We talk in dollars, but what about time?

You can’t forget time when working to boost profit in your operation.

Doug Ferguson

December 23, 2022

7 Min Read
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Some days I feel bad for my 11-year-old daughter. She has had to sit through several marketing schools in the last year. She regularly must sit in silence and wait while I have a conversation about Sell/Buy cattle marketing with someone. I quickly get over this feeling when I see her lightbulb come on and she understands something that people in their 60’s don’t realize.

Our ability to earn money is not based on our age, sex, experience, or any of the other popular talking points. Our ability to earn money is directly tied to our paradigm. After I came to understand this, I have made it a point to engrain a mental model in my daughter that will serve her well.

What I am about to write today is going to come from bits and pieces I got from Ann Barnhardt, Bob Proctor and some of my own thinking.

Many of us think we are in the business of dollars. Everything must be assigned a dollar value. If we buy or keep a heifer, we need to assign her a dollar value. The feed she consumes while on our place must be assigned a dollar value. I firmly believe this and I teach that in my schools and on this blog.

Fixing a curriculum

Over that past two years I came to realize the sell/buy curriculum handed down the last two decades is incomplete. It is why I added a segment where I speak about money. It is also why I changed the inventory triangle to include time, and I speak about time in my schools.

Are we in the money business? Let’s define what money is. Money is a fungible proxy. Fungible meaning it can be readily exchanged for another of like kind. A one-hundred-dollar bill could be exchanged for one hundred one dollar bills, five 20’s, two 50’s and the like. Proxy is a figure that can be used to represent the value of something in a calculation. We use dollars. But we don’t have to use dollars

Money is used as the proxy because it is a convenient medium of exchange. Money is also something else. It is the representative proxy for man’s ability to labor and to create. Money is used as a representation of human life.

Making money is a game. This is why I put on schools, to teach others how to play the game better. We keep score by counting money.

Back to my daughter’s lightbulb moment. She has heard me explain how retailers use sell/buy marketing. When a cashier scans a bar code and you hear that “beep” a sell/buy transaction just took place. The cashier just sold it to you, the customer, and a purchase order for the replacement item was just sent to their distribution warehouse. My kid figured out why it works so well when travelling to a basketball tournament. We drove past a Scooter’s Coffee warehouse, and Amazon, Walmart, and a dog food factory. The reason Sell/Buy works so well for these retailers is on time delivery. Note the emphasis on the word time.

Understanding the value of time

Sell/Buy marketing works because it is in perfect harmony with seven fundamental laws of the universe. One of which is the law of rhythm. Tide goes out, and the tide comes in. Spring follows winter. It takes time for these seasons to pass. Another law is the law of gender, which I feel is terribly misnamed, because it is the law of a gestation period.

We need time in this business to succeed. If you don’t believe that time is essential, try breeding a cow today and get the calf tomorrow. It won’t work, you will have to wait nine months. Try breeding that cow the day after she calves. It won’t work, you must wait for the post-partum interval. Same with letting the calf grow until weaning. It takes time for the animal to mature enough to reach the terminus.

It takes time for an under-valued animal to become over-valued. If you still think this is a business of dollars and not time, buy some feeder bulls at an auction, send them directly to the vet and have him cut them and run them back through the sale ring. You will end up reselling those steers for less than you bought them for as bulls. It takes time for them to heal, then you can capture some monetary value.

If we keep and breed a heifer it takes time for her to appreciate. She will also begin to depreciate over time. After a period of time, she will lose some teeth and then she really loses value, which we saw this week.

If something happens and someone loses all they have they don’t say “I lost X amount of dollars”. They say, “I just lost X amount of years of work”. They measured the loss by their time commitment to gain what they had. A retirement party doesn’t highlight that a person provided one million dollars’ worth of service to the company. It celebrates that they continued to come in to work for 25 years.

The Bible tells us there is a time to sow and a time to reap. The time in between is so important. That is where the growth is. Time is what allows us to change and to improve. Some say it takes 21 days to break or learn a habit. I’m a slower learner, it takes me longer.

We have been taught it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. I’ve seen that theory evaporate before my very eyes. We can spend 10,000 hours memorizing and not understand what business we are even in. Or we can spend 10,000 hours trying to understand what we are studying and take the subject to a new level. It matters what we do with our time.

A lease is written for a period of time and the landowner is paid for the time value. Interest is based on the amount of time we used the other person’s money. Some custom grazed cattle are charged by the day. We are obsessed with average daily gains. You see where I am going with all this.

If someone owes us money and they can’t repay us, we may put them to work for us. Since we are all passing through time, we establish an hourly rate for that person to work off their debt. Time is the base unit and we attach a fungible proxy to it.

The law of compensation

If you want to earn more money you must understand the law of compensation. One is there a need for what you do? Two, how good are you at it, or your ability to do it? And three, the degree of difficulty in replacing you. Spend your time gaining understanding of your subject matter and you will become irreplaceable.

A young man that went through my marketing school last year texted me yesterday to tell me that after implementing what I taught him he increased his cattle income five times from the year previous, and that his expenses only went up 1.5 to 2 times over the year previous. It took a period of time, a year, for him to achieve this.

Time may be the most important thing we have. We can lose money and earn some more later. We can never regain time. If there is no limit to better, then it’s only a matter of time before someone comes along and improves something.

While I still believe we are in business to earn money, and we may speak in dollars, it is not possible to do so without the passing of time. All our calculations are going to involve dollars. If we are highly effective with our time we will rake in more money.

If you are looking for a good time investment or a Christmas gift for someone, I have a marketing school coming up at the end of February. Or the best learn from home option is to order Ann’s DVD set, Ann Barnhardt’s Cattle Marketing DVD Set.

Since there is not going to be much market activity next week I will recap some market fundamentals and maybe even some bloopers on next week’s post

The opinions of Doug Ferguson are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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