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  • Fri, April 13, 2018 6:41 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    Business leader depression it’s a real thing


    Click here to hear the audio version of this blog post!


    Before I get started, let me say I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any other trained and licensed mental health professional.

    What I’m about to say is based on my experience, and my opinion so give it whatever value you decide to give it.

    In my upcoming book “
    ICECREAM For Business Leaders,” I talk about something I call NERP which stands for negative emotional response pathway.

    Often when I am working with business leaders, I see people that are going through what I coined as “business leader depression.” I use the term I coined “NERP” to describe how they got there.

    The NERP Pathway = Irritation leads to Frustration (a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness), which leads to Anger (lazy or undisciplined actions), which becomes Business Leader Depression

    Here is how it works:

    Irritation - We have something in our current environment or situation that makes us uncomfortable, or we are not happy about it, this is the irritation. The irritation can be the way that our staff or team members are performing, a lack of structure and processes in our business, or this could be a person that just irritates the hell out of us. Whatever the cause we have something in our environment that irritates us.


    Irritation over time and/or intensity leads to frustration.


    Frustration is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Helplessness means we feel we don’t have the power or control to change the irritation; hopelessness is when we feel that the irritation will never change and will last forever.


    Frustration over time leads to Anger

     

    Anger shows itself in two distinct ways: Lazy actions and undisciplined actions. Lazy actions are when we don’t want to do anything. This could be not getting out of bed, not going into work, not answering the phones, or refusing to read emails that could be important to our work or business.

    Undisciplined actions are when we do something other than what we’re supposed to do. Undisciplined actions could be reading emails instead of doing our expense reports, avoiding a task or process by doing something less important in its place, or avoiding a live conversation with one of our team members and replacing it with email correspondence.

    Anger over time leads to Business Leader Depression which is when you abdicate your position as the leader and avoid as many leadership situations as possible. 

    The most common excuse I hear when someone is going through business leader depression is that they don’t have the time to do the things that will make their business operate better. Even if you tell them exactly what they need to do and build an exact schedule to get things done, they will still find reasons not to do them.


    The book will be released on May 1st.

    Before May 1st, you can download a training handout at
    www.bitly.com/icecreamdownload 


    Many of you reading or listening to this post will immediately identify with having a mild case of Business Leader Depression. Trust me I know what it feels like because I have gone through it several times since I started my business 14 years ago.

    Now the real value in reading or listening to this post is that I am going to give you some steps you can do to control and hopefully eliminate how you are feeling. It all starts with getting control of your emotions.

    In the section of my book on
    Ego, Emotions, and Expectations, I explain that the best way to control emotions in business is to use items such as a checklist, a workflow, a schedule, or a defined process so that you don’t have to think about what you are doing, or should do, you just follow the process.


    The Business Leader Depression Solution

    Go back to the source of the irritation. Is there a system that is in place or that can be put in place to help you remove your emotions from the situation?

    An example of this can be holding your team accountable for following a set process checklist, counseling them when they don’t follow the checklist, and terminating them after you have counseled them three times for not following the process.

    Another example would be to automate some of the marketing tasks in your business when you are irritated by your marketing results.

    You could create a Facebook Ad that drives people to your website. Of course, on your website, you have a Facebook Tracking Pixel so you can easily remarket site visitors.

    You use Zapier integration to link your email program with your text message and appointment tools, so the site visitor automatically receives an email and a text message with a link that allows them to schedule a short phone meeting with you.

    The main thing is to eliminate the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Even small steps and actions will make you feel a helluva lot better and not so overwhelmed.

    Summary

    1. Recognize the steps involved in the NERP that lead to Business Leader Depression;
    2. Go back to the source of the irritation;
    3. Put technology, checklist, processes, and accountability items in place to help you manage your emotions about the situation;
    4. Start taking small steps and actions to help remove the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
    5. As you gain more control over your emotions and actions, you will have much more control over your Business Leader Depression


  • Wed, March 07, 2018 9:48 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    50 Ways to Generate Free and Low-Cost Small Business Leads - Handout

    Free Handout Download: http://bit.ly/50waysdownload or,

    text your email address to 682-200-1954

    (No other characters or words, just text your email address to 682-200-1954)


    Did you know:

    The most successful small businesses in the world spend 30 percent of their time working on their core products and services and 70 percent of their time marketing their products and services?

    That the marketing department of a small business is a key factor in how investors decide which company to take a gamble on?

    That Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring has identified over 170 effective ways to market a small business?

    That most small businesses use lack of marketing money as the main excuse for not marketing their business?


    As a way of introducing our knowledge and expertise to you, we are going to give you a free download “50 Ways to Generate Free and Low-Cost Small Business Leads!”

