Ultimately, any agent who treats themselves like a business from day one will be able to establish a solid foundation for their real estate career and set themselves up for long-term success in this cutthroat industry.

There’s so much noise out there on how to navigate a challenging market. This April, let Inman help you cut through the clutter to make smart business decisions in real time. All month long, we’re taking it Back to Basics and finding out how real estate pros are evolving their systems and investing personally and professionally to drive growth.

For people who have lived the nine-to-five work lifestyle in previous careers, shifting to a vastly different mindset as a real estate agent and independent contractor can be challenging. Yes, you may be trying to escape corporate life, but once you’re running your own business, you may come to miss some aspects, such as corporate structure, reviews and expectations.

As a real estate agent, you have to fill in many of these gaps yourself, along with the help of your brokerage and colleagues. Here are a few key ways we recommend treating yourself like a business from day one.

1. Develop a strategic business plan

In any other entrepreneurial endeavor, one of your first steps to success would be creating a well-thought-out, detailed business plan that outlines how you’ll make it work, what resources you’ll need, what your value proposition is and who your target customers are.

Real estate is no different; you’re selling a product (homes) as well as a service (your own expertise) to clients (buyers and sellers). Find a template that works for your experience and skillset, sharpen the pencil and do your homework. Trust us, it matters.

2. Decide on your expectations and strive to meet them

You’re your own boss. While you may have “arrived” at your dream job, you also now have two roles: employee and boss. You have to keep yourself accountable if you want to be successful in the real estate business, so defining your expectations is crucial.

What are you aiming to achieve? What kind of service do you want to provide? Get it out of your brain and onto paper — and then figure out how you’re going to stay motivated and disciplined to meet your own expectations.

3. Establish a schedule

Routine, routine, routine. Devise a regular schedule that works for you and that you can sustain based on your most productive hours of the day. Write out what a day in the life looks like, post it in your office and try to stick to it as much as possible.

Incorporate your other life must-haves (Exercise? Family dinners? An hour of quiet time in the morning with coffee?). Whatever you need and want your day to encompass, include it in your schedule in order to stay productive and focused. Time is money, so spend it wisely — you’re covering your own paycheck.

4. Invest in yourself with continued education

You are in charge of nurturing your own personal and professional development with the help of your brokerage. At the beginning of the year, we recommend figuring out what you’re going to learn and taking immediate steps toward enrolling or setting aside weekly time devoted to that material.

Remember, your knowledge and skills are the core assets you have to boost your business. If your brokerage offers training opportunities, dive in and take advantage. Be aware of the service offerings your brokerage offers to help improve numerous aspects of your business.

5. Do a quarterly performance review for yourself

As your own boss, give yourself a quarterly or bi-annual performance review. Create a rubric and grading scale based on the goals and expectations you identified above. Take a step back and consider all aspects of your business and performance, including the numbers. After you review yourself, set goals for the next period of time.

8. Be conscious of your expenses

You may want to drive a top-agent car, and we get it. Real estate has its glamorous side. However, at the beginning of your career, you’re probably running a lean, mean team.

Budget, spend very wisely, track your expenses carefully and focus on investing in things that will save you immense time or enhance your business significantly. For example, hiring someone to do your taxes may save you hours that you could be connecting with clients. In that case, it might be worth it. Again, if you’re operating as a business, fiscal responsibility and accountability are key.

9. Seek out a business coach or mentor

We recommend having a mentor, coach or someone you look up to weigh in on the early days of your business. While important, you should be clear about what you hope to gain from the mentorship and establish clear communication channels.

Before you do this, take time to identify your specific needs and goals. What are you seeking guidance on: A particular area of the business? Are you seeking general advice or more specifics on the industry? Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve from the mentorship will help you identify a suitable mentor and make the most of your time together.

Remember to always be respectful of their time and establish a regular schedule for check-ins. Always come prepared with specific questions or topics to discuss and be open to constructive feedback in order to maximize the value of this relationship.

Ultimately, any agent who treats themselves like a business from day one will be able to establish a solid foundation for their real estate career and set themselves up for long-term success in this cutthroat industry.

Launching your real estate career is an exciting milestone — a whole new chapter in your life. Don’t forget to bring things you’ve learned from other jobs with you. There are some valuable lessons from working as a full-time employee within an organization that can give your new solo streak a boost.

James Harris is a director at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram. David Parnes is a director at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription