Funny, isn’t it, how we can hear one word and it can carry so much weight. Or how we can use a word, as I just did (funny) when something isn’t funny, but in this case “odd”? Language is a fascinating multi-faceted phenomenon that can, at times, resemble a multi-headed beast!In business, we use “key words” (or keywords, as the phrase has become) to tap the mental shoulders of our readers, not only to get their attention, but to convince them to push a button, give us their contact information, or take an action we’ve preset for them to take.There’s a psychology behind how we interpret and use words that tells a lot about who we are, how we process, our culture, our gender etc. All these play a role in how we word things in business, including in our vision and mission statements, culture statements, and in our promotions and advertising. Ironically, words even play an important role in how we view our positions.Take the word power, for instance. Power can be “Power to…” or “Power over…”.As business owners, some confuse ownership and power as having “power over” someone or something, when in fact the successful business owner understands his or her power is “power to” visualize, clearly state a mission, set goals, develop a culture, build a team, grow the company, etc.Interestingly enough, in a recent analysis of “keywords” in business, the top ten that got the most “hits” included:ProfitabilityProfitability literally is the “ability” to profit, which is dependent on the effectiveness of one’s systems and processes.Case StudiesCase studies are qualitative descriptive research that stress developmental factors, and allows business owners to see and track how other businesses have progressed over time.Decision MakingDecision making involves knowledge management (KM) with the goal of generating a desired outcome.Competitive AdvantageCompetitive advantage is a gain, benefit, or lead that one company has over its competition that allows greater sales, margins, and retention of customers than the competing firms are able to generate.Design MethodologyDesign Methodology is a process involving critical thinking and analysis in the areas of Instructional System Design, Design Thinking, Agile Design, System Thinking, and Complex Problem Solving, with a focus on how things ought to be rather than how they currently are.Supply ChainSupply Chain is defined by Meysam Alizadeh, of the University of Pittsburgh as: “…the network of facilities and activities that performs the function of product development, procurement of material from vendors, the movement of materials between facilities, the manufacturing of products, the distribution of finished goods to customers, and after-market support for sustainability…”Information TechnologyInformation Technology is defined by William Owen of the University of Alabama as: “…a philosophy of applying complex tools to complex information management problems using a tool-oriented, problem-solving methodology.”Empirical Studies/ResearchEmpirical studies and/or research is defined as one who uses statistics to prove a point, rather than quotes from experts.Firm PerformanceFirm performance is the tested and measured results of a firm’s activities and performance over a given time period.Strategic ManagementStrategic management involves analysis of the major initiatives taken by business owners or top management involving performance, mission, vision, objectives, and plans designed to achieve objectives and generally stems from stakeholder expectationsDo any of these surprise you? What perhaps won’t surprise you is that it makes sense to use these “keywords” in your copy to help generate leads and increase traffic.Now, a word that can literally get some business owners trembling is “change”.Barack Obama said, “I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change…” But even with a cliff looming before us, some of us will still convince ourselves that our business will somehow grow wings at the last minute, and fly.Change is every bit about direction. So, I challenge you, “What change/direction will you make or take in the new year? Are all your systems in place so that you run the business and it doesn’t run you? Are you applying the lead conversion formula to ensure that leads are growing, not dying? Have you mastered management, niche, leverage, team, synergy and results? Sound overwhelming?Change doesn’t have to be a frightening thing. Maybe all the “change” you need is in investing in yourself, getting a mentor, and gaining the “tools” to put all of the processes mentioned above into place.The 7 keywords and phrases I would now like to share with you really talk about “direction”. These are more than key words. They are key FUNCTIONS that every business owner should have in his or her essential “tool kit” in order to excel. They include:FOCUS. Business Owners of small to medium-sized businesses can often benefit by narrowing their focus and specifically identifying key customers and the needs of those customers.GROWTH. Growing can be a business owners dream or nightmare, depending on how well plans have been laid out to handle growth. The key word here is “plan”. How do you plan to grow? Visualize it. Document it. Then make it happen.CONNECTION. How will you connect this year? Meetings? Conferences? Via the Internet? The internet is an amazing technology that makes reaching people so much more expansive and so much less expensive than in years past, but with it comes the responsibility of learning social media, how it works, and how to make it work for you.FLEXIBILITY. Tunnel vision has a place, but a “my way or the highway” attitude can lead business owners down a blind alley that leads to a dead end. Better to be open to new ideas and concepts, with a willingness to try and test different things. Involve your team. You may be surprised to discover ideas you might never have considered.JOINT VENTURES. Just as it’s helpful for a business owner to work with a mentor, coach, or guide keeping him or her on track, it’s also helpful to be part of a team. That’s where reaching out and joining forces with other companies can help. Who can you team up with that you can support who in turn will support you? Set up a meeting. Talk over ideas.SOCIAL MEDIA. Social media is a wonderful thing IF you know what you’re doing. A lot of companies now practice inbound marketing, recognizing that how people shop has changed, the power of a website and blog, creating marketing campaigns that highlight the value you offer your customers, converting “visitors” to leads, and ultimately converting leads to customers.VISIONARY. Steve Jobs didn’t give people what they wanted. He gave people what they didn’t know they needed. Being a visionary takes confidence, guts, and patience. Success is rarely “instant”, but the visionary that uses all of the above and keeps a close ear and eye on what consumers are doing will reap the benefits.Clearly, words are how we communicate, but choosing the right words to produce the action we want customers or potential customers to take is the key. Take our business: Business Coaching. When we use the words “help you” it tends to carry a negative connotation as business owners often don’t like to admit they need help, so instead we mention the 720% boost in profits you’ll get by investing in yourself and your business. Just by changing the wording, we are able to focus on the benefits to you without any negative connotations!A helpful “boost” is a good thing when it gets you heading in a positive, profitable direction. Mark my words. As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments.