In this episode of Power Tools we talk about how Realtors can avoid procrastination through “getting ready to get ready”, or better known as being a perfectionist.
Being an entrepreneur often means being on a metaphorical island all by yourself. Not very many people understand how your time is pulled in a myriad of directions, employing skills (or sometimes lack thereof) that you didn’t know you had, and becoming a jack of all trades while only a master of one. It’s not unusual to see the tasks that you really need to get done get set aside in favor of whatever you feel needs to be done right this second. Naturally, as soon as you put that fire out, the next one pops up. The result is that you continue to delay the things that drive your business while you take care of minor things to keep your business running.
The problem, as I see it, is not a delegation problem or a time management problem. Too often, the things that are distracting you from accomplishing your priority tasks are things that require it be you and need to be done in a timely manner. In my opinion, this is an accountability issue. Generally speaking, unless you have a true partner, a business coach, or a mentor relationship in place, you are probably also responsible for holding yourself accountable for your actions. I think that is a problem when it comes to 99% of the people out there. It’s hard to come home after a 20 hour day and say you didn’t work hard or get things accomplished, even when you didn’t accomplish the things your business really needed for you to accomplish.
So, how do you, in a world of real distractions, set everything aside and focus only on the tasks that truly need to be accomplished?
You have to, as far as I can see it, find a way to be held accountable. The problem with that is most entrepreneurs also don’t really care for being held accountable and so they seek out someone who will act like they are holding them accountable, but really is just having a five-minute conversation with them. What the entrepreneur struggling with accountability issues needs is someone who will, legitimately and with a blow torch, hold their feet to the fire.
So, who is that person? It depends. I think there are more examples of who that person isn’t than who that person is. That person isn’t, usually, your spouse. It should never, in my opinion, be an employee. It usually isn’t your best friend, brother, sister, parent, or anyone else that either a) doesn’t understand what you’re really doing, and b) isn’t tough enough to hold you truly accountable. Frankly, I think that the best person for this job is a coach. Because they are independent, they can do or say whatever it takes to get you to do the things you need to do. Moreover, because you pay for them, you are more likely to get your money’s worth. It’s kind of like the difference between getting a gym membership and hiring a trainer.
The bottom line is this: if you’re struggling with achieving the things in your business that you need to do to be successful, I believe an accountability partner is the key to getting back on track. Try it for a few months and see if it works for you.
From the last post, you know that our brokerage has started a monthly Book Club. Our first book was Seven Levels of Communication by Michael Maher. As promised, a couple of times, here is my review of the book.
Bottom line: If you’re in sales or marketing, you need to read this book.
I have a general rule to judge the quality of a business book – If you can take two things out of a book and apply them to your business, it was worth the read. In the case of Seven Levels of Communication, if you can’t take a dozen tips out of this book, read it again. Seriously. It’s that good. Did I mention that I was serious? I don’t want to sit here and gush over 150 pages of paper, but this might be one of the best business books I have ever read.
First, Maher does a great job writing in parable format. The book follows a real estate agent, Rick Masters, as he transforms from a near drop-out to top producer through a coaching program that walks through the 7 Levels. I’m a huge fan of story-telling in non-fiction and Maher does it in a way that is both engaging and lacking arrogance. Honestly, as valuable as the information is, I’m not a fan of books by people like John Maxwell because they tend to be too much “Look at me and what I’ve done and you should be just like me.” This book is written from a perspective of a Coach and, as such, comes off as genuine and truly helpful.
Now, about the tips that the book gives you. The information contained in the book isn’t a reinvention of the wheel. To tell the truth, I imagine that the end product that Rick Masters becomes looks a whole lot like top salespeople from about 30 years ago. He’s more personal, caring, and doesn’t rely on technology and other new gimmicks to build his business. Instead, he relies on tried and true messaging and communication, but he does it with a plan and strategy.
