Tips for starting your career in insurance
By Sean Kirby
In our office, we have 10 rules of business. This started as just a few good business tips my dad wrote down on a legal pad a few years ago. We have now turned these rules into the mantra that we profess to our team, our prospects and our clients. I have taken the liberty to break down our internal 10 rules of business and turn them into tips for starting your own journey in this amazing industry of insurance.
- Stay in business.
While staying in the business seems like the easiest rule of them all, most seasoned insurance veterans would argue that it is the most important. This industry can be tough; statistics say that most young producers never even make it to year three. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, especially in a hard market. The insurance industry rewards the patient and strong-willed; if you can last long enough, it will be impossible not to succeed.
- Make money.
This feels like a “no duh” type of rule. Having some money is important, but it’s not the only reason we are in insurance. Insurance is not known for being a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s the rule of compounding interest. It’s residual income. It’s recession-proof, or as my dad puts it, “Insurance is a have to have.” It’s the patience learned from the years of rule number one that will pay great dividends in the long run.
- Know your numbers.
This rule is designed to help businesses keep track of their income and expenses in order to manage cash flow and turn a profit at the end of the year. In insurance, it’s the same thing. In the macro, you might be a piece of the puzzle at your agency or company, but in the micro, you are an intrapreneur building your own career and business inside of another business. You should treat it as such. You should create your own goals and metrics, and then hold yourself accountable to those on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. This will create such great long-term habits that they will lead you back to rule number two.
- Attract and keep good people.
This one is easy and one of my favorite rules on this list, especially in regard to starting your insurance career. For most people, this rule is designated for employees. For insurance people, this is 10,000% for your clientele. If you are young and want a good work-life balance, creating your ideal prospect and client and keeping them forever is the best thing you can do. This will make you more money and give you more flexibility than chasing the check and keeping the wrong person happy just for the money. There are a lot of fish in the sea, so make sure you are spending your time in the right ocean.
- Embrace change.
Most people look at insurance and think “male, pale, and stale.” That could be further from the truth. Insurance is one of the first (and sometimes last) industries for innovation. Carriers are always reinvesting and looking for better ways to gain a competitive advantage. Retail agencies tend to be the last ones on board; however, we are nimbler and more positioned to make fast and radical changes. Whether we do that through technology or other tools, always embrace changes and ask what it can do and not what it can’t.
- The results are the final judge.
Whether it is new premium on the books, retention numbers falling by 10%, or poor loss ratios, this is a business based on performance. We are feeling this more now than ever before in this hard market. Insurance companies have run 110% combined loss ratios and are now forced to take action. It is our job to wake up and perform for our clients, our agencies, and our carrier partners every day. The results will speak for themselves.
- You can’t stand still.
My dad has always told me, “You are either growing or you are dying, but there is no such thing as standing still.” This tip is always stuck in the back of my mind. It should be in the back of your mind, too. I personally believe it is a healthy anxiety to have, one that is always pushing you to move forward and become better.
- Don’t get greedy.
This is a tough one, especially as you begin your journey in insurance, because no one wants to be greedy. No one is looking to take advantage of someone or something. But I can promise you, a small snowball will always turn into an avalanche if you let it. Look to do the right thing no matter what. Karma is real; if you treat the universe right, it will always come back in your favor.
- Give back.
Whether it is to your community, staff, clients, friends, or family, insurance will always put you in the position to give back. Between the opportunity for growth, both personally and professionally, you will eventually be in the place to give to someone else. I know I have said this a lot, but my dad has always said that “it is impossible to get more than you give.” So if you always look to give first, you’ll get everything you’ve ever wanted.
- Be humble and be thankful.
As a great man once said, “Insurance is the greatest industry God has ever created.” So be thankful and humbled that you have the opportunity to be a small piece of its history. We are the safety net for so many people in our communities. We are their peace of mind. We are the ones whom they call in their darkest hour. We get to be a part of the solution that makes them whole again. So be thankful and grateful. Now go change the world.
Sean Kirby, CPIA, is an agent at Performance Group in Pendelton, Indiana, and host of The Performance Group Podcast.