Starting something new is difficult. As a creative person, one of the most challenging moments in the artistic process is within the first moments of putting the brush to a canvas. Admittedly, bringing an idea to life – giving it substance – is stressful. What if I mess up? What if I don’t have all the data? What if nobody likes it? What if it isn’t perfect? When I’m trying something new, questions like these always surface and pierce my confidence like splinters. They’re there for a reason: a person’s natural drive bends toward self-preservation, and trying something new is risky whether or not the status quo has worked out so far. Thoughts of self-preservation are healthy to have provided they’re kept in check. Here’s what you need to know about letting your inner dialogue dominate your desire to take action:

Thoughts of self-doubt will delay you from achieving goals.

Obsessing over perfection will delay you from achieving goals.

Analysis paralysis will delay you from achieving goals.

I’m not suggesting that entrepreneurial real estate professionals throw caution to the wind and start without a game plan. What I am suggesting is that not every masterpiece begins with a masterful brush stroke. In most cases, masterpieces result from the little failures and little successes of experimentation. Taking a leap of faith, acting on your intuition, and having confidence in your ability are often enough to lay the groundwork for a successful business.

But perhaps the most important trait of all is to keep an open mind to the experiences of seasoned professionals. ERA Real Estate is an outstandingly giving network, so when I asked affiliated brokers and agents to weigh in and give their advice, there was an outpouring of support. Here’s some advice they offered:

Allen Greenman: “ERA Learning Exchange. Live in it for three weeks, then go out on as many home inspections as you can. Home inspectors will give you the practical knowledge to differentiate yourself as a white lab coat agent. It’ll help prepare you for both buyer and seller interactions. It’ll give you credence and confidence.”

Jinger White: “Go to your office every day. Have a set schedule. This is a business and you are the boss – treat it as such. But remember to take some time for yourself too.”

Chris Montiel: “Don’t be afraid of rejection.”

Debbie Raccuglia-Smith: “Prepare to treat this as a business. Sitting at home on the couch will not build your business. You must get out, start a conversation, and find your niche. Learn on the go. ERA ACHIEVE is the one training module that allows training and working to go hand-in-hand! And most of all, this is a career NOT a job! You gotta love it!”

Bill Olson: “Get comfortable in front of a camera and start shooting video! You will come across as an expert in your field.”

Patty Hogan: “Raise your hand, volunteer, strike up a conversation about the real estate market. If you work with an ERA franchise, your manager knows what’s going on in their market, so find out how to run statistics from your local MLS and be the smartest person in the room!”

Liz Miller: “Don’t let someone intimidate you because of your experience. Find your confidence and stand up straight. Over-communicate to everyone. Sellers want to know what you are doing for them. Tell them before they ask. Buyers want help and guidance. Give it to them before they need it. Other agents want to know that you are working as hard as they are. Update them.”

Becky Groves: “Treat this job as a profession. Suit up and show up, then do everything you say you will.”

Tracy Tidwell: “Dress up, show up, and step up. Make a business plan, set up your schedule and systems. Answer your phone, messages, and emails.”

Kim Luckie: “Marketing habits create ten-times more business than marketing creative. Give out all your business cards before you waste time creating a fancy one. You have to ask for business, so practice asking. Practice out loud and in front of people. Keep your brand simple until you’ve had enough at-bats to know who you are. Every minute you’re not working on a transaction should be spent in class, following an experienced agent, or in business generation. Don’t be afraid of video marketing. Done is better than perfect.”

Melissa Arno: “Time management. While you do make your own schedule, don’t settle on a one or two hour work day – especially if you expect a six-figure income for the effort. If you work part-time, you will make part-time money – if any.”

Kim Guynn: “Build relationships. Get used to talking to people right away… as many people as you can. No less than five people per day. Start a gratitude journal and work on your mindset EVERYDAY. Read. Write down and visualize your goals. Take care of yourself. Be consistent. Do the things other people are not willing to do. Ask questions and for help when needed. Become very familiar with your area. Tour as many homes and neighborhoods as possible. Meet the community and get to know the people. Believe you can do it!”

