Hopefully, you've started your real estate business plan for 2020 by now (if not, better get cracking!). Even if your plan has been finalized for months, though, there might be some components you could add to make it even better.
Is your plan going to help you do some, most, or all of the below in 2020?
Take your business more seriously
Of course, the entire point of your real estate business plan should be to take your business more seriously -- but we're talking specifically here about the structure of your business. Do you have an LLC or an S-corp ... or do you have no idea what either of those things is or why you would want to incorporate?
You don't have to incorporate your business, but if you've never done it before, maybe this should be the year you sit down with an accountant and talk about the benefits and drawbacks to your business structure and your options for moving forward.
Get your finances in squeaky-clean shape
One of the hardest things about working as a real estate agent is living from paycheck to paycheck -- and never knowing when that next paycheck is coming, because it's a commission check and you won't get it until the sale closes.
If you haven't figured out a strategy for making sure that you're paying your taxes, your brokerage fees, and yourself, then this is the year you should figure out your finances so you aren't biting your nails when your own mortgage is due.
Figure out your lead generation strategies
All right, this one might also seem super obvious -- but ask yourself how long it's been since you took a look at your lead generation. If that wasn't a big focus of your business plan when you were writing it, then it could probably use some attention; the agents who are best at their jobs have multiple sources of leads, test new ones regularly, and tweak their strategies accordingly.
Think about how many regular sources of leads you have going right now. Could you experiment with some new opportunities? Are any of your streams getting stale? Would it be worth your time to refresh them or cut bait and move on?
Craft a brand
What do you want people to think about when they think about you? This is the whole point of a brand -- to create an experience, a feeling, for the people who are using your product or service. For some agents, maybe an appropriate brand would be aggressive and tenacious -- you'll get the client what they want and you won't stop until they're satisfied. Other agents may want to present an image of white-glove service ushering clients through every step of the process.
Think about what you want your clients to say about you to their friends and relatives when the deal is done, and ask yourself if you could be doing more to shape a brand and a narrative around what makes you special.
Build a website
Whether or not an agent really needs their own website has been up for debate for a long time in the real estate industry. And sure, plenty of agents make do with a social media profile or their brokerage page. But in a world when more and more people are creating websites and online portfolios to showcase their professional accomplishments, to actively avoid creating a website is not a smart thing to do for your career. Maybe 2020 is the year you create your own home ... online.
Go big on marketing
How are you marketing yourself and your listings in the coming year? This can be one of the biggest areas of potential return on investment for real estate agents -- and it can also be one of the biggest expenses with little to show for it, so do yourself a favor and evaluate what's going on with your marketing, both of yourself as an agent and of your clients' homes when you list them.
Look at what your competitors are doing in your market and ask what you might be able to add or subtract from your own plan.
Invest in a CRM (it's time)
If you don't have a CRM (customer relationship manager) yet, then we're not here to berate you -- but one serious question: How much further in your career do you expect to get without some way to keep track of dozens, if not hundreds, of different relationships? If nothing else, you're losing a ton of repeat business because you don't have an established way to follow up with clients. (How do we know? You need a CRM to do that!)
Make your business plan more holistic
It's great to work on your business; it's something we should all be doing regularly. And we'll wager there are a lot of other things you should be doing regularly for yourself, too -- exercising, eating well, getting plenty of sleep.
The truth is that you'll be better at your job if you take better care of yourself, and that's something you can bake into your business plan if you haven't already.
Part of your success as a real estate agent is going to hinge on how many people you meet and talk to regularly, and one excellent addition to your business plan if you haven't already included it would be a networking component. The good news is that this can be something you already enjoy -- going to the gym, books, animals. Just make a point to meet people and talk to them while you're enjoying yourself!
Get your reviews in order
We're living in a world where online reviews are becoming increasingly important for your business. People look up everything (and everyone) online to see what other people think about it (or them), and if you think that's not true for your clients, then you've probably already lost business because of it.
Do you have a system to ask your clients to review your services? If not, should that be something you prioritize in 2020?
Tweak your schedule
Not everything has to be about making more money or getting more leads. The beautiful thing about being your own boss in an industry like real estate is that you can make your own hours -- so why would you want to work 80-hour weeks?
Think about what your schedule looked like on a typical day in 2019 and ask yourself if you liked what that day felt like -- or if maybe you'd like to make some changes. Can you work fewer hours in the day for the same results? Start later or end earlier? what would make your life better -- and how can you make it happen?
Explore a new niche
The standard advice in real estate is to find a niche and mine it. And that advice is standard because it's good; when you find a niche that works for you, you can learn everything about it -- and the buyers and sellers in it -- and really work that to your advantage. But what if you had more than one viable niche? Wouldn't that be even more valuable?
There are probably some niches pretty close to yours (but not exactly the same) that you could delve into with little effort and a lot of results. Try it in 2020!
Develop opportunities to follow up on your plan
If you change nothing else in your real estate business plan, but it doesn't have a method for you to regularly check-in and tweak it to fit your progress and your year to date, then please make this one change. It's that important to the bottom line of your business and the overall success of your career. Do you have a good way to consistently check in with how your plan is unfolding and make changes if necessary?