The other great part of this book is that none of the strategies are really that hard to implement or expensive. The result of these strategies is a business that every agent dreams of, one built on referrals. The trick, like with everything else, is that the strategies have to be implemented with a personal touch and executed with discipline and consistency.
So, here’s the deal. I’m not going to reveal everything in the book because you really need to read it. I will tell you this, you will probably want to read it twice. Once you’ve read it once, you can go back
and take it tip by tip to implement in your business. Trust me, it’s worth it.
In conclusion, if you feel like you’re in a rut and need to get out of it, or your new to the business and want to get a jump-start, or are already producing at a good clip and want to take it to the next level, you need to read Seven Levels of Communication. Even if you only get a couple of things out of it or only implement a couple of the strategies, you will without doubt see the results in your business. You can pick up a copy on our Reading List page. Do it.
Our second book, Miracle Morning for Real Estate Agents, will be the next book review. You can also pick it up on the Reading List page.
To start off, this is just another in a long list of posts that are related to “Your First Year in Real Estate”. It certainly won’t be the last, and probably won’t be the last on this site. Also, if you can keep the number of “rookie mistakes” you make to five, congratulations. You win Rookie of the Year. Hopefully this will help you avoid some mistakes that others out there have experienced and that I see on a pretty regular basis.
To preface the meat of this post, I have to say a few things about this list. First, none of these mistakes are fatal. You can make them and still turn out as a pretty good agent. Avoiding them will just help speed things along on the road to success for you. Second, this is not a 100% complete list. It’s just a list I made based on personal experience and coaching real estate sales people for a decade now, and some input from a friend who coaches agents and is pretty darn good at it. There are other mistakes you can, and most likely will, make. Remember, and not to sound cliché, it’s a journey. Learn from the mistakes and move on. Finally, if you read this list and realize that you’ve made one of these mistakes, that’s ok. Don’t worry. It can be fixed. Nothing in this crazy real estate world is that permanent, especially in your first year or two. Now, let’s get going…
1. Not Branding Yourself
I know, I know. You just took your exam and got sponsored and you think that your Broker/Brokerage/Parent Company/Coach/Kool-Aid Deliverer is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s an exciting time. It really is. I’m not just being a smart-ass to make a point. I’ve been there.
There is a little secret that I would like to tell you, though. You’ll probably change brokerages at some point in your career (This is not true of any of my agents that happen to be reading this. Y’all just skip this part). It may seem unthinkable, but the number of agents that have stayed at the same brokerage for an entire career is extremely small. So, brand yourself before you brand your Broker. Get your own domain name and your own email address associated with that domain: email@example.com. Remember, according to NAR stats, only 3% of people care who you work for. This is a people business. They are buying you, not your Broker. Build your brand, not your Broker’s.
2. You Don’t Focus on Learning
Listen, your education didn’t end when you took that exam. In fact, I can tell you without hesitation that your education didn’t really begin until you took that exam. Most state regulated courses leading up to the exam are a joke and have no practical application in the real world. If you aren’t enrolled in classes (hopefully with your Broker), a mentorship, coaching or something like that a) you chose the wrong Broker, and b) you need to figure that out quickly. Also, start reading, listening to and watching podcasts, surf the web for coaching videos, etc. Follow smart people online, sign-up for webinars, shadow experienced agents. In other words, make learning a top priority in your business. When you aren’t doing something to make you money, you should be learning something that will.
3. Not Putting Systems and Processes in Place
It may not seem like it right now, but, at some point, time becomes your greatest asset and your biggest limitation. There will come a time when you will be so busy that the idea of stopping for a day or two to add systems and processes into your business will seem crazy. The problem is that you will have to do just that or risk stagnation. So, a real simple solution is to put them in place from day one. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do need to be there. You can adjust as you need to. Marketing, customer service, follow-up, transaction management, and database management are just a few areas to focus on. Without scalable systems and processes in place early in your career, your business will suffer later down the road.
