Around the beginning of a new year, I hear a lot about business planning. Why then is it so hard to actually create one? Nobody plans to fail, yet without a good road map, a successful outcome is unlikely. And while we all recognize this, statistics indicate that only 3% of people have written goals. Are you in that 3% or is this an area for improvement so you can hit the mark and look back with pride on what you’ve accomplished the previous year? The definition of success is a favorable outcome or achievement, a triumph. I aim to help others (and especially agents) reach their own definition of success.
If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they usually have grand ideas. It’s unlikely you’ll hear them say, ‘I want to be a drug addict, homeless or have no family.’ It’s time to regain the optimism and excitement of seeing dreams come true.
There’s a sense of power and achievement in reaching a goal and it enables you to dream bigger. It’s a natural part of our human nature to cheer on those who reach and attain a goal. Just look at how our culture idolizes great achievements. Our spirits are lifted when we see underdogs become champions in movies like Rocky, Miracle or Rudy.
My personal goal was to run a marathon by the time I was 30. The experience was so much more than just an achievement, I checked it off my bucket list. For someone like me, who has never been athletic, the ability to achieve the “impossible” only sparked a desire to push higher and farther in other areas of my life — areas which I had never pursued, due to lack of belief in myself. I realized that achieving goals does so much more than provide a fleeting feeling of accomplishment; it becomes the springboard for thinking bigger and realizing true success.
As I research business planning each year, I fail to find one that is appropriate for real estate agents. I don’t mean that to be negative, it’s simply that most business plans are built to be all-encompassing for a professional entrepreneur and include things like a SWOT analysis, studying the market and knowing your competition. While I believe these are important and a lot of agents have a great set of skills, I also recognize that most by nature are sales-oriented and not engineered to look at their business with the eyes of a business manager. This is why I’ve created a quick, simple plan that hits some of the most important highlights and yet provides an opportunity to measure results. It’s more like an enhanced version of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).
Follow these simple steps and you’re on your way to discovering a better year and a reason to celebrate your success by the end of 2012!
1) Find your motivation – The most important part of reaching a goal is keeping the purpose at the forefront of your thoughts. Knowing your motivation will keep you moving forward even when the going gets tough. Start by writing down the answers to these questions.
- What do you want your career to look like this year?
- What will it do to improve your life when you achieve success?
- Why is it important for you to succeed?
- What will I do when (not if) I face challenges? (Decide how you will respond and overcome)
By developing the skill of internal motivation, you can pursue success more easily. That’s not to say you shouldn’t reward yourself for reaching your goals, but the skill developed now will serve you for the rest of your life. It’s not realistic to count on life and others to reward you for your hard work, so find value in your own personal satisfaction of a job well done or a personal achievement reached.
2. Set measurable and attainable goals – Be realistic with yourself and write it down. Don’t plan to double your income unless you have specific changes you are implementing to create that kind of success. In real estate, I like to have my agents work through the numbers backwards if their goal is income-related. It looks something like this:
- How much money do you want to earn? (It helps if you have a spending plan to determine what you need to earn first)
- What is your average commission per closing?
- How many sales do you need to close to achieve the income? (You may want to break this down further to determine how many listings and sales you want)
- How many sellers and buyers do you need to reach this goal? (I recommend using a “prospect-to-sale” ratio of 25, so multiply the number of sales by 25 to determine how many leads you need)
- Now break that number down into a monthly, weekly and daily number so you have a clear picture of what you will create.
Example – If John wants to earn $100,000 and his average commission is $4,000, then he needs 25 sales to reach his goal. In order to reach 25 sales, we are estimating he needs 625 prospects. Now let’s also estimate that John already has 100 people in his database, so he only needs to generate 525 leads. While that may seem like a lot, the reality is, it is less than 1.5 people per day and there are hundreds of ways to generate leads on a daily basis: from wearing a name badge and handing out business cards to having a major marketing campaign. This is where rubber meets the road. Ingenuity and hard work separate the dreamers from the achievers! (Feel free to contact me for a list of income-generating ideas if you get stuck on how to implement a weekly or monthly plan of action to achieve these contacts)
3. Monitor Success – The final step is to measure your results. I recommend adding a weekly and monthly appointment to your calendar to provide a check-up. Take the time to see if you’ve added enough people to your database and also to track how many referrals, sales and closings you accumulate. In addition to monitoring statistics, take time each month to reflect on what worked well the previous month and think about one thing you can implement the next month to improve your business. Sometimes discovering ways to be more effective, reduce costs or improve sales skills can drastically impact your business.
We often get caught up working in our business and neglect to take time to work on our business. I’ve found that attending seminars, reading books, researching housing data, attending a networking group or volunteering makes me more confident, focused and provides opportunity to connect with more people. So take time to think outside the box. When you work hard and implement your plan, the numbers will take care of themselves.
We can only control what we do, so don’t become discouraged if the results don’t happen as quickly or easily as you expect. It’s also important that you monitor your mentality and expectations. In addition, I highly recommend finding a mentor and scheduling, at minimum, a quarterly meeting to review your goals, actions and results. This accountability will help inspire you to keep going even when you are challenged; the added benefit of having wise counsel may help you find ways to improve your plan and activities.
Success can look like many things, so find your motivation and the goal that will improve your life and don’t forget to focus on how the results will benefit you. Some of my goals have been simply setting healthier boundaries with my clients or gaining additional education. Self-improvement is always at the top of the list, as well as finding ways to serve others. Each time you experience success, you’ll find it easier to start the process, implement the plan and monitor the results. Colin Powell stated, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
I salute those who invest the time to create a better life for themselves and those around them. As Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Rather than looking back a year from now and wishing you had started on the path to success today, simply take the first step and be encouraged that you are closer to your dreams today than you were yesterday!