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By Rich Levin

RISMEDIA, Dec. 31, 2007-There are two quotes I use when I talk about planning. One is from Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest men. The other is from Alfred P. Sloan the first president and CEO of General Motors. Both quotes state unequivocally that time spent planning is critical. So critical that both of these extremely successful business leaders two generations apart say that the success, even the survival of your business is dependent on time spent planning.

So, if you have not completed part one ( and part two ( of this Planning Series I strongly suggest you do it now or schedule time to do it.

In part one I detailed two critical parts of your business plan; goals and leads. I led you through an extremely effective goal setting process. Then I asked you to look at four questions that identify the strengths and/or weaknesses of how you need to handle your leads in order to achieve your goals. Out of that you were able to decide what skills, tools or systems needed attention to ensure your success in those areas.

In part two, I showed you in detail how to evaluate your presentations, your marketing and your service. These are the heart and soul of your business. Out of that you were able to choose which of these areas would be most important to work on for the most successful year and specifically what to focus on in each area.

We will complete your 2008 plan with attention to three very interesting areas.Assistants and TeamsEveryone has his or her limits. You can only do so much business by yourself. To exceed your limit you need help. For some agents, that limit is as little as twenty transactions. For others you can do as many as fifty transactions or more by yourself. Agents in high priced markets hire assistants sooner than in more modest priced markets for obvious reasons. They can afford them with fewer transactions.

How do you know that you need an assistant?

1. Are you losing leads? Is the quality of your service suffering? Is your quality of life suffering? If the answer to one or all of these questions is yes, a competent assistant is going to make you money and add to your quality of life.

2. Are you averaging more than three sales per month and/or three new client appointments per week? Have you earned over ten thousand dollars personal real estate sales income for at least three months in a row? If the answer to two of these three is yes a competent assistant is likely needed to get past your current limit.

Would just ten hours of administrative help each week raise your income ten or more times the cost? What would be the job description of that assistant? What personality style would be best? Should they be licensed? Should they sell also?

Are you losing enough leads to warrant a buyer’s agent? How do you structure compensation? How do you discourage or prevent them from going off on their own? Hire an experienced agent or a new one?

How often do you meet with your current team? How do you evaluate their success?

It is no wonder that some agents choose not to grow into a team. There is a lot to consider. At the same time, accomplished correctly, it is the path to more income, bigger numbers greater profitability and more time off with greater peace of mind.

Review those questions. Choose the ones that reveal an area of building or working with your team that has the greatest potential to increase your productivity, your profitability, and your quality of life. Build the work on that area into your 2008 Business Plan by setting deadlines to find the best sources and resources to learn how to make your team do what you know it can for your business and your life.

Technology Choices

Hardware, software, Web sites, IVR systems, PDAs, blogs, tablets, Bluetooth and I have only scratched the surface.

What technology tools do you depend on? Mobile phone, e-mail, a Palm, Blackberry or i-Phone? If you depend on it, does it need upgrading or replacement?

Which technology tools or services are you considering? What do you expect them to do for you? Will they pay for themselves many times over? Are they just for convenience? Or are they just for fun?

Are you uncertain about what all the choices are?

Start with what you need done in your business or what you think a technology tool or service may do for you. Then do the research to find the right tool to satisfy the need.

The fact is most top agents embrace new technology at a smart pace. They are more concerned with the cost of time in the learning curve than cost of the item. Top agents look to see if the tool or service saves time, creates more sales opportunities, or improves their image and reputation.

Do you want to demonstrate on a laptop to the client? Do you want to have the MLS literally in the palm of your hand? Do you want to generate leads from a Web campaign; your Web site, a pay per click strategy or pay per lead services? Would software help you manage your leads better, track your production, your income and expenses? What else would you like to consider technology to do for you in the upcoming year?

Top agents understand that these decisions are much easier than they appear. Review the above question and choose no more than three technology tools or tasks that you would like to address. Among those three pick one, just one and choose a deadline by which to have it in place. As you approach your technology choices in this way you will find a great deal of ease and much less stress.

One more tip, if along the way you change your mind, do so boldly and confidently. Set the first choice aside and give the next your complete attention. You must learn to trust your judgment and you do that by following that simple previous instruction. ‘Boldly and confidently set the first choice aside and give the next your complete attention.’

Personal Finances

Are you always in debt, spending beyond your income? Do you have reserves so you could live for six months without income? Do you plan for your children’s education and your retirement? Do you carry disability insurance in case that you are unable to work? Do you have insurance if the unthinkable should happen?

Are you in control of your finances or are you in the dark? Are you creating financial security and wealth? Do you have financial goals for twenty years out and a plan to accomplish them?

These are the choices and decisions that add serenity or stress. Which are priorities for the balance of this year?

The key here, more than any other area is to pick just one of these items, one of these areas. Set a small goal and achieve it. Then set another small goal. This is an area where you can think big but plan in small increments.

Quality of Life

Are you taking time off each week? Do you take off long weekends, and do you take real vacations? Do you get away from your business or is it always with you? Do you prefer it that way or do you want to do something about it? Are you taking care of your health and your fitness? Do you want to seriously set a goal in this area?

Do you spend time with your loved ones, quality time? Do you want to work on one or more of those relationships?

Do you take time for the things you love to do?

Do you need spiritual time? Do you have habits or addictions you wish to address? Do you control your emotions or do your emotions control you? Do you manage your time? Do you want to add more management to it? Does your organization cost you time?

Do you celebrate your successes, even the small ones? Would you like to celebrate more? Do you contribute to the people and organizations that you are grateful for? Would you want to contribute more time or money?

Again, which of these areas would you choose as a priority? What would you choose to accomplish in that priority area?

There is a very important and almost magical secret to working on your quality of life issues. If you take time and focus on doing something you love, spend time with those you love, adding value to what you love, giving yourself back your time and energy-your business always improves.

Taking control of your life leads to your taking greater control of your business; which leads to overall improvement of both.

Build Your Self Esteem and Confidence

I like myself unconditionally.
I completely trust my own judgment.
I am capable of achieving my goals.
I deserve tremendous success.

Read through those again; as you do, pause and see if you are clear that these are your truths.

If not, why not? What are your limiting beliefs? Do those beliefs serve you well? If not, what have those beliefs cost you?

Self-confidence is a state of mind. As an athlete in competition I learned how this state of mind we call self-confidence and self-esteem can turn impending defeat into victory; and how lack of these can, as they say, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

In this area, confidence and self-esteem the difference between success and failure does not depend on your experience or your talent, your skill or your knowledge. It depends completely on your state of mind; which you can control. Do you want to make adding strength to your self esteem and confidence part of your plan for the balance of the year?

Choose books to read, recordings to listen to and watch, negative people and news to stay far away from; affirmations to instill deep into your psyche, start with the ones at the beginning of this section. Build into your plan to do one of the above for at least one week at a time. Your life will turn around. It has happened for many before you.

In Conclusion

In these articles I have briefly shared with you every aspect of your business and the areas where your business affects your life. Very wise men have said that wisdom is not having the best answers. Wisdom is in asking the best questions. I have shared with you the questions from which you can create a business plan that will serve you far into the future.

What I am describing to you is the content of what I call your Million Dollar Business Plan. It is a complete look at every aspect of your business and how your business affects your personal life.

For more information, visit, call 585-244-2700 or e-mail

Rich Levin’s career, training and coaching real estate agents to their highest levels of performance, spans nearly three decades. You can see Rich live in December at this year’s Triple Play convention in Atlantic City.