NOTE: Don’t spend all of your time doing this. An hour a day or so will be just fine. This isn’t busy work so you can avoid doing real work. You don’t want six months to pass and all you’ve done is organize your contacts.
4. Not Using a CRM Software
We’ve talked about this before, but I just can’t emphasize the importance. Organizing your database, creating perpetual follow-up protocol, and automating as much of it as you can is pivotal to your success, especially at a time when you are initially building your brand awareness. That’s it. There’s nothing else to say. Find one and use it. Remember, the right CRM is the one you actually use. Play with a bunch and find the one that works best for you. Use a CRM or be SOL.
5. Focusing on the Outcome, Not the Input
If nobody told you in your interviews with a broker, let me be the first to break this news to you: success in real estate is not easy. This isn’t HGTV. You don’t just get a license and then the producers show up outside your house and start filming. Real estate is a grind. It’s a game for hustlers. The ones that are willing to do the work, and do it consistently, every f’ing day, are the ones that are making the money here. If that isn’t for you, take your ass back to what you were doing last week. If you’re willing to do the work, focus on the work. Keep your nose to the grindstone and the results will come. They will. I promise. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get mad (unless that kind of thing motivates you) when a friend uses another agent. Suck it up, put on your big boy/girl panties and move on to the next task. Focus on what you can control. The results will follow with hard work, consistency, and patience.
There you have it. Now, take your ass back to work.
In the meantime, let’s talk about competition. Something I hear on a pretty regular basis as I help our agents put their marketing and business plans in place each year is concern or questions about what the competition is doing. It usually looks like, “(Insert agent name here) had a kick-ass year last year. What are they doing that I’m not?” Or maybe, “What if I did what (insert agent name here) is doing? Would that work for me?” Maybe. Maybe not. The real question is:
Why does what your competition is doing matter so much to you?
The simple answer is that you want their success. The truth behind that is that your competition didn’t just become successful because of this or that particular marketing tactic. The truth is that the success they are experiencing is more than likely a result of years of hard work and marketing. Top producers in a market in a market are top producers for a reason. They have put processes and systems in place, work tirelessly, market, prospect, service their clients, review, audit, rinse and repeat. It’s not any one thing that they did that automatically made them a success. It’s a combination of hard work, tenacity, and patience.
So, back to what the competition is doing. Should you replicate it? Maybe. If you’ve read this blog before, you know I’m a fan of stealing and making your own. But, that’s the key. You have to make it your own. If you’re just a carbon copy of someone else, how are you going to make that sale to someone? In the last post, we talked about being yourself and you need to be yourself in everything. Let your personality show in your marketing efforts too. That’s a big part of building your personal brand, in my opinion. It’s a bigger part of running the kind of business you want to run. A business that you control and that makes you happy.
On the other hand, if it’s something that puts you so far out of your comfort zone that you aren’t likely to be successful or follow it through to the end, why waste your time, money and effort? Wouldn’t you be better off doing something with a far greater chance of success? I think so. So, if you are copying the competition just because you either feel like you have to or because you think that they’ve raised the bar for everyone, think again. A well-planned, personal, creative marketing effort of your own can easily counter anything your competition does.
In the end, to make the decision on whether or not to use something a competitor is doing in your business, you have to look at how well it fits into your overall business plan. Instead of thinking of it as replicating the competition, imagine for a minute that what you’re going to do is a new piece of software or a new service you are adding to your business. Would you still do it? Is it a fit for what you’re trying to accomplish? Will it help you reach your goals? If the answer is no, the answer is no. If it is maybe or yes, then pull the thread on it the same way you would with a new software or service. Is there a realistic ROI? Is it worth the time and effort?
More importantly, don’t spend too much time worrying about the top producers and what they’re doing. Rest assured, they aren’t doing the same in return. They’re out there working their plan and growing their business their way. You should do the same. What I’ve found over the years is that your biggest competition is most likely looking back at you in the mirror. Go to bed every night knowing that you did your best and you won’t need to worry about the competition. They’ll start worrying about you soon.
