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Framing – A Powerful Linguistic Tool to Shape How People See Your Business

What is framing in linguistics?

Here is an online definition – “framing is a process whereby communicators, consciously or unconsciously, act to construct a point of view that encourages the facts of a given situation to be interpreted by others in a particular manner”.

Here is my more streetwise definition – you use words in a way that directs people’s thinking to the outcome you are trying to create.

In other words, you say things in a way that resonates with the other’s deepest longings and desires.

In business, you are framing your business all the time. On your website, in your sales pitch, in your emails, in what you say when talking to clients and prospects.

The challenge I see is this…

Most Communication (what you are framing) Are Motherhood Statements

“We provide better products and service than the competition”.

“We make better widgets than any company in this region”.

“We have been in business 35 years”.

…you get the idea…

These statements do not inspire anyone to act! They do not resonate with what the customer is looking for!

Weak Framing Sounds Like This

Framing in business helps us fill in this gap:

“I buy the products from this business because _______”.

Using the above fill-in-the-blank sentence, I will fill in the motherhood statements above.

“I buy the products from this business because they have been in business for 30 years”.

“I buy the products from this business because they make better widgets”.

“I buy the products from this business because they provide better products than the competition”.

Framing connects the dots from what you want people to think about your business and the subsequent actions they will take.

Does anyone think that framing your business using the kind of weak statements above will inspire prospects to take action?

No, right?

An Example of Strong Framing

I know that I have effectively and powerfully framed our business if a client says this about us:

“I buy the services of CPLUS because they took the burden of accounting off my shoulders for a Fixed Fee. On top of that they coach me by the numbers every month so I run a better business”.

Framing Re-Directs the Conversation

When you take control of the conversation about your business you direct people’s thoughts away from the competition. You shape outcomes.

Your business becomes the solution to the problem they are seeking to solve.

Done successfully, price becomes less of a focus.

When you cannot powerfully frame why prospects should buy from you, then you are equal to everyone else.

My Coaching

Find the biggest problem people are trying to solve by buying your products or service.

Identify the biggest common frustrations people have in your industry.

It could be things like – slow delivery, hourly billing versus fixed prices, surly service, dirty worksites left by blue collar trades people.

Whatever the top three frustrations are, create systems and ways of delivering your products and services that take away those top frustration in your industry.

Finally, frame what you do using powerful, attention-grabbing words that will direct people to take action. To engage with you and buy from you.

Thank you for reading…

 

A Simple Technique to Create Prodigious Productivity in Your Work

I love simple things. How about you?

Design may be complex in its underlying dimensions. Yet when it has that look and feel of simple elegance it comes across like poetry in motion…

When it comes to being more effective in my business, I am an advocate of intense blocks of focussed time.

Multi-tasking diminishes productivity. Using yourself as a testing ground try it out one day. Schedule nothing. Take on nine tasks for the day. Jump from one to the other. Get them all revved up at once and have nine multiple tasks to focus on at once.

The truth is that multi-tasking is a myth because you can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Someone may move from one task to another at lightning speed, yet it is still just.one.thing.at.a.time.

Even a juggler with four balls in the air is only juggling one ball at a time.

My Past Habit

I learned many years ago to focus on only one thing at a time. I list three main things each day to do. Three of the most important things.

Then I schedule three ninety-minute blocks of time that I called Power Blocks.

It has worked for me. The problem I have found as I looked at my actual habits is that is too long a block! And multiple distractions can impinge on those boundaries.

I recently learned a new technique called…

The Pomodoro Technique

Again, this is ridiculously simple…

So stupidly simple that you might overlook its elegance.

It is the brainchild of a man named Francesco Cirillo who developed this technique in the 1980s while a student in Italy.

He needed to focus on his studies one evening and was struggling. He took a tomato shaped timer (Pomodoro is tomato in Italian) from the kitchen and set it for 10 minutes. His hyper focus resulted in astounding results.

Here is the technique in modified form:

  1. Select one task to work on
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Work until the timer rings.
  4. When the timer rings, take a five-minute break.
  5. Repeat
  6. After every 3 or 4 Pomodoros, take a 15-minute break.
How This Applies in Business

Ask yourself when your highest most natural productive energies emerge.

Are you a morning person, or afternoon person, or evening person?

Schedule your Pomodoros (cool word, isn’t it?) during your most productive time.

Eliminate all distractions. Turn off your notifications on your phone and computer. Do not look at emails.

Get focused on your one task.

Adapt it to Your Own Needs

Some parts of your day cannot (and should not be tightly scheduled). You may need to have open blocks of time to be available to react to specific problems that come up.

