Tips For Being Your Own Boss

If you own your own independent insurance agency, then at some point you likely decided you wanted to work for yourself rather than for a captive company. Independent agents have to work especially hard to do their own marketing and customer recruiting, in addition to serving multiple other roles in their agency. But any small business owner should abide by some basic rules.

In honor of National Boss’s Day on Friday, here are some tips to be successful at being your own boss, no matter what business you’re in:

  • Do something you love. If you aren’t invested in your work, your business will suffer and cannot possibly be sustained. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about so you get enjoyment out of building and refining something each and every day.
  • Re-invest in your business. It’s hard enough to maintain a small business on a day to day basis. Once you’re up and running and have a strong client list, you need to take the time reinvest in the places the business is vulnerable. This means education workshops for yourself so you don’t lose your creative spark, business coaching, hiring people to expand, new offices, refreshed website and branding, etc. Take your hard-won earnings and continue to grow and evolve your business!
  • Work a regular schedule. While making your own schedule is certainly one advantage of being your own boss, you can’t expect to run a successful business if you aren’t in it very often. You have to work regular hours to be able to serve customers when they need to be served. Be open. Some local businesses in town are only open three to four days a week and at odd hours that aren’t convenient to many shoppers. Their business suffers because of it. Be available!
  • Take time off. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the business owners who overwork themselves. Treat yourself as you would any normal employee. You can’t expect to adequately serve customers if you’re burned out. Find reliable people you trust to work in your business. Everyone needs good back-up.
  • Value yourself. Most of all, value your time. Use your time wisely. Charge accordingly. Recognize that you’ve worked hard to bring your business to life, and you can’t expect to sustain it without valuing the time and effort you put into it each and every day.

Captive vs. Independent Agents: Which route should I go?

If you’ve recently looked into opening your own insurance agency, and you aren’t sure whether you should go the captive or independent route, look no further.

There are positives and negatives to both models of insurance businesses, but it really comes down to individual needs and wants. What are you looking to get out of the business? How experienced are you?

Captive Agents

Positives: Owning and operating a “captive” insurance agency means working for one company. You will only have to learn one company’s products, policies and guidelines. There’s usually ample training, assistance setting up your agency, and you won’t have to worry about doing any of your own advertising and marketing because you’ll have the added benefit of a nationally recognized brand. You will also likely have a more reliable form of compensation such as a salary and benefits, plus sales bonuses depending on how well you do.

Negatives: You will only have one product to sell your customers. Even if they are not the best priced or most suitable product, they are the company you represent, therefore the product you must convince your customer to go with. So if your parent company stops selling a certain line of insurance, you won’t be able to sell it either. You may also be obligated to push certain products you feel your client doesn’t need or want. Your main priority, as a captive agent, will be to build business for your parent company, and you will likely not have the freedom to perpetuate your agency to whomever you wish when you’re ready to retire.

Independent Agents:

Positives: Your main priority for your independent agency will be to build your own book of business and do the right thing by your customers. You can make your own hours, your own rules, and market your agency how and when you want. You’ll be able to specialize in any, and as many lines of business as you want. Best of all, you will be able to provide competitive quotes for your clients by shopping a multitude of different insurance carriers products! This means if you can’t find a suitable product with one carrier, you’re free to search out another carrier with a more suitable product line for your clients’ needs.

Negatives: As an independent agent you will be a small business owner and entrepreneur. This could be viewed on a positive OR negative depending on the person. You will need capital to start the business. You won’t have a steady income as you begin your agency and start your book of business from scratch, because you’ll earn money solely based off of commission. The money you do earn will have to be wisely put back into the agency in order to grow for the first couple years. You may also have trouble obtaining contracts, or “appointments,” with reliable and reputable insurance carriers in the beginning – a Managing Agent Group or “MGA” (company who helps you get carrier appointments) can help you with this part of the process.

Which type of agency is right for you? If you’re an established agent, comment below and tell us why you decided to go the route you did when you opened your agency!