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You are going to do a business plan for 2021. Great! But, don’t start creating your action plan until you’ve answered the 10 questions below.

Business planning! Don’t start that action plan yet. Answer the 10 questions below and you’ll know exactly what to put in your plan for 2021.

Throughout November and December, I’m focusing my blogs on #business planning, so you have plenty of information to create a great plan. Look for #business planning checklists, processes, samples, and systems--ready to use, too.

Big Mistake in Business Planning: Launching Right Into your Action Plan

The most common question I get when I’m teaching business planning is, “What should I do next year?” or “What should I put in my action plan?”

That’s like starting at the end of a piece of music and working backwards (I’m a musician….). 

Managers: Coach to These 10 Questions to Help Your Agents Create Great Plans

In future blogs, we’ll investigate parts of the business planning process that must precede creating the action plan. Now, let’s look at the 10 questions we must answer from our businesses this past year so we can choose the right actions for 2021.

 

You can use this with your agents. Grab the document here. 

 

Getting serious about business planning? I can help. 

Beyond the Basics of Business Planning, my unique online program, will show you exactly how to construct a strategic plan that will work for you for 2021.

Agents: 14 documents and 2 webinars walk you right through the planning process

$149

Leadership: All agent documents and webinars, plus leadership documents and 3 webinars to help you convince your agents to plan and involve them in the planning process

$249

Purchase here and create an awesome strategic business plan for 2021.  

Bonus: Free Business Plan Coaching

Purchase by Nov. 23 and Carla will provide coaching to your business plan in a small group; 3 Zoom sessions to help you finish that plan–one per week, starting on Nov. 23. She’ll answer questions, and explore new ideas. This is a $500 value, FREE to you when you invest in Carla’s strategic business planning system now.

Throughout November and December, I’m focusing my blogs on #business planning, so you have plenty of information to create a great plan. Look for #business planning checklists, processes, samples, and systems--ready to use, too.

Agents, managers, and trainers: If you’ve been in the business any length of time, you know how much more challenging this business is than it used to be! That’s why creating a real #strategic business plan is so important now.

(See the complete process, templates, and samples in Beyond the Basics of Business Planning.)

Biggest Business Planning Mistake

Yes, we all want to know what to do next year to be more successful. So, we want to create effective action plans. That’s great. But, if we don’t take the step below first, we end up with

badly thought-out action plans

indecision as to what to do

The point is: Don’t try to start with the action plan. Start with the analysis of your business.

Why Business Analysis?

Here are the tools you’ll need in your #business planning toolkit, whether a manager or an agent:*

  • Time analysis (watch my next blog for a questionnaire to analyze your time management)
  • Business plan activity review
  • Expense/budget review
  • Profit and loss statement review

1. Your time analysis. Do you have the analysis tools to see where your business is, and where you want to take it? With a time analysis tool, you can see what your priorities are. It’s amazing how many agents and managers have no idea where they spend the bulk of their time. Look at your schedule for the last week. Did you spend time in the areas that are most productive for you? If not, why not?

2. Business plan activity review tool. This allows you to capture the history of your business in a way that clarifies your direction. For example, does the tool you use ask you where you got your business last year? Does it ask you the percent of your listings you sold in normal market time? Managers, does your tool ask you the numbers of agents you interviewed, and your conversion rate? Find the tools that ask you the right questions.

3. The expense and budget review. How many agents have a budget? How many managers and owners? All businesspeople set budgets and review them. After all, it’s about profitability in a business, not productivity! At best, you want to use tools that are similar to the ones used by others at the same business level as you, so you can analyze like problems and solutions.

4. The profit and loss statement review. How many agents do you think have a profit and loss statement—and review it? I believe, less than 5%.  Yet, if you don’t know where your money went, you can’t analyze its effectiveness. Use Quicken or Quickbooks to get a handle on your money.