    Free Handout Download: http://bit.ly/50waysdownload or,

    text your email address to 682-200-1954

    (No other characters or words, just text your email address to 682-200-1954)


    These lead generation techniques will work for any small business in any industry.


    These marketing methods were first tried and tested by our partners within the insurance agent world and then shared with small businesses of various types and industries all across the United States.


    Here are 5 of the 50 techniques discussed in the handout:

    • 1.     Request Google Search Page testimonials and reviews from your top 100 customers;

    • 2.     Have a pop-up box on your website that asks site visitors to join your email list. The pop-up box should appear as they switch to another page, and as they click away from your site. www.sumome.com has a free email pop-up box;

    • 3.     Create an introduction video about you, your product or service, hyperlink it, and send it to contacts that you meet (A Google Chrome Extension App called LOOM is free and easy to use) Here is an example introduction video – www.bitly.com/IANPA;

    • 4.     Use www.eventbrite.com to locate local, upcoming networking events; Attend the events, give out and collect business cards w/birthday info; Create your own networking event;

    • 5.     Create a podcast (Audio Recording) and interview a few of your satisfied customers;


    If you like any of the 5 methods listed above, you will love the other 45 techniques.


    What’s the catch? No Catch. This is our way of introducing our knowledge and expertise to you.

    F

    ree Handout Download: http://bit.ly/50waysdownload or,

    text your email address to 682-200-1954

    (No other characters or words, just text your email address to 682-200-1954)


  • Tue, February 13, 2018 1:05 PM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    10 Mistakes Insurance Agency Owners and Agency Leaders Make on a Regular Basis


    I was recently teaching a class at a college where I am an adjunct professor and one of the students who had just passed their P and C licensing test asked me to list the top 10 mistakes I see insurance agents make.

    After sorting through all of the possible answers, I narrowed it down to these ten mistakes as some of the biggest mistakes I see insurance agents make.

    This is by no means a comprehensive list. This list could easily contain 25 or 50 mistakes, but the ten listed here is a great place to start.

    I welcome your comments and feedback. I don’t know where you will see this post, but if there is an area for comments and feedback, please add your voice and additional mistakes I did not list to the conversation.


    The List:

    10. Trying to run an insurance agency without having any mentorship, guidance, or being part of a mastermind group:

    The easy way to achieve success is by gaining the experience and wisdom from others that have already achieved the success you are searching for.


    9. Not thoroughly reading or listening to important instructions and information:

    How many times have you missed out on an opportunity or created an unnecessary headache for yourself because you didn’t thoroughly read or listen to information, or, follow specific instructions?


    8. Not keeping up with important passwords and log-ins:

    How many times have you skipped or delayed implementing a process, or, taking advantage of an opportunity, because you couldn’t locate a password or log-in?


    7. Weak hiring practices:

    This starts with locating staff, interviewing, onboarding, and consistent training.


    6. Not delegating important tasks and tasks that you are not good at doing to agency staff or an outside party:

    How often do information and processes die on your desk, or, you become the bottleneck to the agency’s progress?


    5. Not scheduling and conducting agency-wide training at least once a week:

    Lack of consistent training is a major problem in many agencies. If a staff member is not trained on the proper conversations and processes, they will create their own way to get it done.


    4. Not having a specific tasks schedule for agency staff members:

    Just as lack of training is a major issue for agencies, not assigning a specific day and time to perform specific tasks and processes is another major issue. Any tasks that is important should be on a calendar.


    3. Not having an up-to-date Agency Job-Aid Book:

    This goes back to training. If the agency has an up-to-date job-aid book that explains in a step by step fashion how to complete common agency tasks, as well as tasks that are not as common, staff can get more things accomplished and the agency owner or leader doesn’t fear holding on to underperforming staff because of the fear and reluctance to bring on and train new staff.  


    2. Not having a pay structure that has built-in rewards for properly performing agency tasks, and built-in repercussions for not performing tasks to agency standards:

    There is this saying in professional sports “Until it impacts their pay, it will not impact their play.” I believe insurance is the same way. At Inspire a Nation we teach the “Enhanced Pay Approach” to pay staff. This means we increase your regular hourly pay by a certain percentage, but that percentage can be removed per pay period when you do not perform key tasks when and how we need you to.


    #1. Not scheduling specific days and times to accomplish specific tasks and processes and/or at least spot-check tasks that you have assigned to staff:

    • Every day I hear excuse after excuse why the agency owner/leader didn’t get something working or completed in the agency. I know in their heart and mind they want to accomplish things, but they don’t. Why not? Because the never blocked off a specific time in the day to do it. Just like I said with staff, if it is important, it should be on a calendar. Don’t think to add more task to your already over filled to-do list is making something a priority, it’s not! 
    Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

    Check out more of our free Insurance Agent Mentoring and Coaching Resources on our Free Tools Page


  • Mon, January 29, 2018 10:27 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    No Cost Methods to Market Your Small Business – Recorded Product Hotline

    1- 682-200-1808 Ext.1 or http://www.inspireanation.org/Free-insurance-agent-tools

    For the next four weeks, I will send our newsletter subscribers, and post on our social networks, a new creative way to market your business.

