December 2016

Christmas, the New Year and Hitting the Reset Button

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Christmas is right around the corner, and then a week later it will be time for the New Year celebrations! For most, the Holiday season begins on Thanksgiving and it kicks off a month of gatherings, parties and celebrations with family, friends and business associates.  For many it is truly the most wonderful time of the year, as they experience the joy that is associated with the season of giving.  While it may not be the most productive time for many businesses, it is typically the busiest for most people.

The traditional month long holiday season is filled with activities that include visiting family and friends, eating bigger meals, drinking more, exercising less, and the additional stress that comes along with added commitments.  For a lot of people the end result of the Holiday season is weight gain, and feeling drained. Unfortunately, studies have shown that most people will not lose the weight they gain over the Holidays and in fact they will repeat the process of gaining additional weight each year during this season. Without resetting your mind and body, you can easily settle into a comfort zone that unknowingly keeps you from heading in the direction you seek.

I love Christmas time and celebrating the Holidays, while also taking the time to recognize the true meaning of Christmas.  There is something about seeing the Christmas lights on homes, trees decorated, hearing Christmas songs, and gathering with friends that leads people to be kinder, more generous and polite to each other during this time of year. It’s a time we gather together and embrace our family traditions, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. It’s also a great time to be reminded we all have choices to make on what we will do, who we will be, and what future we will create.  As we mature, and certainly when we become parents, we realize that the true joy of Christmas is in giving, not receiving.

In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, which continues to be a popular book today. The novel has never been out of print circulation, seen in countless plays, in addition to movies and shows reproducing the work in some manner. A Christmas Carol was an immediate success as Dickens’ writing vividly captured the real human emotions of suffering, separation, despair, unbreakable hope and the difficulty people have in actually changing for the better. The story accurately conveyed what has to be in place for true joy to exist in a person’s life. The positive ending of finding inner peace through a dramatic change in one’s belief system resonated immediately with its audience, as it still does today. The novel ended with the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, memorializing the secret to long lasting change. “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall live within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

Through his experiences that Christmas Eve, Mr. Scrooge was able to reset his life and take it in a dramatically different direction. Fortunately, most of us do not need as dramatic of a life changing reset as Ebenezer Scrooge went through to make positive changes. However, it is not uncommon for all of us to dwell on negative events in our life, stop some of the good habits we have been developing during the year, and set future goals without taking any action to achieve them. After all, goals remain only dreams if we don’t take action. The past is for learning from, not dwelling upon. It is the present we live in, and what we commit to do now that will decide our future. The actions we take do make a difference. As Charles Dickens’ novel pointed out, living abundantly is not about how many possessions you have or how much money you have in the bank, it is recognizing that you need to continue to grow and contribute to live life to its fullest. The most successful, happy people manage to keep the joys of giving and carry a grateful spirit with them year-round.

We all need a time for rest and reflection. You most likely don’t need a Scrooge intervention to reset your path to fulfillment, but I’m certain you will benefit from taking time to reset after the Holidays. Enjoy the celebrations, reflect on the past year and reset your mind and body on the goals and possibilities of a new year. After all to achieve success and reach true fulfillment, you have to answer a big question.  What kind of difference will you make in 2017?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday’s!

Peter

The Why, What and How of the Entrepreneur’s Business Plan

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Over the past three weeks, with the aid of technology, I had the privilege to kick off the annual United Real Estate business planning workshops with hundreds of real estate agents from across the U.S. in attendance.  It is very satisfying to aid so many entrepreneurial individuals in understanding that freedom in business and in life is having the ability to do what you are supposed to do.  The essence of a successful plan goes beyond spreadsheets and a mission statement.  Everyone is familiar with the celebrated success stories of the start-up entrepreneur’s technology business that quickly made them rich.  We are also aware that most businesses don’t succeed past 5 years and the odds are stacked against the individual start-up. A lot of factors make up the difference between succeeding and failing in business. However, all successful entrepreneurs have a common theme to their planning process. They recognize they are not just building a business, they are creating a lifestyle.

While the projected sales numbers and profits that make up the forecast and budget of a business plan are in everyone’s game plan for success, the individuals who breakout from their competition have more than just a strategy and spreadsheets.  What successful entrepreneurs recognize is that when you open a business, particularly a real estate business, you can’t easily separate the business from you, the individual. The Why, What and How of building a plan is not just about your business, it’s also about your life story and it all starts with answering with definitive knowledge and having very specific answers to these three questions. The answers combine passion with knowledge and precise action plans that justify the hours you work, and put to ease the initial uncertainty that is part of owning your own business.

The Why – To grow a business you have to do things that are at first uncomfortable. To build new success habits you must know what you have to look forward to in the future in order to stay motivated in the present.  You have to ask yourself not only why potential customers should do business with you, but why you are personally in business. If you are like most entrepreneurs you left the certainty of a paycheck for the freedom of being your own boss.  The freedom of working for yourself also brings with it uncertainty. Your Why to take on this risk and then insure your success has to be really big. You are not just looking at what your life is today but what it can be in 5 years and also in 20 years. Done correctly, answering your Why will set the goals for your business.

The What – After you understand your true Why, then, and only then, are you ready to move to the What. Following this path greatly increases the likelihood that you will succeed. You must have a rock solid reason as to why you are going to keep striving and pushing past the setbacks that are inherently part of building a business. Goals tell us what to get, not what to do. The best sales people set goals that are not just about the outcome, but the process to get to the outcome. It is here you answer the universal equation of success for all entrepreneurs. What is the market opportunity for your business?

Total number of potential clients * conversion rate + past customers + referrals = Income

The How – The dream is known, the goal is set. It’s time to lay out your strategy on what methods you are going to deploy to reach your potential clients. The key to executing this part of your plan is knowledge and commitment.  You need to know how to reach your customers, how to communicate with them, how to stay in touch with them, and how to sell to them. To be successful as an entrepreneur you will have to commit to performing these activities for a very long time.  This requires you to continually invest in building your potential client list and also developing your personal skills. The business environment will always be changing and you have to adapt to utilize new technologies and adapt to new trends to modernize your business. Becoming a market expert will not be enough, you will also have to learn how to develop the invisible traits of determination, persistence, grit and personal accountability.

Building a business that will support the lifestyle you desire is a skill to be mastered, not just pursued. A great question to ask yourself is, have you spent more money on Starbucks this year or on your personal development? After all, true freedom is reached when you realize you are empowered to do what you are supposed to do to create your ideal life, not just what you want to do. To learn more about how to implement a plan to raise your income in real estate and improve your lifestyle, join us at the 2017 United Real Estate Convention.

All the best!

Peter