Analyzing your business in these four areas gives you a great ‘handle’ on your business habits, your strengths, your challenges–and the areas you want to change for a more successful year next year.

Real estate leadership: Here’s the #strategic business planning process I created to put together a strategic business plan for your office or company. After working with this and companies for years, I was able to customize the thought process to address our major concerns. Grab it here.

Complimentary Business Planning Webinar

Complimentary Webinar

It’s been a chaotic, year, where our best laid plans have been tossed upside down. That’s why doing a fresh, creative business plan is so important right now.

Register here for How to Build the Best Business Plan Ever. (complimentary webinar).

You’ll gain:

  • A new way to think through your business so you have a plan that works
  • The missing planning step that assures your plan will work for you
  • The biggest change to make to thrive in 2021
  • Insights with 10 questions to answer BEFORE you commit to action
  • The seven best recommendations to put in your plan

Included: Strategic business planning handouts and 2 bonuses for managers

When: November 16 (Monday)                     1-2 PM Pacific Standard Time

Register now.

I created the only internationally published book for real estate agents on business planning, and I can help you build exceptional plans.

 

In November and December, I’m featuring business planning. Why? Because we’re all told to make business plans. But, it’s estimated that only about 20% of leadership and less than that for agents–actually have plans.

What is ‘Intentional Planning’?

It’s making a behavioral-based action plan–which answers the questions What are you going to do?

When are you going to do it? 

How are you going to go about it?

The Science Behind this Component

A study in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology conducted with 8000 participants found that intentional planning was the key factor in a successful habit change. This approach increased the chance of successful change by 50-80%!

The ‘Secret’ to Change

We regularly declare our intentions. But, we rarely get specific about them. When we’re not specific, we don’t have a roadmap to chart that change. We don’t know the actions to take. In order to change our intentions from ‘general’ and ‘philosophical’ to action-based, we need to answer these questions:

What

When

How–what shall we practice? How shall we do it?

The Reason Most Business Plans Fail

As a manager and trainer, I’ve seen all sorts of business plans. I’ve seen all sorts of business planning templates. Unfortunately, many plans stay in the ‘what’–the philosophical statements or just the numbers. Inferior templates encourage this flawed thought process. So, people blithely create these business plans, focusing only on the ‘what’, set them on the shelf, and continue doing exactly what they have been doing!!! So, they get the same results.

Fire Up Your Agents with Intentional Planning

Here’s how to use intentional planning to fire up your agents. I’m always looking for tips in motivating others (and myself). I found a great article from my personal trainer. It says that ‘intentional planning’ is the biggest component to obtain your goals.

My Business Planning System ‘Forces’ This Thought Process

Having used those flawed plans and having seen my agents and other managers fail with them, I built into my business planning system and templates the when and how. So, My system actually forces the user to think through the whole process–to get to the weekly/daily action plans that will help change their business habits for the better.

How Specific is YOUR Plan?

The acid test: Could I take your business plan, follow it, and see results? If it’s not that action-oriented, you can’t follow it either!

As Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth Real Estate Agent and the E-Myth Revisited, stated

The integration of your systems is your business plan.

Be sure the business planning system and templates you’re following direct your thinking from the ‘what’ to the when and the how. Now you’re cooking!

Managers: As you’re counseling your agents, be sure their plans get to ‘where the rubber meets the road’. Could you follow their plan–or is it just a series of numbers or high-fallutin’ statements?

Complimentary Business Planning Webinar

Get inspired to create that business plan you’ve been wanting for a better 2021!

It’s been a chaotic, year, where our best laid plans have been tossed upside down. That’s why doing a fresh, creative business plan is so important right now.

Register here for How to Build the Best Business Plan Ever.

You’ll gain:

  • A new way to think through your business so you have a plan that works
  • The missing planning step that assures your plan will work for you
  • The biggest change to make to thrive in 2021
  • Insights with 10 questions to answer BEFORE you commit to action
  • The seven best recommendations to put in your plan

Included: Strategic business planning handouts and 2 bonuses for managers

When: November 16 (Monday)                     1-2 PM Pacific Standard Time

Register now.