As your real estate business grows and you find yourself getting busier and busier it becomes increasingly easier to get caught up in the day-to-day details and minutiae of what is happening in the moment. You’re working hard, doing everything you can to satisfy your clients, get them across the finish line, and, hopefully, get the referrals to grow your business. Outside of the client care, you’re still prospecting, marketing, and doing all of the other little things you’ve been doing to grow your business. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing, right? Of course it is. That being said, at some point, you have to step back and focus on your business from the CEO perspective, not the technician’s perspective.
If you aren’t spending as much time working on your business as you do working in your business, you’ll never transition from practitioner to true entrepreneur.
What’s the Difference?
Before I really get into the explanation, if you haven’t read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, do yourself a favor and read it as soon as possible. To make an illustration most of you will understand, especially those from Houston where we have a restaurant every 500 feet, have you ever been to a restaurant where the food was great only to see it go out of business a few months later? So many of those close because they were opened by great chefs who knew little to nothing about the business of running a restaurant. You see, just because you are a great chef or a great cupcake maker or, for that matter, a great Realtor doesn’t mean that you would necessarily be a great restaurateur or bakery owner or brokerage owner. That’s really the difference.
Using the restaurant example to expound, the great chef worries about creating a great dish. They want to drive the business to the restaurant by having people tell their friends how great the food was. Sound familiar? The restaurateur, on the other hand, is concerned about the overall experience of the diner. They focus on decor, ambiance, seating charts, service, amenities, staffing, and a million other things, not to mention spin-off concepts, expansion, and, ultimately, an exit strategy. See the difference? The chef works in his business while the restaurateur works on his business.
So, how do you step back to work on your business and where do you start once you do? First and foremost, you have to make time. You have to have scheduled time daily, weekly, monthly that is dedicated to your strategic planning for your business. These time blocks have to be non-negotiable. Zero distractions. If you have to get up and leave where you normally work, do it. Turn off your phone and email. Your only focus is your business as a whole.
Below is a short list of the items that you can and should do during this time. This list will expand over time as your comfort level with this grows and as you get deeper and deeper into your business operations, future plans, and all of the new ideas you develop.
- Audit, Audit and Audit – To start off, begin with what you’re doing now and examine every piece of it. Make changes where necessary. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
- Systems and Processes – What makes McDonald’s successful? The fact that a Big Mac in St. Louis tastes the same as a Big Mac in New York or London or Tokyo. Systems and processes make that happen. Your business, if it is ever going to grow, has to have them. From CRMs to lead generation to follow-up, everything needs a system. That’s how you create an asset.
- Expansion and Personnel – That’s right. Most agents wait too long to hire and their business suffers. If you’re not at least thinking about it, you need to be. As your business grows, you need to grow your business and you’ll be glad you’ve been thinking about it all along.
- Strategic Planning – Do you have a plan for growth? A real plan, not just ideas? Are there action steps associated with the plan to help you reach your goals? Do you have a plan for marketing, social media, farming, and everything else in your business? Now would be a good time to start. For every goal you have for your business, there should be an action-based plan in place.
- Exit Strategy – You might just be starting in business, but, wherever you are in your career, you need to consider your exit strategy. Are you creating a true asset that you can sell one day when you are ready to leave the business or retire?
- Technology – If you aren’t regularly looking at ways to leverage technology to increase efficiency, automate what you can, and increase your level of service, you are missing out on one of the best ways to stretch your time and productivity.
Like I said, the list goes on and on and will grow. The key is that you’re actually working on your business instead of always working in your business. I believe that once you change this approach, you will find yourself working more and more on your business. That’s when you truly begin to transition into the CEO role of your business.
