Bona Fide!

I don’t know if Bona Fide is the correct word (or words) but they popped into my head and made me think about Holly Hunter’s line in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” I guess I feel “Bona Fide” now!

Let’s revisit two little hints I may have given anyone that pays attention (or cares) earlier this year about my future as an insurance person.

In my January 2, “And Then There Were Five – Year in Review: 2011” I wrote this:

I applied for numerous jobs and had six interviews, three within the insurance industry and three without. I got accepted at one, my old office actually, put in my two-week notice and then was told by my current employer that they wanted to give me more money and a day to work from home if I stayed. I stayed. But still … I’m not giving anything else away.

I followed that up in my next entry, “Five for Twelve: My 2012 Goals” with this little diddy:

Get Settled In
I spent a lot of time last year getting frustrated with work, attempting to find something else to do, nearly quitting, being told that they wanted me to stay and deciding to – after reading last year’s goal entry about becoming an insurance person – ultimately remain where I’m at. Now it’s time to get settled in, to figure out what I want to do and where I should be. I don’t know if that means remaining where I’m at or, like the RFL situation, deciding to do something I’ve thought about for years – starting my own agency.

Well if you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook, don’t happen to randomly Google “Sky Valley”, “Sultan” and/or “Insurance” or aren’t on Yelp typing “Sultan” and “Insurance” (I just did an accidental SEO – Search Engine Optimization! Cool!) then you won’t know that I have a little Nationwide agency out in Sultan called Sky Valley Insurance, thus completing one of my “Five for Twelve”.

Since I haven’t shared the story I’ll do that now!

It started actually in late-October when a friend of mine from high school contacted me via Facebook asking to give her a call as she and her husband may have an opportunity for me. They have a Nationwide office in Boise and were hoping to expand into Washington state.

I was hesitant. In August I had put in my two-week notice only to be offered more money and a day from home from my current employer, so I wasn’t ready to go into their offices and tell them I’m moving on – again. Still I listened to what they had to offer and took some time to think about it.

We communicated back and forth for a couple of months. They came out here for Thanksgiving and I met with them alone because Lis reminded me why we needed to get her a cell phone. “Why would you go to the Snohomish Ixtapa? I’m still confused.” (Yes, I will forever tease her about this, just like I’ll forever tease her about the time she left me stranded at the airport in Brazil for what seemed like days.)

Lis and I met up with them around Christmas and started talking more in detail. They would help me get started, basically set me up for the first year and I would just need to write and write and write business (anyone need insurance?).

Meanwhile I was searching for small, inexpensive offices, unfortunately mostly in warehouses or industrial areas where businesses needed to fill space. All the while a little office complex was going up three minutes from home.

Lis advised me to call the realtor. I refused telling her it was going to be too much because it was right on the highway with great exposure. She told me to call them. I refused. She told me to call them … fine, I called them. Rent was less expensive than the no visibility closets I would’ve been trapped in. Oh and I’d be three minutes from work.

My decision was made … I would have the opportunity to cut my commute 96 minutes – NO JOKE! I would basically be on my own but with some financial support the first 12-18 months. And this would allow me to “step out of the boat” and do something I’ve thought about doing for a couple of years now. A chance to make insurance my career. If it works super! If it doesn’t work then at least I tried something I always wanted to try and not allow myself a chance to be 55-years-old servicing policies and thinking back, “What if…” The risk was there – and scary – but the challenge was appealing.

Putting in my notice was the hardest part but when it came down to it I basically asked my manager, “If you had a chance to have your own agency and you were being supported for the first year would you do it?” Her answer, “Without a doubt.” OK … I’m out!

I said my goodbyes and on March 1 moved into a 220-square foot office that’s cozy, nice, neat, professional and – did I mention? – three minutes from home. I can drop Lukas off at school and be at work before the door says we open!

It’s been 20 days since the opening of the agency. I’ve been excited, especially the days where I write policies. I’ve been nervous, especially the days when I run out of quotes. I’ve been excited, especially the days, like last weekend’s Open House, where the community seems to embrace me. And I’ve been scared, especially the days when I come home not writing business. I’m going to trust what 98-percent of my friends, family and others have said, “You’re going to do great!”

I have to remind myself that I’m not going to write business each day – not yet – but by getting out and marketing myself and possibly planting a seed in a prospect is still work.

The office that I am a satellite of has been super supportive. I went to Boise for a week and got to know them a little better. I was happy to learn that I was going into business with good people with a great family (by now you all know how I love me some family). So far, so good. Let’s not muck this up!

Since I get to do my own marketing then I’ve set up a few ways for you all to contact me or connect with me and my new agency. You can LIKE my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/skyvalleyinsurance. For every LIKE $1 will go to the ACS Relay for Life of Monroe / Sky Valley (by now you all know how I love me some Relay for Life). You can follow me on Twitter @skyvalleyins. You can connect with me on Yelp!

I’m also starting a separate insurance-related blog here.

So yah, hit me up!

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