    There are 100s of ways to market your small business, but for the next four weeks, we will look at four ways to market your small business that are free, easy, and effective.

    1. Product Hotline
    2. Inbound Text Message
    3. Email Collection Pop-Up Box
    4. Video Email

    I am going to show you the easy and free methods. Of course, there is always a paid tool and vendor that you can use for these marketing methods, but I am a big believer in cutting your teeth on the free tools before you jump and spend money on a paid version.

    Using the free tools will give you some indication of the effectiveness of the marketing methods and helps you determine if the method will produce a return on investment that justifies buying a paid version.

    (Note: If you are using the Inspire a Nation Data and Marketing Super Center CRM, the tools and functionality I am about to explain are already part of the system.)


    Week One - Product Hotline:
    Today’s consumer is bombarded with information and sales pitches, and often they only want to see or hear the specific information they are interested in locating.

    They are also most likely on a mobile device. A Product Hotline makes it easy for a consumer to hear your specific message on their landline or cell phone.


    Here are the steps to set up a Product Hotline:

    1. Identify a specific product you want to discuss on your hotline. (I know you will be tempted to discuss multiple products, but fight the urge! Only discuss one product or service)
    2. Create a 2 or 3-minute script for the product or service. If you can’t explain how your product or service can solve a problem in 3 minutes, you need to work on tightening up your marketing message.
    3. Sign-up for a freeconferencecall.com phone number. Your account will come with a main call-in phone number, and a recorded message number that consumers can use to access your recorded message. (DMSC Users: Just select an extension and record your message.)
    4. Call your freeconferencecall.com account and record your message.
    5. Create an email blast that directs readers to call your product hotline number to hear how your product or service has solved a problem for other people.
    6. Send the email blast to an audience based on an upcoming trigger such as a policy renewal or service expiration date.

     
    Here is an actual email that we use Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring:
     
    “Are you an insurance agent that needs help not just understanding which operational and marketing processes you need in place in your agency, but how to get them up and running with step by step instructions?
     
    We have helped 1000s of insurance agents that need the type of help that you do, and we have done it in a much shorter time span and for $1000s less than what you would pay trying to figure it all out on your own or an expensive consultant service.
     
    Call us at 1-682-200-1808 ext 1 to hear a short recorded message that explains how we have helped many of your peers and professional heroes and more importantly, how we can help you.

    That number is 1-682-200-1808 ext. 1. Don’t delay any longer call now!”

     
    (By the way, if you call the phone number you will hear our actual recorded hotline message)
     

    In Summary: A product hotline is a low cost, low tech way of marketing your agency small business.

     
    Next week: Inbound Text Message Campaign


  • Wed, January 24, 2018 7:41 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    The agency should have a job-aid book that gives a step by step explanation of the common and uncomon tasks and steps within the processes that happen in the agency.


    The job-aid book will make it easy for staff to have a go-to source for tasks questions and answers. The job-aid book should be written in a step-by-step manner and should include screen captures and videos when available.

    Tools you can use to create a job aid book

    • Ø  3-Ring Binder, Tabbed Dividers, Typed Word Document
    • Ø  Docs on a shared drive
    • Ø  Google Doc that can be shared with the entire agency
    • Ø  Docs inside of a Drop Box or EverNote account
    • Ø  A tool like Process Street that allows you to create, share, assign, and track the completion of job-aid book tasks

    Suggested (Starting) Insurance Agency Job-Aid Book Tabs/Sections: 

    1.   Starting the Work Day (Turning on computer programs, unforwarding the phones, checking messages, etc.)

    2.   Quoting (By Carrier)

    3.   Rating, and Binding (By Carrier)

    4.   Endorsements (By product and carrier)

    5.   Claims - Reporting. Reviewing Claims Details

    6.   Communication Technology such Email, Phone, Text Messaging, etc.

    7.   Contact Records and Notes (Agency Management System)

    8.   Payments (By Carrier)

    9.   Billing, and Accounting (By Carrier)

    10.  Tracking (Production Reports, Commission Logs and Reports, Activity Logs, etc.)

    11.  Marketing and Prospecting (Phone (Manual and Dial Technology) , Email, Texting, Texting, Postal Mail, Website, Web Forms, Marketing List, etc.)

