Many Active Rain Members have been kind enough to share some of their Business Planning techniques for 2013 so I thought I'd also tell you a little about the processes I'm using to create an acitivity and spending plan for the new year.
During my career as a Controller/Director of Finance, a significant part of my responsibilities was creating and monitoring the company’s annual spending plan.
This process was a valuable education - I had the opportunity to interview all the stakeholders in the spending process to learn what their upcoming plans were, then convert those plans into a numeric representation in the overall budget.
This process provided me the opportunity to learn every part of how a business operates…for example, in order to understand how marketing spends money I needed to understand how they analyze their markets to target their spending to the group(s) of potential customers that will provide the biggest return on their investment. Their assumptions have to be defensible, and once their budget is approved, measurement processes need to be in place to test the results against the assumptions and correct for any errors.
Applying this process to my own business, I began by analyzing 2012 in both objective terms (where did the business come from?) and subjective terms (what did I like, and not like, about this year?). The dry stuff was easy – most of my business came from referrals of customers I helped with either a purchase or refinance loan.
The subjective elements took some time and introspection but were worth the effort–I want my work to have meaning and this is an opportunity to shape how my work days will be spent for the foreseeable future.
Here is a description of what I learned when I started thinking about the activities that brought me the most satisfaction this year.
- I love to teach people. I’ve mentored in many different capacities of the course of my career and have gained a deep sense of satisfaction from watching the mentored individuals benefit from the information they have learned.
I can apply this to how I work with my clients by teaching them how the lending process works, how their numbers work and taking the time to completely answer all of their questions.
- I love to solve problems. I like a challenge – when someone tells me something cannot be done I want to test that statement for myself.
In my current business, this may mean evaluating a client’s finances to see what might have been missed in a prior loan decision, or challenging myself to figure out how to shorten the timeline from loan open to loan close.
- I want to be #1. I want to be viewed as “the best” at what I do. I am willing to work for the title…long hours have never bothered me when I enjoy what I do.
This exercise lead me to my own personal mission statement:
I want everyone who does business with me to say “that’s the way lending should work and that’s the way a client should be taken care of.”
A superior lending experience does not happen without the help of a robust support system, and it is critical to me that I align myself with service providers that share my vision and values. I have determined that for me, in 2013, I will evaluate where I do business on behalf of my clients using the following criteria:
Do I have a support team that enables me to quickly obtain the information I need to serve my clients?
Do I have an array of products, competitively priced, that allow me to efficiently serve my clients with respect to quality and price?
Do I have the resources I need to deliver superior service?
The next step was figuring out who I want to serve. I set the following 3 criteria for managing my activities and budget:
- In 2013, I am going to focus on helping 10 first time home buyers every month.
- In 2013, I am going to find 2 real estate agents every single month who are new to the business and need help with planning their business. (I created a business planning template to help real estate agents think through their businesses and am happy to share it with anyone who wants a copy. Send me an email message to Linda@LindaOnLending.com and I’ll send you the excel workbook and instructions.)
- In 2013, I am gong to master every single first time homebuyer lending program available in the areas I choose to work.
The above criteria are not meant to exclude any market opportunity – they simply provide a basic framework that allows me to begin to put numbers to a plan.
Once I put the answers to all of these questions in a budget, I’ll have a revenue plan, a budget and a cash flow projection to guide my activities this upcoming year.