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There is an incredible opportunity in the insurance industry for someone who wishes to own their own business. More than half of agency owners are facing retirement in the next five to 10 years, and many have a strong desire to remain independent and pass their business on to the next generation.
What does it take to be a strong and successful agency owner? I asked this question to many successful agency owners and here are the most common themes in their answers.
When you are an owner of a business, your job has a completely different focus. You can no longer be singularly focused on ways you can be successful -- you must have a broader perspective. You are responsible for building the partnerships, structure, team, technology and environment that puts you and your team in the best position to serve your clients. This transition takes time, requires different perspectives and the ability to listen and stay humble.
Above all else, take great care of the people that are the heart and soul of your organization. There is nothing that matters more than them. You are not going to have all the answers all the time, so stay open, humble and listen.
Leading with your purpose as your guide is key to your success. This will keep both you and your team focused on what matters most: Trust & Relationships.
While you’re honing your sales and leadership skills, stay committed to becoming a person that can be trusted and can forge healthy relationships. This is hard work and requires showing up even when it is inconvenient, making and keeping promises of personal service and dedication, listening to other needs more than talking about your own, hanging in there for the long haul with others, and always seeing the potential around you when you are struggling yourself. It requires strong character and a personal inner strength to do these things. Know yourself and only step into this role if you are confident that these are the types of things that energize you and bring you a great sense of accomplishment.
When you lead with your purpose, the sales, premium and number goals will fall into place.
Be an expert in your business by having a great handle on your numbers. While your numbers should not be the only measure of your success, they are an important part of running the agency.
You should know exactly what’s is driving your business, what your areas of weakness are, and be the one focused on minimizing those obstacles and challenges. As the leader, you will set the example what being a good steward of the agency’s resources means.
You never know what challenges you will face, so being thoughtful in how you prepare will put you in the best position to face the unexpected. How you deploy both time and money is important to your success. Take that role seriously and always put the agency’s interests first. The most successful agencies have leaders that run their businesses like they are selling them tomorrow.
Leading an organization can be lonely, but it doesn’t need to be. This industry is filled with incredibly people who want to share their experiences and knowledge with others. There is a servant leadership quality and camaraderie that exists in our industry that is both impressive and unique. Where else will you find your competitors willing to spend their time and energy helping each other and the industry as a whole? Get involved, give back and get connected.
The most consistent piece of advice from agency owners is to put yourself in a position to learn from others. Surrounding yourself with other agents is one of the best ways to learn and grow. Never underestimate the benefits of tapping into the knowledge of those that led before you – their insights are invaluable. Be a student of the industry and be willing to share your knowledge. I guarantee that if you make the time to volunteer and connect with other agents, you will receive more than you can ever possibly give.
As the leader of an agency, it is your responsibility to ensure that the agency’s future is secure. The best way to do this is to have a plan. Every business that has employees, recurring income, and complex processes should have a documented succession plan.
Independent agencies meet all three of these requirements. Planning for the ongoing success of your agency may feel overwhelming, but it is an important part of your role as the leader of that organization. The agency’s future should not be left up to chance, so take the time to document your plan and revisit the plan on an annual basis to ensure that it is kept up to date and your agency’s future is well protected.
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