Business Lessons from 17 Years in Business


Thank You for 17 Years!

On every business anniversary, I reflect to the day O’Connor Insurance Associates officially hung the proverbial “Shingle” (or open sign).  The business was started by Terry out of our spare bedroom.  That is the norm now but back in 2000 there wasn’t a lot of talk about virtual space.  It was an important move when O’Connor Insurance moved into office space in December 2001.  Now we are not even sure we need an office.  Most of our employees work virtual and thanks to the amazing advances in technology it is completely seamless.

Anniversaries are a good time for reminiscing but also a really good time for reviewing lessons learned.  While we are incredibly proud that we are celebrating 17 years we have learned a lot of business lessons that will help us to continually improve as we move forward.

Yesterday during a meeting a very dear friend and mentor said “Businesses are fluid.”  How true is that statement?  If we don’t continually adapt and evolve our business would be stale.  Here are few of the many business lessons we have learned over the years in hopes our business lessons will help you in your business.

  1. Things have to change. A business’ operations, technology, style, marketing, and even staff need to evolve.  Change is good.  Change allows us to offer better products and incredible service to our clients.  Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it.
  2. Consistency is the key to all effective marketing. In looking back over our 17 years there are a number of ways we have marketed our business.  Oddly even really good marketing compaigns have been stopped for any number of (dumb) reasons.  The lesson we have learned is better to tweak a marketing program or replace it rather than just scrap it.  Sometimes the reason it was stopped is because we got too busy.  How crazy is that?  You are probably shaking your head right now because you know what I am talking about.
  3. The single most important thing you can do when you are in business for yourself is surround yourself with a great team. Our team at O’Connor Insurance has changed and frankly so has our model for the positions we need.  We have learned so many human resource lessons this business lesson could easily be a business novel.  Staff is key for so many reasons from trusting them with our single most important thing- you our client – to just wanting to enjoy the people we are with every day.  It is cliché to say they are family but that is the truth.  The secret is how to identify and keep the right team members in your business.
  4. Working with your spouse is not just possible but you might even like We have worked together (like side by side with offices right next to each other) for 15 of the 17 years.  In the early days I am not going to lie it was tough.  These days we couldn’t imagine it any other way.  There are some things you have to figure out when you work with your spouse.  Learning what each of you do really well and then creating job descriptions for each of you is a big help.  There are a lot of rewards in your marriage to being literally on the same team 24 hours a day.
  5. Any business owner can create a job for him or herself but creating a business that allows you to steer the ship rather than clean the decks is much more challenging. When you start a business from “scratch” (without any clients) you wear all the hats every day.  One of our biggest hurdles has and continues to be learning to let other people on the team wear some of the hats.  One of the best business lessons we ever learned was to let people do things we are not very good at.  It is hard to admit when you are not good at something but when you realize how much better a team member may be at it you will find it much easier to let go.

It is hard to believe we have been in business 17 years.  Swear I blinked and we moved out of that spare room and into office space with 3 team members.  Like the Grateful Dead said “What a long strange trip its been”

A trip I have loved every minute of and I am looking forward to continuing for many years.

Michelle Signature

 

 

Terry & Michelle - blog

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