    12.  Closing the Workday


    Example tasks that should be in your job aid book include: 

    • How to quote on various carrier's websites, 
    • how to file a claim, 
    • how to add a 5th car to a quote or policy, 
    • how to cancel a policy, 
    • how to send trailing documents to the underwriter, 
    • how to attach a declined coverage form to a customer's record etc.

    A good job-aid book will make it more efficient for you to onboard new staff and train existing staff.

    Developing the Agency's job-aid book is a constant and ongoing tasks. In other words . . . never stop adding to and updating the agency's job-aid book!

     We recommend that you use an online tool called "process.st" to create your job-aid book. It has templates to get you started, and it is simple to use. Click here to access "process.st"

    Not a Techy? Here is a short video that can show you how to easily set up dividers and tabs using Microsoft Word


  • Wed, December 20, 2017 11:24 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    Sales Goal Formula - How many prospects do I need to reach my sales goals?

    Here is a little-known insurance industry insider nugget: P and C Insurance carriers only want 15 – 20% market share in any one geographic area.

    That means that the carrier’s business model is built around letting 80% of all prospects walk out the door without buying their product.

    For a captive agent, this is a brutal realization when they look at their quote-to-close ratios.

    For independent agents, the blow is softened because they have multiple carriers to shop a prospect, but if they track their quote-to-close ratio by the carrier, they will see the same close rates.

    I understand and agree with the logic behind the carrier’s self-imposed market share numbers. All we have to do is look at the floods in Houston and the wildfires in California to understand their actions.

    What does that mean for insurance agencies in 2018? They need to track their marketing and prospecting quote-to-close results, increase their referral partnerships, and solidify their retention processes.

    Let me explain.

    Tracking your quote to close ratio by marketing campaign will tell you how many prospects you must have to reach your goals.

    There is a very simple formula that you can use with any marketing campaign to correctly determine the number of prospects you need to reach your sales goals for a campaign.

    You will need three pieces of information from any prospecting campaign:

    1.       The total number of prospects you started with,

    2.       Your sales goals, and,

    3.       The total number of sales from a currently operating campaign or a completed campaign.

    Active Inspire a Nation Members: Click here to go to a spreadsheet in the video and document library that you can use to input your numbers and see not only your sales goals numbers but quote/contact and ROI per campaign

    (Of course, you could also use the historical information from all of your completed campaigns to help you determine the most effective lead sources and prospecting list to use in a future prospecting campaign. If you have agency-wide quote-to-close numbers, use that data in the formula below.)

    The simple formula is: Prospects X (Sales Goals/Actual Sales)

    This formula applies regardless of the type of prospecting campaign you are currently using since it is based on the results of a currently operating prospecting campaign or a completed campaign.

    You must always consider that several variables will impact your prospecting results, these include:

    ·         Lead sources,

    ·         Technology you use to prospect,

    ·         The time of day you prospect,

    ·         The method of prospecting – phone, email, mailing, conference calls, etc.

    ·         The sales ability of the person or team that is prospecting.

    Don’t over think the formula. Let the numbers tell you the real story, don’t try to skew the numbers to match what you want to happen, let them honestly show you what is happening.

    Let’s apply the formula to 4 different prospecting scenarios:
    1. You purchased a telemarketing list of 1000 names
    2. You bought 100 real-time internet leads for one of your producers
    3. You mailed out 500 postcards (The postcards all had the Inspire a Nation recommended wording and the five key items that dramatically increases response rates)
    4.  You bought 1000 aged internet leads

     
    Scenario 1 - You provided your telemarketer with 1000 names from a purchased list: Your telemarketer called between 10 AM – 3 PM (The absolute worst times for telemarketing!), the campaign produced five new sales; you wanted the telemarketing campaign to produce 20 sales. Based on the formula you will need to provide your telemarketer with 4000 names to reach your sales goals. 1000 X (20/5)

    Mentoring suggestion: Change your prospecting times, and you will get better results

     
    Scenario 2 - You bought 100 real-time internet leads for a sales rep: You used a lead management tool to reply immediately to the internet leads, and you need to follow the Inspire a Nation recommended internet lead follow-up schedule. You closed ten new sales; you wanted twenty new sales. Based on the formula you will need to provide the sales rep with 200 leads to reach your sales goals. 100 X (20/10)

    Mentoring suggestion: Though this percentage is pretty good, make sure you are purchasing the highest quality (Prospects provided real information and wanted a quote) real-time leads available.
     
    Scenario 3 - You mailed out 500 postcards: You received 100 call-ins, had 20 people download information from your website, and had 12 people show up for a conference call; all this activity produced seven sales. You wanted ten new sales. Based on the formula you will need to mail 714 postcards on your next mailing campaign. 500 X (10/7)


    Mentoring suggestion: Make sure you are mailing to areas that match the demographics of your target prospects.
     
