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