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It’s a new year, and that’s reason enough to celebrate. But now it’s time to get down to business and look at your plans for 2013. Have you set goals for the year? If not, don’t worry; it’s never too late to come up with a plan that helps you chart a course for the year ahead. It’s essential that you carefully evaluate the things you did well—and the things that need tweaking—in the past 12 months.

I’m a big believer in business planning as an accountability tool. How else will you know how to tackle your goals, face market challenges and meet the needs of your clients if you don’t have a plan to get there? The good news is that the housing market is in a recovery mode that will continue in 2013; prices will keep climbing modestly and closed transactions should also rise.

As the market rebounds, some agents will find that they need to adapt to the conditions of 2013 and not 2008 or 2009. For example, if you’ve done nothing but REOs and short sales the last few years, perhaps it’s time to start farming for traditional listings. Maybe it’s time to target a higher price point for your listings. As new construction starts moving again, are there opportunities to work with builders to exclusively list and market their properties?

These are examples of possibilities that you can turn into profitable opportunities for your business in 2013. Take time to come up with your own goals based on the trends in your market. Remember that no great leader—or great company, for that matter—becomes great by chance; hard work and vision are critical to success.

The agents I know who have been in this business for decades are people who put value in education. They stay on top of local trends, and they don’t ignore major shifts because they’re afraid of change. They also put their clients’ needs and satisfaction ahead of their own.

I know that many of you, particularly if you’re reading this magazine, are driven to succeed. You’re ambitious. You care about your clients and your business. You’ve seen the market at its best—and its worst—and you still haven’t given up. You’re the kind of agent we need in our industry.

The secret to success is really no secret at all; it starts with having a vision and a plan. Whether you’re new to the business or you’re a seasoned professional, take time to map out the year ahead based on past production and where you’d like to be by December. In your plan, make time for yourself, your family and friends, and your passions. Make time to reach out to past clients, and make it a point to find new ones.

Most importantly, remember that no matter what the market does, there are always opportunities. Don’t limit yourself to doing business one way or the way you’ve always done it. Adaptability will be the name of the game in 2013, just as it usually is in our business. Keep an open mind, and the doors of opportunity will open for you.

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