If you’re facing business challenges, (let’s face it, most owners are!) focus on the four decisions that can make an impact.
With the real estate industry changing at an unprecedented pace, focusing on the four Decisions (4Ds)—People, Strategy, Execution, Cash—are crucial to driving growth. Verne Harnish, the author of the best-selling book, Scaling Up, says “If your business is facing challenges for which there seems to be no playbook to handle, you’ll be surprised how going back to the 4Ds and thinking about how you are addressing them can make an impact. It can mean the difference between sailing ahead of the competition and finding yourself wondering what hit you.”
Let’s start with the People. Are all stakeholders in your business—agents, employees, partners, buyers, sellers—happy and engaged and would you rehire all of them?
As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, you must have the right people on the bus, in the right seats, doing the right things. It’s critical to address the people issues first. If you don’t, they will drain your time and energy, and you’ll have little left to focus on the Strategy, Execution and Cash aspects of your business.
Next, let’s look at strategy. Can you state your strategy simply? Is it driving sustainable growth in gross commissions? First, it should be clear and differentiating which sets you apart from the competition. Second, it should matter to your buyers and sellers. A killer strategy will protect you from the market commoditizing your services.
The third of the 4Ds is Execution. Are all processes running without drama and driving industry-leading profitability? It’s crucial to have the right habits in place to produce the results your buyers and sellers expect. Getting feedback, both positive and negative, from your customers can be used to drive improvements in your processes. It will also uncover what your key opportunities are and where you need to focus your priorities. And remember, only focus on a few priorities, 90 days at a time.
Finally, there’s Cash. Do you have consistent sources of cash, ideally internally generated, to fuel the growth of your business? Cash is like oxygen. This means paying attention to how every decision affects your cash flow. As you scale your business, money becomes even more critical. Have you ever heard “Growth sucks cash”? In Jim Collins book, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive, he says the great companies keep three to ten times the cash reserves of its competitors. This allows growth companies to weather the ups and downs of the economy. Bill Gates has always mandated that Microsoft keep a year’s worth of operating expenses in the bank. The real estate community knows too well what occurred in the Great Recession.
Mastering the 4Ds for your business will help you unlock more growth than you ever thought possible. It will be a strong foundation for scaling up in 2019.
Jill Belconis is a business leader with a passion for helping CEOs. She spent 22 years at Shelter Mortgage as president and CEO where she grew the company by 20 percent average each year. She now runs a coaching practice called Jill Belconis Enterprises LLC at http://www.jillbelconis.com.
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