In an interview with Inman, Jonathan Spears, founder of the Spears Group, reflects on the three biggest mistakes he made as a new agent.

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Jonathan Spears just surpassed $1 billion in career sales, and he’s not even 30 yet. 

A dominant force in the Northwest Florida market, Spears is the founder of the Spears Group, one of the highest producing medium-sized teams in the country.

Today, he works under Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty. But 10 years ago, he was an assistant at a foreclosure firm

To go from an assistant to a leading agent in Northwest Florida is no easy task. And while Spears did a lot of things right, he also made mistakes. 

In an interview with Inman, he reflects on the three biggest mistakes he made as a new agent and describes how agents can avoid making the same ones. 

He was a heavy micromanager

“I thought I needed to do everything myself, and do it to perfection,” Spears told Inman.

But feeling like the smartest or most capable person in the room will always lead to big mistakes. Not everyone is going to do things exactly the same, but being able to trust other people to get the job done will allow agents to broaden their focus.

“If I decided to do everything myself, I wouldn’t have the time to serve as many people as I do,” he continued. 

When first starting out, Spears advises agents to take a step back and learn every aspect of the business from other people. It’s important, he added, not to hyperfocus on one area right away.

He wasn’t his authentic self

When Spears started off as an agent, he was just 18. Because he was so young, he constantly felt like he needed to prove himself.

“Your tendency is to be someone else,” he said. “What I realized very quickly was that my customers responded best when they were getting me. Not a version of me that I was trying to be.”

The Key, Spears explained, is to figure out what makes you uniquely you, and use it as a conversation piece. 

That unique factor, he continued, can be anything from having a passion for golf to sailing boats.

“I had an agent who worked with me who was a former NASCAR driver,” Spears said. “He would get people who would send his trading card to his office with a sharpie for him to autograph.”

For Spears, his unique factor was his age. Instead of feeling insecure when people would comment on it, he started to embrace it. Sometimes, he would even use it as an icebreaker.

“If somebody was going to call out the fact that I looked young, I was going to embrace and be like ‘you know what, I absolutely am,” he said.

He worried about what everyone else was doing

Agents need to stay focused on the goals they have for themselves, Spears said.

When he was a new agent, Spears would get caught up with what everyone else was doing, what they were selling, and who they were selling to. 

Constantly looking at a competitor’s social media pages is going to lead to a negative mindset, he warned.

It’s important to be aware of who is selling what for the purpose of strategy, but constantly watching what other people are doing takes time away from business. 

“You want to keep your mind on your business. You want to keep your mind on your successes and your wins,” Spears said. 

How can an agent eliminate toxicity? It could be as simple as not looking at social media during the work day or unfollowing competitors from personal accounts.

Email Libertina Brandt

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