Field Guide to Writing a Business Plan
(Updated September 2014)
“A business plan is a written document fully describing and analyzing a particular business; it provides complete, detailed information about short- and long-term business plans” (Scerbo, 2008, p. 1).
Writing a business plan may seem a daunting task as there are so many moving parts and concepts to address. However, the NAR library offers a plethora of resources on this topic to get you started. Take it one step at a time and be sure to schedule regular review (quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) of your plan to be sure you on are track to meet your goals. (S. Hogan & K. Stockert, Information & Web Content Specialists)
Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.
Defining Your Mission & Vision
Writing a solid business plan begins by defining your business’s mission and vision statement. Though creating such a statement may seem like fluff, it is an important exercise. The mission and vision statement sets the foundation upon which to launch your business. It is difficult to move forward successfully without first defining your business and the ideals under which your business operates. A company description should be included as a part of the mission and vision statement: what type of real estate do you sell? Where is your business located? Who founded your business? What is sets your business apart from your competitors?
Company Description, (U.S. Small Business Administration, n.d.).
How to Frame and Craft Your Business Plan Mission Statement, (Dummies.com, n.d.).
How to Write a Mission Statement, (Janel M. Radtke, 1998).
Once you’ve created a mission and vision statement, the next step is to develop a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” It is difficult to set goals for your business without first enumerating your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Do you offer superior customer service as compared with your competitors? Do you specialize in a niche market? What experiences do you have that set you apart from your competitors? What are your competitors’ strengths? Where do you see the market already saturated, and where are there opportunities for expansion and growth?
SWOT Analysis Toolbox, (University of Washington, n.d.).
SWOT Analysis Resource Page, (Idaho State University, n.d.).
How to Write a SWOT Analysis, (eHow.com, n.d.).
SWOT Analysis, (Anthony C. Danca, n.d.).
Next, translate your mission and vision into tangible goals. If your mission statement is to make every client feel like your most important client: how specifically will you implement this? Do you want to grow your business? Is this growth measured by gross revenue, profit, personnel, or physical office space? How much growth do you aim for annually? What specific targets will you strive to hit annually in the next few years?
You may wish to create a marketing plan as either a section of your business plan or as an addendum. The Marketing Mix concerns product, price, place and promotion. What is your product? How does your price distinguish you from your competitors—is it industry average, upper quartile, or lower quartile? How does your pricing strategy benefit your clients? How and where will you promote your services? What types of promotions will you advertise? Will you ask clients for referrals or use coupons? Which channels will you use to place your marketing message?
Forming a Team
Ensuring the cooperation of all colleagues, supervisors, and supervisees involved in your plan is another important element to consider. Is your business plan’s success contingent upon the cooperation of your colleagues? If so, what specifically do you need them to do? How will you evaluate their participation? Are they on-board with the role you have assigned them? How will you get “buy in” from these individuals?
Implementation & Follow-up
Implementation and follow-up are frequently overlooked aspects to the business plan, yet enormously vital to the success of the plan. Set dates (annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly) to review your business plans goals: are you on track? Were the goals reasonable to achieve, impossible, or too easy? How do you measure success—is it by revenue, profit, or number of transactions?
And last, how do you plan to implement your business plan’s goals? When will you review and refine your business plan goals? What process will you use to review your goals? What types of quantitative and qualitative data will you collect and use to measure your success?
The aforementioned items are only a few sections of the business plan. Depending on aspects unique to your business, you may want to include additional sections in your plan. Some of these sections may include:
- Cover letter stating the reasoning behind developing a business plan
- Non-disclosure statement
- Table of contents
- Executive Summary
Brown, B. B. (2006). The easy step by step guide to writing a business plan and making it work. East Lyme, CT: Rowmark.
Grover, C. (2007). Sales and marketing 101 for real estate professionals. Chicago, IL: Dearborn Financial Publishing, Inc.
Scerbo, J. S. (2008). How to write a business plan. Boca Raton, FL: BarCharts, Inc.
United States. Small Business Administration. (n.d.). Create your business plan.
(K. Stockert & S. Hogan, Information & Web Content Specialists)
Real Estate Business Plans – Samples, Instructional Guides, and Templates
Write a Business Plan and Start a Business: Tools, Techniques and Resources (Discover Business, 2015).
How to Write a Business Plan, (Forbes, Jan. 30, 2014).
Start an Online Business with These 7 Key Essential Steps, (Business 2 Community, Sept. 13, 2014).
Create Your Business Plan, (U.S. Small Business Administration, n.d.).
Real Estate Brokerage Business Plan, (Bplans.com, n.d.).
—Note: registration is not required to view this sample plan, but users may register at no cost to use a free business plan template.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Real Estate Agent, (Houston Chronicle, n.d.).
2012 Real Estate Business Plan, (MarketLeader.com, 2012).
—Note: see this resource for ready-to-use worksheets on expenses, income calculators, and progress charts.
General Business Plans – Samples, Instructional Guides, and Templates
Business Plan Template: What to Include, (Forbes, July 18, 2013).
How’s Your Business? (REALTOR® Magazine, May 2013).
10 Essential Business Plan Components, (Forbes, Feb. 21, 2013).
Social Integration, (Journal of Property Management, Nov./Dec. 2011). Q
How to Approach a Business Plan Makeover, (REALTOR® Magazine, Mar. 2009).
Your Business Plan Guide, (Entrepreneur.com, n.d.).
Your 21-Point Business Plan, (Real Trends, n.d.)
Planning to Become a Real Estate Broker: Answer these 3 key questions to form the basis of your real estate broker business plan, (Entrepreneur.com, Oct. 9, 2006).
Research on Your Own
To search for the most recent articles on this topic, login to NAR's ProQuest account and enter subject terms such as:
Nonprofit organizations and financial planning
- Enter into ProQuest text box as SU(real estate) AND “business plan”
- Nonprofit organizations and financial planners
- Enter into ProQuest text box as SU(real estate) AND (“business plan” w/5 writ*)
Books, eBooks & Other Resources
eBooks & Other Resources
The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:
Start-Up! A Beginner's Guide to Planning a 21st Century Business, (Adobe eBook).
Complete Book of Business Plans, (Adobe eBook, Kindle book).
How to Write a Business Plan, (Adobe eBook)
The Easy Step by Step Guide to Writing a Business Plan and Making it Work, (Adobe eBook & Kindle)
Business Planning: 25 Keys to a Sound Business Plan, (OverDrive Audiobook)
Your First Business Plan, 5th Edition, (Adobe eBook)
Anatomy of a Business Plan, (Adobe eBook)
Writing a Business Plan and Making it Work, (OverDrive Audiobook)
The Social Network Business Plan, (Adobe eBook & Kindle)
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies, (Palo Alto, CA: Running ‘R’ Media, 2000) HD 1375 A8b
Writing an Effective Business Plan, (Deloitte and Touche, 1999) HD 1375 D37w
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