I created the only internationally published book for real estate agents on business planning, and I can help you and your agents build exceptional plans.

Everyone’s doing virtual presentations. But, how good are they? Here is what to watch for.

Virtual presentations: Three biggest red flags in virtual presentations today.

  1. Too much ‘tell’, not enough ‘show’

We’re onstage. We’re wowing them with our humor, our movement, and our audience interaction. Good. Now, switch to virtual. We don’t really have a stage. We don’t have freedom of movement. We don’t have that energetic audience interaction. What do we do? Try harder? Keep the same modalities of presentation? 

No. We need to show more and tell less. Instead of tell people how to do a listing presentation, show them through the steps. Show them examples.

Question: What could you switch to ‘show’ to be more interesting, more memorable, teach more effectively?

2. Less stationery; more audience movement.

Sitting in front a screen even for an hour is exhausting. It’s exhausting to present for that long, too. A huge presenter challenge is #how to keep the audience’s attention. One way is to increase the audience’s movements. Some of these suggestions are from a great article on #virtual training in Training magazine, by the wonderful trainer Bob Pike.

Have your audience get up. What for? Find something that’s pertinent to the conversation and bring it back to the screen. Or–find something blue (or red, or whatever color you want) and bring it to the screen. Tell significance.

Write down two action items in your handout (great for #business planning, which I’ll be doing in a few weeks). When you’re done, type ‘up ‘and stand up for 30 seconds.

Question: How do you change the pace by #involving your audience every four minutes? How do you move the audience (I mean physically?)

3. Figuring out the technology while you’re teaching–not before

Yes, there do seem to be surprises. But, if we practice beforehand, we reduce those surprises. It’s just like practicing the piano. I’ve been a pianist since I was four. I would never, ever get up in front of an audience to play the piano (seriously) unless I had practiced my little heart out. After all, perfect practice makes perfect. I owe it to the audience.

Question: How much practice do you do? Are you ready to perform at a high level?

Masterclass From Classroom to Online

Watch for my virtual training coming up on how to take your presentation online with verve.

How to Organize Your Virtual Presentation for Greatest Impact

You had three hours to give your presentation live. Now, you’re going to give that presentation #virtually. Not so fast. You just can’t keep them riveted to you online for three hours! You’ll need to take out the paring scissors and cut your presentation to under an hour. Why? Because that’s all the time you can expect people to stay focused on you. If you wonder if that’s true, ask attendees how long they can stay focused on an #online presentation? When I asked, 50% said ten minutes or less. So, give up on the long, tedious virtual presentations. That means you’ll have to do some re-organization before you turn on that camera.

Overall Organization that Works

I just read an article in Training magazine by one of my heroes, Bob Pike. Author of 30 books, and founder of an international training organization, Bob’s advice is always expert, practical, and proven. Here are some of the points he made to create effective #virtual presentations, along with my points and comments.  

Compare Your Presentation

Right now, draw your online presentation organization.

Do you have an introduction? How long is it? (no more than two minutes)

Do you have a planned ending? Does it involve your participants?

How long are you talking before you involve your audience? Are you involving them at the beginning?

How many times do you #involve your audience within those 45 minutes? (at least every 4 minutes)

How varied are your #attendee activities? How are you keeping attendee attention during your virtual presentation?

Give Me Your Rating

How would you rate the presentations you’ve attended lately–on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?

Your classroom style is awesome! How does it translate to virtual delivery?

You’re great in the classroom. So, are you great on camera? Maybe, maybe not. 

What Makes Us Effective in the Classroom

Most of the time, real estate presenters use lecture and discussion to deliver their messages. It works ‘live’ because we have energy, we have physical presence, and we can add movement to keep the audience’s attention. We even use a high range of vocal inflections. Even though lecture and discussion delivery methods don’t get much participation from audiences, they still can work in short presentations because of the energy, presence, movement, and dynamics we use in the classroom. 

