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I often travel to insurance industry meetings and conferences, and that means I spend a significant amount of time on planes. As anyone who travels knows, it’s important to befriend the people around you because it can get pretty lonely sometimes. People I meet in the airport frequently ask me what I do and I simply answer that I’m a business owner, so today I want to share with you what I do to run a successful business.

1— It always starts with leadership. Remember to look yourself in the mirror as I did four years ago and remind yourself that while you are an insurance agent, you’re first and foremost a business owner. Work on your leadership skills and don’t hesitate to invest in your leadership skills. Without leadership your agency will continue to run as an insurance agency rather than a business. 

2— Your attitude as a leader and owner is critical to your agency’s success. Your attitude needs to be extremely positive in order for it to become contagious. Remind yourself every day that your attitude is going to determine the outcome of day.

3— Do you have the right staff? Don’t forget that if you have the wrong staff, the only fix to this is to hire the right staff. To run a successful business, you can’t accept average team members. You need to push the envelope and higher exceptional members of your business’s team. Being average is not acceptable. Your prospects and clients are not looking to do business with average businesses with average staffs. Having great leadership will allow you to find great staff members.

4— A key component to keeping the right staff is allowing them to be original. Sit down with each staff member and ask how you can help him or her become better. Just because you may be an owner doesn’t mean you can just ignore your staff.  It’s critical to include them into the future success of your business

5— Spruce up your agency’s appearance, so when someone walks, they see your agency’s identity. Furthermore, make sure you have a director of first impressions because you only have six seconds to make or break a potential customer. When you walk into our office during the months of September and October, you’ll see boxes of coloring books, Play-doh and many other children’s toys for our reverse trick or treat program to benefit the Connecticut children’s medical Center. Additionally, we have a large American flag hanging in our waiting room because it is what our agency stands for.

6— Your agency must hire a marketing person. If your agency needs to grow, how can you possibly achieve this goal without having a key marketing strategy and someone to drive that? Remember, spending money and investing money are two totally different train of thoughts. Investing money is not spending money, it’s money well spent to help further the growth of your business.

7– Once you hire a marketing person, remember to take the time to put together a strategy. Having a strategy is critical because HOPE is not a strategy.

8— Having a website is instrumental to your agency and having a profitable website is critical to the survival of your business. Invest in having a profitable website.

9— Create a business plan because without one, your agency lacks the necessary road map for the year ahead. It’s like traveling to the other side of the country without a GPS. You need to know and understand where you agency is heading, and the only way you’ll be able to do this is through creating a business plan or strategy. Once you’ve created the business plan, you need to share that plan with your staff so they understand where the business is going. Additionally, make sure you review your business plan every quarter to see if you are on pace to succeed and/or meet your insurance agency’s goals.

10— Hire a business or leadership coach. If you cannot invest in yourself, what can you invest in? If you can’t invest in yourself, than you lack a belief in yourself. It’s a wise move to make this investment because it will not only benefit you, but it will enhance your business as well.

 I share these with you because four years ago I made a huge change that involved turning myself from an insurance agent into a businessman. Being a businessperson takes a lot of work, dedication and allowing yourself to go into areas that you may be fearful. Growth comes from exploring areas that make us uncomfortable, but I have to tell you that four years ago, that’s exactly how I felt. I tell people everyday that I’m a business owner and am proud of my teammates.