Whether you’re a veteran home inspector who’s looking to revamp your business or a newbie just getting started, a solid business plan can get you on the right track. Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance has a few tips:
1. Put It On Paper
Those who run single-person companies may think that they can mentally juggle all the components of entrepreneurship, but they’re doing themselves a disservice if they don’t put a plan on paper says Schrage.
“While you may think you can keep all the needed information for your business in your memory, you’ll have a much freer mind to focus on other aspects of your business if you create an actual plan,” he explains. “…If you’re trying to keep track of the progress, direction, and scope of your business in your head rather than recording it, you run the risk of letting other key components of your business go unattended, such as customer service.”
Schrage adds that having a concrete business plan also provides more options in the future. Inspectors armed with a business plan who decide to expand their operation, hire new recruits or seek additional funding will already have the framework of their company on paper.
2. Be Realistic
Like companies themselves, business plans can fail. To ensure that your plan really does act as a guiding light for your home inspection business, Schrage advises both new and seasoned home inspectors to make sure that they include realistic research in their plan and acknowledge both strengths and weaknesses of their company.
“This is especially [important] if other people, especially investors, will be reviewing [your plan],” he says. “By no means do you want to put pressure on yourself by creating some grandiose, overly aggressive plan.”
Home inspectors can ensure that their ducks are in a row by investigating local competition, researching environmental problems in their area and asking realtors and home buyers what they’re looking for in a home inspector.
3. Budget For Mishaps
“The business growth strategy that I include in my written business plan is always a little more conservative than the one I actually employ,” Schrage says. “This provides a built-in cushion for your business, and allows you to put the brakes on expansion without a huge effect on the venture.”
Conservative budgeting is especially important for home inspectors who must survive the annual slow season and pay for continuing education to stay in business.
4. Be Flexible
“Most successful business owners will tell you that their business plan is constantly changing and will never be completed,” Schrage explains. “There is nothing wrong with this, and it is the truly savvy business owner that adjusts and revises his or her business plan according to the current economic climate.”
Schrage adds that the key to keeping a business plan fresh and accurate is periodically taking a step back to evaluate your goals, progress and areas that need improvement. In addition to inspecting homes, sending out invoices, wrangling new business and ferociously marketing, home inspectors also need to take a deep breath, objectively examine where they are and create a plan for where they want to be.