeten the deal by offering warrants.

 

Now it’s your turn.

Armed with this list, you’re ready to add terms to your list as you watch episodes of “Shark Tank.”

Remember to keep paper and pencil nearby and put the words to use to keep them in your mind.

Happy vocabulary building!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

Experience English immersion online!

Comments are closed.