Audio Notes #350 Business Gone Bad

in control of


I was not in control of my life while I was in New York.

When you are in control of something, that means you make the decisions and choices about it. If you are not in control of something, that means things happen and you cannot stop them or prevent them. See the following sentences:

  1. A good teacher is always in control of the class.
  2. People addicted to drugs are not in control of their lives.



I got a small inheritance from my grandmother.

An inheritance is something you receive after someone dies or leaves. Usually, an inheritance is money or property. See the following examples:

  1. His father died and left him a million-dollar inheritance.
  2. We inherited the old problems from the previous manager.

flat busted


I was flat busted broke in New York.

When you are flat busted, that means you are completely poor, and that you have lost all your money. You have no money and no savings. You have busted, or broken, your bank. Notice the following sample sentences.

  1. I was flat busted after the fire burned my house.
  2. The company is flat busted. It can't even pay its workers.

picked up (to pick up)


After awhile, business picked up.

When things pick up, that means they get better. In business English, this means business gets better and sales improve. Notice the following:

  1. Sales usually pick up around the holidays.
  2. If things don't pick up soon, we will have to reduce the staff.

nothing ventured, nothing gained


Rule of life: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This phrase means that if you don't try something, you can't achieve anything. To venture is to try to do something. We often use the phrase to encourage people when they are shy to start something. Notice the following conversations.

Bob: I'm afraid to start my own business. It could be risky.
Sue: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Joe: I want to ask Mary out, but I'm afraid she will say no.
Ann: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

the pitfalls


I can now see the pitfalls I fell in.

A pitfall is a danger you cannot see. It refers to a pit, or whole, in the ground. As you walk, you do not see it, but if you go to step in it, you fall down. In life, we have pitfalls in many situations: love, school, sports, work, and so. Notice the sample sentences.

  1. One pitfall for the failing restaurant was hiring young staff.
  2. The biggest pitfall for new businesses is unexpected costs.

work out


Things don't always work out.

When something does not work out, that means it stops or ends. If something does work out, then it continues to go on. See the sample sentences.

  1. My last job did not work out. It was boring so I quit.
  2. I really like my new boyfriend. I hope things work out for us.

learn the hard way


You have to learn the hard way like I did.

To learn the hard way is to learn by failure. When you fail, you learn from your mistakes and you do not do them again, so we call that learning the hard way. Here are some sample sentences:

  1. Most teachers learn the hard way that you sometimes have to be strict with students in class.
  2. I learned the hard way that gambling is a bad habit. I lost a lot of money.