Symba is an exciting technology company for Realtors and teams that is the first fintech product to combine a Realtor’s sales insights with their banking.
They are the first financial services company built specifically for realtors.
[00:02:10] Why Real Estate Agents Need to Treat their Business like a Business: The Importance of Financial Management
[00:05:56] Empowering Real Estate Agents to Treat Themselves Like a Business: Solving the Pain Points of Financial Management
[00:11:57] Managing Your Finances Made Easy with Symba
[00:13:13] Revolutionizing Real Estate Finance: A Comprehensive Overview of Symba
[00:14:56] Using Symba for Real Estate Deal Tracking: Integrating with Your Existing CRM
[00:16:42] Vertical Fintech for Real Estate Agents: How Symba is Revolutionizing Financial Services
[00:19:33] How Symba Combines Technology and Expert Advice for Efficient Financial Management
[00:22:09] The Power of Surrounding Yourself with Industry Professionals and Creating Content
# 16 – Treating your business like a business with Evan Knowles
## [00:00:00] Opening
[00:00:00] **Justin Stoddart:** In today’s episode, we are going to be talking about how a real estate agent can treat their business more like a business you see oftentimes a real estate agent’s sales insights and sales data is completely separate from their banking data. They get that after the fact. It’s like looking through the rear view mirror. Whereas today, we’re going to teach you very specifically how you can be understanding some key principles about looking through the front window, not through the rear view mirror, really bringing together both your banking and your sales insights. It’s going to be a great episode.I have a very special guest and tool to share with you that’s going to help facilitate this for you. Stay tuned.
## [00:00:39] Intro
[00:00:39] **Justin Stoddart:** The big question is this how do those of us in the real estate industry with crazy amounts of ambition? How do we think bigger than the building of our own empires? How do we simultaneously seek success and significance, income and impact? My name is Justin Stoddard, and this is the [00:01:00] Think Bigger Real Estate Show.
[00:01:02] Alright, welcome back, everybody, to the Think Bigger Real Estate Show.Excited to be with you. And this is a topic that I’m very passionate about.For the past couple of decades, I’ve been working with professionals, helping them to level up their business strategies. And even if you help a real estate agent and or any other service based professional to really act and think more strategically, what can oftentimes happen is that there’s some sabotage happening in the background without them even knowing. It because they don’t have all of the insights that they need to not just run the front end of their business strategically, but also to run the back end of their business strategically.
[00:01:40] So today, I have a very special guest.He is the CEO and co-founderfounder of Symba, which is a technology that is really revolutionizing the way that real estate agents manage their finances and ties them in with specifically with sales. So, Evan, it’s a pleasure to have you here today. Excited to talk through these principles of treating your business like a business. [00:02:00] And, of course, we’re going to give people some highlights on what you guys have built, which is phenomenal.
[00:02:05] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah, Justin, thanks for having me on. We’ve heard great things about the show. So excited and honored to be here. So thanks for having us on.
## [00:02:10] Why Real Estate Agents Need to Treat their Business like a Business: The Importance of Financial Management
[00:02:10] **Justin Stoddart:** Yeah, it’s my pleasure. Let’s talk. Evan, I know you work directly with real estate agents around the country. What do you feel like is the biggest thing that keeps real estate agents from really running their business like a business?
[00:02:23] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah. So when we entered the market, the big underlying problem, which is an acute pain point for agents we wanted to solve immediately, was helping them get the full picture of their business. They’re so good at sales, marketing, communication, taking care of their clients along the home buying journey. But oftentimes, like you said, there in the intro. They neglect the back office. They neglect the things that are really driving their business and allowing them to invest in those things that they do so well. And so we wanted to build a platform that helps bring those two pieces together, that help them see how am I doing on the sales side, their pipeline and projections there, but also, very importantly, [00:03:00] their banking and finances.
[00:03:01] Because if you don’t take care of the banking and finances and taxes, all of a sudden, that front office stuff you mentioned that they’re so good at become a lot harder. So we want to come into the industry and really try to solve that problem.
