16 Steps to Your Best Business Plan

16 Steps to Your Best Business Plan

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How to Write a Real Estate Business Plan – A Guide for New Agents

| Agent Basics , How To , Real Estate | Comments (4)

Creating the perfect real estate business plan will help you achieve and exceed your professional goals. By taking into account current income and fixed expenses, we’ll help you determine how many deals you need to close to reach your financial targets. This article will give you the information and templates you need to map out a winning real estate career.

Why You Need a Real Estate Business Plan (Even If You Think You Don’t)

Think of your real estate business plan as GPS for your career. Instead of getting lost and asking for directions, you simply reference your plan and forge ahead. Writing a business plan should be one of the first tasks you undertake in your career. Use software, set your goals and use templates to make it easy.

A Real Estate Business Plan is a Living Document

For both agents and brokerages, a business plan is a living document, meaning that you don’t “set it and forget it.” The best real estate business plan is one that evolves with you and one that you continue to tweak and alter things as your business grows. For example, a new agent might start out buying for sale by owner (FSBO) lists and cold calling to get leads, then realize they are more adept at writing Facebook ads . Maybe your greatest strength turns out to be the lead generation strategy you didn’t initially believe you would use. Because there is no right way to succeed in real estate, you would adjust your real estate business plan to fit your new lead generation strategy. When we talk about your real estate business plan as a living document, it simply means that it should evolve as you learn more about what works.

As you discover more about your own personal strengths and weaknesses, you will see your business plan change to accommodate that. No matter how your business evolves, LivePlan software can help you maintain your business plan by refreshing your business plan automatically in real time whenever you add new financial data.

Grow Strategically in Real Estate and Trust Your Business Plan

For agents, a real estate business plan is not only a roadmap to your financial and personal development, but it helps to keep you accountable as well. Putting your goals, and the way to achieve them, down on paper can help keep you on track when you start to second-guess yourself. Because you’ve already run the numbers with your plan, in periods of difficulty you already know exactly what you need to do to pull ahead.

Even the best agents in the business have had periods of doubt and uncertainty. Ryan Serhant, of “Million Dollar Listing,” had his first big $14 million listing sit for more than a year without a single offer yet went on to build the second most successful real estate team in New York City. Map out your business, realize there will be setbacks and stick to the plan.

Free Real Estate Business Plan Templates

Before you start to create a real estate business plan of your own, it always helps to see what others have done successfully. Below you’ll find three examples of effective business plans that you can use by adapting them to your specific business goals.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

These are just a few examples of the type of structure that LivePlan can offer before you begin with other templates for real estate business plans available as well. Having a template is a game changer as you begin the process of mapping out your business. The ability to build on a proven formula for evaluating and mapping out success in your career puts you at a distinct advantage from the beginning.

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A 4-step Guide for Writing a Real Estate Business Plan for New Agents

Step 1: Write an Executive Summary That Outlines Your Vision for Success

The first section of a business plan is the executive summary. The executive summary briefly outlines the opportunities available as well as how you plan to use your unique skill set to take advantage of them. While you’re probably not going to present your plan to anyone but yourself, it’s still a useful exercise to help you get started. Your executive summary should include details about:

  • The area you plan to work in (such as home price range and neighborhoods)
  • What type of real estate or clients upon which you plan to focus
  • A general overview of your marketing plan
  • What skills you bring to the table (including marketing, sales and business development)

The executive summary section of your real estate business plan is an example of what you would tell a friend over dinner if they asked you how you planned to make money as a real estate agent, using the above bullet points as a guide.

For example, let’s say you’re a former advertising executive planning on working in Manhattan. In your executive summary, you could say that you plan to work in SoHo and focus on doorman rental buildings to start, and then work your way up to luxury co-ops. You might include information on the average rental or sales price, vacancy rate or your connection to the neighborhood. You could then go on to describe how you will use your advertising skills to bring in buyer and seller clients in SoHo utilizing a solid Google AdWords and Facebook ad campaigns.

Step 2: Assess the Market You Plan to Work In

The second step in writing a real estate business plan is to assess the market you plan to work in. In the real estate industry, this is known as your “farm area.” It may sound a little bit silly at first, but it’s an excellent analogy for real estate. By advertising and generating leads, you will be sowing seeds. By converting those leads to clients and closing deals, you will be harvesting your crops.