On Camera, It’s a Different Game

Unfortunately, when we present online, we lose

  • our physical presence
  • much of our physical energy
  • our ability to move around
  • our ability to approach the audience and create dialogue with them
  • our ability to use a wide range of vocal dynamics

Using Alternative Teaching Methods Online

When we’re teaching online, we have to stretch our skills and employ some different teaching methods to get participation and keep the audience’s attention. These include:

  • Using break-out rooms
  • Using handouts for work before, during, and after the presentation
  • Using chat feature
  • Using engaging PowerPoint presentations
  • Using whiteboard
  • Using music
  • Using more than one presenter
  • Using polls

Audience Presentation Tip

Use at least one method of audience participation every 5-6 minutes during your presentation so you keep your audience’s attention and interest.

What About You?

How many of these features do you use right now when you teach online? What can you incorporate to get that high audience participation you need?

 

Challenged with getting your classroom to work online? I’d love to help you. Having done webinars for over 15 years, and taught Instructor Development Workshops for three decades, I know how to make your classroom work online easily so you’ll have more fun teaching. Contact me and we’ll talk! 425-392-6914 or carla@carlacross.com.

Taking your classroom online takes skill and planning.
Going from classroom to online isn’t a straight path. It takes planning and skill to make that live class work effectively online.

Are you making this mistake training online?

You’ve created a course that you present in the classroom. You’re entertaining, you get interaction, and you encourage lots of discussion. Good. So, what’s the problem? That teaching style doesn’t translate well to the online environment. Structuring and presenting an online course is different than designing a ‘live’ course. Here is a fatal mistake presenters make when attempting to adapt their classroom course to an online platform.

Mistake:  Talking Through the Hour

In the classroom, you have live bodies (including yours) to energize and exchange ideas. You probably love to hold discussions—and there are some lively ones in your class. It doesn’t bother you that the discussion gets off-topic because it’s interesting.

The online presentation is different. You don’t have those bodies to energize and be energized. You don’t have time to get off topic. You don’t have the audience there for discussion. So, how do you interact with your audience and keep them engaged (especially challenging with a real estate audience)?

Solution: Change the way you present to utilize the audience interaction tools available in your online platform. That means you must be able to ‘flex’ your teaching methods to adapt to the online environment.

There are at least 7 ways you can create meaningful audience interaction while teaching online. These include:

  • Chats
  • Whiteboard
  • Questions
  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Small groups
  • Rewards

Experts say you should get audience interaction about every 5-7 minutes. That means you’ll have to ‘choreograph’ your presentation much differently than you do when you’re live.

How much interaction are you adding to your presentation or course?

Keeping their attention online is a real estate trainer’s biggest concern. Here’s a great method–and what NOT to call it–to engage them BEFORE you ‘Zoom’

Do you feel you’re in a virtual vacuum when you are presenting online? It’s much more difficult to capture and keep your audience’s attention when you’re presenting virtually. But, there are easy and effective methods to do just that. Here’s one that’s little used, yet will work for you on several levels. 

Engage Them Even Before the Virtual Presentation

In almost all virtual presentations, all the attendee has to do is to log in before start time (we hope…) and listen in. No wonder the attendee doesn’t feel very engaged! What if you had a vehicle to pique their curiosity before the event, and even engage them so they would be excited to be with you?

You can do this. Simply provide some pre-activity to engage your learner and prepare them for your presentation.  That way, you’re enticing the learner, getting valuable information, and promising help if they attend your presentation.  Think of your pre-activity as a diving board. They’re jumping on that board, getting more energetic as they complete the activity, ready to dive into your virtual experience.

