July is here, so it is time to start working on your 2016 business plan.
Too early, you say? Not necessarily. Here are four ways you could improve this year’s results and start working on a plan for next year right now.
1. Evaluate your 2015 plan
You’re halfway through the year, so you should be getting a sense of what is working and what is not. Hopefully, you have been tracking your marketing efforts and expenditures, so you can see where you are getting the best return on investment.
Some activities take longer than six months to show return, so don’t stop doing something just because you don’t have tangible results. If part of your 2015 plan included blogging, don’t quit doing it because a buyer hasn’t called and said, “I saw your blog, and I want you to help me buy a house.”
At the same time, don’t be afraid to abandon an activity that clearly is not paying dividends. If you have knocked on doors every weekend since March with no results, it is probably time to put your energy elsewhere.
Not every decision will be that obvious. Trust your instincts about what elements of your 2015 plan you need to keep in motion, what you need to abandon and where you can make some tweaks to be more efficient.
2. Execute your plan more effectively
Whatever your objectives are, you likely have multiple action steps you plan to implement. If your goal is to get more listings, a good business plan might include farming a particular area, interacting more with your previous clients and improving your personal brand recognition by buying online ad space.
If you attempt to execute all of these at once, you divide your focus, and the quality of your effort will be reduced. Instead, implement one new action every couple months.
Spend the summer reconnecting with clients you might have neglected. Once that becomes a habit, work on your online ad campaign. Finally, when that is running efficiently, begin farming your target area.
Doing this can also increase the effectiveness of your efforts. A homeowner who has seen your online ads for a month or two is more likely to respond to a mailer. Staggering your plan also spreads out the impact on your wallet, so any increase of advertising dollars does not happen at once.
3. Earn more this year
Why wait until next year to start making more money? There is nothing magical about implementing new business practices in January, unless you run a health club.
Starting a new marketing effort now will increase the business you close this fall.
If that business comes from new clients, you also have new potential referral sources for next year. Two extra deals this fall could turn into four additional sales next year if you stay top of mind with those clients.
4. Establish a habit of self-reflection
Smart business owners are constantly evaluating their operation. Reflecting on where your business has been, where it sits currently and where you want it to go needs to happen more than once a year.
Start by evaluating your numbers: average sale price, number of closed transactions, and what percent of your business comes from referrals, sign calls, farming, the Internet, etc. If those are not things you have tracked previously, start doing it now.
Studies on strategic thinking show that people who begin by reflecting on the past are better able to project into the future. Think about where you want to be in a year, five years or 20 years, then determine what steps you need to take to get there.
Then get to work — the sooner you start moving toward where you want to go, the sooner you will get there.
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