I get it - creating long, complicated plans for work can be boring, time-consuming, and way too overwhelming. Isn’t it more productive to actually do the work?
The importance of a great plan can't be overstated. It helps you stay on course, eliminate the stuff you don’t need to be doing, and gives you a guide to look back on so if you happen to veer off course, you know how to get centered again.
Every great business should have four plans:
1. Business plan
Your business plan is your north star. It should guide all your major business decisions, and be a point of reference you check in on throughout the year. It should include important benchmarks, and answer questions like:
It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it should be flexible enough to adapt to uncertain circumstances. The important thing is to refer to it and update it constantly - you control the plan; it doesn’t control you.
2. Marketing plan
Wondering how a marketing plan is different from your business plan? Think of your marketing plan like the image you present to the world, while your business plan is more around the structure and how you’ll make your income. Your marketing plan should include your social media and online presence goals, how you expect to grow your business, and how much is an appropriate amount to spend. Many great agents may partner with an external agency or contractor to help develop this plan, and it can be wise to get some professional help.
3. Personal time plan
This is an especially important one if you run your own show. When you take a day off, or head on vacation (remember - vacations are critical to your success!), your business doesn’t stop. How will you manage incoming emails, phone calls, and any social media accounts you’re managing? Don’t let your business go dormant while you’re enjoying cocktails on a beach or skiing black diamonds - plan ahead, and come back to an organized (and still running) business.
4. Financial plan
Probably the plan everyone’s the most worried about, but potentially the most important. No matter how junior or senior you are, trust me - you need a financial plan. What happens if the market surges and you have to bring on someone new to help with all your listings? Or - knock on wood - things take a dive, and you have less business for an extended period of time? The businesses that are able to take advantage of markets, and stay afloat through difficult times are the ones who have a strong financial plan.
Whether you’re starting from scratch, or just want a second opinion on your hard work, why not set up a call? In fact - let’s plan on it.
You got into real estate because you were good at buying and selling homes - right? So why are you also trying to design a website, choose your business cards, and photoshop the company holiday card?
Just like you tell your clients, it might be time to hire a professional. A marketing/design pro can take the strain off your branding decisions, and deliver materials way better than you can create in MS Paint - and in far less time. And - it doesn’t have to cost an entire paycheque.
But where to start? What should you ask them? And, how much should you spend? (First piece of advice - check out my entry on the importance of a great marketing plan here.)
How to find them
Well, word of mouth is often a great start. Is there a colleague that has a great website you love, or a local business that always has awesome poster displays? Ask around and see if anyone has great recommendations, and can give you an idea of their pricing.
The right questions to ask
This depends on your project, as well as their expertise, but there’s always a few good rules of thumb. You’ll want to know what their timelines and fees are like, to check out their portfolio or past projects, and probably their working style to ensure you’re compatible.
How much is too much?
How much you’re willing to - or should - spend, depends on the scope of your project, as well as the experience of your team. If they’re designing your entire website from scratch, including writing your content and taking your headshot, it ain’t gonna come cheap. Working with someone with a serious reputation as the best of the best? You’ll get great work - but you’ll definitely be paying for it. Some easier ways to save costs are to look for newer, freelance contractors, who are building their portfolio, and to work with a longer time frame in mind - which also means being prepared and organized on your end.
For more info on when to know you need help, and where to start, you could ask around - or, just book a call with me.
Being self-employed, our income is never steady, and never a sure thing. We often find ourselves trying to do every task ourselves just to save a few dollars - but is that actually costing you more money?
Consider what you could be doing instead of all those small tasks. Does all the time you're spending filing documents or updating your website equal a sale? Was it worth it? In some cases no - but in some cases, maybe so.
Whether it was your favourite subject in school or not, it's time to do a little math to calculate what's worth your time, and what's not.
First, figure out what your time is worth. As real estate agents, we may not charge an hourly rate, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a ballpark number of what your time costs per hour. You can break this down by looking at your total income over a year, and how many hours you invested in your business.
Next up: compiling all those tasks, and how long it takes you to complete them. Try tracking your time over a week, or even a day. How long does your average showing last? Your end of day paperwork? The time spent writing a contract? The short administrative tasks? Once you know how long those tasks take, you’ll be able to determine if they’re worth it to outsource.
Now - let’s put them together. If it takes you an hour to update a contract, and you determined your rate was $100/hour, it’s worth it for you to be the one to update that contract, unless you can find someone else to do it for less than that. But if your hourly rate was $500/hour, you can probably find an intern to junior colleague to update for you because it’s actually not worth it for you to lose out on $500 that could be invested elsewhere.
But remember these two important risks:
If the intern writing up the contract makes a crucial mistake, it could cost you a lot more than $500. Is the task at hand more important than the dollar amount you assigned to it? And, if you’re not using that hour you just gained to do something that contributes to your business, it’s not $500 you just gained back - it’s money you just lost paying someone else to do it for you.
For a more personalized look at how analyzing your tasks can affect your bottom line (or your take home salary) let's schedule a call, and let's crunch the numbers together.