7 Questions Before You Take the Plunge
We’ve all heard the stories of famous businesspeople who make it seem like they were destined to be successful. They went door to door with a lawnmower in tow when they were in elementary school and owned their own landscaping business before they hit puberty. Or they bought 10 candy bars and sold them for a profit in kindergarten, which funded their next venture, and then their next one, and on and on—until they eventually became billionaires.
While you have to admire their surety that being an entrepreneur was their destiny, the reality is that starting an insurance agency can be both exciting and scary. The exciting part is being able to use your experience and vision to create an entity that can support you—and possibly many others—for years to come. On the scary side, you’re going to be faced with lots of challenges along the way.
Deciding whether or not to start your own agency can feel overwhelming. So before you take the plunge, dipping into an honest Q&A with yourself can be a good idea.
1. What’s your motivation?
There are many reasons you may feel motivated to start your own agency. Money is a common one—you want to make more and being able to take a cut from multiple employees could catapult you forward. Or maybe you don’t like being told what to do. Being your own boss would certainly take away some of that, though you’ll still have to answer to government authorities like your state’s insurance commission and the IRS. It could be that you have several reasons. Have you taken the time to figure out what they are?
Write them down. Then imagine someone else told you they wanted to start a business because ____________________________. Would you advise them yes or no?
2. What skills do you bring?
Hopefully it’s a given that you’re pretty good at insurance sales and enjoy the industry. This question is more about listing other skills that you might have, like being a tech whiz or having marketing experience or a background in HR.
Think about it this way: if you were hiring someone for the position that you intend to take at your own agency, what about you would you consider a plus for the job?
3. What skills do you NOT have?
Now think through the skills or abilities that you may be missing. What do you know about accounting? Have you ever hired, fired and managed people before? Or negotiated a lease with a landlord? Or put out bids and interviewed a company to provide and service your computer systems?
Think about all aspects of your imaginary agency and jot down anything you don’t know how to do. Be detailed. This will be an important list if you do decide to go ahead with your own business.
4. How good are you at figuring things out?
If you’re a resourceful person who’s good at research and follow through, you may be able to learn some of the skills you are currently missing on your own. That’s if you have the time to do so. Do an appraisal of what you can and cannot figure out, and then take it a step further and decide what is realistic for you to accomplish given the other priorities in your life.
5. What help will you need?
At this point, you can start making a list of the help that you will need to make your agency a success. Will you need a sales manager? Administrative help? Technology, advertising or communications expertise? Write it all down. Better to have a long list that you can work through now than be surprised after you’ve opened your doors.
6. What happens if you are injured or ill?
Every successful business needs to be its own entity. No matter how passionate you are about the agency you start, you wouldn’t want it to fall apart if you weren’t able to work on it full-time. Since life happens, and there’s no guarantee that something won’t happen to you, it’s wise to think through how your agency could continue to operate if you were out of commission for a period of time.
7. What unique value can you bring?
Is there a particular niche in the insurance business that you want to fill in our area? Or a particular community that you’d like to try to sell to? Even if you don’t want or need to specialize in any way, it’s helpful to think about what will differentiate your agency from your competitors. This could be in the tone that you set in your customer interactions, where you are located, or how you plan to do business. Knowing this now will help inform the particulars down the road.
Sit with these questions for a period of time and revisit them periodically. At some point, you may find that the time is right to launch your own agency. If you do, Hometown Quotes will be here to help you with fresh leads, answers to practical questions and supportive expertise. Call 800.820.2981 to learn more.