[00:03:13] **Justin Stoddart:** It’s funny you say that. It’s interesting having behind the scenes conversations with team leaders and others who own brokerages. Many times, the agents who up front look like they’re absolutely killing it, right? They’re driving the nicest cars, they’re living in the nicest houses, they’ve winning all the awards. Behind the scenes, they have exactly what you just described, which is some real financial trouble, right. And so those are probably the agents that we’re talking to the most, right? Agents. Now, of course, what you guys have built and these principles apply to all real estate agents who will be producing great income.
[00:03:43] But I do think that there has been a disconnect. Most people that get into real estate don’t get into real estate because they’re good at accounting. They get into real estate because they’re good at sales. They’ve got a good database, they’re good with people. Yet they need to have the accounting side. Right? They need to have this other side of it. And oftentimes their businesses aren’t big [00:04:00] enough at least to start to really have an accounting team. Right. To have a controller, to have a CPA that’s really monitoring things on a regular basis. All of a sudden, they get to the end of the year and it’s like, oh, I think I made really good money this year.
[00:04:13] And then they start looking backwards, and they’re like, oh, my goodness, I’ve got a massive tax bill. Oh, my goodness, I didn’t make as much money as I thought. Right. Is that consistent with what you see out there?
[00:04:24] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah, exactly. And one of the things that I’d add to that, another reason it’s important, beyond taxes and just knowing your profitability and what you’re making is how to invest in your business. If you know where your expenses are going, if you know how much you’re spending on these marketing channels or these products, and then you think about Intuitively, what’s the ROI on these compared to how much I’m spending, then that’s a great way for you to either hurt your business or really invest in it intelligently and grow it.
[00:04:52] So maybe you’re really killing it. You’re doing a great job.It might be time for you to take that next step and start building a team underneath you in order to have a team, [00:05:00] you really need to have a good grasp of your profitability and where you’re driving business. You can do more of that for the team members you bring on to that team you want to establish. So there’s just so much that comes with understanding your finances that can, again, help you really just keep killing it and investing in yourself, or taking that next step of your business journey and either starting a team or branching off and doing your own brokerage.
[00:05:24] **Justin Stoddart:** You really do bring up a good point, though, because oftentimes those are gut feelings, right. Where it’s like, I think we’re ready for this, as opposed to real raw data to say, what is the ROI on this investment? What are my actual financial numbers? And many times, agents aren’t looking at that. Maybe some are organized enough to have a PNL. Hopefully they are. Hopefully everybody is, right? Otherwise, you really don’t own a business. Right. You’re really just a sales professional that’s working as an independent contractor.
## [00:05:56] Empowering Real Estate Agents to Treat Themselves Like a Business: Solving the Pain Points of Financial Management
[00:05:56] **Justin Stoddart:** Really, when you really start to monitor the PNL and [00:06:00] really understand where you’re at financially, and then what you’re talking about is really being able to evaluate the ROI on certain investments in your business.
[00:06:08] **Evan Knowles:** Right.
[00:06:08] **Justin Stoddart:** Is that really kind of the differentiator that you’ve seen, is not just looking at the past month or quarter or year through a PNL, but really almost looking at it as a day to day, should I make this decision or should I not?
[00:06:19] **Evan Knowles:** Right.
[00:06:20] **Justin Stoddart:** Is that really where agents are empowered?
[00:06:21] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah. A lot of agents, especially new ones, they’re coming from industries where they traditionally don’t have to think about these things. So we really have focused and in the beginning of our journey as a business hit, those agents that are earlier in their career. So from day one, they can start to treat themselves like a business, so they’re healthy throughout their entire life cycle as an agent. But when you talk to agents that have been the industry long enough and maybe haven’t done this very well, and you ask them what are some regrets you’ve had? It always comes back to, man, I wish I treated myself more like a business from day one.
[00:06:52] And so it’s investing the right way. It’s tracking your taxes and really understanding how to leverage tax write offs, business expenses, [00:07:00] tax credits. There’s many things that go into taxes that can help bring that down, and then having expertise alongside of you. Maybe some agents can afford that. CPA, we have a version of our product that comes with the CPA, but most agents earlier in their career, they’re not there yet. And we provide them a tool that really helps them get many of the services that a CPA might provide you, like bookkeeping, like understanding what expenses to write off, itemizing those, expenses to those expenses to analyze those, and then finally tax filing.
