Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is challenging, writes broker-owner Elisha Lopez. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and into a better version of yourself.

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One of the greatest struggles new real estate agents face also happens to be what draws them to the career: Being their own boss. Most people are used to working Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and having a boss that delegates tasks.

If new agents struggle to adjust to an unpredictable schedule or don’t have someone model how to succeed, they drop out of the game before they experience the rewards of independence. Here are three tips to help any new agent transition from being an employee to embodying the entrepreneur mindset. 

Working off-hours 

A lot of employees are used to clocking in and out of work at the same time each day and having Saturday and Sunday off. That routine can be tough to break.

A real estate agent’s schedule has to be fluid. If their buyer can only see a house on Friday at 6:00 p.m., they may have to cancel dinner plans to accommodate. 

To begin building your flexibility muscle, start to organize your schedule by tending to personal affairs during the day and work priorities, like responding to emails and researching markets, in the evening or on weekends. To gain a sense of stability and control, define your non-negotiables, like picking up your kids from school or attending support groups. Then, start practicing working around those things.

The commitment to showing up for your clients when they need you will grow your business. After five to seven years, you’ll have the flow of an entrepreneur down and can be selective about what clients you take on and when you meet with them. 

An entrepreneur’s conversations are their meat and potatoes 

When I started my real estate career, every time I went shopping or out in public, I forced myself to talk to people. It was uncomfortable at first, but I had to get over being shy, and I quickly realized that people wouldn’t bite my head off if I knew what to say.

There are so many scripts out there to memorize and practice for this purpose, and no matter what is trending, this timeless tool will get you the business you want. 

I wasn’t comfortable being so direct, so I used to make a game out of talking to strangers. If I was cold-calling, I gave myself a point every time someone didn’t hang up on me or stayed on the line for a certain length of time. After each call, I’d reevaluate my script and tailor it to suit my personality. I started to understand the nuances of what I was saying and why it was written the way it was. 

If people were grouchy, I realized it wasn’t about me. I’d gently say, “It sounds like you’re having a tough day.” Many people would apologize and share what was going on. The script was my way into the conversation, which helped to desensitize me to the fear of rejection. 

Over the years, I’ve helped people from my local deli, bakery and fish department buy homes. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to do things that are uncomfortable and face your fear of rejection. The best way to help yourself make that transition is to practice. It will build your confidence and drastically impact your success. 

A word of caution: A trap I often see new real estate agents fall into is spending hours on social media building their profiles and featuring beautiful homes. This is a useful tool to get attention, and it may start to feed their business, but once they get it, they don’t know how to talk to the people who reach out to them.

All the social media in the world won’t help you refine face-to-face conversations with leads. Being a real estate entrepreneur is all about connecting with people on an emotional level, it goes much farther than any other marketing tool. The best way for an entrepreneur to build their business is to use their time to get out into their community, talk to people in person even if it’s uncomfortable and especially if it makes them nervous, and practice a script to get leads. 

The budding entrepreneur’s leadership 

The best way to adjust to an alternative work schedule and learn to talk to all kinds of people is to have it successfully modeled for you. The right leadership is the most important element to help you go from employee to entrepreneur.

Many agents capitalized on quick sales during the pandemic but are returning to their former jobs because they didn’t have anyone teaching them the fundamental skills needed to handle a shifting market. They didn’t observe the art of cold calling or difficult negotiations. They didn’t see how to balance unpredictable schedules or support emotional clients buying or selling their homes. 

Seek out those who’ve been pounding the pavement through multiple shifting markets who also — and this is the key — love training and building a masterful team. They’ll know when to hold your hand and when to give you a push. They’ll teach you to discern when something is uncomfortable because it’s out of your comfort zone or when it’s a red flag for a disastrous transaction.

Their door should always be open to you to further your development. The mentor you choose should have the same passion and commitment to your development as they do for their clients. A good leader will help you learn; a great leader will love doing it. Don’t sell yourself short. You deserve to have the very best if you’re willing to give your very best. 

It always comes back to the basics 

Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is challenging. It takes more than keeping a tight schedule or building your social media platform. It’s uncomfortable and pushes you out of your comfort zone and into a better version of yourself.

While it may feel complicated, the process is simple. Success in real estate will always come back to the basics: Be flexible, practice your script, put yourself out there to build those relationships and get a mentor. Once you find your guru and nail these skills, you’ll be taking on the world as your own boss in no time.

Elisha Lopez is a real estate broker and owner of Ocala Realty World and the founder of the ORW School of Real Estate in Florida. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.

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