    Scenario 4 – You bought 1000 aged internet leads: Your team emailed, called, and mailed postcards to the aged internet leads over a 60 day period and you followed the Inspire a Nation recommended follow-up schedule for aged leads.

    All the activity associated with the prospecting produced 14 sales. You wanted 25 sales. Based on the formula you will need to purchase 1785 leads to meet your sales goals. 1000 X (25/14)


    Mentoring suggestion: Make sure your x-date follow-up and re-quote process are just as thorough, so you get the maximum return on investment.

    Of course, if you are using Inspire a Nation recommended prospecting templates, following the Inspire a Nation recommended follow-up schedules, utilizing Inspire a Nation recommended technology and utilizing all of the prospecting options we teach you to offer a prospect, your results will be far superior to the average agent.

    Want more awesome mentoring information? Here are some options:

    1.  Join the Inspire a Nation Mentoring Program. The program has an amazing step by step video and document library as well as biweekly, live, mentoring web meetings. http://inspireanation.org/membershipinformation

    2.  Purchase the “How to Build a $10 Million Insurance Agency in 5 Years” e-book: http://inspireanation.org/10millioninsuranceagency

    3.  Check out our free mentoring and coaching resources http://www.inspireanation.org/Free-Tools



  • Thu, December 07, 2017 8:01 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)
    By Billy R. Williams, Ph.D.
    President - Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring

    There is a small tool that is built into every windows computer, that I use all day every day.

    Insurance agents and other small business leaders (and their staff) should use this simple tool to help them:

    • keep notes from training sessions,
    • implement processes,
    • remember key talk paths they are supposed to say to customers and prospects, and,
    • keep down the clutter, mess, and disorganization that comes with too much paper on your desk.

     
    What is this free and often forgotten tool? Computer Stick Notes.


    (I know there are super tools like EverNote and OneNote that are available, but today we are just talking about windows sticky notes.)


    The use of computer sticky notes is so efficient that it is now one of the first computer-based items we discuss when onboarding a new agent or a new staff member.

    Sticky Notes allow you to create post-it type notes on your computer that are available to you while any application or program is running on your computer.

    This simple feature allows you to:

    • ·         quickly see your notes when moving from screen to screen or tab to tab;
    • ·         copy and paste text from your sticky notes into other programs such as Word, Excel, or Powerpoint;
    • ·         retrieve important and timely information without altering your workflow or location;
    • ·         eliminate paper notes that can be easily misplaced or overlooked in the pile of paperwork on your desk

    Depending on if you are using Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, (Edge creates clickable hyperlinks, Google doesn’t) here are a few suggestions and nuggets of wisdom when it comes to using sticky notes:

    • ·         Keep important phone numbers such as claims advocates, underwriters, carrier reps, etc. on a single sticky note
    • ·         Save important web addresses and hyperlinks
    • ·         Save important numbers and information you will need to access when moving between the different carrier sites
    • ·         Outline talk paths for processes and tasks
    • ·         Make a quick reminder note and transfer it to your calendar or tasks list
    • ·         Make a daily to-do checklist
    • ·         Make notes about Inspire a Nation training and mentoring tips while watching a mentoring video, attending a webinar or conference call, and during your one-on-one mentoring sessions.
    Here is a short video about Stick Notes



  • Mon, November 20, 2017 10:05 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    I am going to keep it real with you based on 15 years of investing in agencies and helping agents to grow their business.

    1.    I have never seen a struggling captive agent, become a successful independent agent. The issues that keep an agent from being successful as a captive (poor time management, lack of staff accountability and control, weak marketing and prospecting practices, weak use of available technology, etc.) don’t suddenly go away when an agent goes independent, in fact because of the amount of carriers you have to keep happy, they usually get worse.

    2.    The basic operations of running an insurance agency are the same regardless of being captive or independent. You have to:

    • market and prospect for customers on a consistent basis,
    • quote, sell, and bind based on what’s best for the customer, not just price
    • effectively utilize technology to communicate, track information and records, and manage your data,
    • have set processes that the entire team is responsible for consistently performing,
    • have a pay structure that rewards consistency and success and has built-in repercussions for not following the agency’s processes and standards,
    • hire staff that does what you need them to do, the way they are supposed to do it, and not just do what they want to do.
    • have a leadership style that creates a culture of positivity, success, and accomplishment in the agency and that holds staff accountable for consistent processes and actions (This is the umpteenth time I have used some form of the word consistent. That should tell you something!)
    • be self-disciplined enough to outsource tasks and roles that are important for the success of the agency, but that you are not willing to do or hold someone else accountable for doing

    3.    Success is not based on the number of carriers you can offer a prospect or customer, or the cheapest price you can get them for insurance. Trust me, the rates are not all that different from captive to independent carriers

    4.    The same issues that cause an agent to struggle or fail as a captive are only magnified as an independent

    5.    In summary: You have to commit to becoming a really good agency leader in order to succeed as an independent agency owner. If you just want to be able to sell more insurance policies, get a job as a producer in an independent or captive agency, and avoid the agency owner headaches.

