For over a decade, I have been in the insurance business. I’ve worked as an agent, consultant, and sales trainer. And I have seen an enormously-high failure rate when newly licensed agents come on board. Why is there such a high failure rate for new agents, and others that are new to the business?
Well, we all make mistakes, so to assist others in achieving the career goals they desire and deserve, I’ve compiled a list of the top seven miscalculations that set rookie insurance agents up for failure. Hopefully, you can avoid making these mistakes yourself.
Mistake #1) Insufficient Start-Up Capital
Agents often come into this with little or no money, thinking they can start and run a business. Would you be able to start any other business this way? No. You need a sound business plan and adequate funds— enough for at least the first 6 to 12 months in order to run your own business successfully.
You also want to project when you might become profitable, and how much you’ll have to reinvest to keep the business going and growing. Doing this will eliminate the unnecessary stress that any financial struggle can cause you.
Even if you have to work at a “real” job for a year or two in order to save money so that you can break free and start your own business, it’s better to take it slow than fail at the outset. .
“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”
~ Jonathan Swift
Mistake #2) Lack of Understanding
Do you know what it really takes to succeed? It takes work—hard work and perseverance. It’s a grind sometimes, dealing with people, dealing with rejection and things like that, but it’s necessary if you are to achieve success.
A few years ago in the health insurance world, people thought you could simply spend a few bucks and make $100K the first year. Sounds like those Multi-Level Marketing offers we hear about, doesn’t it?
Too many people learned the hard way that it wasn’t actually so easy. If you want to open a franchise, you need to know what it takes to succeed BEFORE you drop a big chunk of money on it. We should view every opportunity the same way: Learn what it takes to succeed first.
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
~ Proverbs 4:7
Mistake #3) Inadequate Training
This is a big one, and it’s all too common. Whether you’re in sales or you want to open a cupcake bakery, you won’t have much confidence if you’re not given the appropriate skill set for the job. This can cause you to fail more than you succeed and make you even less confident—a vicious cycle that will ultimately leave you discouraged.
As Earl Nightingale said, “If you wanted to be a brain surgeon, would you start by cutting open your friend’s head?”
No, that would be pretty ugly, wouldn’t it? You first have to learn how to do anything. Then, you practice in order to do it well. There are free resources all over the Internet where you can learn about anything at a fairly rapid pace through videos, audio, articles, or pdf files. Learn more to earn more.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” ~ Muhammad Ali
Mistake #4) Lack of Preparation
Training is a huge part of preparation, but you should also have each day scheduled before you start it. Set daily goals and prioritize them in order of importance. What do you have to accomplish today in order to bring in business? How many emails will you send? How much will you network and where? How many phone calls will you make? What’s your plan to gain new business and referrals? be proactive, not reactive.
You should also have your computer/desk/files organized and readily accessible at all times. Lack of preparation can impede or even halt your success.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” ~Arthur Ashe
Mistake #5) Loss of Focus
Whether it’s Facebook, emails, watching Oprah, or the NFL network, it is important to avoid distractions. Each day, focus on getting the most productive tasks done first, then address the rest of the tasks necessary for that day. This way, even if you do become distracted, you will have at least completed the most important tasks. Every day you do this creates a successful week, month, year, and career.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” ~Alexander Graham Bell
Mistake #6) Lack of Commitment
Remember, you chose to do this. Therefore, you must commit to your choice, and persevere. There will be ups and downs, but so what? There are ups and downs in everything. If you want the freedom of being your own boss, and building an income that enables you to take some time off without concern, then it’s worth it, isn’t it?
And before you decide that this isn’t for you, ask yourself: Do you know what you’re doing? If you don’t know what you are doing, and have no way of learning, then of course it’s not for you—no more than being an auto mechanic is for someone who’s missing their hands. Learn what to do, stay committed and make it for you.
“Commitment is an act, not a word.”
~ Jean-Paul Sartre
Mistake #7) Failure to Create a Support System
When you’re sitting in your home or office, smiling and dialing to generate business, who do you turn to when you need support? It is important that you create a support system, a network of people you can refer business back and forth with, or just reach out to for encouragement.
Maybe you can log onto a social media site for some interaction with colleagues, after a few calls end in voicemail messages. If you work from a home office, change things up: go to Starbucks, or pound the pavement.
We all need support, even if it’s a simple “You got this!” for encouragement.
“All of us, at certain moments of our lives, need to take advice and to receive help from other people.” ~ Alexis Carrel
Obviously, the ideas I’ve discussed here can be more involved when starting a career, but at least now you know the biggest mistakes I’ve witnessed, and how to avoid making them.
I hope reading this might help you think, plan, attack and succeed more than ever before!
Go for it. You got this!