You’ve decided to be a real estate agent. Great—that’s a clear trajectory with potential. It hits you after this decision: how do I become a real estate agent? How do I run an independent agency? For aspiring agents, here is a checklist of tasks and practices to get you going at the start of your career. Following these will help you begin on the right foot as you make your way into the real estate profession.

  •      Ensure your documents are in order. Before you can even get started, you’ve got to complete the required prelicense education and pass the exams. You do need a license to work as a real estate agent, so get one. Details and requirements for your specific location depend on the state you’re working in; generally, it will involve a course, exam, and paperwork (the latter should you want to work independently). If operating on your own is your goal, you and a broker will need to complete some final verification and paperwork with your specific state.
  •      Do the research. It comes down to a basic few questions: is the business viable? Are you willing to take the risk and invest time, effort, and money into this prospect? Do you understand your market clientele? These questions need to be met with a resounding yes—and that comes from research. Understand your area and potential customers and know what you’re getting into. Also, understand what kind of agent you want to be and what types of business you plan to pursue. Will you follow up on an expired listing, or will you focus more on divorce leads or FSBOs? It’s good to take on a variety of leads, but be sure you can effectively manage the different possibilities that exist.
  •      Structure your business and time. You should treat your budding business like a business: plan out what markets and tools you plan to use (and can afford), create a budget of necessary expenditures—including a salary for yourself, and set a schedule of how you plan to spend your time. Consider using services like Trello to streamline your task management, spreadsheets to keep track of relation management and most effective methods, and CRM services to help get you divergent kinds of leads. In the end, regardless of what you choose, you need a concrete plan and structure that you will follow.
  •      Invest (but budget). It takes money to get your name and brand out there. Many options exist to accomplish this (from subscriptions to CRM companies to email campaigns with Mailchimp to fliers in car windshield wipers to gas money to get face-to-face contacts). You need to start somewhere, but be sure it’s reasonable. Don’ put your bank account and ability to pay for necessities at risk. If you take out a personal or small-business (like SBA) loan, do research and plan smart and conservatively so that you can pay your debts. Bottom line: spend smart.
  •      Get the word of mouth spreading. As mentioned, getting your name into households is of primary concern—in fact, it should be one of your primary efforts at the beginning. You can do this in a variety of ways, in-person and digital. You should employ both to some degree or another. Get a website online, add positive reviews to it as you gain clients, and keep contact with those clients and customers, as relationships can pay off with referrals. Create profiles on social media and launch marketing campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Test out multiple options to see what works best for you and gets the best response and results from clients, then maximize those.

There are seemingly infinite other tips and tricks that you can use. As you develop your business, you can streamline interactions with automated texting, digital signatures, and so on. The tasks and practices provided in this article are uncomplicated but effective (and in some cases essential) measures you can utilize to jumpstart your real estate agency.