The beauty of the 25-minute block with a Pomodoro is that anyone can find one 25-minute block of time in the day!

Today I used the Pomodoro technique to get a report done for a Charity that I had been avoiding.

I went past the 25-minute block because I was almost done at the end of twenty-five minutes!

Frankly, I was shocked that I could get that much done in this brief time block.

Apply This to Business Meetings

A lot of business meetings go on far too long. Try setting a meeting for 25 minutes. Set a tight, achievable agenda.

If you need more time, you can take a 5-minute breaks and add twenty-five minutes.

It may seem odd, yet I will assert that I believe you will accomplish more in two 25-minute blocks than inside of one 60-minute block.

Also, the strange timing of twenty-five minutes versus thirty or sixty minutes will put people on alert that everyone needs to focus to get things done.

In Closing

I used the Pomodoro technique for this blog, and it took just one Pomodoro plus an extra 3 minutes!

To read more about this elegant technique, please click here:

https://freedom.to/blog/the-pomodoro-technique/

Thank you for reading…

Powerful Game Changing Ratio to Monitor in Tough Times

An often-overlooked ratio to track is a combination of three other ratios…

Once you calculate the other three you simply add the three to get this Turbo Ratio that I recommend all businesses with accounts receivable and inventory track.

So, what is it called?

It is called…

Your Cash Conversion Cycle

It is the measurement of how many days on average it is taking your company to convert sales into cash.

It is the combination of three separate ratios:

  1. Days Receivable – the number of days on average it takes to collect your accounts receivable.
  2. Days Inventory – the number of days on average it takes to sell your inventory.
  3. Days Payable – the number of days on average you take to pay your bills.

Let us go through each of these three ratios…

Your Days Receivable

Here the lower the number of days the faster you are converting your receivables in cash.

You need the following numbers to calculate your days receivable ratio:

  1. Opening balance of your accounts receivable, at the beginning of the month
  2. Closing balance of your accounts receivable at the end of the month
  3. Your monthly sales on credit (non-cash sales)

Add your opening accounts receivable balance to your closing accounts receivable balance and divide by 2.

Take that number and divide by your total credit sales for the month.

Multiply that number by the number of days in the month.

Accounts receivable opening balance = $100,000

Accounts receivable closing balance = $200,000

Average accounts receivable balance = ($100,000 + $200,000)/2 = $150,000

Sales for the month = $300,000

Days in the month = 30

$150,000/$300,000 x 30 = 15 days

Now let us look at the next ratio…

Your Days Inventory

Here as well, a lower number of days is better for your cash-flow.

You need the following numbers to calculate your Days Inventory ratio:

  1. Opening balance of your inventory, at the beginning of the month
  2. Closing balance of your inventory, at the end of the month
  3. Your Cost of Goods Sold for the month.

Add your opening inventory balance to your closing inventory balance and divide by 2.

Take that number and divide by your total Cost of Goods Sold for the month.

Multiply that number by the number of days in the month.

Inventory opening balance = $300,000

Inventory closing balance = $600,000

Average inventory balance = ($300,000 + $600,000)/2 = $450,000

Cost of Goods Sold for the month = $750,000

Days in the month = 30

$450,000/$750,000 x 30 = 18 days

On average it is taking you 18 days to turn your inventory over. In other words, to sell it.

Now let us look at the next ratio…

Your Days Payable

For this ratio, a higher number is better! Why? Because you are taking longer (i.e. more days) to pay your bills on average which means you are preserving cash for a longer period.

You need the following numbers to calculate your days payable ratio:

  1. Opening balance of your accounts payable, at the beginning of the month
  2. Closing balance of your accounts payable at the end of the month
  3. Your monthly Cost of Goods Sold

Add your opening accounts payable balance to your closing accounts payable balance and divide by 2.

Take that number and divide by your total Cost of Goods Sold for the month.

Multiply that number by the number of days in the month.

Accounts payable opening balance = $250,000

Accounts payable closing balance = $350,000

Average accounts payable balance = ($250,000 + $350,000)/2 = $300,000

Cost of goods sold for the month = $900,000

Days in the month = 10

$300,000/$900,000 x 30 = 10 days

Now, let us put it al together…

Your Cash Conversion Cycle

The formula for your cash conversion cycle is:

  1. Days receivable
  2. Days inventory
  3. Less – Days payable

Using our numbers from above we have:

Days receivable = 15 days

Days inventory = 18 days

Days payable = 10 days

Your Cash Conversion Cycle is 15 plus18 minus 10=23 days

Although this is a very crude measurement what it tells you is that on average you will convert your sales into cash in about 23 days.

