February 1st, 2012 didn’t necessarily start out as a day full of optimism.
It was a fresh start. A new beginning. Sort of.
A year to the day earlier I had turned the key on my office as a brand new self-employed insurance agent for a well-known, large insurance company. That day, was full of optimism. Not a single policy on the books, no income coming in the door, but I had the world in the palm of my hand.
The next 12 months were the most humbling of my life.
I had been in the insurance business for 5 years prior, primarily focusing on home and auto insurance. I worked in an agency that was very inviting, positive, and customer oriented. I learned a lot about what a positive experience in an insurance agency can look like. My perception initially of insurance agents wasn’t all that positive. Over time though, I saw what a genuine, heartfelt, appreciative client relationship looked like. And I wanted to make sure I carried this with me and made it the foundation of my agency.
I turned the key to my new office on the morning of February 1st, 2011 and had no doubts that I was going to make this work. That the last five years I had learned enough to make this a success. That people would see my name on the sign above the door and be tripping over each other to get through my door. Ah, youthful optimism…
Needless to say it didn’t happen that way, and the next year was full of highs and lows. I had, and still have, an amazing support system around me that wanted me to succeed, and they did what they could to help me accomplish that. I used that support when I needed it the most, during some pretty unsure times.
There came a point in time when I realized that this situation was not going to be what I had hoped, and I needed to make a decision about what to do next. I loved owning my own business, and I loved helping people with their insurance needs. But I had a wife and two young girls at home and needed to make sure I could help provide for them.
What in the world am I going to do now? We had put a lot of money, time, effort, stress, and sleepless nights into this. Maybe I could go back to the agency I had worked for and settle in again until I got back on my feet.
I opened one of my drawers and took out a flyer I had received in the mail 8 months earlier from an organization that helps smaller agencies work together as an “agency alliance”.
I don’t know why I kept this, but I did. It was a cheesy large postcard sized flier with a fishing tackle box on it. It didn’t look super professional, and I can’t for the life of me remember the wording. I am pretty sure had something to do with bait, and reeling in bigger opportunities (I told you it was cheesy).
I called the phone number and let the friendly receptionist on the other end know that I wanted to see if this would be something that may work for me, and we went from there. By the end of 2011, I had a decision to make. Do I start over as an independent insurance agent, again, with no policies on the books and no income from Day 1? Or do I land on my feet with an opportunity at a place that I know and already like.
The decision was pretty easy. I was going to go back to the comfort of a stable job with income and get my ducks in a row. I could always go out on my own again, but this way I could shake the anxiety I had been living with for the better part of the last year. It’s what was best.
The foundation of my support system begins with my wife, who when I told her looked me straight in the eye and told me that we were going to make a go of this again. She told me she believed in me and knew that we could make this happen. That waiting to do it again isn’t the best option. And that we were going to be fine.
I would love to tell you that I am the one who decided that starting as an independent agent all over again was my call. That I knew I had what it took to make Round 2 a success…but I didn’t. My wife saw something that I couldn’t see at the time. She was right.
So when I turned the key to the office on February 1st, 2012, I didn’t start the day with the same “world in the palm of my hand” attitude. Starting over…again. It makes me tired right now just thinking about it.
But things got better. Day by day, things got better. Not to say there weren’t bad days from time to time, but there weren’t as many.
I don’t take a lot of time to reflect. The agency that started that day in 2012 is growing and changing, so it keeps me pretty busy, which I try to never take for granted. When I leave to go home, my lovely wife and three girls (yes, we added another bundle of joy in 2013) are there to greet me and tell me about their day. Life is busy, but it’s great!
But today, I took some time to think back over the last six years…seven, really. I thought about that first day, first month, first six months. I thought about how I may have never taken the leap of faith of going out on my own with another little baby at home back in 2013. I thought about all the opportunities, conversations, relationships, and blessings I would have missed out on.
I truly love what I do. It has its bad days, but those are forgotten in time.
If you are waiting to live out a dream, please understand there will never be a perfect time to start. There will always be something that will hold you back. But most of the time….it’s only you.