    6.    If you want to commit to becoming a good agency leader with the focus of building a great insurance agency with effective, consistent processes that would make it easy for you to acquire or merge an outside book of business into your operations, our mentoring program will work for you.

    7.    If you are not mentally or emotionally ready to take on the challenges I have explained, joining Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring, will only waste your time and money.

    Dr. Billy R. Williams

    President – Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring & Williams Family Investment Group

    www.inspireanation.org

    “Wealthy people make complicated things seem simple; Most poor people make simple things unnecessarily complicated”

    Billy R. Williams, Ph.D.


  • Mon, November 13, 2017 12:30 PM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    A Wealth Building Recipe for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

    By Billy R. Williams, Ph.D.

    President, Williams Family Investment Group and Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring - www.inspireanation.org

    The recipe I am about to explain is simple enough that most people can at least put some of it in place and start increasing their small business owner wealth.

    Ingredients

    • 1-   cup of Passion

    1-cup of a Product that Benefits a lot of People

    1-cup of Profitability

    1-cup of Good Accounting Practices

    2-cups of Marketing and Prospecting

    3-cups of Savings and Investment Plan

    Industry thought leaders rarely talk about the motivations behind being in business, but today I want to discuss the exact reason most entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs in the first place, to build wealth.

    Wealth means owning an asset that consistently grows in value, and that you can one day sell at that increased value, or leverage the value to acquire more assets and wealth.

    I am going to give you one of the recipes you can use to build wealth.

    There are many ways to prepare a meal and a multitude of ingredients that you can use, and just like preparing a meal, there are various techniques you can use to build wealth.

     

    Small Business Owner Wealth Recipe


    1.   The first ingredient is Passion.

    Build your business around something you are passionate about and you will never feel bored or disinterested in your business. Even if you can’t modify your product, you can target a niche or group that is in-line with your passion. For example, an insurance agent that is passionate about fishing could target boat owners or people with homes on the lake.

     

    2. The second ingredient is a product or service that benefits a lot of people, or, a specific niche that can purchase enough to make your business profitable.

    Your product or service has to add value to people’s lives or you are just selling snake oil. If your product doesn’t lend itself to a large audience, you must have a niche or demographic that is willing and capable of spending the amount of money necessary for you to operate a profitable business. Including an influential network of professionals that can refer your target prospect can make this part of the recipe much easier to prepare.


    3. The next ingredient in the recipe if profitability

    If you spend more money on the cost of delivering goods and services and labor than you make when you sell your product or service, it will be impossible for you to build wealth. This ingredient should have a supporting ingredient called “Accounting Practices”. Good accounting practices will allow you to track the profitability of your business and make good financial decisions that will keep your wealth building goals cooking along. Good accounting practices will track labor cost, cost of goods and services, operating cost, taxes, and a few other things. At Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring (@Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring) www.inspireanation.org, we recommend that you hire an accountant or an accounting firm as soon as financially possible. A good accountant is a part of your wealth building recipe.


    4. Next, take your passion, products, services you sell, profitability and accounting practices, and mix them with consistent, repeatable, reproducible processes, conversations, operations, and technology.

    Consistency is the key to reproducing any great dish. If you constantly throw new flavors and ingredients into the mix, no one knows what to expect when they bite into the meal. Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will taste like crap. This inconsistency will cause people to avoid the meal.

    Lack of consistent processes, conversations, technology, and accountability tools will not only cause people to not take a chance on you, they will tell other people to not take a chance on you either by giving you negative online and offline reviews. If you are afraid to ask your customers to write an online review because you are afraid of what they might say . . . your processes and accountability suck, and building wealth will be virtually impossible.


    5. Next, increase the heat by hiring employees with the skill sets you need to reproduce your passion, processes, and actions.

    You will rarely if ever find employees that share your passion, but if you properly train them and hold them accountable for mimicking the processes and operations that happen within your business, the customer will have an above average experience when dealing with your employees. Consistent training and accountability will establish a business culture that will enhance your wealth-building goals.


    6. While all of the ingredients mentioned above are simmering, you will need to grab another pot for the next ingredients: Marketing and Prospecting.