[00:07:29] So really it’s all about agents might not traditionally be great at running a business. Like you say, they’re amazing at sales, but we’re coming in and really dropping one product on their plate that can help them with all of that and get the ROI so they can treat themselves more like a business, which is just something that not many people are trained in.
[00:07:46] Every entrepreneur at some point has to learn how to maintain a PNL and do bookkeeping and take care of that stuff. Because, like you said, you can’t be in business unless you do that or the IRS or your own team will come after you and say, hey, we’re not [00:08:00] running this thing efficiently, or, hey, you’re not paying your tax bill. Let’s go back. And that’s painful. And so you’d rather do that at the beginning of your career or just start doing it right before you run into some big problems?
[00:08:10] We’ve identified one of the biggest issues. One of the main reasons that agents leave the business is their financial health. They say, I’m not built for this, or, I’ve got this tax bill that I didn’t expect. I’m going to need to leave the industry and get a normal job to pay this off.This is just too inconsistent as far as commission income or I don’t know if I can make this back. Let me go do something more safe and secure. So it’s those kind of things that we’re really trying to help, and agents have acute pain points around.
[00:08:39] **Justin Stoddart:** I think as you guys solve this problem right, really bring a real answer to the marketplace. I think what happens is you really start to retain higher quality, higher caliber professionals in the industry. It’s always unfortunate when you see, because keep in mind, about four out of five agents leave the business within two years. 80%. [00:09:00] So if that’s the number, how many of those could have been really good had they had some additional tools and help, just like you said, people don’t get into this because they’re good at accounting, and there’s so many hats that they have to wear that it can be exhausting, right.
[00:09:16] If they got in this, because they really have a knack, they’ve got a network. They know how to speak and talk and communicate and sell, and then all of a sudden, there’s this, oh, yeah, I better be keeping track of the finances as well. When people feel like they feel that burden upon them, it’s like, man, I really got into this to create freedom, and I have nothing but freedom, right? I have sporadic income, like you said. I’ve got less profitability than I thought, and now I wear eight different hats, all of which are critical at any given time.
[00:09:47] It’s just easier to go back and work for somebody else. And it’s really unfortunate because what happens is then when those people leave the industry, we get a whole new breed of agents, or breed of agents that are [00:10:00] coming in to fill that gap of 80% and they’re starting all over. Right. So the consumer gets served at a lesser and lesser level, which I believe invites big tech to come in and say, well, we can do a better, more consistent job of that. Right? And so the service based professionals that should be in the industry offering great value to their servants over a longer period of time, or should be adding value to their clients over a longer period of time, end up not sitting in the industry long enough to do that.
[00:10:25] And so there’s this lack of continuity of agents staying in the industry. People experience this turn or this churn of people getting in and out of the industry, which just isn’t good for the industry. And like I said, it just invites disruption from big tech providers, which lowers the margin and the opportunity and the overall service for everybody involved.
[00:10:45] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah, 100%. And that’s why we’ve really worked hard to align ourselves with partners like National Association of Realtors, like many MLS across the country and associations across the country that look at us and exactly what you just described, which is a [00:11:00] member benefit that helps agents retain in the industry longer. They no longer are churning out because maybe they treat themselves like a business from day one. And so brokers, we’re now releasing a product for team leaders and brokers that helps with exactly that. It’s, hey, I’m a team leader or broker that needs my agents to, one, have a very sticky relationship with my team or brokerage.
[00:11:20] And I’m going to do that by providing them tools to help them maintain themselves like a business and be financially healthy so that they’re not needing to leave our brokerage to go and do a different job or go to a brokerage that is providing more value to keep them in.
[00:11:32] So that’s really you hit on one of our big value props for the industry. It’s retention. It’s allowing these agents to stay in the business longer, which you described it perfectly, I think, which is helping with competition. The better all the agents are, the harder they have to work to win business because they’ve been there.
[00:11:47] And if you have brand new agents that come in and out, then some portion of consumers are not getting that great relationship and service that I think you and many of your listeners are used to.
