You Owe It To Yourself To Write A Real Estate Business Plan For 2011

Real Estate Agent with (512) 786-8300

You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your business, to write a real estate business plan for the coming year, and years to come. Perhaps you already have a plan, and perhaps you already have a clear strategy of what you do, how you do it, and where your business comes from. Well let me come clean. I've never written a business plan for the profession I've chosen and existed in for the last fifteen years. I use the word existed, because that's pretty much what you do without a concise action plan. Don't get me wrong, the existence has worked pretty well for the most part. After all, if you are willing to work your butt off, have an aggressive attitude, and posses an open mind, your about eighty percent ahead of the game.

But when life happens, whether it's a slower economy, busier family life, or change in the market; things change. You outwork the next guy, think more creatively, and do what it takes to prosper. But you notice that elite group, that also prospers, only they aren't working quite as hard, or needing to recreate the wheel. The elite just stick to the plan.

Why We Don't Have Plans

I don't know what percentage of real estate agents can whip out their business plan, or repeat their system upon request. I'd bet any takers that it hovers somewhere below twenty percent. Let's face it, real estate professionals are different cats.  Not corporate enough to have a 9 to 5, too corporate to work in a tattoo shop. We don't necessarily want to work in an office, we want to have an office- an office we can use, but not be shackled to.  Most of us could walk in to a room of one hundred people and detect the ten real estate agents. Professional, but not uptight, more smart than intellectual, part entrepreneur, part gypsy.

That approach to business is all well and good, but the downside when you don't have a conventional job, more often than not, we don't have a conventional approach. Or for lack of a better term, we don't have a plan. As Gordon Gekko would say, the public throws darts at a board. Don't throw darts.

A Funny Thing Happen On The Way To Organization

I'm convinced one of the reasons real estate professionals don't have business plans, is because it's hard to find a good template.  After looking around quite a bit, I found a nice example. It isn't perfect, and more designed for a brokerage, but it's the format that is the most important thing. The online company offers the chance to edit for a paid price, but a simple copy and paste will do just fine, and really get you on your way. Edit it yourself to make changes. What is most important, is that it gets you to examine strategy, marketing and expectations.

So I took the plunge, since this week has apparently been about self reflection and laying it on the line. I locked myself in the office, turned down the phone, and refused to do the unthinkable- avoid email for several hours. As I began to write, the analysis came easy. And the strange thing is, I was forced to do things I should have done long ago. I grabbed stats of sales in my market. It's sad, but to be honest, I've always paid little attention to stats. But after about fifteen minutes, I was able to determine significant differences in sales numbers in different areas. It was time to stop throwing darts and really determine how to target. Hard as it may be, as much as it goes against our jack of all trades personalities, narrowing that market area will pay off in the long run.

Furthermore, I realized something that will change the way I do business. I really excel at property management. It was part of my life since I was ten years old, and it's a part of the business most owners and agents don't care for. Through business planning, I discovered a way for management to bring me more sales, rather than take me away from it.  If it wasn't for the planning process, I would not have thought about the delegation or structured marketing I came up with. But there was that ultimate reward, coming up with a way to differentiate my business from the others.

A Trip To The Dentist

One of my favorite real estate books is 21 Things I Wish My Broker Told Me, by Frank Cook. I recall reading it, and coming across an interview with Curtis Hall. Curtis had conducted a ABR certification course I took via satellite years ago. He's an interesting character, and in the interview he spoke about renting a hotel room his to construct business plan. When probed further, he spoke about going out of town, locking himself in a hotel room, and just thinking about his business for a few days. He analyzed what was going right, and what was going wrong.  Wow, this business plan thing most be pretty important, if some dude is going to hole up in a hotel room for a weekend.

I didn't take a trip to a far off city. But my trip to the office was akin to going to the dentist. I came in, did the hard part, and knew that ultimately, I'd feel much better once I left. Well, I have to say, I not only feel better, but have experienced a great sense of relief knowing that there is a whole new perspective on my business. Frankly, I can't wait until Saturday, when 1/1/11 hits.

You owe it to yourself, to force yourself, if that's what it takes, to sit down and write a business plan. I did the Activerain Resolution For 2011. Then there was the 2011 Was The Best Year Of My Life Letter. But the big one, the business plan, has been slayed. Executing it? That is the easy part.



Posted by

Scott Hayes

Austin Real Estate Agency

Extraordinary Service, For Extraordinary People

Direct: 512-786-8300

Comments (45)

Brent Wells
The LivingWell Team - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW


I commend you for using that template. Its way overkill for most of our needs. One of the best business plans I ever saw was from a former partner. It was done as a PDF and was a total of 2 pages. He killed it, right to the point and no fluff. Good luck in 2011, it looks like you are focused and ready to roll.


Dec 31, 2010 08:40 AM
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h

Great idea.  I'll do the same myself.  Thank you.

