During November and December, I’m writing about business planning, to inspire you to get your business plan done for next year. Managers, see Management in a Minute for managers’ businsss planning tips.

Everyone knows they need business plans. Yet, most people attempt to write a plan without a system–a guide–a map.  Read the points below to assure you have a business planning system, not just a piece of paper.

Is it a System, or is It Just a Piece of Paper?

Be sure your business plan is a comprehensive, proven system, designed to take you through the necessary planning steps. Here are three areas you need to evaluate about a planning system before you start using it for your plan:

1. Customization. Is the plan customized and proven for your business? You need a system that is proven for real estate salespeople. See the end of this blog for a ‘flow chart’ of a complete listing system.

2. Specific analysis of your past selling history. Does your planning system give you direction in analyzing the most critical parts of your business in the past year? This is one area that most planning systems gloss over. Yet, it is the most important area for real estate professionals to assess. Knowing exactly what your business habits were–and the results of those habits–will lead you to make changes in your business, both in business habits and in budgeting.

For example: Do you know the ratio of your listings taken last year–to your listings sold–in normal market time? Most agents don’t. Why? Because they weren’t asked that question in their business planning systems.

3. Separates the “dollar-productive” activity portions of your business from the support portions. Many agents fail because they don’t do enough “dollar productive” activities, those activities that directly lead to sales and listings sold. That’s because the business plan system they’re using doesn’t differentiate between those activities and “support” activities. In her work nationally with real estate companies and agents, Carla Cross has analyzed hundreds’ of agents’ plans. She has found that the planning system itself, if it’s deficient, will lead the agent off-track.

All Activities are NOT Equal. Poor business planning systems are structured in a way that leads the agents to believe that all activities are equal in outcome. Not true. It all needs to start when the agent first starts the business. Up and Running in 30 Days, Cross’s business start-up plan, has clearly prioritized activities, numbers, strategies, and dialogue. Agents shouldn’t ‘graduate’ to a long-term plan until they’ve mastered short-term planning.

Being critical of your planning system is really the first step in planning a successful year. You’ve made sure the system you’re using is going to lead you through a thought process that automatically creates a good business plan. Now, the only thing left to do is the implement your plan!

Click here to see the ‘flow chart’ of an effective business planning system. 

Want to see more on business planning? Check out my online program Beyond the Basics of Business Planning. All the instructional webinars and documents are online, and very easy to complete and implement. This is a program created exclusively for real estate owners and managers. And, when you purchase the manager’s package, you also get access to all the agent’s planning videos and documents.

Complimentary Business Planning Webinars

I’ve recorded 2 webinars for you to help you get inspired to plan for next year–and to give you information on what I believe are the biggest success strategies for the coming year. One webinar is for agents and one is for leadership.

Click here to view them.