A Financial Glossary For Corporate Rebels

Joost Minnaar
Written by Joost Minnaar May 18, 2019

Over the years we’ve written about how progressive organizations organize into a network of teams structure. To boost engagement, agility and success, these pioneers distribute decision-making authority to these front-line teams.

With so much authority now vested in these teams it’s no surprise to find they enjoy the right to make many more decisions based on financial data.

All businesses are cash businesses

Unfortunately, employees in traditional organizations often don’t understand the fundamentals of finance. They probably have few clues about the financial status of the business they work in – or their team or department.

That people are blind to the financials is striking, to say the least. Because, like it or not, all businesses are cash businesses, and cash is important. The first day you can’t meet payment obligations is likely your last day in business.

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Bottom line? In the end cash rules the status of your business. And your finances determine what you can and can’t do. Which makes it surprising that most traditional firms leave their employees in the dark regarding financials. It follows, then, that employees don’t spend company money as if it were their own.

A Financial Glossary For Corporate Rebels
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Teach the fundamentals of finance

Progressive organizations do things differently. They know that for teams to take care of their own money, they need to first learn the fundamentals of finance. How else can they make informed decisions? A huge help is a common language—a glossary of terms that’s easy for all to understand. We stumbled across one in the awesome book ‘Business for Punks.’


"The stuff your business owns. From cash to computers, from rolling stock to real estate. These are the things that get stripped quicker than a five-dollar hooker if you mess up."

Balance sheet

"A snapshot of your business. It will list all of your assets and liabilities to help you work out your net assets. The higher your net assets, the stronger the underlying business. The lower your net assets, the harder the fall."

Bank reconciliation

"Like all conciliations this is a real bitch. Unfortunately it's a necessary evil, a vitally important cross-check that ensures your accounts match the reality of your bank account. So when you say you're worth €5m you actually are."

Break-even point

"The exact point when what's coming in equals what's going out. The sooner you get to this point the better, otherwise it's open season on your ass. (This is nothing to do with Point Break, which is a shit film with Keanu Reeves.)"


"This is your liquid assets, all the money you can have, when you need it. Always remember cash is king, so treat it with respect."


"Anyone who you owe money to. Suppliers, landlords, bookmakers, the taxman and the Abba tribute act you booked for the Christmas party."


"A person or business that owes you money. Be all over your debtors like a cheap suit and try to secure payments at warp speed. Slow payers can screw your cash flow and ultimately you."

Gross margin

"No, not that kind of gross. Gross margin is net sales less the cost of goods sold. The gross margin tells you the amount that your business earns from the sale of its products or services, before the deduction of any selling and administrative costs. Capisce?"

Gross profit

"If you were paying attention at the gross margin bit, this should be easy. Gross profit is the difference between sales and the direct cost of making the sales. No, this isn't all profit, so don't order the Hummer just yet. Or ever."


"A financial obligation or an amount owed to a company or individual. Also can be an ex-partner with an expensive lawyer or an out-of-control sales person."

Net profit

"Unfortunately not actually a net full of cash. Total gross profit minus all business expenses. This profit exists on paper. Once realized it is the stuff you can spend or reinvest. I recommend the latter."


"What you have to pay out to run a business. All the fixed costs like rent, marketing, utilities and administrative costs. Begging, bootlegging, borrowing and bartering help to keep these costs down. Never get in over your head on overheads."


"Another 'over' word, only this mother is a little more deadly. This happens when a business expands its operations too quickly, selling more stuff than its underlying resources can support - essentially running out of cash. Ego vobis valedico."


"The crack cocaine of the business world. Pure unadulterated profit - the total revenue a business earns minus the total expenses. Enjoy."

Profit and loss statement (AKA P&L, income statement or management accounts)

"A financial statement listing sales and expenses and used to work out the gross and net profit of a business. Here's another statement - if you're in the loss bit, you need to up your game. And quickly."

Revenue (AKA turnover)

"The amount earned before expenses, tax and other deductions are taken out. Keep that revenue stream flowing and row away form the rocks."


"This one is easy. The actual products or materials a business currently has on hand. Too much stock and you're screwed, too little and you're screwed. It's a high-wire act."

Variable cost

"A cost that changes depending on the number of goods produced or the demand for the product/service. This bad boy can go up or down like a yo-yo."

Working capital

"The cash available to a business for day-to-day expenses. Remember, every pound/dollar/euro you spend is another pound/dollar/euro you need to earn, so work that capital hard, like your life depends on it - your business's life certaintly does."

This glossary should be entirely credited to James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, and author of the book Business for Punks.. Do you like this glossary? Then we recommend you get a copy sooner rather than later!

Written by Joost Minnaar
Joost Minnaar
Co-founder Corporate Rebels. My daily focus is on research, writing, and anything else related to making work more fun.
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