Six Reasons Why Business Plans Are Important in Real Estate Investing

6 Reasons Why Business Plans Are Important in Real Estate Investing

Let’s repeat some well-known business facts: a) 98% of all businesses in the USA are small businesses. b) 98% of all businesses fail in the first year, c) 100% of all failed businesses have well-understood reasons why they failed. With these three facts, we should be able to craft a business that has a more than average chance of success.

Why businesses fail.

All failed businesses share the same characteristic: they fail for one or more of the following reasons:

1) Undercapitalized. They don’t have the financial strength to survive the startup period.

2) Weak Management. The current owner/manager simply doesn’t have the skills to make the business flourish.

3) Wrong product. You can’t sell what the public doesn’t want to buy.

4) Wrong market. What you have may be attractive but the local market can’t afford to buy it.

5) No ‘exit’ strategy. With no thought of the future, the business will founder.

6) No “vision” as to what the business intends to accomplish.

Notice that nowhere once did I say the words “Real Estate”, even though that is the emphasis of this article. A “Real Estate” investment business is just the same as any other business, and can fail for all the same reasons that other businesses fail. The main difference is that when you invest in Real Estate, you tend to risk larger amounts of capital. Also, the Real Estate market contains many factors that you can never control, unlike most ‘normal’ businesses.

What’s the answer?

The most important answer is: a well-crafted business plan. Developing a meaningful business plan is more than just sitting down and describing your product in glowing marketing terms. The act of creating a business plan forces you to think about the various aspects of the business. It also places you in the position of your customer, your banker, your lawyer, your assistants, and yourself as owner/operator.

A well-thought through business plan becomes the roadmap to your business success. It lays out what you plan to accomplish, when you plan to accomplish, what resources you will need to achieve your goal, and a timetable of when you will achieve that goal.

Before you rush over to the computer and begin to hammer out a business plan, you need to do some heavy duty and serious research. Visit your Library and check out some books on preparing a business plan. See what the elements make up a business plan. Then after you’ve digested the information, speak to your Banker. Ask what they want to see in the way of a business plan that will help them fund your new business.

You might want to invest in a copy of a “Business Plan Development” software program that will guide your efforts in creating that plan. Let’s examine these six points.

1. Undercapitalized. As a minimum, you should plan on being able to sustain the business for 12 months, and be able to cover all expenses for that time. You’ll need either up-front capital, or a guaranteed line of credit that you can draw upon during that first 12 month period. Your business plan needs to spell out all of the expenses you’ll incur during that first 12 month initial start-up period. Don’t forget advertizing, property acquisition, living expenses, property maintenance and repairs, property holding costs (if you finance your investment purchase, you have monthly mortgage expenses, utilities, gardening and upkeep, etc. while you fish for tenants).

2. Weak Management. If you’ve never managed a business, you’re in for a rude awakening. Typically, the owner of the business is his/her own worst enemy – you’ll find yourself talking to yourself in the mirror:?Why are you wasting time (shaving/putting on makeup/etc) when you should be out “doing business”?? How do I get clients? How do I get renters? How do I find investors? A strong business plan will help you identify these ‘time traps’, and hopefully, guide you away from them.

3. Wrong Product. Are you trying to flip properties in a falling market? Do you find that you can’t rent a property so that it has a chance of getting a positive cash flow? Are there any takers out there? A well-thought through business plan will minimize the chances of that happening.

4. Wrong Market. An extension of #3 above. After fixing that old place up, you find that it’s now too costly for any one in that area to buy. Your business plan may have been able to flag that one before you started.

5. No Exit Strategy. If you don’t have a roadmap of where you’re going, then you’ll never get to where you want to be. Of course, if you didn’t sit down and decide where you wanted to be in the first place, you’ll surly succeed in getting there! A well-developed business plan will help you lay out Who, What, When, Where, and Why, in addition to How.

6. No “Vision”. A business plan not only establishes your goals, but it does one thing more: remove the ‘emotion’ from the decision. Getting emotionally involved is not the same as being enthusiastic about what you’re doing. If your vision is to have a string of positive cash-flowing properties that are easily rented, easy to maintain, and low overhead, then your business plan should prevent you from “Gold-Plating” those properties so that you never achieve that goal.

Summary

Never underestimate the power of a good business plan. Before you rush off to execute that plan, make sure that you have given it a critical look. Have your Banker, your Lawyer, your Spouse, your Accountant, your Broker critique it for you.