    Without marketing and prospecting, like bread that never rises, your wealth building recipe will fall flat. At Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring (@Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring) www.inspireanation.org, we recommend that you start your marketing and prospecting with local search result marketing (SRM) and search engine optimization (SEO) of your website, landing pages, blogs, social networking profiles, etc. If you don’t know what you are doing, pay a 3rd party that does know what they are doing to handle this part of the meal. It is the same principle as having different types of chefs in a professional kitchen.

    The marketing messages that explain your products and services should be simple and direct to the point. If you can’t quickly and effectively explain to a prospect how not having your product or service can be a detriment in certain situations, and exactly how having your product or service will add value in other situations, why would you expect someone to want to buy it?

    The special ingredients that go into the marketing and prospecting pot are referral partners and testimonials. These low cost, high flavor ingredients will spice up your wealth building recipe beyond your wildest expectations, and you can never add too much of them to the recipe.

    Your marketing and prospecting are much more effective when you are collecting contact data from interested prospects. Sub ingredients like web forms, conference calls, product hotlines, webinars, and more, are low cost and easy to add to the overall recipe. (Check out an Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring (@Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring) www.inspireanation.org, membership to learn many low costs, high ROI, easy to implement ways of marketing your insurance agency or small business)


    7. The final part of the recipe will be poured liberally over the entire dish. It is a good savings and investment plan.

    Let’s first look at the savings plan part of the dish. Your savings plan should follow a 20/10/70 savings order. 20% of your business net income (after taxes) should go into a savings account. The money in this account should not be easily accessible. 

    At Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring (@Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring) www.inspireanation.org, we recommend that you do not have a debit card associated with your business savings account. A debit card makes it too easy and convenient to pull money out of the account.


    The 20%

    The 20% can go into a business or personal savings account. (Yes, it will count as income if you put it in a personal account) Your initial goal is to be able to cover one year of living expenses. Again, do not make it easy to access this money. The funds in this account will be there in case of emergency, or, to take advantage of an opportunity such as acquiring a competitor, or purchasing assets that increase business value and wealth.


    The 10%

    The 10% will go to charitable endeavors such as religious focused organizations or local not-for-profit groups. I know you are saying why wouldn’t I just add that money to my savings or my operating expenses? There are two primary reasons: first, it allows you to keep a mental and emotional connection to helping others. Remember earlier I said your product or service should benefit a lot of people? It is important that you donate the money to an organization where you can immediately see your contributions working, such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, local religious organization, or youth sports team. If you don’t see the immediate benefit of your donation, you will quickly stop donating.


    Scholarships

    Another awesome way to help the community while also branding your business is to sponsor a scholarship. By setting aside a measly 10% each pay period for charity, you can make a big difference in not only an individual’s life but your community as a whole. Not to mention the accolades and branding benefit within the community. Offering a quarterly scholarship to a deserving student or family will change lives.


    Discipline

    The second reason that you give to charity is that it helps to teach you the discipline of living below your income. You can’t build wealth if you are spending 100% or more of every dollar you make.

    I am a Christian so my 10% goes to tithes. I can promise you I see a huge ROI, and because of the church I attend, I see my money at work within the community. Whatever organization or group you consistently donate to, you will see benefits to your business by way of social currency, increased referrals, and increased business and individual branding.


    The Remaining 70%

    The main question that I get about this plan is “How do I run my business and pay my personal bills with 70%?” The answer is simple: run your business efficiently, keep unnecessary cost to a minimum, don’t have employees that don’t cover the cost of their employment. If they are following your processes and you are holding them accountable, they should be an asset, not a liability. 

    If your employees are a liability, you have given them bad processes to follow, or you are a poor leader and not holding them accountable for the processes that will help you build wealth. I know that sounds harsh, but that is the reality. If you are a bad or weak business leader, building wealth in your business will be nearly impossible.

    Personally, you must live within your means. The amount of money you bring into the house is a product of how you are running your business. If you want more money to spend, run a better business operation. Until you start to generate more business income you will have to keep your personal bills and expenses to a minimum. 

    You will have to use Netflix instead of packing the family up and going out for a $150.00 movie night. You will have to prepare your meals at home instead of spending $20 or $30 bucks a day at McDonalds and Starbucks, and you will have to keep revolving debt like credit and store cards to a minimum.

    When I first started my business, I lived in a two bedroom townhouse for 3 years, even though on paper I could have afforded to buy a house. We waited and saved until we could comfortably get the house we wanted.

    That is not to say I followed this plan to a T. In fact, I am writing this piece because I was reflecting with one of my mentees about the mistakes I have made about business and finances. The price we pay to gain wisdom and experience should be a cost you don’t have to pay. Always remove your ego and arrogance and listen to people that have walked the road you are heading down.

    In Conclusion

    There is a lot more that I could write but I will end it here. Even if you take one thing away from this article and start applying it to your business and life, you will see a benefit.

