October 31, 2016

There is always a lot of pride in owning your own company, but there is also a great deal of responsibility, work and hassle. Here’s how to tell if owning an insurance agency might have enough benefits for you to outweigh the liabilities.

Every employee has had the experience of looking at their boss and/or the owner of their company and thinking “I could do this so much better than you.” If you find yourself thinking this too often, you may soon find yourself looking into actually starting a business. And if you’ve got experience working in the insurance or financial products industries, as so many people do, then you are probably considering starting your own insurance agency.

Let’s start off with some clarifications. Any small business is either going to be an independent insurance agency (which sells policies from a number of major insurance companies) or a “captive” agency, which sells policies from just one company. To actually start providing people insurance requires something called a “corporate insurance license”, and they can cost $50,000 or more to buy. To actually be able to originate insurance policies requires over a million dollars of capital, just to start, so what most small business people want is to sell insurance, not create the policies themselves.

To sell insurance you will have to be licensed in your state for the kinds of policies you want to sell. There are three major kinds of insurance policies: health, liability, and life insurance. Many insurance licenses also let you sell financial products. Because insurance is so much of a financial product there’s a lot of overlap both in services and licensing.

The pros of having your own shop are that you get to choose which hours you work — but only to a certain extent, because you have to be on the job enough to stay in business. You get to decide how long and when you will take vacations — but again, only to a certain extent, because you have to make sure your business can stay afloat while you are gone. Another major pro is that if the business is successful, you will be the owner and will have a valuable asset that can generate income for years to come. Also, as the owner, you get to decide when and how to hire and fire people. If you are brave, you can even decide which clients and customers you want to fire.

While to pros sound great, here are the cons: you will probably work more than 60 hours a week the first years. If your agency is not successful in the first year or so (and many aren’t) you may end up not paying yourself a wage at all in order to be able to balance the books. Also, until your agency can afford to hire people for different jobs, you will be wearing a lot of different hats — accountant, computer guru, secretary, marketing manager, printer fixer, and many, many more. You …

Have you ever wondered why some small businesses take off and grow very rapidly and others stay the same for years and years?

Small business growth takes strategy and strong leadership. Some new business owners achieve a certain level of success, sit back and fail to do what is necessary to grow the business.

9 Things That Hinder Small Business Growth

1. Lack of Vision

All businesses need a written vision statement to help direct their planning and decision making. If there is no clear vision, a business can waver with no specific direction. Lack of vision is detrimental to any organization. How can you plan, or have a business strategy without knowing where you want to go?

2. No Strategic Plan

Every organization needs strategy and should have a strategic plan to map out steps to achieving the strategy. The strategic planning process helps to keep an organization’s vision fresh and moving forward. Strategic plans need to be updated every few years as the market, environment and focus changes.

3. No Written Goals

Not having SMART Goals, and accountability for achieving those goals, is a sure way to impede the growth of an organization. Goals are what make a strategic plan happen. Not writing goals, and having a structured performance management process to achieve those goals, is an invitation for business failure.

4. No Desire to Grow

Believe it or not some businesses don’t have a desire to grow. With growth comes growing pains and sometimes business owners aren’t comfortable making the necessary changes for growth. Hiring the first employees and dealing with human resource management issues is an example of a growing pain. Other areas of growing pains are delegating and trusting others to do things the way you would do them. Growth requires a commitment from the top of the organization.

5. Not in Tune with Customer Needs

This is where many organizations get stuck. The world is changing at such a fast pace that unless an organization understands customer expectations and puts systems in place to take care of their customers, competitors will do it for them. Ensuring good customer service is critical to long term success. The fact is, customers pay the bills and employee salaries so you’d better find out what they want and give it to them!

6. Failing to Reinvest Back In the Business

When a business is just starting out it is sometimes difficult to reinvest back into the business, but not doing so can affect business growth. Keeping up with changing technology and updating facilities are examples of areas that can consume considerable resources but are important to meeting customer expectations. Clean, updated facilities can have an impact on customer perceptions and customer loyalty.

7. Failing to Delegate

As a small business grows, it becomes more and more important to learn the art of delegation. It is important for business owners to develop employees, delegate and trust others to complete tasks. Small business owners can quickly get overwhelmed with trying …