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Don’t Fall Into the Trap – Good Planning is Where It’s At

Woman smiling at the opportunity of jobs

For some of you – the planners in the group- 2010’s business plan is well underway.  For the rest of you, don’t sweat it…just yet.  But, it is time to start.  Whatever camp you are in, today we’ll take a look at some of the ‘musts’ to consider in building a strong plan and some common pitfalls to avoid.

Be Inspired

Building a plan can often be a lot of number crunching and analysis, which for most of us is relatively uninspiring.  It’s important to find ways to make sure you are looking at the coming year (and more) with inspiration.  For me this year I found Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It inspiring.  Whatever it is for you, come into the planning with strength and dreams in hand.

The Plan

A couple weeks ago we talked about some of the things you want to assess about your 2009 experience.  This is the time to put that information to work.  If you’ve done a good job of keeping records for 2009, you should have a clear sense about where your business is coming from.

This is time for a ‘Be Honest’.  For example, if you are spending a lot of your time online, but you are getting the majority of your business from your sphere of influence, there should be two things you should consider: 1 – Improve your online strategy and 2 – Spend more time on your sphere of influence strategy.  Honest analysis is critical here.

So what should you be including in your annual plan?

  • Systems you intend to execute or add
  • Ways to improve existing systems
  • Shedules – Timelines to achieve goals, commitments for appointments, daily schedule or weekly time blocking
  • Goals for expenditures
  • Production and income goals
  • Tools you need
  • Skills you need
  • People you need
  • What changes do you have to make for this plan to succeed

Common Pitfalls

Don’t Start the New Year Chasing Your Goal:  If you completed 12 transactions this year, and next year your goal is 48, congratulations on your ambition, but make sure you’re setting yourself up for success.  Aim high, but with a plan.  Keep in mind, 2010 is nearly here.  What you put into escrow between November 14 and the end of the year is likely to be your January closings.  With a goal of 48, if you don’t have 3 or 4 closings planned for January, you start the year chasing your goal.

It’s Not Just About 2010:  Your plan next year should be part of the bigger picture for your business and personal life.  Where are you going and what would you like to achieve over the next 5 or 10 years?  Your annual plan should be about the steps along the way in achieving the bigger dreams.

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Be Diverse and Nimble:  Are you taking into account some of the changing economic conditions?  What changes might impact your plan?  Even the dissolution of a personal relationship, a marriage for example, can have a big impact on a business that is heavy with sphere of influence.  A strong lead generating website that suddenly finds itself missing the same history of traction can cripple an overly dependent business.  Are you working only luxury homes in a market that is seeing only entry level sales?

Being too Diverse:  Are you starting 4 new systems?  Consider instead, improving on the ones that are working and introduce 1 new laser focused system.  Starting more than that inhibits your ability to track effectiveness and ROI analysis.

The Business Plan Dust Collector:  This is probably the biggest and most common crime in the business planning process.  Too many of us take the time to write a plan and we don’t look at it past January 15th.  Live with it, modify it throughout the year (it’s okay – it is YOUR plan).  Find someone to share it with, review it with, and hold you accountable to the activities you’ve outlined in it.

Happy Planning!

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Written By

Linsey Planeta is the Broker Owner of Belterra Fine Homes in Orange County, California. Linsey rants regularly on her blog, OC Real Estate Voice. She also provides sellers with tips on how to get their home sold on Why Didn't My Home Sell? She has been an active Real Estate Coach and Instructor and loves working with agents so that they may look at their business with fresh eyes, renewed purpose, and defined systems. Linsey can be found in her office or you can also find her on Twitter@Linsey.



  1. Daniel Bates

    November 4, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Diversity continues to be the name of the game for me. Marketing will still revolve around my blog bringing me clients that are ready to act and not tire kickers that waste time. I’m sure that sales will remain low, but foresee rental management will rise and become a larger part of my income and time. Falling back on tech support, blog training, and webdesign will keep my head above water as the market improves.

  2. Ken Brand

    November 4, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Smart, Practical, Simple. Great “Get Crack’n” advice. 2010 should be a better environment, if we aren’t ready, the swell will wash by waving. I especially like the “Diverse and Nimble” mindset.

    Cheers Linsey.

  3. Matt Thomson

    November 4, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Thanks Linsey. I teach some business planning courses in the offices around here and this is some great stuff to add. I hope you won’t mind if I start the course with this post.

  4. Linsey Planeta

    November 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Honored Matt! Thank you!

    Ken and Daniel – It’s amazing how often we see agents enjoy dramatic success with a single system. And it’s all good until that system no longer produces those same results. Diversity can be the thing that can sustain an agent in any market.

  5. Portland Condo Auctions

    November 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Improve your technology workflow. Hands down that can be the biggest time saver. Integrate some systems and automate what can be automated. Then you can spend your time on the things that matter and the things that make you money.


  6. Eric Stegemann

    November 7, 2009 at 1:58 am

    So many agents set themselves up for failure by creating big plans. It’s all about setting yourself up for success but still pushing yourself that makes planning worthwhile.

    At our St Louis brand we require each agent to create a plan and discuss it with their broker in November each year. It allows them to asses and ready themselves for the new year along with keeping their head in the game during the holiday season when it’s so easy to forget work.

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