Stepping Stone – From One Company To A Handful

In the late 70’s, I started working as a commissioned life insurance salesman for a Canadian company.

I did not know at that time, the number of career stepping stones I would take in the years to come.

My first company trained me, gave me office space, and I only sold their insurance products. I was called a “captive agent”, because I could only sell products of that company.

In the early 80’s, new life insurance products became available through other life insurance companies, but my company did not offer them.

Many of these companies would allow agents to “broker” with them. This means I did not have to sell exclusively for this company.

In exchange for this arrangement, the new company paid a higher commission, but they did not pay for any office space or expenses. The agents had to do that themselves.

Stepping Stone – Independence and Developing Expertise

That sounded like a good trade off to me. Work as an Independent Broker, brokering with a handful of life insurance companies, make more commission and pay my own expenses.

I went from having to answer to a Branch Manager, to being my own manager.

This was a “step up” in my mind. Not only was I now an independent agent, I was now developing some expertise of the life insurance policy landscape.

This trend of “captive agents” becoming “independent agents” became so popular in the 80’s that a number of “captive agent” life insurance companies had few agents left, and started to close down some of their branch offices in cities across the country.

These changes to the selling system were like an earthquake within the life insurance industry.

Stepping Stone – Two Product Lines

Over time customers would ask if I carried house insurance. At the time, I did not, so I inquired what is needed, and it was a General Insurance License. I found out I needed to pass a general insurance exam, and find a General Insurance Agency that would allow me to bring business to them.

I got my General Insurance license, and found an agency to write business through. After building a small book of general insurance business, I started my own agency and was able to obtain my own contract with an Insurance Company to submit business to.

The benefit here, was that I made more money by not having to split the commissions with another agency owner.

I had elevated my offerings from one product to two. I was still selling life insurance as my main product and started to add general insurance sales to my book of business. More sales meant more income.

Stepping Stone – An Easier Profit Path

From the time I started in the life insurance industry, I was taught to build a clientele by keeping in touch with clients, and providing policy service to them. The hope was that they would buy more life insurance again in the future.

The goal was to develop a trusting relationship with clients, that would last a long time.

By adding house insurance to my portfolio, I was now able to go back to my life insurance clients and ask them if they would purchase their house insurance through me.

This became a second income stream, that was built with less effort than the first.

Stepping Stone – From Two Products To Three !

I worked at building my book of life and general insurance business for a few years. I then noticed a few stores around town that sold – Insurance and Real Estate. How does that work ?

I learned that you needed to have a Real Estate Brokers License, and you could also sell real estate. It took me some time to obtain my Real Estate Brokers License, and I now could add Real Estate to my offerings.

The process was repeated, offering this new service to my clients, and developing a third income stream from it.

Stepping Stone – From Salesman to Business Man

In seven years, I had moved from being a captive life insurance salesman, to a business man who sold life insurance, general insurance and real estate.

Stepping Stone – Auto Insurance Added

A few years later, I purchased a small general insurance agency that had an auto insurance license, and I was now able to add auto insurance to the agency product line.

This was a big step for me, and I now needed to operate from a commercial location, so I rented a store front in a retail strip mall.

Stepping Stone – Sold and Moved

We sold the agency a few years later, when we moved to the coast. The business landscape is always changing, so someone starting out today would have different challenges.

My career path was looking one step ahead at a time. For those looking to start or expand their business, keep looking for the opportunities in front of you.