When I was going through managerial training, we had a leader, Steve Miller (no, not that one), that changed the way I looked at time management. Up to that point, like many people, I had kept a schedule and had what I thought was a pretty solid routine going for myself. My weeks went pretty smoothly. Sure, there were those times when I had to put in a few more hours and things occasionally got hectic, but I felt, all in all, that I was doing a pretty decent job managing my time and tasks. Then, within an hour, I felt like the least productive and most disorganized person in business. It all started with one question:
“Are you spending your time working at your business or are you investing your time in your business?”
Looking at time as an investment is what really changed the way I thought about work. Heck, if you want to get all deep and philosophical about it, it changed the way I thought about time in general. After that day, I tried my best to keep that mindset. Do I slip up from time to time and find myself stuck in a rut? Sure. Does it last longer than I want it to sometimes? Yes. However, at some point, it always comes back to realizing that I am not treating my time as money that I am investing in my business.
What is your time worth?
So, this may seem like a pretty simple equation, and probably one you’ve done before. You take the amount of money you make each year divided by the number of hours you work and there’s your wage per hour. Use that to calculate your daily or weekly or monthly salary. That’s the easy part, right?
Now, the hard part is figuring out how best to invest that money in your business in ways that will grow your investment. If you think about it from the standpoint of a 401(k), you want your money (time) to earn the greatest return (money or growth in your business) and not sit there and stagnate, grow slowly, or, worst case, decrease in value. So, you want to be investing your time in the activities that will produce the greatest return on your investment and avoiding, delegating, or outsourcing the ones that don’t and that you deem as still necessary to your business.
To start, make a list of the things you do on a daily, then weekly, then monthly basis. Don’t avoid anything. Write it all down. If it takes you keeping a time log for a couple of months, do it. Then, when you have a comprehensive list, it is up to you to decide which ones are the tasks and activities that will generate a return, which are the ones that won’t, and which are the ones that you have to do but are pure overhead. The first list is where you want to invest the vast majority (80% or more) of your time. The second list needs to go away. Trash it completely. Maybe you’ve put a lot of time and money into some of them, but if they aren’t showing a return, cut your losses and walk away. The last list, the necessary but not productive items, needs a little more analysis.
Sweat Equity vs. Check Equity
If you’re relatively new in your business and funds are limited, you might find that you have to put in the sweat equity on the tasks that are low return. If that’s the case, try to limit the time spent on these activities to the parts of your day when you can’t be doing revenue generating activities. If you are able to afford it, you might consider some check equity to take care of the little things and free up more of your time to focus on the revenue generating activities that will grow your business.
Prioritize and Delegate
The last part of this equation is taking your 80% list and your 20% list and prioritizing the individual tasks on each. Which ones are either more vital to your business or give the greatest return on your investment of time? Those are the ones that you want to prioritize in your business. The ones on the 20% list that are the highest priority are the ones to spend that time on. The others need to be delegated or outsourced. Yes, I know, you’re a control freak and have a hard time letting go. Fine, that’s your choice. The sooner you do, the sooner you will see greater returns in your business.
At the end of the day, it’s the end of the day. You only have so many minutes, so many hours, in a day. What you make of those minutes and hours when you are working is your investment in your business. Are you investing your time where you will get the greatest return on your investment? Will your business be better off tomorrow because of the tasks you prioritized today? Answer the question from our training class as honestly as you can. If there’s any doubt, go through these steps and see what the results are on your business. You might be surprised at what a smart investor you become.
The good news is that it happens to everyone at some point (or more than once). But, wait, there’s more!!! The risk that hitting this kind of wall will kill you is pretty low. Yes, you might get down a little. You might experience a metaphorical sense of temporary paralysis. There is also a significant risk of denial that you have, in fact, hit a wall. The one thing you have to remember is that it is all temporary. As my father likes to say, “This too shall pass.” So, the question you have to ask yourself is:
What are you going to do to get around, climb your way over, or bust through that wall like a freaking wrecking ball?
