Whitman Voices


Whitman Workbook: Essential Business Terms and Phrases

Whitman Workbook: Essential Business Terms and Phrases

Welcome to the Whitman Workbook! This workbook serves as a source of working definitions and phrases for Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management undergraduate and graduate students.

The Whitman Workbook is a collection of essential terms and phrases to understand during your time in the business school. Each week there will be new words and definitions from our faculty.

Omnichannel (noun) refers to a coordinated retail offering that provides a seamless and synchronized customer experience, using all of the retailer’s shopping channels.

Bottleneck (noun) is a step in a sequential process which limits the capacity (capability) of the whole system.

Pivot (noun) is a major change to a business model, such as how you make money, the customer profile, or the value proposition. Entrepreneurs must be open to pivots even a lot of resources have been spent getting the latest version right. Build, test and adjust iterations quickly to prevent expensive pivots.

The Availability Heuristic (noun) is a decision-making strategy or shortcut in which you focus on the most readily available information or information that is easy to bring to mind. Just experienced a hurricane in your area? You are more likely to purchase insurance to protect yourself after a natural disaster you’ve just experienced than before it happens. That disaster is on the top of your mind, so your decisions are affected by it.

Bootstrapping (verb) is the practice of self-funding your business with the funds you already have, being creative, and engaging in tactics like bartering. Entrepreneurs that combine knowledge, skills, and experience with savings to launch and grow a business without external funding. Most founders start on this route.

Machine learning (noun) is a subset of artificial intelligence in which we “teach” the computer how to make a prediction such as predicting the “fair” selling price of a property in real estate.

 Minimum Viable Product (MVP) (noun) is the first few versions of a product that include just the core features to test the riskiest assumptions before building the next iteration with more advanced features. This allows entrepreneurs to test ideas quickly without spending resources in a product that may or may not work.

Deterministic optimization (noun) is the way every supply chain partner makes decisions such as product line, production quantity and schedule, facility location, distribution routes, etc., facing a relative deterministic environment.

Business Accelerators (noun) are organizations that help entrepreneurs move ideas quickly by providing mentorship and fundraising opportunities during a program lasting a few months. 

Offshoring vs. Outsourcing (verb): Offshoring is about where the work is being done regardless of who owns the services, such as production in a different country. Outsourcing is contracting a different company to provide services regardless of where the company is located.

Value proposition (noun): Solving a customer’s problem through a better solution with unique benefits over the competition.

Venture Capital (VC) (noun): A form of venture financing in which an entrepreneur gives up partial control and ownership of the business in exchange for funding over a limited time frame, usually 3-5 years. Investment funding usually ranges from $500,000 to $5 million or even more.

Conversion rate (n): The percentage of customers who enter a store or access a website and then buy a product from that same store or website.

Employee engagement (n): represents the levels of passion, commitment,  and connection employees have with their organization. 

As work becomes more complicated and challenging, organizational leaders need to create jobs that encourage employee engagement in order to maintain employee motivation, encourage prosocial behaviors like helping coworkers, and discourage negative behaviors like theft.

Supervised/Unsupervised algorithms (n): In both supervised and unsupervised algorithms, a human provides oversight of the algorithm. In supervised algorithms, the goal of the algorithm is to predict a specific target variable whereas unsupervised algorithms do not have a specifically labeled target variable to predict.

Business model canvas (n) is a framework that categorizes the most vital areas of launching a startup by addressing nine categories like customer segments, value proposition, key partners, revenue model and customer acquisition channels.

Karley Warden