In Closing

Remember the lower the number the better. Why? Intuitively you will want to convert accounts receivable and inventory to cash as quickly as possible. Less days to do so means cash is hitting your bank account more rapidly.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the Days payable number is more beneficial the higher it is! That is why it is subtracted in the Cash Conversion Cycle Formula.

The longer you take to pay your bills the more cash you have available to run your business. Here you will want to operate with integrity and not take too long to pay your suppliers. After all, they are essentially your partners in your business.

That said, it is fair if you take advantage of longer payment terms and wait as long as possible to pay.

Thank you for reading….

 

 

 

Fixed Cost Creep Can Wipe Out Your Profits

Fixed. Quite the word, isn’t it?

What images does it bring up for you?

For me, it brings up images of unchangeable, immovable, solid, stationary, set.

Fixed costs are necessary. Or at least you thought they were necessary when you incurred them.

And why did you incur them?

To attain a particular result in your business. To achieve something perceived as critically important in your business.

A New Definition of Fixed Costs

A bundle of Fixed Costs are costs of overhead needed to achieve a particular sales volume in your business.

The key is the last part. They are designed to attain a particular level of sales volume.

Unlinked to sales volume, then what exactly are they for?

Unlinked to sales volume, fixed costs have no relevance. They can only be incurred for three reasons:

  1. Ego gratification. For example, management loves a big, fancy office. The big, fancy office is not needed for sales volume per se.
  2. You incurred the cost in the past. You no longer need it; you are just trapped inside a fixed agreement like a lease.
  3. You have not paid any attention to your fixed costs. They just creeped forward on you unawares.

Here is a remarkably simple, personal example of “unlinked to a result” fixed costs.

Imagine you have a goal – to get fit.

You join a gym. You go for a while. Then you buy a home gym. You stop going to the gym. You continue to pay. (You are locked into a contract. You are just not thinking about it).

The fixed gym membership fee is now “unlinked” to your goal. It is an irrelevant cost.

A few of these and you have massive, fixed cost creep, and diminished or disconnected results.

Re-Thinking Your Bundle of Fixed Costs

On your Profit and Loss Statement there are three main categories.

Sales, Cost of Goods Sold, and Overhead (comprised of mostly fixed costs).

Sales less Cost of Goods equals your Gross Profit.

Your Gross Profit must cover your Fixed Costs plus your expected or desired Net Profit.

Start to think of your business, or any business, like this….

Take your Gross Profit percentage and divide it by your total Overhead (Fixed Costs) plus your desired profit and you will arrive at your required sales volume.

Now, here is the switch I want you to make in your thinking.

Think of your bundle (or group) of Fixed Costs as related to the capacity of volume your business must attain to break even and make a profit.

An Analogy

To make it clearer – think of this bundle of Fixed Costs like a machine.

You lease a machine. That is your fixed cost. The machine has a fixed, maximum capacity. It can produce so many widgets and that is it. You can determine what that is by the output per hour, as a simplified example.

Now it gets a bit tricky. Unlike a machine, your fixed costs are comprised of a group of expenses related to your sales volume capacity.

Some of those expenses will be non-contributors. They are no longer value contributors to your sales volume.

A Step-By Step Breakdown

Let us say you have $50,000 in monthly fixed costs.

Your Gross Profit Margin is 40%.

You desire a Net Profit of $20,000 per month.

Take the $50,000 and add the Planned Net Profit. You get $70,000 ($50,000 plus $20,000).

Divide that by the Gross Profit Margin of 40% and you have a required Sales Volume of $175,000 ($70,000/40% = $175,000).

Here is a simple re-work:

Sales                                           $175,000

Cost of Goods Sold (60%)          (105,000)

Gross Margin – 40%                     70,000

Fixed Costs                                  50,000

Net Profit                                    $20,000

 

You sell one product at $10 each. Your break-even sales volume is 17,500 units ($175,000/$10 per unit) = 17,500 units).

Okay, so now you can think of your Fixed Costs as having to produce (like a machine) 17,500 units.

Three Crucial Questions

Now in examining your Fixed Costs bundle with this latest information related to capacity, you must ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my business capable of producing 17,500 units, with this bundle of costs?
  2. Is my business not capable of producing 17,500 units with this particular bundle of costs?
  3. Is my business capable of producing 17,500 units, yet could do so much more efficiently?

Now, go through each expense and ask these two questions:

  1. Is this cost necessary to produce my required volume of 17,500 units? If not, kill it if possible.
  2. Is this cost necessary, yet too high? If yes, try to renegotiate contracts or find new suppliers with less cost for this expense.
Convert Fixed Expenses to Variable

The best approach for managing capacity and for growth is convert Fixed Costs to Variable Costs.