Like any farmer, you need to know as much as possible about your farm area before you begin. Because you’re new to the industry, you may want to get an experienced agent or your broker to help you with your research. Here are some things that you should know about your farm area:

  • The average sales and rental prices in the area
  • How long a typical home takes to rent or sell on the market
  • Average months of supply, which is a measure of how long it will take for the number of homes currently on the market to be sold and is calculated by dividing the current number of homes on the market in a particular area by the average number of homes sold in that area each month
  • Local demographics: Is the area mostly retired people, tech workers, blue collar workers, young families or another group? Each demographic requires different approaches to lead generation.
  • The competition: How many other agents or brokerages are there in the area? How does your brokerage measure up?

Step 3: Outline Your Lead Generation and Nurturing Strategy

Once you’ve written your executive summary and researched your farm area, the next step in writing a real estate business plan is to outline your lead generation and nurturing strategy.

New agents should generally start out by marketing to their sphere, or circle, of influence. Your circle of influence is the people you know who you have some kind of influence with. Your friends, family, former co-workers and business associates are all in your circle. Your goal is simply to inform them you are working as a real estate agent and to offer your services to them. Calling is generally the best way to reach out to your circle as it’s the most personal, but you can also use email, social media sites and any online forums of which you are a member.

Your next step is going to depend on the demographics of your farm area and your skill set. Because there are so many lead generation ideas from which to choose, have a look at our list of the top 47 lead generation strategies to get an idea of what will work for you and take notes as to which you would like to focus on.

Certain demographics respond best to specific approaches. For example, if your farm area is largely retirees, you may decide to generate leads with cold calling FSBOs and use a service like ProspectsPLUS!  for a postcard or door hanger campaign. If your farm area is largely young tech workers, you might have better luck with Facebook advertising and a solid social media presence on Instagram . In this market, more people are using Facebook through a number of demographics so be sure to see our Facebook for Realtors guide to get yourself up to speed.

Once you have a lead generation strategy in place, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to nurture your leads until they’re ready to buy or sell property with you. Be prepared to contact your leads repeatedly and have a solid way to organize and manage them. Whether you’re just starting out or established, having a solid CRM will be key to your success. For example, Contactually not only stores all of your leads in certain categories but reminds you when to follow up.

Step 4: Develop a Realistic Financial Plan to Reach Your Goals

The next step is to work on a realistic financial plan to determine and reach your goals. To set accurate financial goals in your real estate business plan, you have to understand your expenses. Although this may sound intimidating, it’s actually very simple. Here’s what you need to do.

Outline Your Personal Expenses

You cannot accurately create business fiscal goals without knowing what your personal expenses are that you need to cover. Your real estate business plan needs to, at a minimum, cover your cost of living, so this is something that must be tallied carefully. Be sure to have a detailed list of your living expenses (from utility bills to gasoline for your car), and know how much you have to make to cover these expenses.

Also include your personal goals, which can be anything from saving up for a better apartment (with a specific dollar amount) to a down payment on your own investment property (including dollar amount). Integrate these as part of your overall business plan, considering the fiscal goals you will have to meet to attain them.

If you don’t already use a tool like YNAB to examine your personal budget, be sure to integrate this into your life to make these questions easy as your career and living conditions continue to evolve. YNAB tracks every aspect of your personal finance from vehicle maintenance to holiday gifts. Know an exact number of how much money you need to make in covering your personal financial obligations and basic living expenses every month.

Outline Your Business Expenses

Being a real estate agent involves a variety of business expenses. The key will be trying to put a specific number on your professional costs, considering which of these things will be absorbed by your brokerage and what your area and clientele may demand. Here are some of the primary areas to consider when examining professional expenses:

  • Technology expenses (such as phone, website, software and subscriptions)
  • Commission splits and transaction fees
  • FSBO lists
  • Printing costs
  • Desk fees
  • Professional organization dues
  • Licensing fees
  • Multiple Listing Service fees
  • Business cards
  • Client expenses (including lunches, dinners and drinks)
  • Professional clothing allowance
  • Vehicle maintenance and local travel expenses (such as taxis, Uber/Lyft, trains and subways; may also be under personal expenses)
  • Marketing fees (like Facebook ads, brochures, open house and mailings)
  • Professional education

Determine How Many Deals You Need to Close to Reach Your Goal

Because you already know the average rental or selling price in your farm area, this one is pretty easy. Just take the average transaction side (one half of a real estate commission earned representing either the buyer or the seller), which is generally 3 percent, and determine how many deals you will need to close to break even and how many deals you need to close to reach your goal.

