There is always a lot of pride in running your own company, but there is also a lot of responsibility, work and hassle. Here’s how to tell if owning an insurance agency might have enough benefits for you to outweigh the liabilities.
Every employee has had the experience of looking at their boss and/or their company owner and thinking “I could do this much better than you.” If you find yourself thinking this too often, you may soon find yourself thinking about starting a business. And if you have experience working in the insurance or financial products industries, like many people do, then you’re probably considering starting your own insurance agency.
Let’s start with some clarifications. Any small business is going to be either an independent insurance agency (selling policies from several major insurance companies) or a “captive” agency, selling policies from a single company. To start providing insurance to people, something called a “corporate insurance license” is required, and it can cost $50,000 or more to buy. Originating insurance policies requires over a million dollars of capital just to get started, so what most small business owners want is to sell insurance, not create the policies themselves.
To sell insurance, you’ll need to be licensed in your state for the types of policies you want to sell. There are three main types of insurance policies: health, liability, and life insurance. Many insurance licenses also allow you to sell financial products. Because insurance is a financial product, there is a lot of overlap in both services and licensing.
The advantages of having your own shop are that you can choose the hours you work, but only to a certain extent, because you have to be on the job long enough to stay in business. You can decide how long and when you take vacations, but again, only up to a point, because you need to make sure your business can stay afloat while you’re gone. Another great advantage is that if the business is successful, you will own it and have a valuable asset that can generate income for years to come. Also, as the owner, you can decide when and how to hire and fire people. If you’re brave, you can even decide which customers and clients you want to fire.
While the pros sound great, here are the cons: You’ll probably be working more than 60 hours a week the first few years. If your agency isn’t successful in the first year or so (and many aren’t), you may end up not paying yourself a salary in order to balance the books. Also, until your agency can afford to hire people for different jobs, you’ll fill many different roles: accountant, IT guru, secretary, marketing manager, printer repairman, and many, many more. You will almost always have five to ten times more things to do in a day than you can possibly do.
Homeownership is stressful, so while owning your own insurance agency has dozens of benefits, you’ll need to be resilient enough to handle the challenges. But if you can do it, hopefully you can give yourself a raise.