Recently, the Huffington Post and Thrive Global published the story of Simon Arias which peaked my interest. Simon is the owner of Arias Agencies, a wildly successful State General Agent in Pittsburgh, PA. He grew up in a poor, working class neighborhood, raised by a single mother.
While he wasn’t blessed with material things growing up, he did have a lot of positive support. That support was critical in helping him start his own business, which is now one of fastest growing insurance agencies located in 5 states.
I reached out to Simon to see if he could share some advice on his success. We chose six key messages from our conversation that we thought would be meaningful to insurance agency owners and or agents wanting to start an insurance agency. I hope you agree.
#1 Coachability and Choosing Mentors
“Everyone is a player and everyone is a coach in some aspect of life,” Arias said. “I started as a player and did everything my coaches told me to. There’s an old quote about standing on the shoulders of giants. That’s what I did early in my career. Instead of slaying the giants, I stood with them,” says Arias.
Drew’s take: Find a mentor… it’s critical. If there’s no one at the office that could be a mentor, join a local business group and make friends with a successful agent in another line or maybe even a competitor. Nothing flatters someone more than being asked for help.
#2) Pay Now, Play Later
“Outwork everyone around you,” Arias says. “You can have an average work-life balance your entire life, or you can do the hard work up front so that you can enjoy life in the long run. When you spend a few years working like others won’t, you’ll later have a life that most others can’t.”
Drew’s take: Here’s great advice I got from my dad: “Be the first to arrive and the last to leave.” Everyone notices, from your peers to your superiors. However, a key to this he told me is not just the quantity, but the quality of your time. Don’t be lulled to sleep that being the one who’s always at the office translates into a career maker.
#3) Invest in and Reward Your Agents
“Create a family culture and a fun atmosphere,” Arias says. “We all spend a lot of our time working, so it’s important we create an uplifting environment. It’s important to take the time out to invest in your people; not only in a business sense, but personally as well. You have to recognize your producers and reward them.”
Drew’s take: Maybe it’s as simple as a $50 Wal-Mart gift card you give at the next weekly meeting. Or, maybe it’s just telling the rest of the office how one of your folks did something special. Have you considered providing a sales portfolio that includes products with extra benefits for clients? Good things take time, so take the time.
#4) Growth comes from Duplication and Delegation
Arias believes we must surround ourselves with folks smarter than us so we have the intellectual horsepower to take our business to the next level. He calls it duplication.
“Growth comes from duplication,” Arias says. “You’ve got to spend time with your top players to develop them so that you can delegate when the time is right. And, you can’t delegate unless you’ve properly duplicated, and you can’t grow without delegation. Think about it, if you can duplicate 90% of yourself into 10 people, 90% x 10 = 900%, when you’d otherwise only have yourself to give.”
Drew’s take: I’ve seen so many agents think they can do it on their own. Even once they start hiring they don’t really consider the leverage good people—people possibly smarter than they are—can give to drive the business ahead faster. If you’re not duplicating you’re dying.
#5) Giving Back, Karma
Arias says: “I believe that if the Lord sees I can be trusted with a little, he will bless me with a lot. In proverbs it says, ‘A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.’ It’s the giving that dictates the getting. It’s the simple concept of karma.”
Drew’s take: Powerful stuff here. Sometimes just simple belief in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it is a competitive advantage. The power of positive thinking. My friend and mentor, Ben Newman, does a fantastic job teaching these concepts. Check out his book, Your Mental Toughness Playbook. Follow Ben on Instagram @coachbennewman as well and you’ll get a great dose of what I’m talking about.
#6) Word of Mouth Marketing
“Your best marketing strategy is, hands-down, personal word of mouth,” says Arias. “In our current culture, that obviously includes social media. But even if social media disappeared tomorrow, what really matters in marketing is the impact you’ve had on other peoples’ lives. If you’re able to create something worth talking about, people will do your marketing for you.”
One way you can improve your word of mouth marketing is by taking advantage of online reviews. There’s no better word-of-mouth help than from a happy customer.
My biggest takeaway from our talk (other than I love talking to successful insurance agents) is that Simon is a seasoned warrior who understands it takes many things to be a successful entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur myself, I wildly appreciate what it takes to build something from the ground up.
Simon reminds us all that it’s more than just being able to sell.
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