For example, let’s say your financial goal is to make $50,000 your first year and you have $5,000 in yearly expenses. If the average transaction side is $10,000 in your farm area, on a 50/50 split you will make $5,000 from a typical transaction before expenses. That means you will need to close 11 deals in your first year in order to bring home $50,000 in net annual profit.

Determine How Many Leads You Need to Generate

Admittedly the math can get a bit fuzzy here, but you should plan on closing roughly one in every 30 or so leads that you generate. When we say leads here, we mean warm leads (like people who are actively looking to purchase or sell a home). You will probably need to generate more cold leads, people who are a few months away from purchasing or selling a home, in order to generate 30 warm leads.

Using Software to Make Writing Your Business Plan Easier

Using software provides the structure for your real estate business plan, so you can focus on the details. LivePlan is the software we recommend highly that you use to write your business plan and is the software we personally use. The software includes an array of templates for real estate agents and offers an incredible amount of features that help to keep your business plan flexible as you grow in your career.

The features that we particularly like about LivePlan that make it an essential for us? It is simple to use, shows patterns over time (if you are hitting or missing goals) and allows us to adjust our plan on the fly. For example, it gives you financial calculators so that if you add or remove an expense, it changes your targets automatically. If you’re not using some kind of software, you are creating more work for yourself.

If you want to make your real estate business plan easier to write and update, you should consider using business plan software. Business plan software will not only produce a professional looking document but also help the writing process by prompting you to answer simple questions about your business.

Bottom Line

Writing a solid real estate business plan is the best way for new agents figure out how they plan to succeed in their first year and beyond. In order to write an effective plan, you need to assess your farm area, develop a lead generation and nurturing strategy and come up with a solid financial plan to reach your goals.

One of the most important things you can do as a new real estate agent is to be sure that you are maximizing your exposure and your lead generation strategies. Signing up to be a Zillow Premier Agent , for example, is likely one of the easiest ways to begin both. It is estimated that for every $1 you put into Zillow Premier Agent, you get around $2.60 back in commissions, which is not a bad exchange. Leveraging the programs available to you, starting to build client reviews and having a solid business plan as a real estate agent is a wonderful way to give your career momentum and direction at any stage of the game.

About the Author

J Gurner

Julie Gurner is a staff writer at Fit Small Business, specializing in Real Estate. As a doctor of psychology who also took the real estate agent course, she has renovated and flipped properties in multiple states. Julie has been featured in The Huffington Post, and her answers on Quora have received over 7 million views. Her interests include restoring old homes, keeping fit, and real estate investing. She lives in Lancaster, PA with her wife, rescue dog, and curious cat.

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  1. This is great, for it will help me to focus on what I really need to do. I feel like I am all over the place, for I just wanted some guidance.

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    • Hey Vanessa,

      Organizing your plans is one of the most important steps to your success. Best of luck!

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  2. Wow this is a good site.it will assist me in writing My Business Plan in Starting My Real Estate Business. Thanks.

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    • Thanks for stopping by and glad you found the article useful.

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Real Estate Business Plan Template

Real estate businesses come in a wide range of sizes and styles, from one person offices that handle a few homes in a handful of neighborhoods to enormous chains that cover both commercial and residential properties across the country. Many new real estate agents try to expand too much too soon, failing as the result of unsustainable growth. A written business plan will keep you on track and help you grow your real estate business in an organized way. In addition, if you plan to seek funding, investors and lenders will use your business plan to determine the level of risk.

What Is a Business Plan?

Your business plan provides a snapshot of your real estate company as it currently exists, and lays out a road map for the next three to five years. It highlights your business goals, identifies potential challenges, and describes your strategies for overcoming adversity and meeting your goals. It is a living document that should be frequently updated as your real estate business grows and evolves.

Executive Summary

Although it serves as the introduction to your business plan, your executive summary should be written last. The first page helps financiers decide whether to read the full plan, so provide the most important information. Give a clear and concise description of your real estate company. Provide a summary of your market analysis that proves the need for another real estate business, and explain your company’s unique qualifications to meet that need.

Company Analysis

Your company analysis explains your real estate business as it exists right now. Describe the company’s founding, current stage of business, and legal structure. Highlight any past milestones, such as lining up key clients or hiring an agent with a proven track record. Elaborate on your unique qualifications, such as expertise in a currently underserved niche market.

