It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting a real estate license while forgetting that in reality you’re running a business. With more than 73,000 Real Estate Registrants in Ontario sharing an estimated 56,000 transactions in 2015, starting on the right foot should be a priority for you. We’ve all been there before: we look back and wish we did things differently. When investing in your real estate career, you can’t afford years of costly mistakes before you get it right. So instead of delaying the inevitable of finally getting it, why not shave off a few years of unnecessary “I told you so’s” and take my advice to heart? It will change the way you run your business.
I would love to fit 14 years of experience into one blog post, but that won’t happen. So for this post, I’ll focus on a common regret most experienced agents face, which can become the demise of their success. Money management! Especially if you’re looking to transition from a part-time agent to a full-time agent, you better take out your notebook.
Let’s start by shifting the way you think. Real estate success has very little to do with real estate and more to do with personal growth. You need to master the art of discipline and learn where to focus your attention and money management is a good place to start. It will fuel and accelerate your business to the next level, especially when you begin to learn how to invest in your success!
“A business can’t succeed without a great CFO.”
Although things are more refined today with my money management skills, here’s the gist of how I started to move forward in my younger years of real estate. Keep in mind to focus on the habits not the numbers – each and every one of you will have different goals and obstacles to face. With time your game plan will also progress! It’s the proactive thinking I want you to master so you can build a strong foundation for your success.
Step 1: Get proactive advice! Find a forward thinking accountant and investment advisor so you can devise a game plan that fits your future needs and STICK TO IT. As far as money management goes, start to think proactively. Most people are programmed to meet with their accountant at the end of each year in the hopes of maximizing their current taxation year. I, on the other hand, learned to meet with my accountant and investment advisor on how I could maximize the next three years.
Step 2: Learn how to pay yourself. Here’s how I started to pay myself. If I sold a home that earned me $12,000 commission, I would spread it evenly over 6 -12 months. When I sold my next home I would do the same and add it to my remaining year’s salary. And so on, and so on. I’d call it a raise! I had a modest ceiling salary I would set for the year, which was needed to cover my cost of living and my basic game plan, and once I hit that target I’d carry the remaining forward for next year. For those who have a full time job, apply this process to all your income. It was tough for me at first, but I have never had a cash flow issue since. This brought peace of mind so I could focus on building my business and with time I had money to invest in both my business and my future.
Step 3: Budget your cash flow! I opened three new (free) bank accounts in addition to my chequing account. One labelled savings/investment, the second labelled taxes and the final my vacation account. Each account had a percentage associated with each deposit and I made sure to add that percentage to my account name for quick reference. For example: investing 15%; taxes 30%; and vacation 5%. With time you may want to add a donation account or any other account you may need. The minute I received a commission cheque, I’d divide my commission accordingly, the remaining would go to my budgeted cost of living. You can call CRA directly or you can take my word on it: tax management has not been a strength for many Realtors in Ontario. Nothing feels better than being ahead of the game in that department.
Once I anchored the discipline on the basics of money management, I learned to respect every dollar earned and I took things to the next level. I learned how to maximize my dollars to manage debt, invest in my retirement and most importantly I learned how to invest in marketing my real estate business. After years of discipline, I managed to anchor a new habit of successful money managing.
Money management is a lot like surviving in the wilderness – at first everything seems necessary for survival. You will need to devise a plan to prioritize the important things. When you’re in the middle of nowhere and temperatures start to drop to -20 °C, the last thing on your mind is food. Imagine that proactive financial advice is the equivalent of shelter and fire, that how you pay yourself is the equivalent of drinking water, and that how you budget your money is the equivalent of food. Once you have this mindset in place, you can focus on building an oasis. Now you’re thinking like a CFO!
Imagine your business through the eyes of a great CFO. Your finances are in order, you’re learning everything you can about becoming a great real estate representative, and you’re mastering the art of marketing and client services. With money now in hand to invest in your business, you’ll be on track to success!
This OREA blog contribution comes from guest blogger Marco Da Silva. Marco is a Broker of Record and the President of Asima Realty Ltd. He helps consumers buy and sell real estate in the GTA. He has served on many Toronto Real Estate Board committees, including MLS, Consumer Relations, and Buyer Services.