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4 Tips for Creating an Effective Real Estate Business Plan

author: aaron hodson business planning Dec 21, 2023

While many wait for the new year rush, I’d argue that December is the ideal time to start strategizing for your real estate business.

Wouldn’t it be nice to start the year with a clear blueprint for what you need to do to succeed? Wouldn’t it be nice to be one step ahead of everyone else? 

Consider the act of waiting until January to hit the gym. It’s a whole lot less appealing when it’s jam-packed with wishful resolutioners. Yet many of us understandably procrastinate on business planning (and hitting the gym, to be fair). Just the term “business planning” triggers a sudden urge to take a nap. How do we rewire our brains to start thinking of business planning as a productive, worthwhile, and exciting activity? 

To start, there is abundant research that shows it works. It’s not an opinion; it’s fact: having a well-thought out plan gives your business a better chance of meeting its goals. Once you’ve accepted that and committed to pursuing a business plan, you can focus on shifting the actual practice itself. In this article, I’m sharing four ideas that work for me, and for the many clients and teams I’ve been working with through the years. I hope these tips encourage you to dive in, and make the most of the new year out the gate. 

If you happen to stumble upon this article come spring or summer, it’s just as valid. As you’ll soon see, this business planning strategy is not a one-and-done activity. This is something you can create any time of year, and should constantly be updating and tweaking. The more you stick with this method, the more effective it will be.

Tip #1 Start by creating space

The first step to my business planning strategy is a 12-month review. Why do we start looking forward by looking back? Simple: to make room for the new. Scrub your last 12 months by auditing results from each and every prospecting method and communication plan. Which marketing efforts got results and which got ignored? If you see that something didn’t produce the desired result, make note to eliminate that activity in the new year. If you see something working well, ask yourself how you can do more. This task can feel quite daunting so try chipping away at one area per day for an hour until you’ve done a complete review. 

Another reason this process is so important is that it helps eliminate our biases as we strategize looking forward. It’s human nature to approach this process with a slew of cognitive biases. We might over-value a task we like doing even if it doesn’t produce the results we want. We might over-value a task that we’ve done more recently; we call that a recency bias. By looking at the full year, we are more likely to draft stronger, data-driven business plans. 

You’ll be surprised how much time is wasted on activities that simply don’t get results. I’m giving you permission here and now to stop. The goal is to create the freedom in your business to execute really well on new activities. If you try to add more into an already-packed schedule, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

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Tip #2: Double down on what worked

Just as you eliminated tasks and expenses that did not produce the desired result, you want to look for the things that worked really well. You want to ask yourself: what do I need to do or shift to do twice as much of that in the new year? It might feel impossible, but your business has already told you that it works. Why wouldn’t you make the appropriate shifts to insert more of it moving forward?

Tip #3: Shorten the time frame

When I was just starting out in real estate, I would sit down like anyone else and create a full year business plan. The problem was that I found I’d forgotten all about it even weeks later. Sound familiar? That’s why my business planning strategy starts by shortening the timeframe to 90 day sprints. My 90-day sprint sheet (available in the Sellwell Coaching Club) breaks down your goals and objections into shorter timeframes. 

This strategy works especially well in real estate as the market will always be a factor outside of our reach. If you look at the past year and wonder why your business plan didn’t hold up, consider the market environment. We have to watch for market fluctuations and adjust accordingly. 

In Adam Grant’s fantastic book Think Again, he states “People often become attached to best practices. The risk is that once we’ve declared a routine the best, it becomes frozen in time.” Throughout the book, he points to the importance of reassessing and challenging assumptions and goals in business. The more agile you are in your business planning, the more success it will have long-term. More bang for your buck? We could all use a little of that.

Another reason I prefer shorter timeframes for business planning is that it shifts the focus toward task-based goal setting. Having a long-term vision is vital and there is a time and place to dream big. However, if you don’t break down lofty goals into actionable daily activities, these goals can often go quickly forgotten.

 
 
 
 
 
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Tip #4: Don’t go at it alone

Sitting down with a blank page to create a business plan alone is daunting. Find a group or accountability partner to business plan alongside. Seek out the support you need to make sure you get this process done and that you stay accountable to it throughout the year. Consider booking a session with a coach if you need the support and don’t have a team or colleague to enlist. 

I don’t just suggest this for moral support, although that certainly doesn’t hurt. One study by the American Society of Training and Development’s journal found that individuals are 65% more likely to meet goals when they have accountability partners. The simple act of feeling accountable to someone else gives you a better chance of success.

Many real estate agents, and many of your colleagues even, will go an entire year or an entire career without a business plan. It’s easy to go about our busy daily tasks and not put pen to paper. However, why settle for the status quo? Take these tips and create a better path for your business and yourself. I can’t wait to hear about your successes.

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Aaron Hodson

Aaron Hodson is a keynote speaker, business strategist, and CEO of SellWell. He’s spent 25+ years in the real estate industry in various capacities — from selling homes, to becoming CEO of one of the fastest growing real estate companies in the world, to coaching high-level sales agents and executives. Fair warning: Aaron originally hails from New Zealand, so Kiwi-isms are to be expected.

 

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