For a simplified definition, a good business plan sets out the objectives your insurance business is trying to achieve.
It also outlines the strategies you’ll use to reach them.
Most of these objectives and strategies fall under the broad category of your business overview.
There are five that we’ll cover here in this lesson.
These objectives include Service, Ownership, Products and Services, Location, and Hours of Operation.
We’ll start out with service.
What unique ways do you have to make your insurance agency successful? What differentiates you from your competition?
You want to find that differentiator and concisely express what it is.
If you’re having trouble figuring that out, ask yourself these questions:
What will draw prospective clients to your agency? How will you make your agency competitive?
Next, let’s talk Ownership.
What type of legal entity will your insurance business be?
Are you looking to own your own business and pursue a sole proprietorship?
Maybe you and another agent want to form a partnership and start an agency.
Once you know what type of legal entity your business is, define the type of business.
For insurance sales, we commonly view this type of work as a service-based industry.
After you identify those factors, it’s time to designate required licenses.
When it comes to the insurance industry, that means insurance licenses, elaborating on the types and even the states in which you plan to do business.
Be sure to include if you are currently licensed, or in the process of becoming a licensed insurance agent.
Up next on our list, Products and Services.
Describe the products and services you plan to offer.
Show evidence supporting these decisions with high-level information on your potential market. Why are the services and products in demand?
How will they benefit your customers? Don’t forget to include information about what makes you different from your competition.
For example, maybe you’ve worked in Medicare for five years and your partner has a background in ancillary sales.
That combined knowledge and expertise is powerful!
You can also include experience working with the client base or other information that lends to your expertise.
Maybe you’re a great problem solver.
Perhaps you enjoy working with people and developing lasting relationships with clients. Highlight those differentiators!
List out the products your insurance portfolio will offer.
Rather than just blanket the industry with “Medicare,” get specific.
Think Medicare Supplement products, Medicare Advantage plans, stand-alone Part D products, ancillary plans, life insurance, the list goes on.
Even better than just listing these products out, explain why you’ve chosen these products. Maybe you offer dental, vision, and hearing plans because of volunteering with your local Sertoma club chapter.
That sounds like a compelling article for your first newsletter!
How do the products in your portfolio work together?
Well, if you’ve got a client on Original Medicare who just purchased a Medicare Supplement… who do they have their Part D prescription drug coverage with?
That’s a cross-sale opportunity!
Review the benefits of each of the products in your portfolio as well as any concerns.
You’ll likely find new ways to think about them and market them to your clients.
Don’t forget about the services that you offer!
A complete needs analysis is a great way to put cross-sale opportunities on the table.
How can you find the best products for your clients’ needs?
Perform annual reviews with your clients to make sure the insurance solutions they have are meeting their needs.
Provide regular updates to clients regarding new products. More information for that newsletter!
Most importantly, be available to assist clients with questions or needs with coverage and claims.
You’re their go-to trusted advisor and their liaison to their plan.
By thinking through how your products and services work and interact, you’ll be better able to relate that information to your clients.
It’s also likely that you’ll ignite the spark for a few more ideas for your business along the way.
Fourth on our list of objectives… location!
While you don’t necessarily need a brick-and-mortar location, it can be a long-term goal.
Plenty of agents have gotten their start working from their own homes.
Beyond office space and red staplers though, think about where you’ll be doing business.
While health insurance is commonly sold in a prospective client’s house, it can be sold in public venues where you hold a meeting, like a recreational club, library, or a senior center.
Learn where these places are in your community and get to know the staff that works there.
It makes a much better impression on your prospective clients to greet the person at the front desk by name and know where you’re going in the building rather than stumbling around.
As your business grows and you add to the key market areas you first identified, you might find that you want a designated office away from your home.
You could assign this as a SMART goal with a tentative time-frame to work towards.
Whether you choose to repurpose part of your own home, rent a space, buy a space, make sure you keep accessibility in mind.
First and foremost, it’s not a good look to have an office that isn’t accessible to everyone.
It’s also a major cost factor because if the cost of making a building accessible outweighs the cost of leasing, it’s not a feasible option.
Make sure your office space, wherever it happens to be, is easy to find, that parking is available, and that there’s sufficient lighting.
Also, don’t forget to research laws around signage.
Some areas have rules, and it’s best to know about them before it’s a problem.
Finally, let’s talk Hours of Operation.
The great thing about being an insurance agent, and an independent one at that, is you don’t have to conform to a nine to five if you don’t want to.
On the other side of the coin though, 8AM to 8PM Monday through Sunday might seem necessary when you’re starting out, but you’ve got to set boundaries. Don’t do that to yourself.
Everyone needs down time!
In this industry, the clients you bring on first will hopefully be the same clients that stay with you and refer their friends to you.
Make sure you schedule time off into your business plan.
Otherwise, you’ll get people contacting you during all of those hours you initially set up and you won’t get any down time.
Another tidbit to consider, investors and bank loan officers will see that 12 hour a day, seven days a week plan as unrealistic.
That might affect their judgment on other aspects of your business plan as well.
And that’s your business overview.
Keep in mind, some business plan templates lump every part of business planning outside of marketing under this section.
That’s up to you if you want to organize your plan that way.
As we mentioned in the last lesson, you can pick and choose what you want to include based on what’s pertinent to your business.
But now that we’ve talked through our business overview, it’s time to move on to the next part of our plan… analyzing your selling market!