March 20, 2009

Get S.M.A.R.T

Five Steps to a Great Business Plan - Part II

In our second post on Business Planning, we're going to focus on utilizing S.M.A.R.T goals, understanding the difference between goals and activities and prioritizing tasks.

The whole issue of "goals" is hard for many people, regardless of their career path. Some people build their entire life around goals while others never will "set a goal" for one reason or another - usually fear of failure or unwillingness to hold themselves accountable to the results.

In real estate, it really is an "independent contractor" mentality so being able to hold yourself accountable to the goals within your business plan will be important. The biggest obstacle is creating clear goals, IN WRITING, that can be followed and measured. These goals should be what I refer to as SMART goals:
  • S is for Specific - Can you clearly tell by reading the goal what is to be accomplished?

  • M is for Measurable - Will you know when you have achieved the goals? Surpassed it? Fallen short?

  • A is for Attainable - Who determines this? You do. Not your manager, coach, spouse or partner. It should be something you truly feel you can accomplish, even if you have to reach to get there

  • R is for Reward - What are you doing this for? What is that "special something" that will get you up in the mornings? That will make you make those extra phone calls or knock on those extra doors?

  • T is for Time Frame - When will this goal be accomplished. Remember a goal with out a time frame is nothing but a dream.

Look at your current goals and ask yourself if they pass the "smart" test. If they don't, what can you do to re-commit to them as SMART goals? Saying you "want to lose weight" isn't specific, isn't measurable, there is no reward tied to it and there is no time frame. So what do you have, 1 out of 5? I believe weight loss is attainable by anyone. Just don't eat for a day and you will have lost a few ounces, right?

Now let's take that same concept (weight loss) but make it SMART - "I will weigh 175 pounds by May 31st, 2009 and when I accomplish this, I will buy a new pair of exercise shoes."

  • It's specific - What am I doing? Losing weight.

  • It's measurable - How will I know if I accomplish it? I can get on a scale and check my numbers.

  • It's attainable - Where am I at now and how far do I have to go to get there? I currently weigh 184 (but truly feel about 195).

  • What's my reward? A new pair of shoes. I personally am still recovering from knee surgery so I have been walking instead of running.

  • What's my time frame? The end of May. That means I have a little over two months.

Quiet on the set...and...Action!

Now I must decide on some basic activities that I can do to get me closer to accomplishing my goal. In the example given, walking each day, eating healthy, drinking more water and general weight training might be great things to do on a weekly basis that should help me stay on track. I should also get on the scale every once in a while to track my results.

The same thing applies to Realtors. Too often we try to "make 10 calls a day" or hold "3 open houses each month" and consider those our goals. Those aren't goals, those are activities. They help us get closer to our goals of a certain # of closings or specific net income. Look at your Business Plan and think of what your "SMART goals" are and then determine what basic activities you should be doing to accomplish them.

"Do What's Due First"

When it comes to prioritization, most Realtors make everything urgent and everything important. Stop and breathe for a second when I tell you that not everything in this business is urgent and not everything in this business is important. As soon as you can learn this lesson, you'll be a step ahead of many people.

Every time you decide to do something, ask yourself this question - "Will this activity get me closer to the attainment of one of my goals?" If "yes" then proceed, if "no" then look for something that is more urgent or more important and either delegate the pending activity or schedule a time to do it later. If you have two tasks or activities that are both important and/or urgent and will help get you closer to accomplishing a goal, determine which one would affect you the most if it wasn't done. Many times the fear of pain is a great motivator than the opportunity for gain.

In our next post, we'll look at a list of basic activities that could go into your daily, weekly and monthly schedules and help you attain more of your goals.

Until relationships...solve problems....and have fun.