If you’re just starting out in the NYC real estate industry, it can feel a little daunting. And that’s OK — it’s a competitive market. Although there’s no quick fix on how to become a successful real estate agent, you can get a leg up on the competition early in your career. Here we’ve put together five essential new real estate agent tips.

Start Off on the Right Foot by Making a Business Plan

Developing a business plan can be a pretty daunting thing. But, making a roadmap of your business goals and milestone is one of the most important real estate tips. Don’t worry. Your business plan doesn’t have to be fancy.

Start by setting up a framework to monitor your expenses (both for budgeting and tax purposes). Then try to identify your niche. For example, do you know Queens better than Manhattan? Or, can you sell studios way more easily than 3-bedroom duplexes? This will you identify your strengths as an agent before you even set up your first showing.

It’s important to make sure your goals are measurable and achievable. Don’t say: “I’d like to be the biggest rental agent in South Brooklyn.” Rather, say “by the end of the month, I’d like to close two new rental leases in Park Slope.”

Want to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent? Don’t Ignore Your Brand

You probably already know that NYC is one of the most competitive markets in the country. As such, building your agent brand is important, whether you’re focused on sales or rentals. But that doesn’t mean you should go out and get 1,500 branded pens with your name on them. Building your brand is more about how you present yourself and how present you are in the market.

Get involved on social media and create pages dedicated to your business. Also, do the logical things such as attend networking events and make sure you’re dressed in a way that will instill confidence in your clients. You can even take advantage of a few products on StreetEasy to help yourself stand out as an agent on the site.

Plan Your Finances and Make Sure You Have a Fallback Fund

When you start any business, it’s important to make sure you have a fallback fund. Our friends over at Zillow Group put the figure at about 60–90 days’ worth of expenses you’ll need to have saved up. Seeing as that’s upwards of three months without a solid income, it’s important to be honest with yourself about funding. So, that means tracking your budget. Buying coffee for a prospective client? Mark it down. Paying a photographer/stager to get professional photos of your apartment? Add it to the list. To get a good gauge for your business growth, you need to keep track of your expenses.

Get to the Know the Market and Build a Local Strategy

If your business plan is high level, then your local market strategy should be more in the weeds. Focus on determining your specific niche market, creating comps reports and learn the longer term trends of your market.

Pro-tip: We post thorough market reports in this Resource Center every month. Think about it this way: If you aren’t on a showing or closing a deal, spend all of your other free time learning as much as you can about the market you’re working in.

If You Skip All the Other New Real Estate Agent Tips, Do This One Thing

Of all the new real estate agents tips, this is the most important. You must follow up on your leads. No excuses. In a market like NYC, a given renter is looking at dozens of apartments online, possibly even corresponding with several listing agents. Many agents receive so many queries that it’s even hard for them to respond to them all. That’s why setting aside plenty of time every week for fielding incoming leads or (more importantly) following up with leads you haven’t heard from in a while is crucial to your growth as an agent.

We recommend setting up an alert in your phone once a day to dip into your inbox and make sure there aren’t any cold or unanswered leads. Not every lead will yield a highly qualified client, but every lead you leave unanswered is, by definition, a missed opportunity.