Learning Vocabulary: Starting a business
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Rich is starting a new business: a football-themed cafe. Jack and Rowan are not sure it's a good idea. The language focus is on phrases we use to talk about investment and phrases connected to marketing. In this week's task, we want you to write a mini business plan for an idea you have for a service or product. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Here are some words you will hear in the podcast. Turn the cards to check your understanding.
Learning Vocabulary: Starting a business
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rowan: My name’s Rowan
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: In this week’s roleplay, I’ve started to change careers.
Rowan: What are you going to do Rich?
Rich: I’m going to start a new business. I’m going to run a cafe - a football-themed cafe.
Jack: In this week’s roleplay, you’re going to hear Rich’s idea and his business plan.
Rowan: I think you’re being nice calling it a business plan.
Jack: Yes, we’re not so sure Rich’s new enterprise will be a success.
Rowan: After the roleplay, we’ll focus on vocabulary and look at some words and phrases connected to money and other things you need when deciding to start up a new business.
Rich: Your task this week is to share an idea for a business and tell us what you would need to make it a reality.
Jack: If you’re listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast platform, you should also check out our website.
Rowan: That’s because on the Premier Skills English website you’ll also find the transcript, examples and activities to help you understand the language, a task for you to do and a community of friendly listeners to interact with, in our comments section.
Rich: And that includes us - we’re always around to answer questions and join the discussions.
Jack: A lot to get through today! Before we get into all that we need to look back at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Rowan: If you didn’t hear our football phrase last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now.
Jack: Last week’s football phrase was ***-******. This is what players normally do after they have had their holidays and before they start playing matches again. They need to do this every year to get match-fit.
Rich: We’ll give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Jack: The first listener to get it right last week was Nicolas from Colombia from Ukraine. Congratulations Nicolas.
Rowan: And a big well done if you are in this list because it means you also got the correct answer:
Rich: Mohamed Kuma from Sudan, Elghoul from Algeria, Lakerwang from China, Liubomyr from Ukraine, Hayato from Japan, Marco Zapien and Vic both from Mexico, Gergo Nagy from Hungary and Kewsimanifest from Ghana.
Jack: Remember we’ll have a new football phrase for you to guess at the end of the show.
Introduction to Roleplay
Rowan: In this section, you’re going to hear a roleplay. Rich has a big surprise for us.
Rich: I’m about to tell Jack and Rowan about my new business - a football-themed cafe.
Jack: While you are listening, we want you to answer a couple of questions:
Rowan: What’s going to be the speciality of the cafe?
Jack: What does Rich need to do before he opens the cafe?
Rowan: Where are you taking us?
Rich: It’s not far now.
Jack: So, what’s this big surprise then?
Rich: You’ll see. OK. We’re here. This is the place.
Rowan: This is the place? What was this place?
Jack: What’s that smell?
Rowan: Is it an old butcher’s? Nobody’s been in here for years.
Rich: It’s going to be brilliant.
Jack: What is going to be brilliant?
Rich: This is where I’m going to run my new cafe!
Rowan: You what? Your new cafe? What’re you on about?
Rich: I’m going to run a cafe called... wait for it... Mr Muffin! It’s going to specialise in muffins. I’m going to bake them right here, on the premises. Imagine the smell of muffins wafting through the cafe and out onto the street.
Jack: The only thing I can smell is old cats!
Rich: Well, it needs freshening up a bit, I admit, but …
Rowan: But what about your job?
Rich: I’m going to quit.
Jack: You’re going to quit your job and do what? Become some kind of muffin mogul? Have you thought this through?
Rich: Yeah, it’s going to be wonderful. I’ve always wanted to run my own cafe.
Rowan: Slow down a bit. Muffins? American muffins? You’re only going to sell muffins?
Rich: No, I’ll sell other things, too. Tea and coffee and other cakes and sandwiches but muffins will be the piece de resistance!
Jack: French muffins! Never heard of them.
Rich: ... and the cafe is going to have a theme. A football theme. A Liverpool FC theme. They’ll be pictures of Liverpool winning the Premier League and players on the wall.
Rowan: They haven’t won it yet.
