Tips for making the most out of your business plan

by Kasi Johnston19 Nov 2019

Creating a business planning is a crucial part of establishing an overall strategy. It’s temping to just dive into the files, but without a proper plan to manage the business, owners and managers can lose sight of short- and long-term objectives.

One of the biggest mistakes when creating a business plan is setting goals at the beginning of the year, only to check back in at the end of December.

“The key to achieving your objectives is to revisit them, change strategies if needed, and incorporate action items into a weekly plan,” Fred Kreger, Past President of National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) said at NAMB National 2019.

Kreger outlined several important points to remember when creating a successful business plan.

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis

A great place to start is a SWOT Analysis. This process acts as a filter to define your goals and strategies when creating a business plan.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal and controlled by you and the company. Opportunity and threats, however, are external. For example, a threat could be low rates in the real estate market, less inventory, or competition like internet lenders.

Kreger says if strategies are created without taking the environment into consideration, those strategies may become totally useless.

Set your goals, strategies and action items

Goals should be tangible, whether it’s closing four more loans this month or staying status quo for the next quarter. When setting goals, look at the current situation, decide where you need to be, and then set a deadline to get there.

“Business planning is a mathematical equation. You are at X, you want to be at Y, and you need to be there by a certain date,” said Kreger.

From the goal, derive strategies. These are what need to be done in order to achieve those goals. Action items are more specific, individual measures taken on a daily or weekly basis as part of the strategy.

Kreger suggests managers have a 10-minute meeting each week with loan officers to discuss their business plans and go through strategies and action items. This keeps the team accountable and focused on achieving goals.

Divide the year into quarters

Instead of having an annual business plan, consider breaking up the year into four 12-week periods. This gives the opportunity to reflect on challenges and successes throughout the year and readjust the plan to suit.

Reevaluate goals, strategies and action items at the end of each quarter. Do an environmental scan to see if anything happened that changes the effectiveness of your strategies. These changes could be new legislation, a change in the business or a different external factor. At this point, strategies and action items may be altered, abandoned or stay the same. 

Be intentional

Take control and set your own plan. Some questions to ask yourself: Did I give the business my full effort and attention? Did I fully commit to achieving these goals? Am I on target?

Kreger says it’s important to stay completely committed, maintain a sense of ownership and hold yourself accountable throughout the entire process.

Although the beginning of a new year sparks reflection and resolutions, there’s no reason to wait until the new year to start charting a new path for your business. The sooner you sit down to create strategies and deadlines for your goals, the sooner those goals will be met.