The vast majority of real estate agents enter each year without a well-defined business plan — or even an ill-defined business plan. Many don’t have a clue of how much business they will generate.

But a formal business plan is like GPS for a cross-country car trip: Without it, you might still get where you’re going, but it’s going to take a lot longer, and you’re likely to hit more than a few dead-ends along the way. You can run out of gas unsure of where to refuel or take advice that sends you in circles.

But the good news is that, unlike GPS software, business plans don’t have to be overly complex.

The best plans are the simplest and most straightforward, and creating one is mostly just a matter of collecting the thoughts and ideas you already have. In fact, you can create a great map to get you where you want to go this year in just three steps.

Here’s a quick guide:

1. Determine your annual objectives

Think of this step as setting your big-picture goals for the year. Your objectives should be attainable, quantifiable and time-phased, such as “Sell 20 homes in 2019.”

Smart, successful agents should dream big but be realistic about what can be achieved. Set between two and four objectives for the year.

2. Define strategies that support each objective

Now that you have your objectives, you’ll need to determine which strategies you’ll use to support them. The strategies are specific activities or categories that will further be broken down into individual tasks or tactics.

Again, agents need to be aware that there are only so many hours in a day and not overextend their capabilities or resources.

For example, let’s say one of your objectives is to sell 20 homes in 2019. To many agents, that sounds like an impossible task, like they’ve been asked to eat an elephant. But the strategy for eating an elephant is the same strategy that will aid you in selling 20 homes: Do it one bite at a time.

Bite-sized strategies that could support the selling 20 homes objective could be to sell seven homes from your sphere of influence, three from networking/partner referrals, five from geographical farming, two from open houses and three from internet leads.

That’s only five strategies to manage over the course of a year, which is a workable number.

A critical component when choosing strategies is that you should both be good at them — and enjoy them. Agents who dislike open houses shouldn’t make that a key strategy; teams that don’t have the bandwidth or skill to manage internet leads should find different strategies that better align with their strengths.

3. Identify tactics that support your strategies

Just as strategies support your objectives, tactics support your strategies. These are the specific day-to-day activities that keep your pipeline full. They are the tools of success and form the action plan for the year.

In the example we’ve been using, we chose working your sphere of influence as one of the strategies that supported our objective of selling 20 homes in 2019.

Tactics that support that strategy could be sending a quarterly newsletter, writing notes, making regular phone calls, sending digital holiday greetings, providing equity valuations or extending coffee invitations.

Each of these tactics should be assigned a frequency of occurrence. Consistency is key to success, and the most critical part of this business-building activity. Each tactic should be put onto a yearly calendar to create your daily, weekly and monthly action plans.

Stick to your plans, and you’ll see your goals met.

In practice, creating this type of business plan is not difficult or time consuming. Many agents use a white board to brainstorm and come up with their objectives, strategies and tactics.

All told, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to develop or what form it takes. There are dozens of ways to go, but once created and put onto a daily calendar, it becomes a guaranteed path to success.

Kevin Sharkey is president and broker of record with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate All Seasons in the Twin Cities metro area. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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