With the new year fast approaching many professionals in our industry are working on their 2010 business plans, some are thinking they should be working on their plans and are putting them off, and probably the majority of our industry knows they should be working on a business plan and have no idea where to start.
I must confess that until 2 years ago I fell into the latter category, and was lucky if I even jotted down a few projects or ideas for the next year. For the past 2 years I have utilized a written plan, and in 2009, I not only had a written plan but actually managed and actively worked that plan, which has made all the difference. Personally, having a plan and working that plan has helped me to meet and/or exceed every written goal that was set forth for 2009. This included hiring a full-time production partner, exceeding production goals (by almost 100%), building new business relationships and strengthening existing relationships. This plan has largely been responsible for my best and most rewarding year in the industry in 7 years in the business, and this during one of the toughest years in recent history for the industry as a whole. If I wasn't a believer in the power of planning before, I certainly am now!
My boss Ruth Vogt has developed a great system that my team has adapted for the past 2 years, for which I am grateful. Ruth has posted a great presentation with more details about why you should have business plan. You can view the business plan presentation online for more info.
When creating a business plan the key is to not get too bogged down with details, but to focus on the big picture. The presentation mentioned above has some great info on how to do this. You should start with a Mission Statement, and a Vision Statement and Values Statement are also recommended. Then identify 3-5 specific and measurable goals. Your goals should be your "big picture" items for the year. A good example would be a specific production goal that you can measure and track. Then assign objectives for each goal, which are the major projects you will need to work on to accomplish each goal. You can then assign tasks for each objective, and the tasks become the "calendar items" that you can work on and assign to yourself as "to do" items.
I am sure many of you have been pondering a business plan for next year, and I hope that this blog will encourage you to get off the fence and spend some time working on your business, not just in your business. 2010 will be another year with many challenges for our industry, and although none of us can control the economy, interest rates, foreclosures, etc. we can control how we spend our time and energy and having a written business plan will certainly help you to stay focused and positive in 2010!