Writing a Business Plan

Yogi Berra, legend of Major League Baseball, catcher, coach, and manager for teams including the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Houston Astros, was as famous for his mangling of words as skills on the diamond but hit the nail on the head when he said: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else.”

The old coach was right: you not only need goals to succeed but a plan on how to achieve your goal. You need to tackle making a business plan. That may sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to overwhelm you. Let’s walk through an outline of a basic business plan.

  1. State your purpose. This serves the same function as a 30-second elevator speech: you must be able to define, in a sentence are do, your mission and goals. It may be as simple as “I want to close 45 deals a year” or as assertive as “I want my own brokerage firm in five years.”  Know your purpose and state it clearly.
  2. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Review what your strong points are and where you need to shore up your skills. What opportunities exist in your agency or market? Where might you go off track? This common business tool is typically referred to as a SWOT Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. While you know yourself well, you may need to conduct further research to find opportunities (a wave of first time home buyers in your area, for instance) and threats (rising interest rates hampering the real estate market, for instance.)
  3. Break it down. Here’s where you break your long terms goals out into short term ones. If, for instance, your goal for the year is to close on 45 homes a year, that means you’ll need about 11 closings each quarter.
  4. Get strategic. Drill down into how, exactly, you will meet your goals. How will you prospect? Will you use a CRM system? This is where you get detailed about how many hours per day you work, how you will market open houses, and what you can delegate to whom. The goal isn’t enough if you don’t use appropriate tools to accomplish it.
  5. Put a timeline on it. You can write an annual timeline and update it each year, but many professionals go with a five-year plan, which they then break out into annual increments. You must hold yourself accountable to deadlines.
  6. Review it periodically. Hold yourself accountable by revisiting your plan periodically – many experts suggest a quarterly review – to see if you are meeting goals and whether you need to adjust strategies.

Of course, there are a number of ways to write a business plan and if you work with a coach, this is something to discuss with them. But, if you don’t currently have a plan and find yourself struggling, now’s the time: sit down, review our basics, do a little research and get to planning.