## [00:11:57] Managing Your Finances Made Easy with Symba
[00:11:57] **Justin Stoddart:** Yeah, I’d love to get into a little [00:12:00] bit more about your product Symba, Symba. In fact, where would you send people who are like, yes, Justin and Evan, that is my weakness. I can sell, I can offer customer service, I can offer vision, I can take care of clients, my client experience is barred none. But then, oh yeah, I’ve got this kind of afterthought of like, oh, and how am I doing financially? Right? I just kind of monitor my checking account as my PNL and I think I’m doing okay. Right. But taxes, yeah, I think that’s about right.
[00:12:29] That’s just a scary way to run a business, right? So talk us through first and foremost, where would people go to learn more about Symba? Let’s start with that.
[00:12:37] **Evan Knowles:** Yes, so I’ll drive them two places. You can go to the App Store, whether it’s on Google or Android or the iOS App Store, and you type in Symba S-Y-M-B-A should be the first one that pops up. And then you go to our website, which is getsymba.com, getsymba.com. Those are the two best places I drive people to learn more about our products.
[00:13:00] **Justin Stoddart:** With that being the case and I’m going to put this in the chat here so everybody that’s watching live has the ability to actually go find us again, App Store, look for the app Symba, and then getsymba.live is that what you said?
[00:13:13] **Evan Knowles:** .com
## [00:13:13] Revolutionizing Real Estate Finance: A Comprehensive Overview of Symba
[00:13:13] **Justin Stoddart:** Okay, very good. So talk us through a little bit about what is Symba. I know we’ve got kind of little glimpses of it, but talk us through kind of maybe more comprehensively. What is it that this app does? What does it replace? How does it really help the agent?
[00:13:29] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah, so what we’ve done is you can think of Symba being a marriage between a CRM and QuickBooks. And so we have built a platform that allows an agent to view an agent to view their deals and their pipeline and their sales insights right alongside of their banking, PNL, taxes, things of that nature. And so an agent will come into our platform, they’ll connect their phone contacts, they’ll upload their deals, track those deals through the pipeline. And then as they’re doing that, we help them get a real time view [00:14:00] of what their cash flow might look like looking forward based on the net income from those deals.
[00:14:05] And then we use their banking to do their PNL, their bookkeeping project, how much taxes they’re going to owe quarterly and also for the whole year. And then we help them do their tax filing at the end of the year with all that data. And so we fill out their tax forms for them automatically and allow them to export those to file. So it’s really all about an agent getting the full picture of their business, but also helping them alongside of that with their workflows around finances. Again, they need to know their PNL, they need to be doing their bookkeeping to get that PNL, and they need to be filing their taxes to be tax compliant so they can actually run a business.So that’s what we’ve done. All in one product.
[00:14:43] **Justin Stoddart:** Imagine having one app where you went to see all of that, like you said, your pipeline all the way down to the accounting side and all the other bells and whistles you talked about in there.
## [00:14:56] Using Symba for Real Estate Deal Tracking: Integrating with Your Existing CRM
[00:14:56] **Justin Stoddart:** Let’s say that somebody, for example, has a [00:15:00] CRM that’s working for them do they need to switch to Symba or is there some integrations where they can kind of connect in and keep what they already have and all their contacts in place?
[00:15:12] **Evan Knowles:** No, that’s a great question. And so we didn’t build this to be a CRM, and we won’t market this as a CRM. And so what I would answer that with is you can still use that CRM. We actually suggest you use that CRM. We don’t want to be where you’re keeping leads warm or nurturing those leads and having the lead funnels from websites, from your advertising, from Zillow or Realtor.com. That is where you should keep that part of your business in that CRM and where all those leads are taken care of.
[00:15:43] Once you start doing your deal tracking and you start taking your deals through and managing those transactions, that’s when Symba now becomes useful.
[00:15:51] Very few real estate agents are tracking their deals in their CRM. They’re simply using their CRM to collect leads and manage those contacts until [00:16:00] they become a client. Once they become a client and start taking them through, then that’s where you start to see agents use other tools, whether it’s notes, spreadsheets, things like that. That’s where we want to come in. And the way that we get those contacts into our application is we sync with your funnel. So we have a two way integration with iOS and Android. And you can just sync your phone contacts because, I mean, every single agent we ever talk to is texting their clients, calling their clients, and so they’re having these contacts as contacts on their phone.
