Have you ever spent time around little kids? If so, you’ve been subjected to a barrage of the most classic of childhood queries such as, “Why this… Why that?”
From a very young age, we know intuitively that the motive behind an action is the most important piece of the story. When it comes to your insurance agency, whether you’re already open-for-business or still in the planning phase, knowing your “why” will help you stay committed to your dreams and aspirations and/or help others get to theirs.
The Reasons must be Right
“You gotta ask ‘why’ questions. ‘Why did you do this?’ A ‘why’ question you can’t answer with one word.” – Larry King
“The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’” -Jeff Bezos
There are many reasons why people decide to become insurance agency owners, whether it’s for personal satisfaction, creative independence, or financial autonomy… the the list can go on and on. Yet, all of these reasons have one thing in common, which comes from the core, they are all about freedom.
That freedom can come in many different forms, and yes, it does come at a cost. It could be the freedom to make changes without waiting for the corporate thumbs up, the freedom to offer a customer experience that you’ve created from the ground up, or the freedom to offer a product that does business differently from its competition.
Being different is what makes insurance agencies succeed.
The million dollar question I want to ask you is this: “What is it exactly that drives you?” The reason probably isn’t money, but if it is, then you will never succeed. There has to be more to it than just money. Honestly though, I bet for most insurance agency owners, it was never about the money, because there is almost always something much more that drives them. The reason why I ask my question is because career counselors have asked the same question for the past 50 years.
Something else you should think about is this: “If money were no object to you, what would you do?”
Money is not Enough to Drive Success
“You see, money isn’t everything – I know it sounds corny but I really mean it – success means a lot more.” -Glynis Johns
As the owner of an independent insurance agency, you can set your own standards. And while the freedom of not having anyone standing in your way can be invigorating, (Mike Stromsoe agency owner of Stromsoe Insurance out of California says “the only person in your way is you”), the stress of knowing there is no one to blame for any failures can be too much to bear. This is when your “why” becomes imperative.
If you are not 100% committed to making your vision a reality, you won’t be able to bring enough passion into your insurance agency to nurture your business through its inevitable growing pains. Each and every one of us insurance agency owners will endure growing pains, it’s how you handle those growing pains that matters. Insurance agencies rarely ever make enough money in the first three to four years, so the dream of money alone will not be reason enough to see it through. This is where your “WHY” plays a huge role in your success.
If it’s all about a paycheck, and it’s just a means to an end, how will you ever know when you’ve reached it? Is it after two years or three or five? Or is it when you finally make a down payment on a house or when you pay off your car, or buy a high end Rolex? The more material we get, whether it’s a sports car, a second beach house, or that timeshare in Maine, the more that steady, safe paycheck becomes a crutch. That crutch is what gets in your way and stops you from succeeding in this great industry. So you need to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Once you have the answer to that question, you will not only move forward, but from that day on, you will succeed not only in the insurance space, but also with life. Ok, you get the point and now you have to answer this question: “what is next?” And more importantly, “What am I waiting for?”
Passion: Put your Story Together
Here are several great quotes from Maya Angelou:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The greatest thing about passion is that it’s infectious, and it spreads like a wildfire. Anyone that has spent any time with my good friend Mike Stromsoe or Claudia McClain believes in the power of passion, and a great story doesn’t have to be dramatic or even have a dramatic ending. What it really needs is to be genuine. One of my favorite branding stories of all time is how Steve Jobs took Apple to the top. Yes, Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple in 1985 and they almost entered near death shortly after, but look at what Steve Jobs did when he returned from 1996 to the time he passed away. Steve Jobs, in my opinion, was the greatest person ever to understand and execute his brand.
With so many insurance agencies supporting so many great community causes, and with the power of social media marketing, customers today want to feel like they are supporting a cause with you; your clients, and prospects are not just looking to buy insurance from you. If your audience know that you love what you do, not only will they be more confident that they have made the right decision to buy insurance from you, but they’ll also want to support your enthusiasm and your charity which could flip into you earning their business.
Your story matters, and your “why” needs to be included in that story. Your story must link to your core principles. If you set out to sell an insurance product within the trucking community, keep in mind who they are, how you’re going to dress, and how you’re talking with them. Don’t compromise by killing them with long in depth insurance words that they will not understand, because that will put your integrity of that insurance product at risk, or you’ll undermine your prospect/customer’s trust and everything you’ve accomplished within that niche. Understand your surroundings and your audience.
“There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
You own an insurance agency and you’re not sure of what your passion is… Well, let’s take a step back and do some market research. What I mean is look to interact with your closest friends and family (yes, only the people you trust to give you an honest answer, because without honesty you’re wasting your time), and ask them what they think your strengths are. Not only can it be a huge confidence booster to hear what you do well, but they may come up with skills you didn’t even realize you had.
Another step you can do is to ask yourself what sorts of things people ask you for help with. What do others think you’re good at? Does your tech savvy make you the first person people call when their computer is broken or looking to purchase a new piece of technology? Do you frequently help family members write letters, or help family out with cooking for the holidays? Maybe you are the best at finding great airline deals or car deals, or your broad perspective means people consult your opinion before making a big financial decision. Whatever it is, think about those things you do for free (to help others), and take out from there where a potential business could be born. You have to find your “why” and follow that, because it will lead to your passion. Without passion you will never find happiness.
Another great powerful exercise is to follow the advice of self-help author, Steve Pavlina. He says to get a piece of paper and ask yourself, “What’s my purpose in life?” Write down an answer. It does sound simple, but sometimes it is just slowing down enough to listen to yourself. Write another one and keep writing answers until one of them makes you cry or brings out emotions from you. When your emotions are moved, you have just found your purpose. The greatest quote of all time is Jimmy V:
“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”. Jim Valvano
Lastly, let’s keep in mind clarity comes from engagement. While visualization is great and very important, it can and will only take you so far. Dreaming of smelling the ocean as you write your novel or your insurance blogs in Watch Hill, Rhode Island may have sounded great, except you forgot about all those pesky seagulls.
I recently heard of a young attorney who had to change careers because he couldn’t stand being unethical, so he decided to make some changes. It sounds ridiculous, but there are some aspects of reality that visualization just will not cover. Each and every one of us owe it to ourselves to get out there and start doing what it is you say you want to do. If it truly is your passion, getting your feet wet will only solidify your resolve and make the transition to becoming a professional that much easier. Your passion and your “why” will lead you to that “heck of a day” that Jimmy V always talked about.
Passion is Seriously Contagious
“You are the average of the 5 people you hang around the most.” – Jim Rohn
When your enthusiasm is palpable, people want a ticket to your happy show, and they will do anything to get into that show. The key to harnessing that passion is understanding your “why,” which will have a huge positive effect on your insurance agency and its culture, along with your life. Why are you passionate about selling insurance? Is it because it helped you to help others and you enjoy helping those in need, or is it that you love to educate others?
That’s your “why,” and that’s the story you need to share with your customers. You deserve a life you love, so don’t just dream, get going!