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Unlocking growth: The entrepreneurial shift in real estate and why your first hire should be an ISA

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As solo agents, we are programmed to wear many hats and become self-sufficient.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t scale very well and the industry is moving way too fast to be running a one-person show.


Entrepreneurs have mastered their time


The most important decision you make as an entrepreneur is to determine the price of your time. Your time is the only limited resource. There’s no way to get more of it — you only have 24 hours in a day, and 7 days a week. How you spend these hours plays a significant role in how fast and how efficiently your business develops.

From quickly understanding what’s working and how to prioritize your money-making activities, to learning to make quick decisions, turn down everything that’s not serving your goal and block off all the noise and distractions, your time becomes your highest commodity.

Agents that end up scaling beyond solo-entrepreneurship learn fast how to multiply their efforts, delegate and leverage someone else’s knowledge and skills to get back time — time that they never wasted but appreciate and spend well in places that allow them to raise the bar even higher.


The first-hire challenge: Blind spots


If you’re an agent at a certain level in your business where your transaction system is on speed dial, you can’t close one more transaction without burnout and you’ve maximized your time, you’re most likely ready for the next step: your first hire!

But here’s the challenge.

Many agents are building their businesses from the ground up and making financial decisions through their current economic models. This doesn’t scale very well because they don’t understand all the layers that will eventually hit.

Many agents can’t anticipate much, and that’s the beauty of learning from others who have been where you want to go: it helps you see around all those corners and blind spots.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that when I started and I ended up making a lot of mistakes over the last 15 years. So, get yourself educated before starting the expansion journey, as you’ll end up building a house of cards.


Where to start? Hint: Not with an assistant


Most agents would think that the first hire should be an assistant. And I get it — after all, it solidifies that now you are running a true business, you’ve got someone on your payroll who’s finally servicing you. And after years of servicing others, it’s nice to have someone servicing you!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but I strongly believe that an assistant should not be your first hire. Here’s why.

Hiring an assistant in the real estate business is a challenging task, as you are looking at a medium to low salary range. This type of job has high turnover, so chances are that you will search for a long period before you find someone steady.

You may also spend time training your assistant only to find that they leave a couple of months later. At this salary, most people are not willing to work flexible hours and you may end up covering a lot of assistant duties outside of working hours, not to mention that many tasks you would like to delegate require a real estate license.

Although the idea and the benefit of having an assistant is to free up time that you will then spend on money-making activities, keep in mind that your assistant salary is leaving your bank account on day one.

I’ve seen many agents hire an assistant for jobs that should be covered by a TC (transaction coordinator) on a contract basis, VA (virtual assistant) or delivery and task companies.


Get an inside sales agent


Here’s the reality: you can’t afford to hire an assistant as your first hire. You’re going to work more just to pay their salary, and a year later you’re going to go back to your old routine.

Instead, here’s how to think about your first hire: ask yourself, “Who can I hire that will make me money from day one?”

The answer? An ISA (inside sales agent). This should be your first hire.

If you’re a successful agent, you most likely prospect for two to three hours a day to maximize your time. Now, imagine hiring someone who will spend 8 hours a day prospecting for you. 

That’s roughly three times more time spent on booking your appointments. Your ISA’s work will not only pay for their salary but will in time enable you to hire your first buyer’s agent and, ultimately, your assistant.


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