[00:16:30] And so that’s where we integrate. We don’t integrate with any CRMs. We integrate directly with the phone. That’s where we find agents, keep their contacts up to date, and then from there, like I said, it’s deal tracking all the way through to taxes is where we help.
## [00:16:42] Vertical Fintech for Real Estate Agents: How Symba is Revolutionizing Financial Services
[00:16:42] **Justin Stoddart:** You guys self, reportedly, and really are convincing. I think everybody listening here today is you guys have really created the first financial services product specifically for real estate agents. Everything out there that’s built is really designed to get people to the front end.
[00:16:58] **Evan Knowles:** Right.
[00:16:59] **Justin Stoddart:** It’s really designed to help you [00:17:00] get leads to get more business with people. Just saying, we’ll go to QuickBooks or hire an accounting professional. Some aren’t ready for that. Some don’t like the inconvenience of that. Right. They want the day to day updates, not the month rear view mirror updates. Right. I mean, is that really kind of the differentiator for you guys? Of course, those that don’t have anything in place, track the numbers. Right. That’s a problem. So get Symba right away. Right. But for those that are like, yeah, I get financial reporting, but I don’t get it kind of real time, and I can’t really take what’s in the pipeline and see what that’s going to produce.
[00:17:40] Is that really the differentiator of what you guys have created here?
[00:17:44] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah, so many agents, if they are using something to manage their finances, we always hear two things it’s spreadsheets or it’s QuickBooks and it’s QuickBooks self employed, typically. So the problem with QuickBooks is like you’ve been saying so well, it’s only half of your business, it’s looking backwards and you don’t [00:18:00] get that forward looking. You definitely don’t mix the two to make more intelligent business decisions. But what’s happening in the financial industry is and you’re starting to see it in every industry, every industry is starting to have their own financial services built around their unique needs.
[00:18:14] This is called vertical fintech. And real estate really hasn’t had one of those services come along yet where it really deeply understands an agent’s financial lifestyle, their unique business needs and workflows, and then seamlessly integrates financial services into that.
[00:18:30] What agents are used to and what a lot of industries before this Vertical Fintech movement were used to is having their CRM, their other industry specific tools like transaction management, like Dot Loop or SkySlope over here and then way over here they’ve got something like QuickBooks to manage their finances, and they never connect the dots between the two.
[00:18:50] And that makes it really hard as a business owner to run a more intelligent business and make those healthy financial decisions because they’re so fragmented decisions and databases. [00:19:00] And so what we’ve mentioned that you alluded to there and what we’ve done is connect the two. And that’s a big movement happening across the technology space because delivering financial services to agents, they have very unique needs, they have very choppy income, they have 1099 employment status, they’ve got 100% sales as their income. So it’s commission data. It’s commission income. And those things present a lot of challenges. And so we’re trying to help them with that.
[00:19:28] So you’re right that’s what we’re doing is providing a very niche service to this industry.
## [00:19:33] How Symba Combines Technology and Expert Advice for Efficient Financial Management
[00:19:33] **Justin Stoddart:** Does this replace a CPA or does it replace a bookkeeper or do those two still have a place in this? Kind of talk to us about your vision of using Sym at the highest level. Who else is needed or maybe not needed?
[00:19:46] **Evan Knowles:** Yeah, I mean, there’s always going to be creativity and compliance involved with a person’s finances and taxes. I don’t think there’s going to be a time, at least in the next few years, where CPAs are completely replaced. There’s this [00:20:00] big movement around AI. I’m sure you’re hearing it over and over again. And I think we’re ways off from that happening on a level where a business can just confidently get rid of a CPA. So I think where we fit in the market is, again, those agents that are early in their career or maybe later in their career that are 1099 status, we help them really in one place, manage the business aspects of their life so that maybe they don’t need a CPA yet.
