A career in real estate is exciting—you get to be your own boss, set your own hours and, essentially, determine the amount of money you’ll make. But starting out can be overwhelming; as much as you’ve prepared and trained for your new career, it’s hard to know what to expect the first year, which may be part of the reason a reported 87% of new agents fail within five years.

Luckily, new agents entering the profession today can benefit from an endless cache of wisdom and insight from agents who have done it right—and wrong. This is your new career so don’t go into in with your eyes shut.

Read on for the top five things you’ll need to focus on as a new agent—so you won’t need “hindsight” to see 20/20.

Have a plan

There are many paths to building your business. Just because your colleague built a successful business by talking on the phone doesn’t mean that will be your ticket to success. Maybe you hate making phone calls but enjoy face-to-face networking. Try different approaches and do what feels most comfortable and doable for you.

We humans are usually best at tasks we enjoy, so this will likely yield the best returns. “The best book I can recommend to new agents is Seven Styles by Bruce Gardner,” says Drew Schneider, Real Estate Advisor with Drew’s Home Team at Your Castle Real Estate in Denver. “The idea is that business can come from just about any sources, but what resonates with you?”

Have savings

And—ideally—have a partner with a good, stable income. “The income is inconsistent, especially in the beginning,” says Schneider. “Make sure you have enough savings, or another income source, to comfortably bridge the gap between starting your real estate career and your first few closings.”

Know your “Big Why”

Know what your purpose is, beyond just earning healthy commission checks. Ask yourself, what do I love doing? Which activity do you enjoy so much that you never watch the clock? Having a “why” will help you identify the “how.” (See Number 1 above regarding doing what you enjoy.)

Be realistic 

“Being a real estate agent is not how it looks on HGTV,” says Schneider. “Looking at nice homes is a very small percentage of what I do. You also have to be organized, personable, intelligent, creative, patient, flexible, and able to withstand high amounts of stress when your clients’ life-changing purchase is in the balance.”

Get a mentor

Find a seasoned, successful mentor who can teach you invaluable lessons ranging from contracts to client relations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you don’t know something. Once you find a mentor or two that you can trust, do what they say—and don’t listen to anyone else.

As Aristotle famously said (or was it Mary Poppins?), “Well begun is half-done!” By being honest with yourself and focusing on these five things, you’ll move forward in your new real estate career with both knowledge and confidence.