Industry Analysis

The real estate industry is incredibly large and diverse, but your analysis should focus on your specific segment of the market. Do you specialize in multifamily residential buildings? Single family homes? Office buildings? Small commercial properties? Figure out where your real estate company fits in, and then research the current trends and market projections that affect your niche. Create a detailed strategy for overcoming any obstacles that you uncover.

Customer Analysis

Who will purchase your real estate? Are they first-time homebuyers? Upwardly mobile young professionals? Developers, speculators, or investors? What is important to them in a real estate agent? Do they require hand holding through the entire process, or are they savvy buyers that just want you to show them the properties that interest them? How do they decide on a particular property? Narrow down their demographics as closely as you can, and then figure out what their unique needs are and how you can fulfill them.

Competitive Analysis

Your direct competitors are those real estate companies that fulfill the same needs for the same target market as yours. Your indirect competitors are real estate businesses that target a different market, or other companies that fulfill a different need for your target market. Describe each of your direct competitors individually, and talk about the things that set your real estate company apart. Categorize your indirect competitors as a group and talk about them as a whole.

Marketing Plan

A solid marketing plan is based on the four P’s: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. The Product section describes the real estate you sell along with any other services you provide. Price will change according to the specifics of the property, but you can delineate your fees here. Promotion is your means of getting new business. Place is your physical office location, along with your web presence and the areas where you sell. Another category, Customer retention, refers to the ways you will build loyalty.

Operations Plan

Your operations plan explains your methods for meeting the goals you set forth. Everyday short-term processes include all of the daily tasks involved in signing up clients, showing properties, and closing sales. Long-term processes are the ways you will meet your defined business goals, such as expanding into new markets or new types of properties.

Management Team

The management team section highlights the backgrounds of the key members of your team. Focus on those aspects that prove your team’s ability to build and run a successful company. A business mentor or advisor can help fill in any gaps, provided you can identify the specific ways that your advisor will influence your company’s growth.

Financial Plan

Investors and lenders heavily scrutinize the financial plan, but it is often the most challenging part of the business plan to write. Real estate is a fickle market, subject to changing whims and economic cycles. Yet the financial plan requires you to detail your individual revenue streams by implementation timeline and relative importance, and disclose any sources of outside funding. You also need to summarize your past and future Income Statements, Cash Flow Statements, and Balance Sheets, based on key assumptions that must be both reasonable and verifiable based on an analysis of similar companies. You should also provide a solid exit strategy that shows your understanding of the market and your desire to capitalize on profitability.

Appendix

Your full financial projections should be attached in the appendix along with any other documents that support your claims, such as letters from key partners.

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To speak with a Growthink business plan consultant, call 800-506-5728 or complete the form below.

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16 Steps to Your Best Business Plan

Getting your business ready for next year starts with strategies and goals. Here are some specific, actionable steps you can take to prepare for 2012.

December 8, 2011
by


Rich Levin

In any line of business, it’s not the work that’s hard. It’s the self-discipline. That’s why it’s important to have a workable strategy in place and stick to that until goals are met.

The following 16 simple steps will ensure that your 2012 business plan works for your career and your life. Most of the steps in this plan can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Spend no more than 60 minutes at a time with these steps. Complete this plan in a series of brief sessions over at least 30 days. This allows for your creativity and insight to rise and anxiety to fall.

If you finish this simple planning process before the beginning of 2012, you’ll have your best year ever (or best for a long time). If it’s not possible to complete this plan before the year’s end, then complete it over the next 30 days.

Steps to a Better Business Plan

1. Make a list of your dream priorities in every aspect of your life.

2. Write your answer to these questions: “What do you want your real estate career to do for your life in 2012? Why is that important to you? Who else will benefit? How will they benefit? Why is that important to you?”

3. Choose one of those dream priorities from the first question above and scribble it down. Write what you’d like to accomplish in that area by the end of each month in the next year, January through December. Do this quickly — you can improve it later.

4. Answer this question: What are your three greatest strengths that will contribute to your success in 2012?

5. Consider what shortcomings are costing you money now and how you would increase your production if you improved them.

6. Identify clear indicators of your strengthened skills that you should see by the end of 2012.

  • What do you want to stop or start doing, do more of, buy, and practice?
  • Which actions will you take, every day or every week, to ensure that you strengthen that skill?