The term “hitting the wall” comes from the running world. “The wall” is defined as that period in a marathon when things transition from being pretty hard to being really, really hard. It is the point where your legs turn into lead and your brain tells you to stop. It’s the perfect intersection of exhaustion and diminished mental faculties.
When I started talking about writing this post, I got this quote from a friend: “The problem in this job is that from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed people need things from me. It’s kids in the morning, clients and agents during the day, then a combination of the two from about 5-10 pm. It’s draining.” You start to lose that feeling of accomplishment, that high of closing the deal, the pride of building your business. That’s not good. Untreated, this leads to an extreme lack of “give a damn” and can severely affect your business. I have a friend in this business, an extremely high producer today, that quite literally quit real estate at one point because he hit the wall and couldn’t figure out how to get back on track. So, here is the Real Estate 12-Step Program for all of you workaholics:
1) Admit You Have a Problem – I once went 67 days without a day off. At the time, I felt like it was fine and that I was fine. Then I got a couple of days off and realized exactly how exhausted I was and how in denial I had been. I never made that mistake again. Sometimes it can be difficult to admit because who else is going to do it? This is your baby and no one can love your baby the way you do. You have to realize the problem before you can attack it.
2) Get Away From it All – Nothing refreshes like a break. A real break. Not a leave town for a couple of days and check your messages and emails every ten minutes break. A break where you disconnect. Leave your files with a working partner, jump a plane and disappear. Leave your cell phone and computer at home. Buy a disposable cell phone if you have to have one and only give the number to people that ABSOLUTELY have to have it.
3) Power Through – Sometimes the only thing you can do is put your nose to the grindstone and just plow ahead. One of my favorite business books is called Rhinoceros Success and the mantra from it is “Keep Charging”. Put on your big girl or boy pants and get through the slump. It will end.
4) Revisit Your Why – What makes you tick? Why did you get in this business in the first place? When you start to lose your motivation and focus, it’s time to revisit the reason you are here in the first place. Make a vision board. Reset your wallpaper on your computer. Put reminders everywhere. Let that reward be the spark you need to re-engage.
5) Make a Plan – Yes, I know you already have one. Yes, I know you probably spent a good deal of time setting goals and working out your plan. Make a new one. Even if it is something totally unrelated to your business. Make a plan for something. Just the simple act of brainstorming a new plan can get the creative juices flowing enough to spark some excitement.
6) Pamper Yourself – When you feel the drag of so many people pulling at you and needing something and wanting your attention and time, go do something that is just for you. Get a massage or a manicure. My favorite thing to do when I feel like this is to get a straight blade shave, even if I don’t need a shave. Plus it has the added bonus of making you feel like an old mobster, which is cool. Spend some time and attention on you, because you are important and deserve it.
7) Get a Coach – Yes, coaching can be pricey. Yes, finding the right one can be tough. Enough with the excuses. Is your business worth the investment. If you go from making $100,000 a year while beating your head against the wall to implementing systems and processes that allow you to make $300,000 a year with far less stress, is it worth it to spend a few hundred bucks a month? Yes, yes it is. Go get a coach.
8) Seek Professional Help – What’s getting you down? What’s the part of the business that is driving you nuts and making you want to quit? Find someone else who can do that and start delegating. See step 7 for the justification. See step 5 for some added fun on what and how you delegate.
9) Go Small – You know the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant?” The same thing could be said about dismantling a wall. One brick at a time. Take baby steps. Do one thing to completion and then reward yourself. Then do it again. Next thing you know, you’ll be on a roll of small successes and the big stuff will look less daunting.
10) Kill Vampires – We’ve talked about this before on this blog, but you have to get to a point respecting yourself and your time enough to get rid of time killers, or, as I call them, blood-sucking vampires. Some clients aren’t worth it. Some projects aren’t worth it. Assess honestly and get rid of them. It’s really hard the first time, but it gets easier.