Rich: They will have by the time I open up. The best things though will be the muffins. You’ll be able to have an Allison muffin, a Mohamed Salah muffin, a James Milner muffin.
Jack: A James Milner muffin?? What on earth is that?
Rich: A James Milner muffin. It’s a blueberry and banana muffin with a chocolate topping.
Rowan: You can’t name muffins after people.
Rich: I can. They’ll all have an edible bit of rice paper with their photo on the top and they’ll be loads of flavours: carrot cake muffins, double chocolate chip, cranberry, strawberry muffins. You name the muffin and I’ll have it!
Jack: Do you really think you can make money from muffins?
Rich: Yes, I’ve thought about it a lot. The ingredients are cheap so there’ll be a good profit margin. I can make over a pound on every muffin I sell.
Rowan: This is just an idea, right? You haven’t made any decisions yet, right?
Rich: Er ... well yes and no, don’t worry. What do you think?
Rowan: Where are you getting the money from? You’re going to need a lot of capital to open Mr Muffin.
Rich: I’ve got some savings. I can use that inheritance money I got from my Great Uncle Joe last year. I’ve got a bit of money put away for a rainy day, you know. So, what do you think about this place?
Jack: It needs quite a lot of investment. You’re going to have to build it from scratch. You’re going to have to gut this place.
Rowan: It’s already gutted. I don’t think that’ll be a problem. You’re going to have to decorate big time. It’s going to cost thousands, maybe tens of thousands.
Jack: You’re going to need a kitchen, you’re going to need ovens for your muffins and furniture. Can you afford it?
Rich: As I said, I’ve got some money set aside for these kinds of things.
Rowan: We could look at a few other places. We could look together. Maybe somewhere more suitable.
Jack: Have you got a business plan together? You may have worked out the profit margin on a muffin, but do you know what everything else is going to cost? There’s a lot to think about.
Rich: Yeah, I know. I’m sure it’ll all come together.
Rowan: It won’t come together like magic, Rich. What do you know about running a business on a day to day basis?
Rich: How hard could it be? It’ll be a piece of cake. I'm going to sell muffins - lots of them.
Jack: You’re going to need to advertise to get customers. Are you going to put ads in the local paper or on the radio? How about getting a billboard up somewhere?
Rowan: You could get some flyers printed. Maybe you could do a special offer when you open?
Rich: The muffins will be so tasty I won’t need to pay for any advertising. It will all be word of mouth. Soon as word gets out how good they are, my muffins will sell themselves - they’ll sell like hotcakes.
Jack: But the word has to get out there somehow.
Rich: I’ll have a Mr Muffin Instagram account and we’ll be on Facebook. Loads of people love sharing pictures of food on social media and my muffins will be gorgeous.
Jack: Even with James Milner’s face on them? And what about the competition.
Rowan: There’s a bakery just across the road.
Rich: Yeah ... they do sell muffins; I’ve tried them. But they’re not very tasty - they’re not a patch on mine.
Jack: I’m sure they’re not Rich. I tell you what, I’ll be happy to sit down and take a look at your business plan.
Rowan: Me too. I might even be interested in investing if it looks like we could make some money.
Jack: But don’t be too hasty. Let’s not jump into anything straight away.
Rich: Hmmm. That’s probably good advice. But there’s just one thing. I’ve just signed a five-year lease.
Rowan: You’ve already signed a contract? Rich!
Rich: No, not Rich... Mr Muffin!
Rich: Before the roleplay, we asked you two questions.
Rowan: The first question was: What’s going to be the speciality of the cafe? Rich, please explain.
Rich: Well, I’m going to sell muffins - lots of muffins. They’ll be all kinds of flavours but the speciality will definitely be the muffins named after Liverpool players.
Jack: The second question was: What does Rich need to do before he opens the cafe?
Rowan: We think he needs to do a lot of work and a lot of thinking before he opens the cafe. He needs to think about money, investment, decorating, running costs, marketing and the competition.
Jack: Yes, there’s a lot involved in running a business. Let’s look at some of the language we used in the roleplay connected to starting a business.
Rich: We’re going to focus on words and phrases connected to finance and promotion.
Jack: Yes, having enough money to start your own business, and letting people know about your business are important things when you start a business.