    Are you a small business that needs help and mentoring guidance? Check out Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring at www.inspireanation.org, or seek guidance one of your industry's thought leaders.


  • Sat, July 29, 2017 2:10 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    Being an insurance agent is an honorable and caring profession that can also be financially rewarding.

    Growing and operating a successful insurance agency requires that you have an assembly line of support, resources, and agency operations.

    Carrier(s) – Product(s) – Niche – Triggers – Prospect List(s) or Groups – Types of Marketing – Marketing Automation – Follow-Up Methods – Lead Tracking - New Customer Process – Service Processes – Retention Processes.

     

    Click here to listen to the free audio podcast of this blog post: http://bit.ly/agencyassemblyline 


    The assembly line starts with having access to carriers that provide the right products, at a reasonable price, for the niche audiences you cater to.

    Next on the assembly line is your understanding and recognition of the specific triggers that makes insurance important to a consumer.

    Examples of triggers include: buying an item that has a mandatory requirement for insurance such as a home or car, a change in income such as getting a promotion or losing a job, or something that makes a consumer have to look at their current insurance agent relationship such as filing a claim, or making a change to their policy.


    Need a step by step guide to growing a $10 Million Insurance Agency? Order it here: http://bit.ly/2uZMO5n


    The constant trigger that an insurance agency should use to their advantage is the expiration date of a current insurance policy. This is when consumers notice the rate increases that dominate today’s insurance market.

    Once you know your triggers, your next stop on the assembly line is to acquire a prospecting list and market to groups of consumers that match your niche and triggers.

    There are many ways to locate lists, you can buy them from list vendors, you can partner with other professionals that work with your niche prospect, you can even buy search engine result marketing that targets consumers searching online for your products and services.

    Regardless of the types of marketing you decide to use, marketing automation such as drip emails, permission based text messaging, automated dial technology, product hotlines, and other marketing automation, will make your marketing consistent and effective,


    Not sure what automation is best for your agency? Download or free Insurance Agency Automation Checklist: http://bit.ly/automationdownload


    Next on the assembly line is prospect follow-up. While you would think that following up with a prospect that has requested a quote wouldn’t be a concern, it is a major problem in most agencies. In fact, often, the better the marketing efforts of the agency, the worse the follow up practices.

    Most agencies depend on the self-discipline of sales and service staff to follow-up with prospects, when in reality they should rely on accountability and lead management software to help support the sales and service team.

    Accountability requires the use of established agency processes that can be trained, tracked, and measured.

    The insurance industry is flooded with lead management software, so finding a tool that you can afford and easily use is as simple as performing a Google search.


    Do you need set processes and accountability standards for your agency, but you are not good at training or holding your staff accountable? Check out the insurance agent mentoring services of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring: www.inspireanation.org


    The final 3 stations of the assembly line are what separate great agents and agencies from average or below average agents and agencies.

    The New Customer Process: How you onboard a new customer establishes the culture and expectations of the relationship. If you do it right you will get additional sales, referrals, testimonials, and the customer will be happy and content.

    Do it wrong, and your customer will look at you, your products, and your services as another bill that they are forced to pay. At the first sign of a rate increase or issue with service, they are out shopping for cheaper insurance and/or better service.

    Unlike other processes that can have multiple variations, the New Customer Process should be one standard process without variation.

    Service Processes: Another important piece in establishing the culture of your agency. Great service should be the agency standard, not an unexpected treat reserved for special customers.

    In order to consistently provide great service to customers, the agency has to have a culture built around training, accountability, and automation. Something as simple as using an e-signature tool can make life easier for the customer and agency staff.


    As asked earlier; Do you need set processes and accountability standards for your agency, but you are not good at training or holding your staff accountable? Check out the insurance agent mentoring services of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring: www.inspireanation.org


    Retention efforts and processes are our final stop on the insurance agency assembly line.

    Every conversation, process, tool, and piece of automation and technology should help support the retention of current customers. You can’t grow to a large insurance agency if your existing customers are leaving just as fast as you are bringing on new customers.

    While contrary to what most consumers believe, the insurance agent does not control the rate that an insurance company decided to charge a customer. However, the culture of the agency and the agency operations can and should establish the value of the knowledge, wisdom, and expertise of the agency and all staff associated with the agency.

    Everything from how an endorsement is processed, to how a billing question is answered, to how a claim is handled should show an expertise that is far beyond your peers. How do you get this proficient? Training, accountability, and the proper use of agency automation and technology.

    Take this blog post and share it with your staff and peers. If you are a corporate sales leader, forward it to the agents you support.

    Mastering the assembly line will allow you to grow your agency to heights you probably never dreamed.


    Do you want additional insight and wisdom into growing your insurance agency? Choose one of the options below:



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