Starting Your Independent Agency – Part 1

The YOUR NAME HERE Insurance Agency

Have you ever thought about starting an independent insurance agency? The pluses of working for yourself can be substantial: freedom to create your own schedule, the control to operate a business in a way that makes sense to you and the ability to make more money than you might otherwise. Sounds like a winning idea. But hold up…there’s lots to think through first.

Before You Go Any Further
Are you sure you want to do this? Starting any business takes lots of energy and commitment. Begin with an honest appraisal of your skills and abilities. What are you good at? What would be best left to someone else? Go back to the first question—even if you are capable of doing certain tasks, will you realistically have the time or desire?

Here are some of the jobs you will probably need done:

  • Accounting (accounts payable and receivable, payroll, tax preparation)
  • Logistics (office leasing and rentals, phones, utilities/connectivity)
  • Communications and marketing (promotional materials, email communication, website content)
  • IT (computer hardware, software, networking, virus protection)
  • Human Resources (benefits, health insurance, personnel policies and issues)
  • Administration (banking, mail services, scheduling, maintaining office equipment)
  • Management (setting strategic vision, business development, overseeing all of the above)
  • Anything else?
  • Depending on the size of the business, each of those categories and subcategories can be a fulltime job or, at some companies, a multi-person department. Even if you’re a one-person shop, most of these activities will apply. Keep in mind that these duties will be on top of your main business, which is selling insurance—a fulltime job all by itself. So your options are these:

  • Devote less time to insurance sales in order to do the other tasks.
  • Farm out the jobs that you can’t do. (This may include some or all of the sales.)
  • Drink lots of coffee.
  • Create a Plan
    While your list of ongoing business tasks may feel overwhelming, remember that people start successful agencies all the time. So it is absolutely doable, and will feel much less scary with a well-thought-out plan.

    There are many resources online to help you create a business plan, which might include the following:

  • An introduction of the people who will be part of the agency and the roles each will play
  • A brief but clear explanation of products and services that will be offered
  • A plan to bring in customers
  • An overview of the competitive landscape and where your agency will fit within it
  • A realistic assessment of the risks you may face
  • A budget, including cost/revenue projections and anticipated agency growth
  • This last point deserves extra attention. Remember that list of skills and abilities that you either can’t do yourself or would prefer to hire out? Find out how much you’ll need to pay and be sure those costs are included.

    Once you feel like your plan is solid, you are ready to look for financing. Don’t be discouraged if the business-planning process revealed that you need more outside cash than you thought you would. It’s far better to find that out before you take the plunge. Think through your options: a bank loan, a Small Business Administration loan and/or investments from family or friends are all potential options. This is another area where a bit of research will help you to identify funding sources and how to approach them.

    Ready, Set, Wait
    Now take a breath. Perhaps the smartest thing you can do when starting a new business is to give yourself plenty of time to mull over your goals and envision your agency in operation. New ventures don’t normally fail from too much planning, it’s a lack of thought that does them in. So start jotting down ideas and questions that need to be answered before you get too far into the process. And look for our next blog post, which will cover more of the considerations you’ll want to think about before you open for business.

    CLICK HERE to find out how Hometown Quotes can fit into YOUR business plan and help make your agency more successful.

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