[00:20:23] But when agents start getting into other things, like having rentals or maybe they become a broker or a team leader and they’ve got a lot more expenses that they themselves can take care of and they need to have more financial advice. We would never tell anybody not to get a CPA. I think there’s a lot of creativity in business. I think there’s a lot of data that people just are not experienced enough to know how to leverage. And CPAs are great for that. So we do offer CPA services as part of a premium tier of what we do.
[00:20:49] But if an agent already has a CPA, they can easily just export and send the data right out of our platform directly to their CPA’s, email in a really great format for them to file their taxes a [00:21:00] lot faster and easier. So I don’t think the day is going to come in the next few years where you can replace those things even with AI. But our vision for the future is that an agent can run their business and have really kind of a business coach or somebody right alongside them, whether it is an AI or it’s a real person. We hope to be that partner with them to grow their business from day one all the way through till they’re the top broker in the market.
[00:21:25] That’s where we want to enter the space. And today we’re still again focused on those agents that a little bit earlier, less experience in their career. But as we grow as a business, we’ll start to work our way into the brokerage and kind of top producers within the industry.
[00:21:38] **Justin Stoddart:** Love it. You guys are doing some great things. I love it. I think anytime smart professionals can leverage the power of technology and couple that with expert advice, number one, you’re more efficient because you have less people doing kind of the mundane tasks, the gathering of information, and then you put that [00:22:00] together and have insightful people who give, again, insights around that. That’s where really technology is used, I believe, at its highest and best level.
## [00:22:09] The Power of Surrounding Yourself with Industry Professionals and Creating Content
[00:22:09] **Justin Stoddart:** Last question. Evan, you are a big thinker. You guys are doing some pretty phenomenal things for the real estate industry. What is it that Evan Knowles does to continue to be a big thinker, to continue to expand your possibilities?
[00:22:20] What does that look like for you?
[00:22:22] **Evan Knowles:** It’s very similar to what you’re doing, actually, I think it’s speaking with industry professionals and just asking what’s next? I just launched a podcast a couple of weeks ago that specializes in startups and MLS data, kind of that intersection. And that’s where we really are as a business in those two worlds. And so the way I keep up with them is, one, I just love talking to other founders and industry professionals like MLS executives on what they think is coming next and what their challenges are. I do that every week and I make time very purposely to do that.
[00:22:50] But really it’s also about creating content. When you start creating content and you start putting your thoughts and ideas out there, you get feedback faster and you allow other people to think alongside of you. [00:23:00] And I think ideas can compound that way. And so it’s creating content and doing exactly what you’re doing here is speaking with industry professionals that are doing new things. So I think I’ve got the same approach as you might. Yeah.
[00:23:11] **Justin Stoddart:** I love it. I think one of the more valuable things you can do, right, is to do what you just described, which is surround yourself with people that level up your thinking, level up your possibilities. And if you can give back to them at the same time, by bringing them onto a stage for more people to learn about them, it creates a win win for everybody involved. So I love it.
## [00:23:34] Closing
[00:23:34] **Justin Stoddart:** Anyway, great chat with you today, Evan. Thank you so much for coming here and contributing, really helping the real estate agent community inside of Think Bigger Real Estate to understand that there is a way to overcome this challenge of having a disconnect between your sales data and your accounting data.
[00:23:51] Really bringing those together in a very simple, elegant app, really, that allows you to have the info you need to be able to continue to focus on [00:24:00] what you got into this business to focus on, right. Which is connecting people and serving people at a high level and selling large amounts of business without being hampered by the fact that you’re not watching the money. Symba helps you to do that. So I love what you guys are doing. Appreciate you helping us think bigger here today, and I appreciate your time, my friend.
[00:24:19] **Evan Knowles:** Well, thank you as well. Thanks for having us on.
[00:24:21] **Justin Stoddart:** My final request of everybody listening here today is this Go Think Bigger.
## [00:24:28] Outro
[00:24:28] **Justin Stoddart:** Hearing good ideas is not enough. You have to apply them and order to get the results desired. If you found value in today’s episode, then you’re really going to love the community of big thinkers and high achievers that we are building in order to help you to apply the principles taught today. If you’re not yet a member of Think Bigger Real Estate on Facebook, go sign up now.
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