An Example of a Pre-Activity

Recently, I did a webinar on Taking your Classroom Online. You can see it here.   As attendees registered, explained I was going to address their biggest concerns (always tell them the ‘why’). I asked them to tell me their biggest challenge taking a course online.  I explained I would address their concerns during the webinar.  By the way, the majority said it was keeping the audience’s attention.  During the webinar, I told the attendees the answers to their questions, and addressed several methods of keeping audience attention.  That was a very simple and quick activity, but it allowed me to make a promise and keep it. It also helped me verify that concern was paramount among my attendees. The next time I do the webinar, I’ll do more promotion on answering that biggest concern (now that I know it is the biggest!).

Three Rules to Follow to Assure This Works

  1. Don’t call it pre-work. Does anyone love the word “work”? Instead, call it pre-activity or some other creative name you make you.
  2. Always tell them why you want the information from them.
  3. Tell them several times during the presentation how you’re using the information and how it’s helping them.  

Training Works So Much Better with Audience Preparation and Interactivity

Whether you’re in a ‘live’ classroom or a virtual environment, engaging your audience prior to meeting them will elevate the level of learning and audience attention greatly. When you make your audience participants, we all learn better. Attendees also say they believe the training will be a higher level, because the instructor has worked to engage them in a creative way.

What have you used as a pre-activity virtually? 

It’s here now, and it’s here to stay. Why not take this time to refine your online training skills?

Do you need to go online with your presentations and courses’?  In real estate, we’re not doing any ‘live’ teaching. So, this is a great time, to adjust your communication and training strategy to reach out.

I’ve been doing webinars for years, and, I learned so much working with pros like Amy Chorew while I presented through National Association of Realtors doing business planning webinars. I really worked on my technique, and was always rated in the top three presenters.

Unfortunately, many of the Zoom training and presentations have been–shall I say it–boring! Here is what I learned from the best, the mistakes I’ve made as I’ve learned, and the strategies that will help you create effective online communications and training as we go forward.    

Today, you need to take your training courses online if you’re a

  • Trainer
  • Coach
  • Manager
  • Team leader
  • Salesperson

and in today’s world, we HAVE to communicate digitally–at least for awhile. The good news is that it forces us to get really good at this type of communication so we can reach more people more effectively. I hate it when I ask people what they think of webinars and they say that last PowerPoint presentation was

boring/dull/repetitive/ill-organized/no fun……..

But, if you’re skilled at presenting online, you can

  • Inform
  • Introduce
  • Sell
  • Increase your image

Webinars: An Easy Solution to Training

What can a webinar do? First, what it can’t do. Don’t expect it to  

Change people’s behavior (it’s not training. It’s education). Webinars are not the magic training bullet we’ve wished for. There are limited objectives you can accomplish by doing a webinar. But, I’ve discovered some methods to help ‘attendees’ internalize and apply what they’re learning (see my Train the Trainer sneak preview below).

Of course, the upside of a online training/webinar is that

  • People don’t have to travel to get to the an event
  • It’s very cost-effective
  • It puts you in front of new audiences
  • You can make it evergreen (record it and share it)

Some Basic Choices to Make Before You Start

  1. Your vehicle

Which company will you use to deliver your webinar? There are over 100 companies today offering some type of screen sharing. They range from free to $100+ a month. The free versions companies tout are for a limited number of viewers (usually 5-10). After that, figure on paying for the services. Among the most popular services are Zoom, GoTo Meeting, WebEx, and BrightTalk. Whatever you choose, pick a service that will be easy for you! Getting caught in the technicalities while you are trying to be a sparkling presenter is death by webinar.

  1. What’s your message?

Boy, this one seems so easy, and yet, it’s where most of us go way off the rails. Why? We try to do too much in too little time with too little organization! (Just like we do in ‘live’ classes). But, it’s more fatal digitally, because it is more challenging to hold people’s attention. So, the next few tips are critical to the success  of your training.