11) Change Your Surroundings – As crazy as this sounds, making a simple change in your surroundings can make a huge impact on how you feel about work. When I first started in real estate, I worked in an 8×10 office five feet from my bed. I got so tired of it that it would drive me nuts sometimes. Get out. Go to Starbucks or somewhere similar. Repaint your office or rearrange your furniture. Just make a change and see how it affects your mood.
12) Get Very Real With Yourself and Your Wall – OK, you’ve been given 11 things to try. If those don’t work, I think you need to have a very serious chat with yourself. Are you the reason you’re up against the wall? Did you build the wall? Sometimes you have to get out of your own head and way. Be brutally honest with yourself and then power through it.
“Hi, my name is Chance and I’m a workaholic.” After starting my day at 7:00 a.m., I am just now putting the finishing touches on a blog post at 1:10 a.m. If you’re like me, you will most likely hit a wall at some point. I hope this 12-Step Program works for you.
All the Best.
As a busy real estate agent it can sometimes be difficult to take a step back from your business and evaluate how things are going, set goals, and focus on what you have to do to reach those goals. I mean, you’ve got clients calling all the time, closings to attend, homes to show and list, negotiations, prospecting, and a pile of administrative work. Not to mention, you probably have a social life and/or family that require your attention. (It should also go without saying that you need to take to time to read awesome blog posts.) There are only so many hours in a day, so where do you find the time for everything?
In a previous post we talked about periodization as a tool to laser focus your business on the things that help you achieve your goals faster. Periodization is tough and might not be for everyone. So here’s an option that is a little easier to digest and implement, but still requires the same level of focus to reach your goals. It’s called the 3×3 method and has proven successful for a lot of people.
Don’t put the cart before the horse when it comes to planning the execution of your goals. Make sure that you have solid, actionable goals in place first.
Once you’ve got a set of goals, now we focus on the execution using the 3×3 method. This is so simple sounding when you first hear it that it’s almost easy to dismiss. Don’t do that. If you stop reading now, not only will you miss out on my quick wit, but you might miss out on that one tip that takes you from having a bunch of good ideas to acting on those ideas and letting your great ideas take you to the next level. Here you go…
Each month you set 3 goals or select 3 items from your Do, Doing, Done board. Then, each week you select 3 steps you need to complete to reach those 3 monthly goals. Once you have those set for the month, the next step is to go about removing all distractions and hurdles in the way of reaching those goals. Deflect, delegate, outsource, or just say no. Laser focus yourself on the three. Don’t stop until you’ve completed them.
Much like periodization, the key to success is the focus. Imagine though, for a minute, if at the end of the year, you had completed 36 big goals or projects. How awesome would that be? Try it for a month and see what happens. You might be surprised not only by how it isn’t as easy as it sounds, but by the sense of accomplishment you feel once you’ve reached those three goals that have been lingering on your to-do list.
All the Best.
So, you’re thinking of going into real estate full-time? That’s awesome. Real estate can be one of the most exciting, fun, and, yes, lucrative careers for those who succeed. It can also be frustrating, overwhelming, nerve-wracking, and expensive. It can rip your heart out one day and make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain the next. Despite what you might have seen on HGTV or assume because you see Realtors out at lunch in a fancy car, real estate is not for the faint of heart. To give you an example, it’s midnight and here I am writing this after a full day of training, client work, a sales meeting, prospecting, and a business dinner. I’m not bitching, I’m just making sure you get the full picture before you jump off that cliff.
It’s difficult to measure, but the attrition rate of real estate agents is estimated to be somewhere between 70-90%, depending on market conditions and location.
I’m not trying to talk you out of it. I just want you to be aware. There are one million Realtors in the United States. There are a handful of HGTV shows. This is just a little bit of a reality check. Don’t let it discourage you.
I have the good fortune to be able to meet a lot of agents who are just getting their license. In more cases than not, one of the first things out of their mouth is something along the lines of, “I’m working at (insert employer here) for now, but I really want to make the move to real estate full-time. When is the right time to quit my day job?” or “How do I know when it’s the right time to quit?”
