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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD), with assistance from Lauren Hampton and the Podfly editorial team.

Running your business—like a business—is crucial for getting maximum value out of it, and your efforts. As REALTORS®, it is crucial to plan and be wise, and to think of yourself as a business owner at all times.

Episode eight of the CRD Podcast is the first of two episodes that explore different aspects of business planning for real estate professionals. Part one is a one-on-one by host Monica Neubauer and an industry expert. Part two, which will release in December, will be a panel discussion, so you can hear some different opinions on the same topic from peers.

Neubauer’s guest for episode eight is Mark Given. Given has been teaching real estate courses nationally since 2004. He has been president of and served on numerous committees for REALTOR® Associations at the national, state and local levels. In addition to his speaking, teaching, and volunteering careers, Given is a prolific author. Given has a book series about his trust-based business philosophy, and has also co-written four other books. His weekly blog, “Mark’s Minute,” is read by thousands—you can sign up to get on the list on his website. Before launching his real estate career, Given spent 20 years as CEO of a multi-state retail sales and rental company.

Given and Neubauer talk about a number of things that should become part of your business plan: finding a mentor, how to foster a good broker relationship, and the cost of training (or not getting trained) in several areas, as well as niche positions in the market and keeping up with your past clients. They also discuss aspects of building a team and being proactive in your business. Below are some of the highlights and key ideas from the discussion.

Find the right brokerage for you. One of the first things a new agent has to do is find a brokerage firm. You need to find a good fit with your broker, so they can help nurture you and gain momentum. Look for a brokerage firm that has potential mentors, a good educational program, and a culture that connects with who you are. Looking for mentors both within and outside the company is important in getting honest answers to some important questions. Learning to ask good questions is a huge part of the real estate industry.

Budget for periods of uneven cash flow. Understanding the money aspect of real estate is important in showing a profit and actually making money in your business. You likely won’t be closing on any deals right away, and you have to budget for the periods of time that you don’t have any revenue. Some expenses include gas, marketing, MLS and association fees, and other additional business fees. Taking a class that talks about the cost of running your business is a great idea for new agents—you don’t want surprises that might cause stress that would prevent you from performing at your highest level. You also don’t want to get ahead of yourself; don’t spend your earnings before you make them!

Don’t skimp on training. Training should be part of your business plan, as well—and not only for new agents. There is always new information to be learned. It is very beneficial to do more training besides what is required for your continuing education. This can help grow your own confidence, and make your business more successful.

Find your special niche. Most agents run their real estate business as generalists. There are plenty of agents who succeed running their business this way, but Given has found that agents that take the time to specialize in a given niche often become the “go-to” person for that niche. If you’re going to run your business like a business, it’s in becoming really good at some part of a business that you become recognized as the best person for that part.

“Pick a niche and get really good at it and all of a sudden your business can really explode,” explains Given.

Develop systems to help your business run more smoothly. It is crucial for people running a real estate business to have better systems. Some of these systems include contact management systems or systems that track your business’ profit. Your management systems are only as good as the information you put in them. You need to have some systems in place to make sure you’re doing things in a timely manner, and following up with your clients. There are many companies that already have these systems in place—take advantage of them! Start your day by making a plan for what you need to get done that day.

There is quite a bit more helpful information covered in episode eight, and we invite you to check out this particular episode, as well as the seven that came before it, at, or wherever you sign up to listen and subscribe to your favorite podcasts. Our goal with the podcast is to support and broadcast great conversations (in a free and easily-accessible format) between and for real estate professionals who want to always keep learning and continuously elevate their practitioner skills.

The Center for REALTOR® Development podcast is sponsored and supported by NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development, an online learning platform designed specifically for REALTORS®. Nov. 30 is the last day of NAR’s Designation Awareness Month, during which all online designation and certification courses offered at onlinelearning.REALTOR are 20% off their regular price. For more information about Designation Awareness Month generally, please visit

For more information, please visit RISMedia’s new online learning portal from NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) and the Learning Library. Here, real estate professionals can sign up for online professional development courses, industry designations, certifications, CE credits, Code of Ethics programs and more. NAR’s CRD also offers monthly specials and important education updates. New users will need to register for an account.

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