Dec 31, 2010 08:54 AM
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

My business plan is not like a typical business plan, in part because I find many parts to it unnecessary for me. What's more important is that there is a plan, including a financial plan/ budget.

I cant wait till success hits you in 2011. I must say if you havent had one in 15 years and survived all these years, you are definitely doing something right.

Dec 31, 2010 09:04 AM
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Scott, this is something that I've been putting off for a while. I know I won't have it complete by midnight, but I'll have it done soon. Happy New Year! I truly believe it'll be a great one.

Dec 31, 2010 09:18 AM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty


Wishing you and all the commenters here a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!


Dec 31, 2010 10:21 AM
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

Putting a plan in writing makes it that much more real. Now it's not just an unseen, ambiguos idea, but something you can see and touch. Good luck in 2011!

Dec 31, 2010 11:54 AM
Shanta Jackson
Jackson Realty Group - Raleigh, NC

Thanks Scott! I'm coming out of the closet. I've haven"t written a business plan for real estate before.  I've tried...I always get stuck with the budgeting part... This year will make six years in the business and I'm still standing but it hasn't been pretty.  Every time my life goes haywire, so does my business and I have to start from scratch again.  Thank God for my referrals because they keep my business growing.

But, this year, after reading your piece, I have the confidence to move forward and produce a working business plan!

Much continued success to you!!

Jan 01, 2011 03:07 AM
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Right on Scott. No one plans to fail, but fail to plan. Putting it in writing is the key and making yourself accountable to your plan is the answer to success.

Jan 01, 2011 03:50 AM
Ronald S. Accornero
OC Signature Properties - Villa Park, CA


I have written plans in the past and that was the last time I looked at them.   I have a basic plan in my mind that keeps me on track.  Some people need a plan to keep them on track.  I have been able to manage.  Thanks for a great article.

Jan 01, 2011 04:53 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Great advice! I'm going to check out that business plan and see if it has any clues for copywriters!

Our careers are similar in that we need a constant flow of new clients. We freelance writers do usually have some steady clients that we work for on an ongoing basis, but unless we're writing for a huge corporation, none of them need enough work to keep us going without additional clients.

And I sure wouldn't trade writing for individual entrepreneurs for writing for a "major mailer." It's an entirely different kind of atmosphere. I love writing for individuals - not committees!

I think it's interesting that you "found yourself" (for want of a better description) while doing your plan. Just goes to show what you can learn when you look inside!

Jan 01, 2011 06:03 AM
Jayne Williamson, REALTOR, Broker, GRI
Keller Williams Realty Mountain Partners, Hendersonville, NC - Hendersonville, NC

Thanks Scott!  I am checking out the link now.  Have a great 2011!!

Jan 01, 2011 06:30 AM
Don Wixom
RE/MAX Executives Nampa, ID - Nampa, ID
"Looking out for your next move..."tm

Scott, excellent post! I shall click on this example plan & see how it compares to what I have been doing. Thanks! Happy New Year!

Jan 01, 2011 08:45 AM
Brad Hornshaw
Brad Hornshaw Realtor Lynnwood, Bothell, Everett - Lynnwood, WA
Realtor, Listing Agent, Buyers Agent, Investments
Great Post this will be my 1st full year in Real Estate so I am working on a plan and will be going over it with my broker on Wed.
Jan 01, 2011 09:16 AM
Pasadena Short Sale Agents Pasadena Short Sales
Munson Realty Southern California Real Estate - Pasadena, CA

Hey Scott, you are so right about having a plan. Having a plan gives us focus and whatever we focus on consistently we tend to manifest in our lives. Thanks for the inspiring post Scott, Happy New Year.

Jan 02, 2011 04:10 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I work along so I have a plan, but I have not put it to paper..  Maybe I should.

Jan 02, 2011 04:25 AM
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Scott - great for you...  great minds must think alike, as I had used the same plan in November to plan my coming year!  I had to giggle when I clicked on the link ....

Jan 02, 2011 06:41 AM
Terkel Sørensen
Real Estate Places - Temecula, CA
Realtor, 951.805.0773 , Bank owned and Short Sales

Bravo Scott, now that you have your plan on paper, you can work the plan... I know, you heard it a million times. 

Jan 02, 2011 07:46 PM
Kim Melin
I know I know.......I just hate this partbof the business! Butni know how important itbis! Thanks for the kick!
Jan 03, 2011 08:04 AM
Patricia Regan
The Regan Team Home Loan Group - Petaluma, CA

Its hard to ignore email and focus on your plan. Good post

Jan 03, 2011 05:12 PM
Robert Adams
Keller Williams Realty, South Tampa - Tampa, FL

Good post, very good story on the importance of what many do not realize is important and vital to grow a business.  I will try to find a hotel nearby so I can focus on mine.

Jun 27, 2011 11:51 PM