Apr 20, 2023
Episode 72 - If you’ve been listening to the last few episodes, we’ve been breaking down the steps you need to consider before starting a business. The concepts shared in these episodes are the foundation of building a successful business, no matter what kind.
Bottom line in business is You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
You see, too many people jump into starting a business without doing any planning. Then they wonder why they aren’t finding success, as if business should just fall from the sky!
For some people even if they don’t plan, they might get lucky but the majority of people put in a lot of hard work, time, money and sweat equity to get their dream of owning their own business off the ground.
For many people it’s trial and error
It’s figuring out what to do as they run into trouble or finding answers when they least expect to.
Even if you do extensive planning and research before you start your business, you will hit obstacles, but the more you are prepared with your foundation, the better chance of success you will have.
In this episode I want to recap the top 5 things I think you should focus on when planning to open your business. I’ve talked about these before, but I’m hoping that if they have their own episode, you’ll pay attention.
What’s your end game
Ideas To Consider
The first is marketing. And I think this needs to be very well defined. Maybe you need to do a little market research to test your idea before you can create a solid marketing plan, but without this, you are doomed. I also think that when you define your marketing plan up front and look at the costs for each tactic you want to implement, then you can budget accordingly which is the se cond part of the plan that I think is essential. I’ll get back to that part but let's talk about marketing first.
The second is financial - For someone like me, this is the toughest part because while I understand math and some accounting, financial projections aren’t something I can easily wrap my head around. I see this part as start up costs - what you need to really open your doors, how much capital do you need to pay yourself or a staff for the first year while you are growing your business and how much reserve do you need in the event things don’t go as planned? Map this part out, give it to your banker friends and ask their opinions. This is essential and often overlooked by many startup entrepreneurs. It’s why first year entrepreneurs have such a high failure rate.
Focus on what you want to do - It’s ok to pivot down the road as many companies do, but if you are starting as an agency, an insurance company or a related insurance partner, be focused. Don’t try to be all things to all people. It is the greatest component of success for startups.
Put together you business team. I’m not talking about staff but the other professionals that can guide you. Don’t hire your family member if they don’t specialize in what you need. For example, you need a business attorney, not the family law attorney. Get a good business accountant, and make friends with your banker, payroll, bookkeeper, human resources and even other insurance professionals that aren't doing what you hope to do.
This ties into the financial piece, but having enough capital to get you through is essential. This is really the hardest part. So many people want to start but don’t have the capital. They bootstrap it which can work but it would be so much easier if there was capital. If you are working as you are thinking about starting a business, get your loan while you are working for someone else because once you become self employed, the lending rules change and it’s not easy. In 2023 when everything is out of whack from COVID, getting a bank loan is really difficult so get it before you leave your salaried income.
Contracts - Be sure to read all of your contracts thoroughly. I would strongly recommend having them reviewed by your business attorney. It might cost a few extra dollars, but trust me, they’ll see things in a different light than you will and offer good tips for negotiation. If you have a partner, have a contract - the more detailed the better. It needs to discuss what is involved if there is a breakup. Better to get it right before you start then pay thousands when no one is talking to each other. A business breakup is no different than a marital breakup. Your business pre-nup is the most valuable document you can create. Have contracts with business vendors, employees and review your insurance company contracts thoroughly. Don’t sign on the dotted link just because you get offered a contract.
This last one is a bonus idea but I think it is essential to set yourself up with the end in mind. It doesn’t matter if the end is 30 years away, be thinking like that. Build a business you can sell if you need to. We don’t know what life will bring us tomorrow so if you set it up right from the beginning, you don’t need to worry about a surprise obstacle getting in your way.
If you can’t tell from the past few episodes, this is my passion. I love helping people get started in business. I’m not as good with someone that already has 100 employees, but for the start up, my heart sings!
If you have questions, feel free to reach out. You can find me on LI and FB. I have a group called The business of insurance, but it’s not that active. If you want to be a part of it, let me know and I’ll let you in!
Thank you for listening to this series on how to start a business. If you know someone thinking about getting started or someone that has been in the business for a short period of time, please share this information with them.
It’s free and valuable!
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This episode of the Business of Insurance podcast is produced and hosted by Debbie DeChambeau, CIC, AAI, CPIA - an entrepreneur, business advisor, insurance professional and content creator. Her goal is to inspire you to think differently and explore ideas that disrupt the status quo.
Debbie has an extensive business and marketing background with a focus of helping insurance professionals be more successful. She also works in the health insurance space, focusing on helping people navigate the Medicare Maze.
She is the co-author of Renewable Referrals.