Five Unacceptable Moves In Business Writing?

This week, we provide answers to some frequently asked questions at our business writing workshops.

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Question 1: Is it right to use “I” and “we” in the same message?

Answer: Yes, it is okay to include both pronouns in one message. Use “I”, when you are speaking for yourself and use “we” when you speak for the organization. For example, “I will email you tomorrow morning with the details. We look forward to meeting you this Friday.”

Question 2: Are contractions acceptable in business writing?

Answer: Yes, it’s acceptable to use contractions, however use them sparingly. Contractions such as “can’t, won’t, don’t, it’s, and didn’t” are considered somewhat informal. In formal documents, it is better to avoid them.

Question 3: Is it okay to end a sentence with a preposition?

Answer: Yes, it is, however sentences ending with prepositions are often considered less formal. Depending on the tone you want to project, an end of sentence preposition may or may not be suitable. For example, “These are the terms and conditions we would like you to think of.” Or “These are the terms and conditions we would like you to consider.”

Question 4: Can I start a sentence with “and or but”?

Answer: Yes and yes. Here also, it really is a matter of tone. If you want to sound formal, you can use other words like “in addition, furthermore or additionally” in place of and. Similarly, use “however, nevertheless or nonetheless” in place of but. Here is an example, “But, we hope to start the training this Wednesday. Or “Nevertheless, we hope to start the training this Wednesday.”

Question 5: Is it okay to begin a sentence with, “because”?

Answer: Yes, it is, however, beginning a sentence with “because” is often discouraged. Here is why, you may end up with sentence fragments if it is not done right. For example, “I did not sign the contract. Because the money was less than I asked for.” Here is A correct way to use because to begin a sentence, “Because we appreciate your business, please enjoy this 30% discount.”

10 Redundant Words to Avoid In Business Writing

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In business writing being concise is incredibly important. So, once you are done with your first draft, take another look and eliminate needless repetitions and redundancies. Check whether the expressions you’ve used add any value to your message. If you feel that you can take something out and your message will retain its meaning then do so. Most often redundant expressions only make writing longer, not better. Here are some of the common redundancies in business writing.

1. Group together. A thing that is grouped implies that it is together. So instead of saying, “let us group last year’s reports together” say, “let us group last year’s reports.”

2. Past experience. If it is an experience, it has already happened. Therefore, it is in the past. So, “In my past experience with the client, he has always been punctual” should be “In my experience with the client he has always been punctual.”

3. Future plans. If it is a plan, then it is yet to occur, therefore it is expected to happen in the future.

4. Repeat again. When you repeat something, you are doing or saying it again.

5. Sum total. The sum is the total. The total is the sum, get it? You only need one.

6. Might possibly. Might indicates possibility. So, instead of saying, “It might possibly rain,” say “It might rain” or “it possibly will rain.”

7. End results. Again, the end is the results, the results is the end. You only need one.

8. Postpone until later. To postpone something means to defer it for a later time. If you can be specific say for example, the meeting is postponed until Monday. If you can’t be specific simply say the meeting has been postponed.

9. Advance warning. To warn someone is to tell them something before it occurs. It cannot be a warning if it is not given in advance; therefore the word advance is redundant.

10. Unintentional mistake. For a thing to count as a mistake, it has to be unintentional. Unintentional, is therefore unnecessary.

12 Simpler and Effective Words to Use in Business Writing

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Creating a professional business image has nothing to do with big words. Many people get caught up in high-level vocabulary in an attempt to impress the reader in their business communication. Unfortunately, this shows that you don’t care much about your reader’s time and effort. At all times, if there is a simpler word, use that instead. Here is a list of simpler alternatives to some commonly used words in business writing:

Commonly used words:    Much simpler alternatives:  
1.     Optimum 1.     Best
2.     Formulate 2.     Make/Develop
3.     Adequate (number) 3.     Enough
4.     Fundamental 4.     Basic
5.     Terminate 5.     End
6.     Endeavour 6.     Try
7.     Disseminate 7.     Send Out/Distribute
8.     Customary 8.     Usual
9.     Implement 9.     Do/Carry Out
10.   Expedite 10.   Speed Up
11.    Obtain 11.    Get
12.   Ascertain 12.   Find Out/Check

Always remember this, good business communication, among other things, is concise and easy to understand.

