What's your line of business?

humvee

Senior Member
Cantonese and Mandarin
Hi folks

This question has been bothering me for a long time.

During the trade show in Las Vegas, one of the most common questions my colleagues put to the visitors is "What's your line of business?" The visitors' replies are usually "consumer electronics", "We're a system integrator", sometimes they replied with a pause as if my colleague formulated the question the wrong way.

I have no idea where my colleagues picked up that expression. I would probably ask "what kind of business are you in" Is it a better formulated question?

My guess is that they have learned the business term line of business(LOB), of which the fail to realize the real meaning. In China, the term "line of business" is incorrectly applied in the business registrations of companies. Let's say a company sells wearable devices, e-cigarettes and test instruments. Those offerings will be listed under the section "Line of Business", which sounds like a misnomer to me.

To me, LOB means something like "department".

Am I right?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    “Line of business” is a very common idiomatic expression. You can also just ask someone “What line are you in?”.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    1. Do not initialise or abbreviate "line of business" to LOB. Such initialisms and acronyms should not be increased unnecessarily.
    2. "What's your line of business?" is correct but now it is dated - I suspect it went out of fashion in about 1965. "What kind of business are you in" is a better formulated question.
    3. The line of business that you describe, and the line of business that someone might "be in" are exactly the same thing.
     

    humvee

    Senior Member
    Cantonese and Mandarin
    1. Do not initialise or abbreviate "line of business" to LOB. Such initialisms and acronyms should not be increased unnecessarily.
    2. "What's your line of business?" is correct but now it is dated - I suspect it went out of fashion in about 1965. "What kind of business are you in" is a better formulated question.
    3. The line of business that you describe, and the line of business that someone might "be in" are exactly the same thing.

    Hi Paul, I see. A little digression. Let's say you start a small business selling A, B, C, D(product). There will be a section (in the business registration) that requires you to fill in the products or services you sell. What's the name of that section? Line of business, operating scope(this term might be invented and popularized by Chinese translation companies).
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    Let's say you start a small business selling A, B, C, D(product). There will be a section (in the business registration) that requires you to fill in the products or services you sell. What's the name of that section?
    "Line of business" would be a suitable name.
     
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