Tattianna Martin: “Don’t be a secret agent. Be loud and proud! Share your passion, and people will want to support your passion.”

Jeff Little: “Surround yourself with successful, producing agents and try to emulate the qualities they possess – but only the ones that come naturally to you. Don’t try to be something you’re not. For instance, if someone in your office has been successful doing open houses, but you don’t feel comfortable doing them, then don’t do them. We are all independent contractors and there is more than one path to success.”

Zee Hunter White: “Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?! Show and tell your friends and family how to refer you. Don’t ever assume that your family knows what you do for a living. Show up to the office. Get to know your colleagues. They might be busy one day and have a referral for you. But they won’t refer you if they don’t know who you are. Be present. Know when to stop talking and listen. Never stop learning – you don’t know what you don’t know. Build relationships with your competition. Practice your delivery. Ask questions. Don’t go it alone. When you make it up the ladder, don’t forget those who held it in place for you. Last but not least – know how to say Realtor. REEL-TOR!”

Cheryl Knowlton: “ANSWER your phone. You will set yourself apart by doing this one thing. INVEST in as much education as you possibly can – your first year and every single year thereafter. Hire a coach the second you can afford one. We all need the accountability piece. READ “The Miracle Morning,” and create a schedule for yourself that you will commit to following every single day.”

Karin Jessen: “Don’t sweat and spend time on the little things like business cards, logo, photo, etc. I know we think that it will make all the difference, but in the end it doesn’t. I know I wasted hours and days in those first few months of being a new deer in the headlights. Get out there among the people. Go to every class that your board offers. Start by knocking your neighborhood.

Debbie German: “Watch your expenses and keep another income if you need to. Don’t spend all your savings because real estate is no guarantee. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Takes time to build a business and people to look at you as a real estate leader.”

Beth Green: “Be true, honest, and trustworthy. The best thing anyone can say about you is ‘I trust that person.’ That goes so far. Be a counselor and help people through the process. Have compassion and understanding and most of all LISTEN. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Don’t be afraid of silence. Love what you’re doing and make it known. Dress appropriately and be on time. Be kind, be helpful, be there.”

Steve Doty: “Build a 12-month, 36-month, and 60-month business plan. Put it in writing and revisit it often. Have a weekly schedule and adhere to it. Find an experienced agent and mentor with them. Buy Starbucks on the day they work with you – if they open the doors to train you, go. Never miss a chance to learn. Treat real estate like a job. If you don’t have a constant stream of activity, pick the phone up and call your sphere and create activity. Always follow crowds and work with them.”

Cory Williams: “Time block. Control your calendar. Give options for appointments. Consistency is key when marketing. Be persistent. Follow up AFTER closing.”

Brittney Burks: “All of this, and I encourage you to pray. It got me through my first year, and year after year it’s still getting me through.”

Richard Henley: “Marry a builder.”

Jaime Hensley: “Your biggest breakthrough is the day you begin to control the client rather than them controlling you. Agents have value. Believe, represent, and manage the transaction accordingly. Your life changes when you make this transition.”

Melissa Sturdevant: “Get a coach!”

Jodi Lee Tate: “Start by working where you live. Your sphere of influence is your best business first. Stay in touch with folks. Networking is the lifeblood of this business. Read “Never Eat Alone.” Be a forever student of your industry. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember to breathe! Show up, listen, and laugh a little!”

Patty Krasienko: “Everything Jodi said. Surround yourself with the positive people. Set goals. When you get knocked down, jump up immediately and brush yourself off. Every day is a new start.”

Paula Sherman: “Get up and show up! Work it like a job.”

Andrea Murphy: “Know your ‘why.’ Communicate your ‘why’ is everything that you do. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And tell your SOI, your social media, and anyone you talk to about why you are in real estate. The more that you practice your skills, the more competent you will become, therefore increasing your confidence. Be accountable to your schedule and have an accountability partner, and don’t forget to have a coach.”

Jim Houston: “Don’t be afraid to ask the other agents in the office for advice, recommendations and assistance.”