(This is Part 2 of a three-part series. See Part 1: Unique approach to real estate survival and Part 3: Real estate biz prosperity changes with the seasons.)

The season in which you are born not only influences your longevity and the type of illnesses that you may have, it can also influence whether your business plan will succeed or fail. If you want to create a business plan that really works, you must take steps to avoid the most common business planning traps.

According to Dun and Bradstreet, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees only have a 37 percent chance of surviving four years and a 9 percent chance of surviving 10 years. Of these failed businesses, only 10 percent closed involuntarily due to bankruptcy and the remaining 90 percent closed because the business was not successful.” In terms of real estate, experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of new agents leave the business during their first year. Since 90 percent of all businesses lack a business plan, it seems safe to assume that a large proportion of business failures are due to a lack of planning. Consequently, failure to make a plan may be the primary reason that most businesses fail. Given this is the case, why don’t people make a plan? Here’s where your season of birth enters the picture.

North or winter (December, January, February)

In this model, North people are thinkers and planners. As mentioned in Part 1, the trap for these people is to make their plan and then take action on it, with no market research and no thought to customer service. If your birthday is in these months, think about the worst mistake that you ever made. The probability is that you had a great idea and acted on it. This think-do pattern is the “undoing” of those born in the winter. A second trap for North people is that they can spend so much time planning that they never get around to taking action. Analysis paralysis is often a major challenge.

East or spring (March, April, May)

East people should begin their planning process by looking at how their core values relate to their business, how they can best provide service to their community, and how their business fits with their higher purpose in life and/or their spiritual beliefs. East people are particularly subject to think-do. When they start by making a business plan first and then act upon it, they have backed into the “think-do” pattern that generally creates poor outcomes. The other trap that East people face is that they believe they can succeed without doing planning. It’s common for East people to use affirmations and intuition. Affirmations and following your intuition is great, but they only work when you do the planning and take the actions necessary to generate and convert leads.

South or summer (June, July, August)

Emotions rule South people. Of the four directions, South people have the hardest time in creating and implementing a business plan. Instead, their heart rules their head. They feel they can make their business work without a plan. They trust their feelings to guide them rather than doing the mental work that it takes to make a plan. As a result, they often stay in reaction mode – that is, doing whatever is required in the moment rather than following the systematic steps of a plan. Even when South people have a plan, it’s particularly difficult for them to stick to it because they prefer to follow their heart rather than a piece of paper. Also, they become easily discouraged when someone hurts their feelings or rejects them. Fear of failure can often paralyze them, keeping them from doing the activities necessary to succeed.

West or fall (September, October, November)

For West people, action is the name of the game. The trap for West people is to jump into action based upon their feelings or intuition rather than doing the mental work required to create a plan. Instead, they often set goals and succeed by sheer force of will, doggedly prospecting until they make their numbers. Past experience is particularly important for West people because it forms the foundation upon which they should create their plan. Again, if West people make their plans first and then go into action, they will have poorer results due to their think-do approach.

How can real estate agents escape the think-do trap? The key is to start with your personal season of birth and to move forward through the steps in the appropriate sequence. In other words, a great business plan will involve all four steps based upon your personal starting point on the “Wheel” (thinking, examining your core values and doing market research in your community, building your business on your passion, and using past experience to determine what actions to implement).

To learn more about how to apply this approach, see next week’s article, “Moving Your Plan Forward.”

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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