03. Business


Part 1-style questions

Examiner: Do you work or are you a student?
Hati: I run my own business actually … I have an online business selling cosmetics … I set up the business 5 years ago and I’m really enjoying working for myself 

  • to run your own business: to have a business of your own
  • to set up a business: to start a business
  • to work for yourself: (see ‘to be self-employed’)

Examiner: What is your ideal job?
Kaori: I don’t think I’d enjoy working for a big company … I think I’d like to go it alone and be self-employed … I’m not sure what area of business it would be but I think I’d enjoy the process of drawing up a business plan and seeing if I could be successful …

  • to draw up a business plan: to write a plan for a new business
  • to be self-employed: to work for yourself/to not work for an employer
  • to go it alone: to start your own business

Examiner: Is your town a nice place to live?
Monique: It’s OK … the main problem we have is our local high street … it used to be a busy centre but lots of shops have gone bust … it must be very difficult to make a profit when you have huge supermarkets in the area and a lot haven’t been able to survive with such cut-throat competition …

  • cut throat competition: when one company lowers its prices, forcing other companies to do the same, sometimes to a point where business becomes unprofitable
  • to go bust: when a business is forced to close because it is unsuccessful
  • to make a profit: to earn more money than it costs to run the business


Part 2-style task

Describe a business you know that you admire. You should say

  • what this business is
  • what the business sells
  • how long you have known about the business

and say why you like it so much.

Magda:  Actually I discovered a business very recently that I like so much I’d like to do something similar in the future … it’s a small niche business that runs courses in how to cook … especially bread … the owner uses his kitchen for the courses and went into business with a local community shop and sells a lot of the bread and cakes they make in the shop … I first got to hear about the business last year … my wife paid for me to do one of the baking courses and I got to know the owner during the training … it’s a lifestyle business really … he doesn’t have plans to take on employees or expand into new areas … he’s happy earning a living doing the thing he loves … I really admire what he does and I’m sure a lot of people would love to do something similar … he has a web presence … in fact that’s how we got to find out about his company … and he uses social media to raise the company profile … but he’s the only person involved in running the business so he’s in complete control of where the business goes … that’s something that must make it really satisfying … as long as he’s managing to balance the books and the cash flow is healthy I’m sure he must be very pleased with what he has achieved …

  • to go into business with: to join another person to start or expand a business
  • niche business: a business that serves a small, particular market
  • lifestyle business: a business that is set up to bring in a sufficient income and no more
  • to take on employees: to employ people
  • to earn a living: to earn money
  • to have a web presence: to have a website or social  media profile that showcases your business
  • cash flow: the money coming in and going out of a business
  • to raise a company profile: to make more people aware of a business
  • to balance the books: to not spend more money than you are earning

Part 3-style questions

Examiner:  Why do some people decide to set up their own business?
Marion: I suppose it’s the idea of being in control of your own destiny … or of believing in a product or service idea you may have … plus it must be very exciting … launching products …winning contracts … and seeing your sales figures improving must be wonderful …

  • to win a contract: when a business gets legally-binding work with an individual or company
  • to launch a product: to start selling and promoting a new product
  • sales figures: a report of the income a company generates through sales of products or services

Examiner: What are some of the dangers involved in starting a business?
Hiro: Well … obviously you need to have a good idea … some people say you need to do  market research beforehand so you know what the market wants … if you don’t do this you could go under … and if it is a good idea the chances are someone else is doing the same thing so you could end up facing stiff competition …

  • to go under: (see ‘to go bust’)
  • to do market research: to do research into what potential customers would or wouldn’t buy
  • stiff competition: strong competition from other companies in the same area of work

Examiner: What are some of things you have to do when running your own business that might not appeal to everyone?
Katy: Personally i don’t like being in debt so taking out a business loan wouldn’t  suit me at all … and I know a lot of companies do cold calling to try and drum up business … that’s something I’d hate to do … and laying people off if the business gets into trouble … that would be horrible …

  • to take out a loan: to borrow money
  • to lay someone off: when a company ends an employee’s contract of employment
  • to cold call: to make a sales call to someone without asking them for permission first
  • to drum up business: to try to get customers

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