The Business Plan Replacement

Summary: Year after year, when I take time to reflect, react and redirect, I learn and integrate lessons that would have been lost otherwise. Because it’s the end of the year, I’m sharing my three step process that represents the foundation of my business plan replacement.

The holiday season is a wild mix of celebration, regret and overindulgence. Meanwhile, every business owner is working on a plan for next year. The smart asses amongst you will point out that planning for next year should have happened in October (which is correct but if you pulled that off you wouldn’t be reading this). Alas, this is real life and most real estate pros think about planning the Monday following Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Building Champions advocates a planning process that includes the “Core Four” which are a Life Plan, Business Vision, Business Plan and Priority Management. I have transitioned from student to advocate for their methodology although the act of planning is the key. This blog post is about what you do BEFORE all of that. Before you sit with your team and declare what 2017 looks like, take some time to let last year settle in. The business plan replacement is a three step pre-planning process that includes the following: 1) Reflect, 2) React and 3) Redirect.

Business People Meeting Design Ideas Concept

1) Reflect

This is the step of the business plan replacement that most people skip. I do it because my brain is clinically unreliable.  Humans reconstruct memories from a series of stitched together impressions. Reviewing your year by looking at pictures, your calendar, reviewing your journal and finally, logging into Facebook gives you a great foundation and is the closest you will come to the “truth” of what took place.    So, block some time, I usually take about two hours for this section.

  • Figure out your recording medium.  I am “digital” guy and I write by hand.   So, evernote, google docs, or a journal matters not, pick the medium.
  • Assemble your reflection tools.  There are four things I look at during reflection:  Journal, Calendar, Photos, Facebook. I bounce back and forth from memory recorder to memory recorder letting the great, good, bad and ugly wash over me. By the way… the calendar and journal usually help you reflect on the tough stuff that happened.  Social media and your photo album generally put a fairly positive spin on your year.
  • Start writing.  I write down every significant event for the year without judgement. It is “had an awesome trip to the mountains with friends where it snowed on us as we rode our bikes and Jon almost died from hypothermia.  It was a damn good adventure.” Or, “after 15 meeting with my prospect he decided not to join the company.”  This can be one page or 15.  I end up with three or four written pages.

The reflection is your context anchor. Your perspective on the year is easily read in the words you write.  Be honest, have fun, embrace everything.

2) React

The next thing I do is react to what I did and the choices I made. You had a range of emotions when you flipped through stuff and documented the year. At this point, I get out last year’s  Life Plan and business plan.  Give them a quick review and get to work.  I usually take an hour for this section.

Using fresh paper, I write down all of the stuff that went really well last year and the stuff that didn’t.  I use the tried and true “+” and “-“ methodology.  The plus categories generally include things like:  Great family vacation, rode my bike a lot, spent a ton of time with the kids, hit my Q1 and Q2 Sales goals, managed to keep my weight in the target range, and maintained most of my personal relationships.    Then, the years challenges.  These are things like:  Didn’t hit my weight loss goal, didn’t run that marathon, got in a couple of big fights with my partner,  missed my annual production goal, was a bit lazy on getting up at 5 AM.    I actually write down some wild stuff at this phase. No one gets to read my annual “reactions” because, well, they are pretty thorough, raw and without judgment.

Document your observations about the year. I encourage you to open up and let it rip! This work is just for you.  It does you no good to make it overly optimistic or pessimistic.  Go deep, reflect without judgement and learn.

3) Redirect

The only reason to invest even 2 minutes of your day reading something is to change your perspective. This is where the rubber hits the road. It is not unusual for a salesperson to tell me they want to double their production and then in the next breath share that their marriage is in trouble because they are never home before 9. I believe the number one reason independent salespeople don’t hit their business goals is a lack of alignment between their personal and business life.

The redirect is a simple way to make sure you are not planning against yourself. Look at your year: what did you achieve? Where did you fall down? What resonates for next year? This is the time to document this stuff.   It is the beginning of your goal setting, your life planning and your business planning.  In fact, it can replace all of that in a pinch.

The end product is a list of 5-6 things that are really important for next year. These aren’t necessarily goals, but redirects. Next year, I will do more of X or less of Y.  I will take more time for myself etc.

The key is to build some boundaries for your business planning.

Summary:  I like building business plans that get done. Plans that get done have integrity, meaning they are aligned with your talent and desires. This business plan replacement is a great first step because it will help you determine what you missed on last year and make sure this next year is your best ever.