Rowan: There’s a lot to do when you’re running your own business. This is a collocation we used a few times in the roleplay - to run a business. Rich wants to run a cafe.
Rich: It means to operate or manage a business. Generally, you can run a business or run a company.
Jack: You can run a shop, you can run a cinema and Rich wants to run Mr Muffin.
Rowan: All right. Let’s start talking about money. We spoke about money a lot in the roleplay. We wondered how Rich was going to raise all the money he needed. Where is he going to get his capital from?
Jack: When we talk about raising money for a business we’re talking about how a person or company is going to manage to get the money that is needed.
Rowan: The money raised can then be used as capital to invest in a business. Capital is the money or wealth that a business or business owner has that can be invested.
Jack: How did you say you were going to raise the money for the cafe Rich?
Rich: I said I had some savings and that I could use the inheritance money I got. I also said that I had some money set aside for a rainy day.
Rowan: Some useful words and phrases there. Let’s start with inheritance. Inheritance is a noun that means the things that a person is given by a relative or close friend when they die. An inheritance might be money, property or personal objects - anything really.
Jack: So, Rich said that he had some inheritance money. He also said that he had some savings. This is money that you usually have in the bank that you add to regularly and don’t spend.
Rich: I also used a couple of phrases connected to money. I said that I have some money set aside for a rainy day. To set something aside means to save or keep something for a specific purpose.
Rowan: So, Rich has some money set aside to use for his new business. But he said he wanted to use it on a rainy day?
Jack: A rainy day is a phrase we use to describe a time when we need some extra money unexpectedly - we didn’t know we’d need it.
Rich: I think setting aside some money or putting away some money for a rainy day is a good idea - everyone should do it.
Rowan: Yes, I agree, but in the roleplay, we were still not sure that you’d have enough money so we asked if you’d thought about other options.
Jack: We wondered if you’d looked for additional investment or tried to get funding or asked the bank for a loan.
Rich: Some other useful words there. Let’s start with investment.
Jack: I told Rich that the building for the cafe needs quite a lot of investment. I was talking about money here but we can use investment to talk about money, time and effort.
Rowan: An investment is usually when you put some money into something to make a profit. We also speak about a person who invests. This person is called an investor.
Rich: Rowan said she might invest in my cafe project. She would be an investor. She’d give me some money and would want to get her money back with some profit - extra money too.
Jack: So, you can get money for a project from investors. Another way to say this is to get funding. This means to get the money you need for your project to go ahead. Funding can come from your own savings, investors, other organisations or the bank.
Rowan: Yes, you might need a bank loan. A bank loan or a just a loan is when the bank gives you money and you pay it back over a specific period of time.
Rich: With interest!
Jack: Yes, you always have to pay back more than you got.
Rowan: Rich is really excited about his muffin cafe but will he get any customers.
Jack: He’ll need to do some promotion to let people know the cafe is opening.
Rich: We used some useful words and phrases in the roleplay connected to promotion. We spoke about advertising.
Rowan: Advertising is telling people about a product or a service so they will buy it. Companies advertise their products and services. We see ads or adverts in the street, on TV, online - everywhere.
Jack: We gave Rich a few ideas in the roleplay. We said that he could put up a billboard to tell people about his new cafe.
Rowan: A billboard is a large board on the side of a building or in the street that advertises something.
Jack: Rowan said that Rich could have some flyers printed and then he could hand them out to people.
Rowan: A flyer is a bit of paper that advertises something. People might hand them out in the street or you might see them in bars or cafes.
Rich: But I said I didn’t need to do any advertising because it will all be word of mouth.
Jack: Word of mouth means for information to pass from one person to another by talking rather than reading or seeing something.
Rich: I just need one person to eat one of my muffins and everyone will be talking about them. I did say that I would create an Instagram account and share things on social media though.
Rowan: Social media is things like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Companies often share things on social media to advertise their products.
Rich: And my muffin pictures will probably go viral because people will like them so much.
Jack: When something goes viral on social media, it means it gets shared by lots of people really quickly.
Rowan: Rich also said the muffins will sell themselves. If something sells itself it’s because it’s so good no advertising or promotion is needed.
Rich: I said they will sell like hotcakes. If something sells like hotcakes it means you sell lots of them very quickly.
