Two words strike fear into the hearts of business owners everywhere: business plan. If you’re like many real estate professionals, you know you need a business plan; however, you may feel so overwhelmed by the process that you’re not sure where to start.
As my mentor Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” A business plan is more than a strategy to manage your business; additionally, it’s a guide to help you prioritize your time, energy and money so you can take your business to the next level. After all, you’re no use to anyone if you’re burned out, tired and broke. The more you plan, the easier it will be to manage yourself now – and your business later.
1. Set goals. One of the most important things we do with our clients is to help them write goals. If you want to succeed in this business (or any business), you have to develop realistic, measurable goals, which not only give you something to shoot for, but also help you identify the activities and tasks that lead to success. However, there is one caveat – you have to track your activities. Tracking ensures that you stay on course, while providing perspective and motivation when you need it the most. Also, be sure to review your goals periodically – it’ll remind you of your “why,” that is, why you want to achieve success.
2. Organize your relationships. When you work by referral, it’s your relationships that drive your business, specifically the relationships you have with your top-referring clients. Because your database is your list of relationships, sorting it is one of the most important tasks you’ll undertake in your business, and it’s an ongoing process that should be built into your overall business plan. As your relationships change over time, so will the who’s who of your top referrers. Make sure you’re focusing your time and attention on the right clients by scrubbing your database every so often.
3. Know your priorities. If you’ve ever wished you had more hours in the day to get things done, it’s time to prioritize your tasks. What has to get done no matter what? We teach our clients to schedule their weeks – that is, plan their weeks around their ‘non-negotiable,’ or the most important activities or tasks that have to get done no matter what.
4. We also encourage them to time block each day. Time blocking helps you focus your energy and attention on your high-priority activities, like lead generation. During each 90-minute block, you completely focus your attention on the specific task assigned to that block – no excuses, no distractions. Planning your time around your most important tasks ensures that they get done and you’re not spending your most productive time on unproductive activities.
5. Factor in delegation. Many real estate professionals feel like they have to do it all. While you may wear many hats in your business, do not be afraid to delegate some responsibilities to an assistant or other staff. For example, if you feel overwhelmed by filing or preparing your monthly mailings, assign those tasks to an assistant. This will free up your time to spend generating leads and connecting with your favorite clients – two of your top priorities.
6. Automate your business. Every minute of the day involves a choice to be made. The most successful people in business automate as much of their lives as they can so they have to make fewer choices. Think of Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck or Mark Zuckerberg and his grey t-shirts and hoodies – figuring out what to wear each day isn’t a problem, because they’ve removed that choice from the equation. One less decision to make! This allows them to focus on the choices and decisions that truly matter.
7. The secret to automation is a routine filled with good habits. Once something becomes a habit, it’s one less thing to think about. You don’t have to force yourself to remember to brush your teeth – you do it half asleep every morning. The same could be said for doing your daily lead-generation activities. Once you get in the habit of calling five of your clients every morning when you first get into the office, over time it’ll become automatic. You’ll start dialing as soon as you reach your desk. A routine of good habits prevents you from saying, “What should I do next?” because you already know.
8. Plan for growth. While planning for the growth of your business is important, you should also plan for your own personal and professional growth. Committing to continuous growth ensures that you’ll always be on the top of your game. Brian Tracy says, “Invest 3 percent of your income in yourself in order to guarantee your future.”
9. Finally, attend seminars and classes, listen to CDs and read. Set aside time for self-improvement every day, whether it’s after you wake up or before you go to bed.
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Without a business plan, it’s nearly impossible to realize the full potential of your business and take it to the next level. However, with a great business plan the more effective, efficient and successful your business becomes.
Want to learn more about how to create a winning business plan?