How to do that?

Ask more questions:

  1. Do you need an office at all? Can your team work from home as effectively? Can you downsize your space? Or sub-lease?
  2. Can you convert employees (usually your biggest expense) to part-time employees? Can you outsource the work done by employees? That would convert that large expense to a variable one.
  3. Can telephone contracts be renegotiated?
  4. Can you partner with suppliers to pay them a volume type incentive rather than a fixed fee?
In Conclusion

Finally, remember to review your Fixed Costs on a frequent basis, even monthly.

A closing example is looking at software costs. These can get sticky. Often, we pay for needed software as a service. We stop using it, and we forget to cancel. So, it is a good idea to at least review these types of sticky costs monthly.

Thank you for reading…

 

Focus on Habits Versus Goals for Your Business Success

In the beginning of every New Year, most people set goals. By February – now – they are usually forgotten.

On the other hand, habits create results.

Even micro-habits (more on this later) can completely transform your business, and your life.

For years I have been using a life-changing software app on my phone called Loop Habit Tracker. (This is an Android app, and, sadly, I do not think that it is available in the iPhone Store).

How Does Habit Tracker Work?

It is super simple, yet do not let that fool you. Simple is better for habits. Complex means you will rarely do it, or inconsistently do it.

First, you create a habit in the app.

It can be a “yes” or “no” type habit, or it can be a measurable habit.

A “yes or no” type habit is simply did I do it, “yes,” or did I fail to do it, “no.”

An example is “did I exercise?” Yes, or, no?

A measurable habit is, for example, how many kilometers did I walk today? And you track your daily results from zero to the number you walked.

Simple, yes?

Does This Really Work? Come on!

I have some habits I am tracking that I have not missed a single day in years!

It took time to develop consistency and what motivates me is the visual disappointment in seeing unchecked habits.

Habits are activities that you do, and what you do consistently over time will create the desired results.

When a person creates big goals, they can have this short-term adrenal rush of imagining the massive results that will emerge from these BIG goals.

Perhaps your goal is to get super fit in six months, so you tell yourself you will do a 90-minute intense workout every day.

Then, as usually happens, life gets in the way. You cannot find ninety minutes every day, especially on busy days. Or sick days.

On the other hand, when you start small you create the habit first! Then you add a wee bit more. See how that goes. Then a wee bit more. Soon you are habitually doing what you wanted to in the beginning.

And here is another thing to think about. The habit is much greater than short-term bursts. For instance, I read the other day that moderate exercise is healthier than intense workouts.

Consistency trumps short-term blasts.

The Secret Ingredient Is…

The key to success with habits is this – start small.

Even tiny. So tiny it seems, well, even ridiculous.

It is like Kaizen, the Japanese technique in manufacturing of constant and never-ending improvement.

Small, daily movements towards excellence creates long term results in a more measured, stressless, consistent fashion.

I recently read about a woman who now does one hundred push-ups every single day.

In the beginning of her habit creation, how many do you think she did?

Five. Just five. From there she added more and now does one hundred each day.

How Many Habits Should You Track?

This is a great question. I am glad you asked…

I only track ten.

I chose them this way:

  1. Do I do the habit anyway? Is it already ingrained and does not need documenting? I do not need to be reminded to brush my teeth as an example!
  2. Is it important to me? Will this ingrained habit change my life? An example is daily workouts. I have not missed a day in years.
Should I Stop Tracking This Habit Once It Is Engrained?

I do not stop if the habit is that important to me. For example, I know that if I stop tracking my workout, I will not do it daily. I will make excuses on busy days.

How Does This Apply in Business?

Here are the key questions to ask yourself…

  1. Will this habit transform my results? In other words, will this habit, done daily, over time create remarkable results for my business?
  2. What do I procrastinate on that is profoundly important for business success?
  3. Is this activity “important, yet not urgent”? Think of activities that if you do not do, nothing bad will happen in the short-term. An example would be making outbound calls. You may not lose any of your current business, yet long-term your growth might be stagnant.

 

To start, only track 3-4 habits. Make sure to pick the most critically important activities in your business.

Here are some simple examples to help you get started:

  1. One call to one Team Member per day
  2. One call to one client each week
  3. Block 90 minutes of focused time for systems work three times a week.
  4. Write a blog weekly.
In Conclusion

To dive deeper into the impact of micro-habits and how life changing they can be, please read this blog:

https://freedom.to/blog/micro-habits/

Thank you for reading…