Decide on your topic. Is it something that would lend itself to a webinar? To find out, study webinars you’ve attended. Do some seem too wishy-washy to have been worth your time? Are some so full of facts and figures you snooze off?

Decide on your objectives. In other words, start with the end in mind.  What do you see, hear, and feel the attendees doing at the end of your presentation?

To write your objectives, start with this sentence,

As a result of this webinar, attendees will____________________________. Examples of objectives for a business planning webinar could be:

  • Understand the flow of the strategic business planning process
  • Be able to differentiate between a vision and a mission statement
  • Be able to pinpoint 3 areas of concern about their business from the previous year

After I’ve written my objectives, I know the basic structure of my webinar. I can prioritize those objectives and start arranging my webinar in the right presentation order.

Your Topic: Overview or Detailed?

Is your topic an overview, or is it more detailed? Decide on the scope of your topic, and your objectives, before going further.

Common webinar mistake: Either being so global there is little information, or being so detailed you lose the audience in facts and figures.

Sound Familiar?

If you’ve taken my Instructor Development Workshop or my online learning version, Train the Trainer, you’ve learned what objectives are and how to write and apply them in creating your training/presentation/digital class. 

After deciding on your desired delivery company, and drafting your topic and objectives, you’re ready for the next step. In the next blog, we’ll discuss best presentation methods–and common presentation mistakes.

See What a Digital Course Looks Like and How it’s Organized

Necessity is the mother of invention!!!! Oh, boy, have I learned that. I decided to put my distance learning program in new course software. In doing so, I’ve found out how to help people internalize important concepts and apply them to great, concrete, immediately-usable results. Here’s a sneak preview of my Train the Trainer program. It fulfills the requirement for attendees to teach clock hour approved courses in Washington state, and is accredited for 15 clock hours.

Train the Trainer Sneak Preview

In later posts, I’ll share some strategies I’ve found work really well in creating online presentations and courses that involve, inform, and entertain.

You don’t have to talk through your online presentation! Here’s a method to involve your audience AND be memorable.

You’re teaching virtually now. But, 90%+ of real estate instructors have told me they had taught only in the classroom prior to the pandemic.  For most real estate instructors, teaching virtually is a new challenge.

Admittedly, you can’t just transfer what you do in the classroom to online. Instead, translate some of the effective teaching strategies from your classroom to a virtual format.

You Don’t Have to Do All the Work

How ‘passive’ is your virtual classroom or presentation? Are you doing all the work? Are your attendees merely listening? Take what works in that classroom and use it in a bit different format online.

When you’re teaching ‘live’: Do you have your attendees doing some work, either during or after your course? If so, it will be easy for you to ‘translate’ that to your online platform. 

Use a Handout with Work to be Done

Recently, I demonstrated this teaching method in a webinar for those who want to take their classrooms online. I created a handout for each participant to use during the webinar. There were questions for them to answer as they proceeded in the webinar. As I addressed a topic, I provided some ‘time out’ for participants to decide how they could use that idea in their own course. By the time they finished the webinar, they had filled out a page of ideas on how to ‘translate’ that ‘live’ course to an online platform. See that handout with the masterclass video mentioned below.

Question: What work or handout could you provide to use as you introduced topics in your webinar? How could you involve students in completing the questions? How could you follow up with that handout?

Idea: You could use breakout rooms during your presentation to have your attendees share the ideas they were gaining from your presentation. This helps them translate your ideas to their situations and gives them support and motivation to get creative. 

Caveat: Do not hand out your Power Point presentation. First, that’s not an outline. (I hope you haven’t done that live!). Second, you’re giving away your whole virtual training before you even start. Why should they attend and pay attention?

Result of using a handout: Your attendees have takeaway value from you. They have adopted your ideas to solving their challenges. And, they have your contact information so they will remember you–and you can get more teaching opportunities or business.

To get dozens of tips on how to go online with confidence, see the video of my webinar Masterclass: How to Take your Classroom Online.