017 Talking about profitability in meetings

Hi everyone, welcome back to the Art of Business English. In today’s episode we are going to be looking at vocabulary for describing profitability when in meetings. We will be covering some general vocabulary and then some more specific idioms.


I have divided the episode into three parts. By the end of the episode we will have reviewed the following:


  1. Idioms for describing profitability in meetings
  2. Some example sentences using these idioms
  3. Study tips for implementing these idioms


Let’s get started.


Idioms for describing profitability in meetings

If we find ourselves in a meeting or situation where we need to discuss the profitability of our products or services, then we should be using some of the following expressions.


Below, I have divided the expressions into three categories. Firstly, idioms for products which are losing money, then products that neither make nor lose money and finally, products that make money.


Let’s start by taking a look at some idioms and expressions for losing money.


Losing money


Idiom Meaning Translation
To make a loss To lose money Sufrir pérdidas
To be loss-making Unprofitable Generador de pérdidas
To be a loss-leader A product that is sold cheaply in order to attract the public and make them buy other, more expensive, things Oferta gancho
Sold at a loss Sold for less than the real cost of the product Vender con pérdidas
To be losing money on To be worth less than the original investment Estar perdiendo dinero en
To be under water To owe more money than your net worth Deber más al banco por un crédito que lo que vale la inversión
To cut one’s losses To abandon an investment that will continue to lose money and accept a lose Terminar de perder dinero y vete
Money loser A product, service, or business that does not make a profit: Un producto que pierde dinero


Now that we have covered loss-making idioms, let’s take a look at some expressions for describing products and services that neither make nor lose money.


Breaking even


To break even
Income equal to expenditure
Salir a la par/Salir al ras
To reach break-even point
The point at which the income from sale of a product or service equals the invested costs, resulting in neither profit nor loss
Llegar el punto de equilibrio
To balance the books
Bring two sides into equilibrium
Equilibrar las cuentas
To recover costs/ expenses
Earn enough money to pay for the initial cost of the investment
Recuperar costes

Finally, we can look at the best idioms, those for being profitable and making money.


Being profitable


To be profitable
Yielding profit
To be profit-making
Something that generates more in earnings than costs
Algo que genera beneficio
Money spinner
Idea, product or service that easily generates a lot of money
Mina de oro
Cash cow
Any business venture, operation, or product that is a dependable source of income or profit.
Gallina de los huevos de oro
To make a mint/killing
To make large sums of money
Hacer una fortuna
To make a profit
To generate more money in income than expenses
Obtener beneficio



So, there we have a series of idioms for describing unprofitability, neutrality and profitability. In the second part of this episode I am going to give you some example sentences with these expressions in use.

Sample sentences


Unprofitable Neutral Profitable
Unfortunately, on our premium line of skin care creams we are making a loss, due to high marketing costs in this quarter. After initially investing a lot of money in development and production costs, the company has finally broken even. This new business model is a real money spinner. We practically have very little in outlay.
My company is underwater, staffing costs are overtaking profits and putting us into the red. Before we can go to the market to raise some capital we need to balance the books, or we won’t have any leverage. We are looking to make a profit of between 10 and 12 million dollars this year.
We need to cut our losses and pull out of this deal, otherwise we will go bankrupt I am hoping to recover my costs within the first year of business. We are making a killing this year. The economy is strong and consumer sentiment is high.


Let’s turn now to the last part of the episode. Here I want to give you some study tips.


Final thoughts


As always, we need to study idioms and expressions within context. The three categories I have provided today can easily be applied to your daily business English.


The first step is to review the list at the AOBE website and bookmark the page, making sure you understand the meaning of each expression. The translation will help you. Once you feel confident you understand that meaning of the various expressions, choose one from each of the three categories. Write the 3 down on a separate piece of paper and decide when are where these can be applied in your daily business life. For example, try and use them in your next meeting or presentation. Even easier would be to include them in one of you emails.


When you feel comfortable using the three expressions, come back to the list at the AOBE website, using the bookmark you created earlier. Then you can choose 3 new expressions and repeat the process over again.


Well, that is all we have time for today, I hope that this episode has been useful. Remember to share the podcast or post with your friends. This really helps us to reach more people and help as many people as possible with their business English.


I look forward to reading your comments and answering your questions. Be sure to send them to me if you have any doubts that need clearing up.


Till next week, have a great week and I look forward to having you all again at the Art of Business English. Take care.

Andrew Ambrosius is the Director of Castells Immerscom and The Art of Business English. A specialist in Business English training and online course development.

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