Jack: Muffins selling like hotcakes - that’s a bit confusing.
Rich: I won’t just be selling muffins.
Rich: In this week’s task, we want you to think of a business idea and tell us what you would need to make it a reality.
Jack: Do you want to open up a shop or restaurant like Rich? Would it have a football theme like Rich’s or something completely different?
Rowan: Maybe your business idea is online. What are you going to do or sell? How are you going to attract an audience? How are you going to get customers?
Rich: Tell us your idea and then think about what you would need to make it a reality. Do you have capital? How would you raise the money? Look for investors or ask for a bank loan?
Jack: Write your mini business plan in the comments section on Premier Skills English and try to use some of the words and phrases we’ve introduced in this podcast.
Rich: I think my football phrase was a bit too easy last week. Have either of you got a phrase that’s a bit more difficult?
Rowan: I’ve got one that I think is a bit tricky. This week’s football phrase is an action on the pitch. It’s called * ****** ****. Imagine you have the ball at your feet and a defender is in front of you. Right, now pull back one leg like you are going to pass the ball to a teammate then instead, stop your foot when it’s over the ball and pull the ball back behind your other leg, spin 180 degrees and run away with the ball. The defender will still be looking the other way if you do the ****** **** well.
Jack: You’re right this phrase could be difficult so I’m going to give everyone a little bit of help. This week’s phrase is named after a very famous Dutch footballer.
Rich: Let’s see who can get it right? Before we leave you we also need to tell you last week’s football phrase. The answer was pre-season training.
Rowan: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Jack: If you have any questions or comments or suggestions for the podcast or anything football or English related, you can leave them on the website in the comments section, on social media, on apple podcasts or you can email us at email@example.com.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
Here is the vocabulary you saw at the top of this page and how Rowan, Rich and Jack used it in the roleplay. Do you know the words in bold?
I’m going to bake the muffins right here, on the premises.
I’ve always wanted to run my own cafe.
They’ll all have an edible bit of rice paper with their photo on the top and there’ll be loads of flavours.
You’re going to have to build this place from scratch.
How hard could it be? It’ll be a piece of cake.
My muffins will sell themselves - they’ll sell like hotcakes.
Listen to the roleplay again to hear how Rich, Rowan and Jack used these words and phrases.
Money and Finance
In the roleplay, Jack and Rowan were worried that Rich might not have the money to start his own business. They all used lots of words and phrases connected to money and what you need when you start a new business. Have a look at the following sentences and think about the phrases in bold:
The ingredients are cheap so there’ll be a good profit margin. I can make over a pound on every muffin I sell.
You’re going to need a lot of capital to open Mr Muffin.
I’ve got some savings. I can use that inheritance money I got from my Great Uncle Joe last year. I’ve got a bit of money put away for a rainy day.
It needs quite a lot of investment. It’s going to cost thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Can you afford it?
We wondered if you’d looked for additional investment or tried to get funding or asked for a bank loan.
Marketing and Promotion
In the roleplay, Jack and Rowan wondered how Rich will tell people about his new cafe. Rich didn't seem that worried about this. They used a few words and phrases connected to marketing and promotion. Have a look at the following sentences and think about the phrases in bold:
You’re going to need to advertise to get customers. Are you going to put ads in the local paper or on the radio?
How about getting a billboard up somewhere?
You could get some flyers printed.
The muffins will be so tasty I won’t need advertising. It will all be word of mouth.
Soon as word gets out how good they are, my muffins will sell themselves - they'll sell like hotcakes.
Loads of people love sharing pictures of food on social media and my muffins will be gorgeous.
A mini-business plan
In this week’s task, we want you to think of a business idea and tell us what you would need to make it a reality.
- Do you want to open up a shop or restaurant like Rich? Would it have a football theme like Rich’s or something completely different?
- Maybe your business idea is online. What are you going to do or sell? How are you going to attract an audience? How are you going to get customers?
- Tell us your idea and then think about what you would need to make it a reality. Do you have capital? How would you raise the money? Will you look for investors or ask for a bank loan?
- Try to use some of the words and phrases we’ve introduced in this podcast.
Write all your mini business plan in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!