 

5 Things Every Business Proposal Should Have

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A business proposal is one of the most important documents you need to learn how to write. An effective business proposal does not get ignored.  After spending hours to put together a business proposal, why do some people get no results after submitting to potential clients while others seem to get a positive response? Successful business proposals include these five things:

 

A hook

First of all, your proposal must be able to catch the reader’s attention. To be effective, you must explain what your idea is and what it will mean for the reader. The reader will quickly lose interest if they don’t see how your proposal will benefit them. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and imagine what they would want to hear. Be careful not to exaggerate as this may undermine the trust you are trying to build with your reader.

 

A problem

Here, you tell your reader why they need your services. You identify issues or flaws with their business or a niche in the market that could be exploited. You’ll need to show that you completely understand the nature of the problem for your reader to trust you.

 

A plan

Your plan will show the reader just how you will solve the problem with your product or service. There’s a balance here to be found though. If you’re too specific and detailed, your idea may be taken and copied. If you’re too vague, you may not be taken seriously.

 

Your qualifications

It’s important that your reader knows what makes you qualified to solve a problem or help his or her business. Perhaps you may have academic qualifications in that area or you may have had years of experience working in that field. You must communicate this clearly to the reader so they can be convinced that you are the right person for the job.

 

Cost

Include all the costs involved in implementing your proposal. This will help the reader determine if they will be able to afford your services. It also helps the reader to determine how much they would benefit from doing business with you. The more ambiguous the costs involved, the less likely they are to accept your proposal.

 

 

Interview with Harry Dzomeku– Ghanaian Author and Entrepreneur

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Harry is a Ghanaian entrepreneur who has authored six books namely, Integrated Science for Schools and Colleges, Tilapia Farming Made Easy, The Entrepreneur: Timeless Principles for Business Success, Navigating Minefields: Laws of Possibilities, Navigating Minefields: To Be or Not to Be and Navigating Minefields: Great Expectations. He shares with the Girdblog a little bit about his journey as an author.  

Girdblog: Who is Harry Dzomeku?

Harry: I am an entrepreneur, teacher, author and business strategist. I am the Executive President of LifeLine Holdings, a thriving holding company in Tema, Ghana.

Girdblog: You are launching three books on February 4, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Harry: Yes. I am launching two books in the “Navigating Minefield Series” and the main book, titled “The Entrepreneur: Timeless Principles for Business Success”. The Venue is ICGC-Zoe Temple Community 5, Tema. Adjacent to Chopticks Restaurant. And the time is 3pm. This is my second book launch party.

Girdblog: What was the first book you wrote and why did you write it?

Harry: My first book is titled, “Tilapia Farming Made Easy”. I am currently working on the revised edition. I wrote that book out of a need to educate people, both aquapreneurs and farmers on what to expect on the venture of Tilapia farming. I was consulted by a company to design and promote a business development plan for a tilapia farming project for them. As a business development consultant, with no prior knowledge of tilapia farming, I had to research extensively on the venture. I visited almost all the farms along the Volta Lake. After a successful project, I decided to turn my research into a manual to help others.

Girdblog: How many books have you authored so far?

Harry: Only six.

Girdblog: Haha! Only six, impressive. Who would you say you write for?

Harry: It depends on the subject matter. But mostly adults; young and old. Students, entrepreneurs, Christians, non-Christians. Everyone; adults, practically.

Girdblog: What is the goal of your writing?

Harry: I write to impact on lives for many generations. I hope that the books I’ve written will bless those who read. I am very passionate about the issues I write on. I want to write more, cos there’re a lot of false knowledge out there.

Girdblog: What is the hardest part about writing?

Harry: The introduction or preface. For me, that’s where everything is contextualized. Once that’s done, the manuscript is ready because, the content just flows naturally.

Girdblog: Who is invited to your book launch and why should they come?

Harry: Everyone is invited. But call me first. We plan for what we expect.

Girdblog: Are you working on any new writing projects?

Harry: Yes, currently three. I am revising “Tilapia farming Made Easy” and starting two new manuscripts.  I hope to complete them before February ends. My target book production period is 100 hours. No excuse whatsoever.

Girdblog: Your “target book production period is 100 hours. No excuse whatsoever.” What does that mean?

Harry: When I start a new book writing project, my target is that, it shouldn’t take me more than 100 hours to finish the first draft.

Girdblog: Wow. That’s quite specific and amazing. Now, taking a favourite quote, line or experience from any of your books what would you say to that ONE person out there who needs that single burst of wisdom/inspiration to achieve her/his goal?

Harry: When you find an excuse, don’t pick it up. It’ll rob you of your full potential, and make you a systemic failure.