The problem with the question is that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Each person is different, each job is different, and your exit strategy will be based on a number of variables. So, based on that, here are my best answers based on the most common variables.
1) Money, Money, Money
The first and biggest consideration is money, whether you think you’re ready or not. Let’s start with the facts about what it costs to be a productive agent. Your expenses will include association and MLS dues, computer, tablet, phone, vehicular expenses, marketing, software, entertainment, brokerage fees, taxes, and the list goes on. Like I mentioned before, being a Realtor is not a cheap endeavor. So, based on what your plan is for running your business full-time (you have one of those, right?), you need to create a business budget.
Second, you need to know your personal expenses and you need to know how that will change based on the change in your employment status. Once you know what you need to comfortably live on a monthly basis, you need to have at least 6 months saved. Please note that I said live comfortably. Being stressed out over money will not help you succeed. Yes, you need to know that the money will eventually run out and that you will need to produce in order to replenish it, but you also need to be able to go out to coffee or grab dinner with friends without worry. If you feel like 6 months isn’t enough, build more savings.
Understand that, even if you walk into the business with a couple of transactions waiting for you, there are still significant startup costs and you aren’t going to see money from those transactions for 30-45 days, at a minimum. What’s your plan after those couple of transactions? You need to make sure you can afford to run your business and your life.
2) Your Pipeline and Circles of Influence
As I mentioned in the last paragraph, many people jump into the business with a couple of deals waiting on them or they have a friend that is going to buy soon or some such example. That’s great, but do you have one or two of those every month for the next year? What if you’re new to town and don’t know anyone? Where is your business going to come from? Going back to point one about money, do you have enough to survive without a regular income and do you have enough to fund your business until you have a regular pipeline of clients?
One of the crazy things about this industry is that, for a lot of people, success is really just a war of attrition. The longer you are in it, the longer you are doing the right things, the more likely you are to be successful. If you think for one second that you are going to walk right into being a real estate agent and immediately be a millionaire (or even a hundred thousandaire), you are mistaken. It just doesn’t happen that way very often.
So, make the second thing you do, after you look at the money side of things, be start to lay out your business plan. What will the costs be? How long until the activities start to show returns? Set your goals. Compare that to the money from above. Then ask yourself the money questions all over again.
3) Your Ability to Work
Finally, and this is a two-part question, you need to know your ability to actually do your job. The reason this is a two-part question is that part of the question pertains to your ability to do your job as a Realtor and the other part has to do with your ability to do your job as a Realtor while also doing another job.
So, let’s tackle the first part of that question. Are you a self-starter? How well do you deal with rejection? How well can you work from home or do you need a more structured office atmosphere? How well can you manage your time? These are all important questions because they will dictate, in part, the level of success you have in the real estate industry. Whether or not you’re detail-oriented, aggressive, a salesperson, or any other stereotype you want to think is conducive to real estate, it doesn’t matter. Your ability to do the day in, day out tasks that aren’t glamorous, aren’t fun, but are profitable is what matters.
On the second part of the question, can you do those things while working another job? You might not do them at such a high rate of activity. You might have to automate a good deal of them through a CRM system. The question is, can you manage the two? Can you take off in the middle of the day to show a house? Do you have the freedom of weekends and evenings if you need to show or go to appointments? If the answer to any of those questions is no, you might need to reconsider trying to do both or hold off until the money is there to go full-time, or rethink the answers until you can figure out a way to make it work. Your passion will drive you.
The long story short is that there are a lot of considerations before you plunge head first into real estate without a safety net. Don’t take them lightly because they can affect not only how you do business but whether or not you’re successful. There is nothing wrong with working while you transition into the industry. I did it. I recommend it to a lot of people. For some people it is right, for others it isn’t. Take your time. You are going to be in this business for a long time. Making a smart decision on how you start your career can be the determining factor in just how long.