A goal without a plan is just a wish. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
As a former consultant, the first thing I would ask the business owner(s) with a problem or opportunity was to see their business plan. If they did have one it was often dated or poorly written with little critical thought. Most often they had nothing, which is why I was sitting in their office.
Real estate professionals are some of the most egregious violators of business plan neglect. This is due in great part to the nature of the industry which has a very low barrier to entry and the fact most agents or brokers enter the industry working under a business which already has several processes planned out.
However, at the end of the day, you are still likely considered an independent contractor. This means you are a business or person who provides services to another entity for specified terms. In other words, you need a business plan.
If you haven’t caught on by now, the importance of creating and maintaining a business plan is fundamental to success. All business plans contain very similar sections such as:
Management & Organizational Structure
Marketing & Sales Strategies
Products and Services
Financial Resources & Forecasts
There are also some not so obvious aspects to a business plan you should consider as well.
Define Your Culture
“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.” Tony Hsieh
Everyone talks about culture, but few actually do what they say. Define what your workplace personality is and live it, and ensure everyone you hire is comfortable living it. This reduces the chances of conflict and other forms of drama that are counterproductive to success. If it is written in your business plan this helps to solidify your culture goals.
Culture should be reduced to a set of simple yet substantial core values, a list of unwavering tenets which set and reinforce everything from how you make decisions to how you treat people.
Focus On People
I invest in people, not companies. Daymond John
People are your most important asset, especially in a customer service centric industry such as real estate. They are the ones responsible for executing your plans. Be self aware enough to hire for your weaknesses. Or in other words, hire people who are smarter than you.
The smartest people I’ve met understand what they don’t know and surround themselves with people who do.
[Good Read: How Hiring the Right People Affects Your ROI]
Keep It Flexible
No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Sun Tzu
Things change, evolve and sh*t just happens that will affect even the most well researched and thought out business plans. Trying to forecast what will happen in business the first six months to a year is hard. Forecasting two years out is fiction. Three years out, science fiction. You’re not Nostradamus.
Be prepared to revisit and adjust your business plan at least quarterly. It should be a living document which changes and molds to your business and goals. And don’t forget: experiment often, assess risk, have contingencies and explore alternatives!
What are your not-so-obvious business plan elements you think are vital to consider?