7. Discern the biggest weakness standing in the way of your success.

  • Do you want to strengthen that weakness or successfully strategize around it so that you can succeed without it? How will you do that?
  • What will you take, every day or every week to ensure you strengthen or work around that weakness?
  • At the end of 2012, how will you know you’ve succeeded?

8. Quickly, and without analysis, figure out the amount of income, sales volume, and number of sales that would demonstrate you are well on your way to the success you envision. Translate your answer into all three: income, sales volume, and number of sales.

9. If you are an experienced practitioner, multiply the number of sales you want from the above question by 2; if you’re still new to real estate, multiply by 3. Then divide that result by 40. (For example, 20 sales x 2 = 40, and 40 divided by 40 = 1.) That is how many new clients you need each week to achieve your goal. In the example, that means one new client each week for 40 weeks. For most, it’s a shockingly small number.*

10. Write down your sales volume and number of sales goals for 2012 from #8.

  • Choose one of the two (sales volume or number of sales) and break it down to monthly goals for January through December. Do not simply divide the number of sales by 12. You are likely to sell more in some months than others. Ideally, get your history of sales by month for the past couple of years so that you can discover any patterns that will make these monthly goals even more relevant and motivating. Then set goals for each month.
  • Calculate the other number, sales volume or number of sales, for each month.

11. Divide your number of sales from 10 above by 2.

  • That should be your goal for listings sold during the year. The other half will be sales to buyers. (If you are a team, then that’s the number of sales to buyers for your buyer specialists.)
  • Decide how many listings you need to take in order to achieve that number of listings sold. (If you need 10 listings sold and most of your listings sell, you’ll need about 12. But if only half of your listings sell, you’ll need 20.)

12. Review your strengths from #4 and shortcomings from #5.

  • Make a list of three to five ways that you’ll generate the leads that will become the new clients, sales, and listings to reach your goal.
  • Write down what specific activities are needed to achieve that objective: phone calls, blog posts, mailings, search-engine efforts, open houses, and so forth.

13. Choose which activities you’ll complete daily and schedule them day by day. Put that on your calendar and start immediately.

14. Choose which activities for #12 will be completed weekly. Choose the day of the week to spend 30 to 60 minutes on that activity. Limit this to no more than one activity per day. For example, on Mondays you follow up on all your leads. On Tuesdays, you work on your Web marketing. On Wednesdays, you invest time in your print marketing. And so on.

15. Hold a 30- to 60-minute business plan update session.

  • Show up on time and work for at least 30 minutes.
  • Record and review your number of new clients for the week, sales, and listings for the month. Compare these with your monthly and year-to-date goals. Ideally, you also should compare them with previous years’ results.
  • Select the projects and activities that are most likely to help you achieve your current month’s goals, and will help you achieve your following months and annual goals.
  • Make commitments for the day and the week.
  • Pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments.

16. Pump yourself up: Weird but true, your physiology will dictate the success of your planning sessions. So, when you start, and each time you move on to a new step, put yourself in a proud frame of mind. That means standing up, stretching way up, left, right, and back. Shake out your body. Then, put your shoulders back, stomach in (you’ll feel it even if it still sticks out), and chest out. Take three huge, deep breaths — far more oxygen that you normally take into your lungs. Smile. Pump your fist and say “Yes, Yes, Yes.” You put yourself in the best possible mental and emotional state for planning.

All beginnings are hard, but you should start this process today if you can. And remember: The person with the best plan does not win. The person who executes their plan wins. You don’t have to get it right. Just get it going. Then keep improving it.

* The first key to success: Focus on results instead of activities. Throughout the year, instead of focusing on number of activities (calls, mailings, blog posts, and so on), concentrate on achieving this number of new clients each week. Focusing on the activities leads to frustration and self-criticism. Targeting the desired results stimulates motivation and provides insight into what is working in your business and what needs your attention.

These steps are adapted from from Rich Levin’sFour Phases of the Most Successful Business Plan Workbook for 2012.

Rich Levin

Rich Levin is a national real estate speaker and sales coach. His company, Rich Levin’s Success Corps Inc. , Rochester, N.Y., takes a "whole business approach" to coaching, focusing not only on essential sales skills such as presenting and prospecting, but also quality of life and personal finance. Contact Levin at 585-244-2700 or [email protected] .

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