“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” 

This is a great quote by John F. Kennedy.
Owners of small mortgage banking and brokering companies are passionate, energetic and motivated.  It takes a certain personality and genetic code to own and operate a business in the mortgage lending space. 

We deal with a plethora of external and internal issues constantly in an attempt to be profitable all while not taking on too much risk.  External issues include volatile interest rates, regulatory minefields and moronic competitors.  Internal issues include inadequate liquidity, human resource challenges and cutting edge technology costs.  We sometimes might even make business decisions that push the envelope to ensure our survival.

As we look at Kennedy’s quote, owner operators need more than effort and courage to operate their business.  Without a plan and a road map, the business becomes like boat sailing in the ocean without a rudder.  We might be sailing, but we’re going around and around in circles.

One of the key questions we ask operators during our FOICS-plus studies is if the owner has as a written strategic or business plan. 

Most haven't. 

They have general idea on where they are leading the company, but nothing is formalized.  A written plan helps to keep the skipper on track without being distracted by unimportant internal and external pressures.  It also helps all employees understand the overall vision and purpose of the company.

Creating a plan is simple. It includes these items:

  1. SWOTs:  The first thing the owner needs to do is assess of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) of the company.
  2. Objectives and Strategies:  Key objectives and corresponding strategies can be developed around the SWOTs.
  3. Action Plans:  Action plans to execute on the strategies is where the rubber meets the road.  Action plans must include the driver and time frame to complete.  Even if you have a plan, the owner must ensure the company executes on the action plans.

Another way to paraphrase Kennedy’s quote is “Plan your work and then work your plan”.  I challenge you all to do an assessment of your SWOTs this week and prepare a company or personal business plan for next year.